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How to Learn About Customers Who Browse But Don't Buy Your Products If you're not monitoring the customers who decide not to make a purchase, you're missing out on crucial data that could help your business flourish.

By Sumit Aneja Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're constantly monitoring and engaging with the people who buy from you, then kudos. That's going to let you understand customers even better so you can get them to keep buying. But if those are the only people you're monitoring, then you're missing an enormous opportunity to sell more and grow your organization.

Most people aren't buyers

The number of visitors a company has can be quite different based on what the business is offering, what their price points are, and other factors. But broadly across all retail sectors, only a small number of people (20 percent) are actually buyers. The other 80 percent are "just looking." They come in and browse, but ultimately leave empty-handed. A 2018 Global Path to Purchase Survey found that 96 percent of people have left a physical store without making a purchase at least once. The digital arena doesn't fare much better, with 92 percent of first-time visitors to websites not buying.

These figures mean that, if you're only capturing insights on people who have spent money with you, you're ignoring a massive segment of your market. Because you're not collecting information on everyone and instead have data on a minority, your perception of what customers do, want, or would respond to can be skewed. That can mean thousands or even millions of dollars lost to ineffective marketing, inventory selection, and other elements such as store layout.

You end up saying no to all the profits you could get by converting some of the browsers into buyers.

Related: If You're Only Listening to Your Buyers, You're Doing It Wrong

Gathering information about the non-buyers' experience takes finesse

Getting transactional, quantifiable performance indicators for a retail location, such as foot traffic or how much customers typically spend, is relatively easy, especially with modern technologies. Indicators about the customer experience, such as the goal a person has or how they feel when they come into your store, is trickier. Those indicators can often be quantified, such as with customer satisfaction or net promoter scores, but they typically require deeper feedback and aren't always simple to summarize.

Adding to the challenge of gathering insights about non-buying visitors is that modern consumers don't just have one single customer journey. They have micro-journeys, too. For example, if a person visits your website to get an idea of your prices before they come to you, that's its own micro-journey with a start, middle, and end. So is contacting tech support or talking to a customer representative to get information. Even though you need information from all of these touchpoints for a big-picture understanding of your potential buyers, you have to make that data collection simple and unobtrusive across channels so the people you're interacting with don't feel bombarded.

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide to Reigniting Your Business

How to collect insights and put them to work

Despite the hurdles outlined above, there's an opportunity for you to learn and connect what you find out to in-store or online testing. This breaks down into five basic steps:

1. Uncover why customers are visiting. Maybe most of your customers come into your store because they want to physically see how something works. Maybe they aren't confident that an online transaction is secure enough given the price point of the item they want. Whatever the reason might be, conduct surveys using market research tools to know what is motivating the visit will help you respond quickly.

2. Map the in-store journey. How do people work their way through your space? What do they do and how long do they stay in those spaces?

3. Collect feedback. This can be done digitally, in person, or both using omnichannel survey software. For instance, an attendant can guide people to complete a questionnaire on in-store tablets. But the objective is to gain insight into the visitor's pain points. Focus on emotion.

4. Create a new micro-journey design. One example here might be a restaurant adding calorie figures or allergy alerts to menu items so people don't have to ask whether foods meet their needs. Or if you know that visitors typically feel overwhelmed, you can simplify visuals or train employees to greet people with a smile and reassuring language. The new design always addresses pain points you've identified through your mapping and feedback.

5. Deploy, measure, and iterate. Put your new design into action and analyze your results. Tweak the design until it works well. Then do a full-scale launch and integrate the design into your standard procedure.

Through this process, you'll need to watch out for common traps. For instance, if you're not proactive and have poor communication, then the transition between your project team and the store team might be rocky. Similarly, some businesses make the mistake of trying to get insights and redesign journeys without really laying down a good base camp or foundation first. Be mindful of these pitfalls and capitalize on your strengths. Keep things as simple as you can and remember that every interaction you have with the visitor counts.

Related: How to Make the Most of Your Omnichannel Retail Touchpoints

With a data-backed strategy, conversions are well within reach

The people who buy from you have incredible value for your business. But they are a minority when you look at the entire number of people who visit your store. Getting insights about the people who don't buy reveals how to resolve their pain points and convert them into paying customers. If you want to grow your business, then don't ignore the bulk of individuals right in front of you. Collect their information and redesign their micro-journeys to give them a better experience.

Sumit Aneja

Chief Executive Officer of Voxco

Sumit Aneja is the CEO of Voxco, an omnichannel software survey platform and a global market leader in the multi-modal survey software sector.

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