Written by AJ Leale, Sr. Director eCommerce
There are countless products and services in the market, often similar in quality. We could argue that the only hope for businesses to secure a return customer base lies in a personalized, highly-convenient eCommerce experience.
Customer experience (CX) helps boost customer retention, which itself is important — the success rate of selling to existing customers is 60–70%, compared to a 5–20% success rate with new customers.
Plus, when it comes to brand loyalty, customer experience can be a deal-breaker. Good CX leads to positive customer satisfaction, which in turn, translates to repeat purchases.
So today, we’ll look at eight steps you can take to improve your customers’ eCommerce experience.
Step 1: Talk to your customers
Excellent customer experience is a two-way street; the only way for you to deliver it is to understand your customers.
Today, many businesses rely on advanced analytics to decipher their users’ needs. While this certainly provides solid results, it’s important not to forget the value of direct, face-to-face communication.
You should be conducting focus groups, doing plenty of user testing, and involving users in new designs — all from the get-go.
Try to understand the usability issues and involve customers regularly. This feedback can sometimes be more telling than the insights you’ll get by relying solely on big data.
Step 2: Reduce the checkout hassle
Checkout is often cited as one of the key reasons for high cart abandonment rates. This matters because, from the seller’s perspective, the checkout page is where the money changes hands.
This means that the customer experience on the checkout page needs to be nothing short of spectacular in terms of usability. It must create no extra work to slow the customer down and cause them to have second thoughts.
Eliminating checkout friction is no easy task, but there are some things you can start fixing now:
- Reduce and simplify multi-page checkouts with dozens of form fields. Most customers don’t have the time or patience for these.
- Allow shopping cart viewing. Instead of taking shoppers straight to the cart page, allow a mini shopping cart sidebar, so that users can continue shopping and managing items in their cart without having to go to the actual cart page.
- Enable a variety of payment options. People want to be able to choose how they pay. Each customer has their own unique shopping habits and convenience standards.
- Allow users to preview final charges before starting the checkout process. A study by UPS and ComScore (via Medium) found that nearly 40% of users abandon carts when the information on final charges is presented too late in the checkout process.
Step 3: Optimize mobile shopping
Mobile shopping is a significant revenue source for eCommerce. In the past six months alone, 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile devices. This means you absolutely must cater to your mobile shoppers.
This also means that if you offer a poor eCommerce experience on mobile devices, you’re likely letting down nearly a half of your potential customer base. Even if the purchase itself doesn’t take place on a mobile device, your customers are bound to interact with your brand via mobile at some point.
To deliver a smooth eCommerce experience on mobile, here’s what you need to do:
- Ensure blazing-fast loading speed on mobile
- Use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool
- Remove unnecessary content from your pages
- Use HTML local storage specification for better loading times
- Eliminate pop-ups, which only hinder the experience
Step 4: Make sure your site is fast
According to Kissmetrics, 47% of customers expect a website to load in two seconds or less. Also, Google expects it — the site speed is one of the ranking signals for SEO. A study by Eggplant found that 80% of users said a slow-loading website was more frustrating than a website that was temporarily down.
Not only does a slow-loading website push up the bounce rate (according to an Akamai report, there is a 103% increase in bounce rate with a web page load time delay of two seconds), but it also negatively affects customer experience and satisfaction.
For every second beyond three seconds that customers have to wait, there is a 16% reduction in customer satisfaction, according to Kissmetrics.
In addition, customers who are dissatisfied with your website speed are less likely to make a repeat purchase and more likely to spread the word about a bad online shopping experience.
So, make it your priority to cut down the website loading time on your website and thus ensure good customer experience. Without it, your shoppers will abandon their carts.
Step 5: Ensure smooth website navigation
Smooth website navigation is paramount for a great eCommerce experience. It’s how you show your customers you understand and have taken into account their needs and wants at each step.
Two important aspects to mention here are catalogue structure and website navigation. To ensure a quick fix, use guided navigation to give customers the right choices and the right amount of choices at the right time, so they are not overwhelmed.
Also, use anticipatory design. This means assuming (and testing) how your customers will be interacting with your website, in order to create less work for them.
The key thing to do here is to focus on the usability of your website and check with your customers through focus groups and user testing.
Step 6: Educate with high-quality content
Targeted, high-quality, information-rich content should be one of the key components of your customer experience strategy.
Because good content leads to better CX, and as a result, good content helps build trust.
So, how can you take your content to the next level?
First, include video demonstrations of how your product works. Take a look at how the Bellroy belts use videos to showcase their products. Videos are not only highly engaging but also help demonstrate how complex products work. This gives you more brand credibility and triggers a sense of familiarity and closeness with your shoppers.
Second, use context-rich visuals. People don’t have much patience to read through walls of text. To make sure they still get the message, transform parts of your content into infographics or original illustrations that grab attention but, just as importantly, deliver your message. Take a look at Nike, Sharpie, Volkswagen, or Starbucks for some good examples.
Third, make sure to build great product pages. These are the backbone of your website. A good product website should inform, not impress or intimidate. Include customer reviews, videos of your product in action, and user-generated content. Tell a story that’s free of jargon, but rather gives users something before asking anything of them.
Fourth, use your blog to write about actual concrete bits of advice for your customers. Start by addressing customer questions and feedback through well-researched, simple-to-understand content.
Finally, consider augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) to provide an immersive experience.
In every step, make sure that being accurate and informative are your top priorities.
Step 7: Personalize transactional emails
Transactional emails (such as order confirmations, password resets, email receipts, shipping confirmation, delivery confirmation, etc.) sadly tend to get overlooked—but they shouldn’t be.
In fact, it’s through these interactions that you can satisfy customers and improve their overall experience.
A good number of brands fall into the trap of sending out generic transactional emails that are both inconsistent with the brand tone and voice and also provide little to no information. This is often due to the misconception that very few customers pay attention to these emails.
While this might be true, customers will definitely notice a lack of effort on your end if you keep sending them half-baked emails.
Instead, use the opportunity to give meaningful information and remember to keep the tone and voice consistent with the rest of the brand. There is no better place to start building loyalty than through these emails.
The good news is that writing transactional emails need not be hard labor. There are tools like Narvar that can help you with personalization and using transactional emails to continue to improve the CX.
Here are a couple of good examples of transactional emails curated by Sendgrid to help you get started.
Step 8: Support social commerce
Social commerce is on the rise — and judging by recent stats, it’s only going to continue exploding.
A study by BigCommerce found that 30% of online shoppers would likely buy directly from a social media network. At the same time, 87% of eCommerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision.
These stats should not be ignored.
Enabling purchases through social media can be a significant source of revenue for your brand.
In addition, given the constant rise of social media and mobile users worldwide (currently around 3.5 and 5 billion people, respectively), enabling social commerce helps you ensure a great eCommerce experience for your shoppers.
The features you should consider implementing first are the option to make a purchase directly through a social media post (Pinterest can serve as good inspiration), managing orders and shipping, and running personalized ads based on the social media channel.
First define a strategy of what you want to achieve, connect with users and ask for feedback, then connect with influencers and create a community around your brand.
Improving eCommerce experience should be a top priority for any brand. By executing these eight steps, you will not only ensure momentary customer satisfaction but more importantly — you will build a lasting relationship with your customers. And that’s the ultimate indicator of success.
If you want to take your eCommerce experience to the next level, contact us and let us help you identify and implement strategies specifically tailored to your business.