Online stores have one big problem: They are anonymous, have no personality at all and lack in atmosphere and emotion. There is no smiling account manager who welcomes you (although, in the real world this is also an exception rather than a rule), instead product and advertising photographs, links, and buttons dominate the online shop. This affects Amazon as well as big fashion stores and small private shops. Surely, you can't bring bits and bytes to life, and an online store is only present on the visitor's screen.
But: Do you really have to put up with it? No! You can give your store personality, and make it look more emotional and atmospheric. We will show you some specific options in this article. We won’t talk about modern technical personalization, though, because many online merchants can't afford this, and it is often not very authentic or goes unnoticed easily.
The Look and Feel as a Whole Counts
The homepage gives the first and crucial impression of how you handle personality and smile in your store. You have various options to make a lasting impression on your customers like using pictures of friendly people, clearly visible customer service options, an appealing and lovely product presentation, pictures of customers who recommend you, or at least images of longtime customers, an atmosphere that is graphically professional and attractive, and a good visible telephone support.
Your goal should be to offer your customers an emotional and atmospheric shopping experience.
Use Pictures to Introduce Your Team
People love faces, because they create confidence and emotions, and they show your customers that there is not only a cookie generating program code behind the store, but also people who are charismatic and friendly.
It doesn't always have to be the typical portrait or wannabe model, but photos of people in their work environment which is related to your store theme or a personal photo.
Humor and Charisma
Show smiling faces and affectionate people. They have a positive charisma, appear trustworthy and friendly, and this transfers to your store. Nothing attracts people more than a friendly and authentic smile.
Be humorous and laid-back: "I am Marion Loos, the one in and behind the store. I will give my very best to make sure your product arrives by the day after tomorrow."
Make Best Use of Confirmation Mail
People appreciate purchase confirmation mail. And here is your next chance to give your store personality and your customers a good feeling. Add a signature with your or your staff’s photo.
A personal statement can also emphasize the emotional effect: "My name is Anna Sellinger, staff member at store XXX. I am processing your order and will give my very best to make sure it arrives in the next couple of days."
Use the Good Old Telephone
How about surprising valued customers on the phone? A personal "thank you call" to customers with high purchasing volumes, a generous discount on the next order, or simply catering to your customers' wishes on claims have a strong effect – you will gain customer loyalty and emphasize personal service.
Keep in mind: Courtesy is like smiling on the phone, and a hint of humor works wonders sometimes.
Let Them Get in Touch Through More Than Just One Button
Contact buttons are anything but sexy, especially if they are hidden somewhere. Invite your customers actively to contact you if they have any questions or are uncertain – and tell them that you look forward to hearing from them. It goes without saying that such service must be clearly visible and contain a photo.
A personalized live chat is also possible. However, some customers don’t like chats or find them disturbing even.
Let Customers Look Behind the Scenes
This is not only exciting but can also be interesting. Let your customers look behind the scenes, whether in a photo gallery or even a video portrait, and show them the interesting aspects of your store. The message is: Here are real people who are really working for you. It doesn't matter if you give them an insight into your stock, show a video of the packaging process, or how you receive new products and check them for quality and damage.
Showing the product from different perspectives, examples of use, models, or simply impressions of the surroundings and atmospheric impressions can have a positive impact.
Organize an Open House
If you have enough time, money, and space, and want to go one step further, you can organize an open house for selected customers. This can be quite difficult if you have thousands of active customers, but it shouldn't be a problem with smaller stores that have a lesser number of customers and a sorted customer list.
Select top customers according to their, for example, purchasing volume, loyalty, locality, or active recommendations.
Claims are a good chance to restore confidence or even improve it. A quick and reliable processing of claims and personal addressing are a must. Never send standardized emails without personal reference – this results in greater anonymization.
The more "honest" and less standardized – based on algorithms – the addressing is; the more supported customers feel. This can be just a simple "thank you" for the last order, an extensive order, a claim, or any other case in customer history.
Text Information is Also Important
Who thinks positive feelings and atmosphere can only be created by pictures and videos is wrong. Text information is also an important element.
These are your options: Tell your customers that you use certain products yourself; therefore, you can recommend them, or tell them about your experience. You can also write the following on your homepage: "I would like to introduce my team and myself and tell you who does what for you."
No glossy print can compete with humor: "Do you feel the same as me?" or "I was also skeptical in the beginning, but when I tried it…"
Trade Fairs and Events
There is not only an online, but also an offline world you can take advantage of. Fair trades, events, and stands are places where you can get in touch with your customers.
You will get valuable feedback, can thank your customers personally, ask for their satisfaction, or use the opportunity to check customer acceptance for new products, or update customer information. Fair trades can be useful indicators and are ideal for surveys.
If you cooperate with related stores or vendors, you can reduce costs dramatically.
Enclose a Smile in Each Parcel
It is a very emotional moment when the customer finally holds the parcel in his hands. This is another chance for you to show personality and a smile.
Your options are: enclosing Giveaways and personal presents, adding a friendly photo to the attached letter, write a personal text with an application note, include a handwritten greeting, reference an impressive website with video information or pictures.
Furthermore, you could possibly write something like this: "You are not happy with the product, or we made a mistake? Please give me a call, and we will discuss the issue. My free number is 555-66-99."
Such personal and emotional elements and activities on different levels of effects, harmonically put together, help strengthen customer loyalty and confidence, reduce barriers to communication, and give your store profile and originality.
So, it doesn't only have a positive impact on image and reputation but also helps achieving economic goals if you give your store a face and - more importantly - a smile.