5 minutes with Loqate on delivering customer experience

Loqate insights graphics 2021
We sat down with Matthew Furneaux, global commercial director at Loqate, to discuss rising customer expectations around convenience, the importance of a seamless checkout and how to prevent failed deliveries

What does Loqate do?

We’re a technology company focussing on location services. Previously when checking out online, customers were presented with multiple address fields. We’ve simplified that into a single field that allows customers to express their address in their chosen way. Because we’re location aware, our service suggests addresses closest to where the customer is – so they can complete the process in under five keystrokes. That saves a lot of time, which tends to improve customer experience and drive levels of conversion.

Crucially it also means the retailer has captured evidentially accurate data, which downstream ensures customers get what they order on time and the retailer won’t incur the costs of failed or late deliveries.

We also help eCommerce sites ensure other details such as email addresses and mobile phone data are usable and accurate. We never check personal identifiable information linked to the individual. But for customers who’ve said they want to be contacted, we’ll check whether their phone number looks accurate for the country of issue and if their email address appears correct.

However, the core of what Loqate does is around address data and we operate across 245 countries. Having Loqate in place at the check-out means retailers can also trade overseas with the peace of mind that comes with knowing the address data is accurate.

How has the pandemic made these services more crucial?

When a customer has bought an item, it’s implicit they need it to arrive at the time requested. What’s changed since the pandemic is the sheer volume of transactions. During the first lockdown it was manic for a lot of online businesses, who were experiencing Black Friday levels of traffic every day.

This surge had an impact on downstream operations and their ability to get stuff delivered, so if there were any vulnerabilities they couldn’t cope. One of the obvious benefits of having accurate address data, captured at source, is the chances of delivering first time are significantly improved. So that’s probably the primary reason why location data has become more critical.

Secondly, the pandemic meant new demographics started shopping online for the first time, including many older shoppers. So retailers who’d designed a clutter free, intuitive check out, using single line, auto-complete address capture, were most likely to enjoy high levels of conversion from that group of shoppers. Those two factors combined have made what we do even more important over the last year.

What are the key reasons for cart abandonment?

There are lots of reasons customers might not complete their purchase, including wanting to come back and do it at a more convenient time. Our research tells us it’s more common to browse and buy later when using mobile devices. Perhaps because a lot of us browse while doing something else, providing a limited window to make the purchase.

Having said that, one of the biggest offenders is overwhelming customers with too many details to fill out– particularly involving the address. At that stage of the journey, the customer might not have the time or inclination to complete six separate fields. Bad user experience is another factor, you often see this on US sites trading cross-border in the UK, when they ask the customer to put in their ZIP code and State.

Evidence shows each time you reduce the number of checkout pages, there’s an uplift in conversion. And retailers that get everything onto a single checkout page achieve the highest levels of conversion. Customers are also getting increasingly wise to this and in an increasingly competitive landscape, are more likely to use a rival site that has made the process easier for them.

Also, it’s about mitigating against the risks of failed deliveries. When addresses are inaccurate or incomplete, 41% of deliveries are delayed and 39% simply fail - according to our report: Fixing Failed Deliveries. So there’s lots of downstream reasons why ensuring the address data is accurate is good practise, too.

How can retailers create a more seamless checkout experience?

There's lots of debate around friction and one argument is to remove it entirely. Actually, it's more nuanced than that. In fact, introducing appropriate friction can improve the customer experience, depending on the type of purchase. Buying dishwasher tablets is low value and low risk, so all the friction can be stripped out and you might do it over voice commerce – for example, through your Alexa.

However, I was talking to the head of eCommerce at Fender Guitars recently. And their online customers are likely to take ages thinking about their purchases, choosing the right colour, the guitar strap and case etc... So Fender introduced lots of appropriate friction to improve the customer experience.

But when you’ve reached the checkout, friction absolutely should be stripped out. Some of the payment services are also helping with that, so customers don’t have to re-enter their card details. But it's still desirable to complete the shipping address in advance. For example, the billing address might be different, the item could be a gift or might be high value, so they’ll want to double check the address details. The combination of giving customers an easy way to enter their shipping address along with simplified payment details can help create an optimal checkout experience.

How does the buying experience differ across devices?

The big differentiator between device types is the available screen real estate. And if you only have a few inches, then it needs to be as uncluttered as possible. So having an address line to complete using Loqate gives retailers the opportunity to include other things that might be appropriate at the checkout, even when there’s limited space.

Many of us are comfortable with the devices we carry and wear knowing our location. So a natural extension of simplifying the checkout process is through geolocation services, where one tap address capture is becoming more common. Loqate allows customers to just tap their device to ‘deliver here’ which takes their geolocation details and cross-references it with our data to suggest an address for the customer to verify. And they’ve completed all their delivery information in just two taps.

These are ways to make it even more simple, without ever moving away from verifying the details against robust, accurate reference data. It’s analogous to a swan gliding gracefully along the water, while beneath the surface there's a huge amount going on to make that happen. That’s what Loqate does: we’re constantly building our reference data, so addresses can be found and captured quickly, while ensuring the customer experience is simple and intuitive.

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