Customer Experience (CX) in the Ecommerce Era
In today’s market, offering a top-notch e-commerce customer experience is no longer just a nice extra—it’s a necessity to stay competitive. Customers now more than ever appreciate businesses that understand their needs, providing easy and memorable experiences on their preferred devices. A positive customer experience is crucial for retaining customers.
The online interaction with customers is now the key factor in building or losing business relationships. It’s where brand and retailer connections are often established, and how your online store fosters these connections can significantly impact customer loyalty.
To thrive as a digital-first business, prioritizing a great customer experience is a must. Companies that overlook this struggle to survive. This report discusses strategies on how you can create outstanding e-commerce customer experiences that truly set your brand apart.
Why Does Customer Experience Matter in Ecommerce?
Paying attention to your e-commerce customer experience is necessary for making your company more competitive and customer-focused, leading to increased sales and business growth. And there’s solid data supporting this.
Below are some key reasons why prioritizing customer experience is essential for your business.
- Customer Expectations Are High – The State Of Commerce Experience, a report commissioned by Forrester Consulting for Bloomreach, reveals that nearly half of buyers (40% of consumers and 56% of B2B customers) are willing to pay more for a better experience. They won’t return to a business with a poor experience.
- Common Pitfalls Lead to Customer Loss – Many businesses neglect basic features like easy website navigation, relevant search results, or clear product information. Nearly 80% of online shoppers abandon carts and purchases due to these issues, turning to competitors who meet their needs better.
- Business Consequences of Poor Experience – The same study shows that 98% of business decision-makers believe that not providing a seamless e-commerce customer experience has significant business implications, including a lower net promoter score (49%), reduced customer visits (48%), and lost revenue/market share to direct competitors (44%).
- Your Website Is More Than a Storefront – Many companies wrongly see their e-commerce customer experience as merely an online display shelf. However, digital commerce is more than just a sales channel. For instance, 65% of customers research a product online before visiting a physical store.
- Opportunities for Conversion – Online browsing has the power to inspire potential customers more than any other method. Visitors assess your online presence to understand what your brand offers, how you compare to others, and what they can gain from becoming a loyal customer. Managing Customer Experience (CXM) is crucial to capitalize on these opportunities and ensure a positive, stress-free experience at every stage.
E-commerce Customer Journey
The e-commerce transaction involves a multitude of touchpoints. The overarching goal is not only to enhance each touchpoint individually but also to ensure a seamless journey across these stages. All aspects should be interconnected, providing customers with a unified experience and reinforcing the sense that they are dealing with a cohesive entity.
- Awareness – Customers first encounter your business through various channels such as ads, word of mouth, social reviews, and search results. This initial stage is crucial as it sets the foundation for their perception of your brand, forming the basis of their awareness.
- Consideration – As customers become aware of your offerings, they enter the consideration phase. Here, they evaluate whether your products or services align with their needs. This involves comparing information from review sites, exploring your website and competitors’, reviewing promotional emails, and assessing factors like delivery and guarantees. Retargeting ads can also play a role in influencing their decision.
- Decision – Having considered their options, customers make the decision to purchase. This involves using your e-commerce platform to add items to their cart, applying discount codes if applicable, entering payment details, and completing the purchase. For those opting for financing, this is the stage where they set up payment plans. Confirmation receipts and shipping details received in their inbox finalize the decision-making process.
- Service/Ownership – Once the purchase is complete, customers move into the service and ownership phase. This involves receiving the product, interacting with it, and potentially reaching out for customer service and support. During this stage, customers may provide feedback, leave reviews on your website or other platforms, and engage with your brand post-purchase. If the product falls short of expectations, customers may utilize your returns and refunds process, including tasks like obtaining a shipping label, finding a drop-off location, or arranging for courier services.
Ways to Improve Ecommerce Customer Experience
These steps can significantly enhance your customer experience without breaking the bank.
Optimize Mobile Experience
Improve your mobile e-commerce (m-commerce) to meet rising consumer expectations. By 2021, m-commerce sales are expected to contribute to 54% of overall e-commerce revenue. Ensure your mobile site is easily accessible, optimized, and fast-loading, as 53% of users may leave if it takes over three seconds to load.
Consider creating a dedicated mobile app if a significant portion of your visitors use smartphones. Apps are more efficient than responsive designs and offer a better customer experience. Implement a digital transformation strategy, leveraging a digital identity platform to enrich the customer experience during the holiday season and beyond.
Comprehensive Mobile Strategy
Recognize that brick-and-mortar retail is still relevant. Apply a digital strategy with identity management to personalize the customer journey. Digitally engaged customers tend to spend twice as much. Incorporate mobile-friendly touchpoints into your marketing strategies to cater to the preferences of modern shoppers.
Below are strategies for both in-store and online experiences.
- Trigger relevant workflows when users engage with mobile devices.
- Provide on-the-spot buyer guides, product fact sheets, and upselling suggestions.
- Utilize e-commerce data for marketing schemes.
- Install in-store kiosks for comparing items.
- Synchronize customer profile and buying information across devices and physical locations using Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) software.
In short, integrate digital and traditional touchpoints with CIAM tools to build lasting customer satisfaction and loyalty. Expect increased mobile engagement through push notifications and SMS messaging.
Prioritize Employee Experience for Better Customer Retention
Boosting customer retention can be achieved by focusing on the employee experience. To make the most of the link between employee and customer experience, establish an employee experience portal. This portal, often an intranet system, sends personalized messages to employees, enhancing their engagement with customers. Begin by conducting surveys among employees to gain insights into what customers expect. Use these insights to introduce engagement programs and incentives.
Utilize Personalization and Loyalty Programs for E-Commerce Success
To excel in e-commerce, leverage personalization techniques and modernize loyalty programs. An example of evolving sales opportunities is the transformation of loyalty programs. Approximately 70% of shoppers prefer loyalty programs and gift cards for holiday shopping, with half of them spending more than they originally intended.
Optimize the customer’s personalized experience through an experiential approach. Instead of merely suggesting products based on browsing history, which can be perceived as invasive by over one-third of users, adopt a more experiential approach. Use predictive selling from user data to encourage loyalty redemptions and upsells. Enhance user targeting based on shopping activities by introducing a unique, branded currency to appeal to shoppers.
Emphasize Transparency for Strong Customer Engagement
With regulations like GDPR and CCPA, there’s little room for errors. E-commerce brands need to be transparent and promptly address any mistakes to prevent negative consequences.
Given the increasing importance of safety and transparency due to global data breaches, it’s crucial to choose an e-commerce digital experience platform that is GDPR compliant or provides tools to make your brand GDPR-ready.
Southwest Airlines, known as the largest low-cost carrier globally, highlights transparency as a key driver for its popularity. Their “Transfarency” campaign, promoting “no hidden fees or extra charges,” gained over 5 million likes on Facebook and built customer trust.
What about privacy?
Regardless of the e-commerce experience you provide, safeguarding customer data is crucial. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal private information.
Complicating matters, many customers don’t take adequate steps to protect themselves. According to CreditDonkey, 68% of customers use the same password for multiple websites. This underscores the importance of being extra vigilant when creating a secure e-commerce customer experience.
Tips to protect customer data
- Only collect and store necessary customer data.
- Avoid storing credit card numbers and customer names for a faster checkout.
- Require strong, complex passwords for added security.
- Enhance organizational control to prevent leaks and insider attacks.
- Implement website security with two-factor authentication and SSL certificates.
- Educate customers to identify suspicious behavior.
- Deploy a web application firewall with built-in DDoS protection.
- Have a backup solution to automatically back up files in case of a breach.
- Conduct security awareness training for employees to recognize suspicious activities.
- Develop a cybersecurity plan outlining actions to take after an attack.
- Stay updated with security patches to thwart data exploitation by hackers.
- Encrypt all passwords and sensitive customer data to ensure they are never compromised.
Effective Metrics for Evaluating Customer Experience (CX)
Conversion is not a good measure of success when it comes to customer experience which begs the question, what other measures are there?
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Customer satisfaction scores offer a straightforward measure of customer interactions. Utilized after interactions or purchases, CSAT provides insights into specific areas that need improvement. It not only captures customer feedback but also aids in evaluating and enhancing targeted aspects of your business.
Click rate serves as a valuable indicator of appeal, revealing the resonance of your brand messaging. It assesses whether customers are drawn to click on new products, discounts, or offers, providing a useful analysis of user experience and behavior on your site.
Given the importance of online presence, social engagement becomes a key metric. Social media serves as a primary interaction tool, allowing brands to integrate into customers’ daily lives. Successful social engagement signifies effective communication through various channels, capturing the attention of potential customers who may not have interacted with your brand before.
Support Ticket Trends
Support tickets are a reliable source for pinpointing areas needing improvement and common customer issues. Analyzing support ticket trends enables you to respond to customer needs promptly and make necessary adjustments to processes, websites, or products, contributing significantly to enhancing the overall e-commerce customer experience.
Prioritizing customer needs at every stage of the e-commerce journey is not just a strategic move, it’s a necessity. By implementing these strategies and safeguarding customer data, businesses can build lasting relationships, foster brand loyalty, and ultimately thrive in the world of e-commerce. Remember, a satisfied customer isn’t just a one-time buyer; they are a brand advocate and a valuable asset to the growth and success of your business.