How to encourage ethical impulse buying
In eCommerce, encouraging impulse buying is a common strategy for business growth. While impulse buying can increase sales, it is not a sustainable strategy for long-term growth. A growing segment of consumers, led by Gen Z, make value-based purchasing decisions that place emphasis on ethical and sustainable business practices.
We were concerned that impulse buying represents almost 40% of all eCommerce money. However, we wanted to find out if it was possible to encourage ethical and effective buying. Wix eCommerce interviewed six eCommerce executives to find out how companies can encourage ethical impulse buying and how it aligns with consumers’ sentiments about a company’s larger social purpose.
Our panel of experts includes digital expertise luminaries, bona fide brand experts, mission-focused entrepreneurs and seasoned eCommerce consultants.
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In eCommerce, purpose matters
62% of consumers consider the purpose of a company to be an important or deciding aspect when buying impulse or quick products.
Our panel of experts was asked to share their opinions on how brands can leverage their purpose to nurture shoppers. It’s possible for eCommerce merchants with high growth to balance business growth with ethical or sustainable shopping practices.
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Seven key findings from our research were identified. They include the changing priorities of consumers, how it impacts purchase intent, brand trust and the role that businesses play in encouraging conscious consumption.
01. Consumers expect companies that are purpose-focused.
Paras Chopra is the Chairman and Founder of A/B testing platform . He says that climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental crises are the most pressing issues of our time. Brands that ignore this risk being a liability.
Chopra stated that businesses have a unique role in addressing these problems because they hold the power in society. Consumers expect businesses to be environmentally-focused. Informing customers about the specifics of a business’s activities is what works best to persuade them. For example, listing eco-friendly packaging or carbon neutral shipping is a great way to persuade customers. They know that these aren’t empty promises, but concrete changes they can see.
Dane Baker is the founder and CEO of EcoCart. This software helps ecommerce businesses calculate, minimize, communicate, and report on their environmental impact. He believes that consumers are more concerned about sustainability than brands.
Baker stated that 70% of consumers believe it is important for a brand to be sustainable or environmentally-friendly, and that 88 percent want brands that help them become more sustainable. These consumers want brands that they can support and champion.
Neil Verma, the author of Checkout The Step by Step, 7C Method To Build a Dominant eCommerce Brand, and founder of eBrandBuilders, said, “To show that businesses are evaluating growth and ethics,” and that businesses must demonstrate to their customers that they do not compromise on quality.
Businesses need to be responsible and not indulge in self-indulgence. They must expose the greys of this world and not hide behind color-by-numbers stories. Because we are all humans in this together, they must share truths across cultures.
02. Growth is possible with sustainability (and ethics).
Our experts agree that sustainability doesn’t need to slow growth. However, businesses should have realistic expectations about what long-term growth will look like and how impulse sales can be made more sustainable.
Baker stated, “Many brands are starting to see the benefits of their sustainability initiatives through increased customer loyalty, higher cart conversion rates and higher AOV.”
Thomas stated that there is ample data to support the claim that Gen Z expects more from brands. Brands can create a loyal customer base by being proactive with ethical and sustainable practices.
Chopra says that sustainable businesses will have “high-growth” in the future because more consumers will choose these businesses, even if they are slightly more expensive than unsustainable or cheaper alternatives.
He explained that although this trend may not be apparent across all makers, it is already taking place in developed markets.
03. The entire shopping experience should reflect your purpose
Monica Sharma Patnekar is an eCommerce business consultant and brand strategist with more than 16 years of experience. She spoke about the importance to weave your brand’s purpose through the customer journey.
This means that the brand mission must be extended beyond the pages ‘About Us/Company Info’.
Sharma-Patnekar stated that shoppers want to get to know the brand prior to making a purchase decision.
Talk about and share your purpose and value. You can remind your customers of what it means for them by creating FAQs to answer any questions that a potential customer might have about your products. Consider the process of making it, who made it, and what resources were used.
Kait Stephens, the CEO and Co-Founder of brij is a software platform that uses QR codes for brands to connect with their customers. Brij’s technology allows consumers to see the larger picture and supports the idea of transparency.
“Brij allows consumers to trace the lifecycles of their products. This gives them confidence in what they are buying. Brands can be rewarded if they have a responsible supply chain. Consumers can also hold brands accountable.
Thomas cited two brands that bring purpose to the eCommerce shopping experience. Unspun.io uses “climate” to guide users. She said that you should know their values before you shop. Beckett Simonon, a Columbian shoemaker, uses “quality tiles” to describe the category pages. They break up the product tile pattern to grab your attention and draw you in.
04. Show that you are serious about your holiday goals (and beyond).
Baker points out that the holiday, particularly Black Friday/Cyber Monday, presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to show they are serious about sustainability.
Baker stated that Black Friday 2020 in the United Kingdom alone emitted 429,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to 435 return flights from London and New York.
We encourage brands to have a sustainability sale instead of Green Friday. This means that you can offer carbon-neutral products instead of the traditional 50% discount. Black Friday discounts have become a commonplace for consumers. Green Friday allows brands to stand out and help the planet, while also allowing them to offer products that are carbon-neutral.
Sharma-Patnekar is in agreement, noting it’s important that shoppers see that you are thinking long-term. This will make you less dependent upon holiday sales (and impulse sales) to be successful.
Sharma-Patnekar said, “Does your business want to be solely focused on holidays or one that generates consistent sales throughout the year (with peak and troughs).”
05. Experiences that are more beneficial to your customers than your bottom line.
Our experts say that an eCommerce strategy that is effective in achieving growth is one that places more emphasis on customer experience than on the bottom line and immediate results. Perhaps this is contrary to the belief that impulse buying is the only way for eCommerce to grow.
Thomas stated, “We are a B Corp. We see ourselves as advocates to people who aren’t in the room.” This means that we help our clients create experiences which better serve their customers and not just their bottom lines. This sets us apart from other “conversion services”, which are really all about annoying pop-ups or confusing websites.
Stephens stated that digital experiences enable brands and customers to have a direct dialogue, which facilitates transparency and trust. Buy Now,Pay Later (BNPL), a popular form of installment-based eCommerce payments, is an example of a solution that merchants can overuse at the expense their brand equity. It’s a valuable revenue tool for both new and established businesses, and is a key reason why Wix eCommerce offers it. However, eCommerce merchants should view it as a tactical component of their overall customer experience. It should be as helpful to shoppers as it is for brands. “The very nature and purpose of BNPL is that it makes it easier for shoppers to purchase something, spend money that they don’t own, and then pay it off later. Verma stated that this is counter to the purpose of building a brand. It shows customers that the company values credit cards more than customers.
Building a brand is a process that takes time. It’s not easy to make a business successful. If you want to build a brand-centric company and understand what a branding business is, you need to look at every decision, tactic and practice as if it is forming an impression on customers’ minds – offering BPNL is a strategic calling that will shape a customer’s view of you.
06. Incremental changes promote sustainability and growth
It can be daunting for companies to implement sustainable changes and make a brand meaningful, but it is possible to start small.
Incremental changes allow you to approach impulse shopping from the customer’s point of view, but only when it is within the larger context of brand loyalty and conscious consumptionrism.
Baker said, “Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.” Look for sustainable ways to make your business more sustainable. These could include sustainable packaging, carbon offset, or setting up a recycling system to dispose of your products. It is best to start slowly and make changes you can sustain.
Sharma-Patnekar said, “Your goal should always be to help shoppers make the best decisions.” Encourage them to make smarter choices than buying products that are only available for a short time. This can be done through marketing. Share your purpose and highlight the value your product provides to them.
Verma stated that there is no reason to approach customers without a primary goal for shared value. “If your focus is not on customer lifetime value or recurring 1:1 conversations, then you should reconsider what you are doing and consider whether it’s beneficial for the business as well as the brand.
07. Brand-centric businesses don’t have to rely too heavily on impulse sales
eCommerce often interprets a brand as a logo, tagline or color scheme.
Verma says that in reality, it’s “who you are at the core…as it includes the reasons behind your company, the way it chooses to serve customers needs and its values.” The power of the ‘brand’ has been a key ingredient in successful eCommerce businesses.
A strong brand is often the foundation of a business’s success. It should be focused on long-term growth, repeatable business, and it should be powerful. These businesses are able to form emotional connections with customers. Sharma-Patnekar said that “your brand purpose is highly efficient at the beginning of your shopper journey.” They are just starting to discover you and trying to decide if this brand is right for them. Your purpose will show your beliefs and help you determine if they are compatible with yours. This will help you build an emotional connection with your audience.
As eCommerce becomes more competitive across product categories, your brand will be even more important. Marketing today spends 95 percent on creating demand, with a lot of focus on acquisition. Verma stated that in order to have a long-lasting customer relationship, the focus must shift to creating demand. This is achieved by taking a long-term approach towards building a brand.
Businesses can also rely less on impulse sales by creating a brand that encourages customer loyalty. This will allow eCommerce merchants to thrive in an increasingly competitive market. This can lead to increased sustainability for consumers.