After 2020’s big shift to e-commerce and a year’s worth of rising expectations for customer experience (CX), what’s the state of CX in digital commerce now? It’s a question worth asking because 87 percent of companies say they’ll compete on CX this year. Meanwhile, the ways that people can buy online keep evolving, which means there are more CX touchpoints to consider than ever. Traditional e-commerce, mobile commerce and social commerce each have their own customer expectations that merchants must meet in order to stay competitive.
E-Commerce: Seamless Experience, Same-Day Delivery or Pickup
Despite the light at the far end of the pandemic tunnel, many people plan to keep up the online shopping habits they’ve built over the past year. That’s true across markets, according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development survey, which polled consumers in several countries and found that “most respondents” plan to keep shopping online even once the threat of public contagion is past.
The big draws for many shoppers are curbside pickup options and same-day delivery. But many retailers are struggling to deliver the experiences shoppers expect. For example, Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Consumer survey found that 54 percent of customers say “it generally feels like sales, service and marketing don’t share information," but 76 percent expect a consistent experience from merchants.
Streamlining the curbside ordering and pickup process can help retailers deliver a better experience. This requires analyzing how customers move through the process using site and app data as well as customer feedback to identify problem areas. For example, many grocers are still working to optimize pickup time availability and reducing wait times at curbside, which requires real-time data visibility and ongoing analysis.
Meanwhile, retailers also need to make sure they’re giving shoppers the quick delivery options they want. Demand for same-day delivery, which rose dramatically during 2020, is still increasing, according to survey data by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate.
Making it easier for customers to receive their purchases, either at curbside or via same-day delivery, is the key to meeting the expectation consumers have for convenience now.
M-Commerce: High Standards For Low Friction
E-commerce is rapidly concentrating in the mobile channel, as younger millennials and Gen Zers rely on smartphones for virtually all their online shopping, according to CRMBuyer. Globally, Statista projects that mCommerce will make up 73 percent of total global online commerce by the end of this year.
However, that doesn’t mean the entire buying journey takes place on a phone. Sixty-six percent of customers in Salesforce’s consumer survey say they’ve used more than one device to start and complete the same transaction.
These numbers illustrate two big CX challenges for merchants now. First, the shopping experience must be optimized for mobile, with pages that load fast even when they’re image-heavy, navigation tools that are easy to see and tap, and a checkout that minimizes the number of steps and the amount of data customers have to enter, while still validating their information behind the scenes.
Second, the customer experience has to flow across all devices. For example, someone who adds merchandise to a cart on their phone and comes back to their order later on a laptop doesn’t want to have to reenter those items. If they log in to find their cart empty, they may give up and shop elsewhere. As with curbside pickup, unified data and monitoring of customer behavior can help merchants deliver the seamless experience customers expect no matter which device they’re using.
S-Commerce: Personalization and Recognition
Social commerce also got a boost during the pandemic, as more people spent time on social platforms and brands worked to reach them there. In the beauty vertical, some experts say that time spent on social “replaced trips to the mall” for window shopping and gathering information. With highly targeted shoppable posts and ads, social users can easily pick up a few things while they browse—as long as the experience is easy and seamless.
That means that when customers move from the social post or ad to the merchant’s app or site, they should be recognized right away. It’s jarring to get an invitation to make a purchase on your social feed only to be asked to reidentify yourself when you try to buy. That’s the kind of friction that turns shoppers away.
Customers also want to use social channels to reach merchants when they have a question, and 79 percent say it frustrates them when they can’t use their preferred channel to get customer service. Retailers that don’t offer social customer service should consider offering it in the channels where their target audience spends the most time—and using unified customer data to make it as efficient and personalized as possible.
Unifying data to reduce customer friction is the key to improving CX across the digital commerce spectrum, including social and mobile commerce. The big takeaway for this year is that customer expectations are higher than ever and delivering a true omnichannel experience across all devices and channels is what sets merchants apart now.