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4 Lessons from Martin Scorsese on e-commerce sales

Written by on October 4, 2017

I shop a lot, have a penchant for colourful accessories and love to colour co-ordinate my clothes. That being said, I’m almost always lost in an apparel showroom — skirts first, shirts first, or shoes first? I turn to store assistants who, most of the times, relentlessly help me out. Other times they are annoying, and I end up hiding behind shelves of clothing until I’m sure they think I’ve left the store, and then shop in peace. Or probably just leave.

So, when e-commerce sites popped up, I was relieved. I picked, paired, checked and compared rates, and hit the checkout button faster than it would have taken for me to reach the store. But I still missed the human touch, however annoying they seemed earlier.

Recently, when shopping on an extremely popular site, I was a little perturbed when the details of an offer were unclear. There were so many questions running in my head. I spotted a small widget on the bottom right corner of the screen.

Voila! A Live chat tool!

I clicked on it, only to see an archaic pre-chat form open up, giving the impression of a menacingly still ninja cat ready to spring.

‘Please fill the form. A representative will get in touch with you shortly’, it read, in boring italics, much to my chagrin. It wouldn’t even let me type in my query, for Universe’s sake!

Were they still using legacy live-chat? That’s a red-flag.

I immediately opened a new tab and moved to a different e-commerce site. Within two minutes of landing on the site, Claudia messaged me on the site from a triggered message and guided me through their offers. I gave in and spent $30 more on the dress and its accessories — it was way more expensive than the one I saw on the previous one five minutes ago, but does that matter?

Claudia, their super-responsive rep, not only helped me look at what I liked, but indirectly taught me the importance of understanding a customer’s needs and choices, likes and dislikes.

According to a 2016 Forrester Report on Customer Service, 53% shoppers will abandon purchases if they do not find a quick answer. This is exactly what happened. I abandoned a shopping cart because I was not getting the help I was looking for — not soon enough, at least. In fact, I chucked the cart even before deciding if I wanted the dress or not.

So, I asked her how she did what she did, and she surprised me by saying she had her own framework for shoppers, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s most-used approach to filmmaking.

Filmmaking and e-commerce? That’s a weird combination, but hey, learning from anyone or anything is never really wrong.

According to Scorsese, engagement is the end goal, and how you do it, matters the most. He stresses on the importance of visual literacy to keep his audience engaged with four important elements — lighting, movement, time and inference. For Claudia, it was not really about the elements per se, but the words and what they meant — they really stuck with her.

“In e-commerce it’s about how much you know about the customer and how well you are able to engage them with the information you have, of them” she said.

Movies or e-commerce, it’s all about cracking the engagement nut — ain’t it?

Lighting — Set the mood by welcoming your visitor

Say hi, because who doesn’t like a greeting?! Moving away from brick & mortar doesn’t mean you do away with giving the experience of interacting with a human. In fact, an e-commerce site demands way more personal engagement than an actual store on a highway does. Greet your visitors. Find out what they are looking for with triggered messaging. Proactively reach out and help people make decisions faster.

I knew the dress was knee-length because Claudia’s triggered message popped in from nowhere and said ‘hi, would you need help?’.

Movement — What are your visitors up to?

Be that someone who can walk customers through a sale just by knowing what they are doing at that point of time.

Step-up and target deep. Has your customer picked something that is more than $500? Discounts, discounts — tell them what they can get for free. Have they removed a product off their cart? Ask them why. Are they looking at white shirts? Interest them by providing an offer to pair it up with blue jeans. Are they just spending a lot of time on a particular page? Tailor your conversations to suit their needs.

Really, Claudia asked me if I’d be interested in buying that $150 jeans for $50, which I politely declined. But, hey, she did tell me about the boho neckpiece which I bought along with the dress, so yes, she wins!

Time — Contact us vs. Contact now:

When a shopper comes to your site, jump at them. Find out if they have questions. Respond to pre or post-purchase queries. Cut your sales and support cycles short.

Forms and fields are synonymous with frustrations, and frustrations. Your customers want to get their problems sorted right away — not wait for days on end for you to get back to them. Forrester Reports also detail how 73% customers expect their time to be valued.

Did I want to wait until someone got back to me on the length of the dress? Nope. After my purchase, I asked Claudia what other colours my boho neckpiece could be paired with. She sent me a detailed sheet with answers to my question. That was not expected behaviour! Pretty sure I’ve found my soul-store.

Inference — Loyalty programs based on shopping history:

Get in touch with customers by keeping track of, and capturing activities performed by them on your site.

I’ve been shopping twice every month for nearly $700 over the last three months and interacted with Peter, Lily and Claudia. They’ve always connected with me by sending out offers based on my shopping patterns, say after ‘salary day’ or just before a long weekend because they think I might need new attires if I’m brunching or travelling! Isn’t that ridiculously personal?

And Claudia, her approach just sticks.

If you’re an e-commerce store, hiring people like Claudia wouldn’t be enough. Getting them to follow and apply the four words that inspired her, is important. Want to know how Claudia aced all her e-commerce conversations? check here ( Live chat for ecommerce). Hit us up at Freshchat, and I’ll tell you how you can meet and sell to customers like me.

Happy selling.

Thanks to Karthikeyan Ganesh for the cover image

Swathi Sriram

Writer who loves coffee and French. Trinket junkie who's curious about fashion and etymology. Currently trying to master the wonderful art of watercolour painting. Content Marketer, Freshchat.