While direct-to-consumer brands may generally find that less is more when it comes to consumers’ checkout experiences, Sonos has found that for the high-consideration items it sells, adding more steps to the process can help consumers feel more confident in their purchases.

Sean Knotts, director of global eCommerce at the audio equipment company, told PYMNTS in an interview that the company has been retooling the cart and checkout experiences to cater to consumers’ desire to feel that their high-value purchases are being taken seriously.

“Millions of users add to cart on Sonos.com, and just 40% of those users actually continue to start checkout, so if you can improve that rate a little bit, you’re actually going to see a huge net impact,” Knotts said. “So, we ran … some user testing, and that indicated that actually moving away from the very ubiquitous single-page checkout flow to a three-step design, which … used to be the industry norm, was actually 4% easier for users to navigate.”

Given the high value of the products that Sonos sells, adding more steps helped contribute to consumers feeling surer of their purchases, he said When the company tested a checkout model with more steps in Australia and New Zealand, it saw a 23% increase in consumers’ “cart completion rate” and a 22% increase in other countries.

“Customers … want to have confidence and trust as they go through a checkout flow,” Knotts said. “And we found that our previous, single-page flow was almost too simple. It’s deceptively simple.”

Optimizing the Payment Experience

The company has also been tinkering to find the most effective, streamlined combination of payment options via its D2C online shop. Knotts said the brand’s options on offer — PayPal, Apple Pay and Klarna — have allowed “really broad global coverage,” such that adding more payment types could simply make the checkout look more like a busy “NASCAR logo lineup” without adding much value.

“We instead really just focused on how can we merchandise these payment types sitewide, how can we roll out the existing payment types we have in new markets as they become available, which was true for us for Klarna, and also how can we create a one-click zone on our cart page,” Knotts explained.

Overall, meeting consumers’ demand for their preferred payment options can be key to acquisition and loyalty. The PYMNTS Intelligence study “2024 Global Digital Shopping Index: The Rise of the Click-and-Mortar™ Shopper and What It Means for Merchants,” commissioned by Visa Acceptance Solutions, drew from a survey of nearly 14,000 consumers and more than 3,500 merchants across seven countries. It found that 3 in 4 respondents across the studied countries want to use their favorite payment method when shopping, and this factor plays into merchant preference.

Driving Multi-Product Purchasing With D2C

One of Sonos’s key goals in D2C is to drive up the number of its products that a given customer owns, creating synergies across devices to boost the value of buying multiple items.

Knotts said 40% of households own only one Sonos product, and to get them to own more, the company aims to showcase the benefits of a connected ecosystem. By offering curated product sets and emphasizing the advantages of multi-product setups, such as providing an immersive home theater experience, Sonos aims to drive repurchases and expand its footprint within existing households.

In general, many consumers are purchasing D2C. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “The Online Features Driving Consumers to Shop With Brands, Retailers or Marketplaces,” which drew from a survey of more than 3,500 U.S. consumers, found that 28% of shoppers probably or definitely prefer shopping on a brand’s site. Plus, the share is higher for consumers with cash to burn, given that 31% of those who earn more than $100,000 per year said the same.

Going Live

Knotts highlighted Sonos’ forays into live events as a means to bolster D2C engagement. By experimenting with various formats and content themes, the company aims to deepen customer interaction, particularly around product education and technical insights.

“The live events where we can really go deep on product and respond in real time to questions … while also curating some questions that we hear are commonalities across … a certain product or a certain category, those are the ones that seem to garner the most interest,” Knotts explained.

Additionally, the brand uses customer data to power audience segmentation and analysis of product usage patterns, tailoring recommendations and educational content to individual preferences. This personalized approach extends to marketing efforts, with a focus on creating relevant and engaging experiences across various touchpoints.

Looking ahead, Sonos plans to further refine its marketing technology stack to deliver more personalized experiences across various channels. The company anticipates continued investment in loyalty programs and paid social advertising.

Plus, social checkout could play a key role going forward.

“One of the trends we’re also starting to see others invest in is native social checkout,” Knotts said. “… We see a lot of sessions from paid social coming to the site through these in-app browsers. And so, making sure that we have an experience that is rooted in the ecosystem that they’re already in and allows them to with minimal clicks check out is something that we’re starting to invest in right now.”

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