The Role of Emotional Intelligence in e-commerce
Shopping is a highly emotional experience. Studies reveal that emotional impulses drive up to 95% of purchasing decisions.1 The products and services we buy influence how we feel. As society emerges from the pandemic and online shopping continues to flourish, consumers desire a personalized shopping experience where they feel understood. In response, retailers must develop emotional intelligence to attract and retain customers.
Emotional Intelligence Drives Sales
Emotional intelligence refers to evaluating, understanding, and controlling emotions. There is an immense payoff when companies connect with customers’ emotions. Customers who like the companies they do business with are more likely to continue to buy. Additionally, 78% of loyal customers recommend favorite brands and products to friends and family.2 Therefore, retailers must develop emotional intelligence to create a retail experience that is in tune with the feelings of their customers. Harnessing the power of emotional intelligence gives retailers the ability to target customers at the right time, through the appropriate channel, and approach them in a way that resonates on a deeper level.
Customer Experience is the New Battlefield
In today’s highly competitive market, conventional business wisdom is not enough to succeed. With countless online retail sites, it is increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate themselves. Creating an emotionally intelligent brand with an optimized website makes customers feel like part of the experience, not just part of a transaction.
For customers, it is critical to feel prioritized by the brands they consume. Research shows that 86% of buyers will pay more for a great customer experience.3 This sentiment has increased the need for brands to take their marketing and websites to a new level by incorporating empathy and emotional intelligence into digital experiences and customer communications.
As eCommerce companies craft their websites, they must remember that customer purchases are inherently driven by emotional responses. A study by the Harvard Business Review studied customers’ interactions with hundreds of brands across all categories. It concluded that more than three hundred “emotional motivators” influence consumer behavior.4 Learning which emotional motivators lead to sales help brands strategically target the feelings that motivate customers to make purchases. These motivators provide retailers with valuable insights that can be applied when designing and improving a company’s products, services, and retail site.
Broaden Customer Reach through Digital Channels
Brands must be accessible to their customers on the internet and through their smart devices in this digital age. Tech companies like Amazon, which offer a hassle-free experience and expedited shipping, have encouraged some consumers to skip in-person shopping altogether. To compete with the convenience of retail giants like Amazon, Retailers must focus their attention on developing emotionally intelligent websites to win over shoppers and drive sales. Data shows that 86% of customers with high emotional engagement want access to a brand through numerous channels.5 Brands must become both emotionally and digitally intelligent so customers return for the experience as well as the product.
Multiple Payment Options Increase Sales
For a business to succeed, it is critical to offer easy and convenient ways for customers to pay. Providing customers with multiple payment options encourages sales. While credit cards are still the dominant online payment form, accepting alternative payment methods such as PayPal, debit cards, and cryptocurrencies maximizes sales. According to a study by PPRO 42% of consumers in the U.S. say they would not follow through with a purchase if their preferred payment method is not available.6 Retailers can also offer deferred payment through Buy now, pay later platforms that make purchases more achievable for some customers. Providing as many choices as possible allows customers to choose the way that works best for their needs at the time.
There is a significant connection between trust and closing a sale. To build trust, retailers should include extensive contact information on their website, provide chatbots, FAQs, and call center phone numbers to answer customer questions, and display customer reviews prominently. Online consumers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions. Studies show that 93% of customers read reviews before buying a product.7 Additionally, retailers should promise shoppers a safe and secure checkout that protects them from fraud.
Customer loyalty is essential to growing a business. Repeat customers are extremely valuable to brands. Research shows that 70% of emotionally connected customers spend twice the amount when they are loyal to a brand.6 Retailers operating in markets with multiple competitors can set themselves apart from the competition by developing loyalty programs. Creating a customer loyalty program helps incentivize customers to become repeat customers by providing rewards for making repeated purchases. Discounts, rebates, rewards, free merchandise, and coupons motivate customers to spend more with brands and reinforce the consumer/brand connection. Focusing on loyalty programs helps brands align themselves with the segment of their customer base spending the most and deepens the relationship.
Consumers are looking for digital retail stores to go the extra mile and cater to their needs. Approaching the customer experience with emotional intelligence is necessary to drive sales and win repeat customers. Personalizing sales techniques to fit customer needs, being transparent and helpful, and creating incentives to encourage customers to be part of a digital community will drive sales and lead to future purchases. Building websites that connect with the emotions of their customers will lead to a significant return on investment.