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How Can Retailers Help Customers Decide on a Purchase?

How Can Retailers Help Customers Decide on a Purchase?


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We look at some of the ways retailers can help customers at the point where they’re deciding whether to buy.

To encourage people to buy from your site, or to buy more, it’s important to understand how people decide on a purchase and what information and help they need to make their minds up.

Not everyone who visits your site, or even adds items to their shopping cart, will buy, there will be some abandoned carts but with the right information and support, sites can encourage more to complete a purchase.

According to a recent survey from iAdvize, 55% of shoppers say they have abandoned a purchase because they ‘didn’t feel confident’
about it.

In this post we’ll look at some of the information that shoppers are looking for, and how retailers can make their purchase decisions easier.

6 Ways To Help Customers Decide What To Buy

Product Information

Product pages on ecommerce sites need to provide all the information (text and visual) that shoppers may need to decide on a purchase.

They need to find the information they need, including the specific details that matter to them. Armed with this information, they can buy with greater confidence.

The information that shoppers look for will depend on their needs, and the type of product they’re looking at. Product pages need to show all the information that customers may need, while still making it easy to find.

Clear product imagery can do a lot to sell the product, by showing how good it looks, or by demonstrating how it can help. It can also convey some details more quickly and efficiently than text can.

For example, this image on Ugmonk shows how much the bag can hold and therefore how useful it can be.

Ugmonk product page image

Great product copywriting can sell the benefits of products, convey practical information, or even entertain, as with the J Peterman Company. SaleCycle’s sales copy examples could help to spark ideas.

Product pages also need to show key information on products in detail. This may be technical speciations for electrical products, or perhaps key details on dimensions for items such as furniture.

The key is to present information clearly so that customers can scan for the details that matter to them. It’s also useful to highlight key features, such as the capacity on this fridge freezer.

Shipping and Returns Information

Shipping and returns are key considerations for many shoppers, so it’s important for retailers to be upfront and clear about policies on both.

In the case of delivery, customers have different priorities. Some are looking for speed, so people are prepared to buy extra for services like next day shipping.

Others may look for the cheapest delivery options, or may prefer to collect items in store.

For this reason, many retailers provide a choice of options, to cover different customer preferences.

Returns present a challenge for online retailers. Returns add costs for retailers processing returns in terms of staff and resources, but overly strict returns policies can deter people from buying in the first place.

According to stats from Shopify, 83% of shoppers read returns policies before they make a purchase, and many say the costs of returns can deter them.

negative returns experience

Easy returns policies can encourage customers to make a purchase in the first place, as they buy with the confidence that they can return items if they have to.

Other online shopping returns statistics can help brands build a returns policy that works for their customers and therefore increase conversion rate.

It’s also important to make information on delivery and returns easily accessible for shoppers so they can find it when they’re deciding on a purchase.

It makes sense to place this information on product pages, where people are deciding, but also to repeat it on cart pages and during checkout, to remind shoppers.

For retailers, such as Zappos, who have generous shipping and returns offerings, it also pays to display it around the site as a sales driver.

Customer Service Contact Options

Sometimes customers need some extra help at the point when they’re thinking about buying.

According to iAdvize stats, 47% of shoppers sat that some form of customer service, whether live chat, phone calls or chatbots, gives them more confidence to buy.

This underline the importance of providing clear contact options around the site, and especially on key pages, like product pages, cart summary pages and checkout.

Retailers can also trigger help messages, and options like call backs from customer services, when shoppers my be unsure. For example, messages can be shown after shoppers have been idle on a page for a certain length of time, or when they may abandon.

Social Proof

The iAdvize chart also shows the value of opinions from other shoppers when people are deciding to buy.

25% say consumer reviews give them greater confidence to buy, while 11% cite opinions on social media.

Reviews and other forms of social proof can work well, as it reassures people that their decision to make a purchase is sound, and one that other shoppers have also taken, and been happy with.

Highlighting review scores and showing review data on product pages is one very persuasive way to use social proof. According to MarketingProfs, 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.

Other forms of social proof can be used too. For example, live trends data can be displayed to show shoppers that other people are viewing the same product.

The fact that lots of other people are viewing or have bought the same product can increase shopper’s trust, and make the product more desirable.

Live trends product stock information


Urgency messaging can be used to speed up the customer’s decision to buy by providing useful and relevant information.

For example, details on shipping cut-off times or information on when a particular promo code ends ends can also help customers to make a decision more quickly.

This can be conveyed with ecommerce countdown timers, as used by Interflora here:

on-site conversion messaging

Payment Options

The decision to purchase may ultimately depend on whether the customer’s preferred payment option is offered.

Consumers now have a much wider range of payment preferences, and the challenge for retailers is to keep up with payment trends, providing choice for shoppers.

global ecommerce payment options

Retailers need to select the best payment options for their target market and goals.

For example, if a lot of your site visitors use mobile, then faster mobile payment options such as Apple Pay help to make it easier for shoppers. This could also increase the amount of mobile conversions.

Or for some higher ticket purchases, credit options like those offered by Affirm or Klarna can help to reduce abandonment rates.

In Summary

At the point where people are deciding to buy, whether this is on product pages, or during the checkout process, it’s important that retailers help to reassure customers.

This may be by providing help options, ensuring that key information on product and delivery is available, or simply by offering reminders and reassurance that they have made a good decision.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 19/07/2022


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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.