Ecommerce customer experience is expected to be the top priority for businesses over the next five years. These merchants are reading the room correctly: 73% of shoppers consider their overall experience on a merchant site to be an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
However, they have long way to go. Only 49% of customers in the U.S. feel that merchants offer a good customer experience.
The good news? Improving customer experience can provide a great ROI. In fact, 42% of customers would be willing to pay more, if it meant having a better customer experience
What does all this mean? It means merchants need to focus on understanding their customers and improving their ecommerce customer experience to keep those customers coming back. Here are nine ways merchants can do that:
9 Ways to Improve Ecommerce Customer Experience
- Maintain Cross-Channel Consistency
- Be Personal In Communications
- Make Mobile a Priority
- Surprise Customers with Content Offers
- Solve Problems with Product Information
- Share Customer Reviews and Feedback
- Keep Customers Informed
- Adjust Platform Fraud Filters
- Create a Smart and Easy Checkout
1. Maintain Cross-Channel Consistency
Ecommerce shoppers use multiple channels to make purchases, and the number of channels will likely increase over time. But customers get frustrated when the purchase they started on their mobile device can’t be completed on their desktop because of functional inconsistency or because the navigation is different and confusing.
To create a great ecommerce customer experience, merchants need to make sure the look, feel, and functionality of their online store is the same or comparable across channels.
2. Use Personalized Communications
Remember this is the customer “experience”. In the same way a sales representative is trained to welcome a customer into a store and make them feel that their business matters, merchant’s online stores should do the same.
Make the tone and wording on all website pages clear, friendly, and personal. Incorporate live chat and chatbot services to provide that interactive experience of talking to a helpful and knowledgeable salesperson. Be creative with purchase confirmation, thank you, and follow up emails.
Find ways to keep customers engaged so they feel important and valued as customers. Customers are more than their purchases – be sure to focus on the relationship to gain loyalty and repeat business.
3. Make Mobile a Priority
On the fence about whether to invest in a mobile app? Half of all online shoppers use a mobile device of some sort for at least a portion of their purchase. That makes mobile presence more important than ever.
But don’t make the mistake of simply optimizing your desktop ecommerce site for mobile. Many businesses do this, and the ecommerce mobile experience suffers as a result.
Instead, make mobile navigation easy, seamless, and perfectly complementary to what customers see on their desktops. When it comes to searchability, give customers options for searches, filters, and logic that provide useful results. Finally, pay attention to load times for all channels. Consider whether a progressive web application (or PWA) is the right solution.
4. Delight Customers (and Prospects) with Content and Offers
Everyone loves to be pleasantly surprised, especially customers. Content that is engaging, fun, and even educational makes a merchant’s online store more attractive and, inherently, provides a better ecommerce customer experience.
How to do this? Offer discounts for first purchases, holidays, and quirky celebrations unique to the brand. The idea is to keep customers interested enough to come back, make more purchases, and rave about a merchant’s brand and online shopping experience.
Keep in mind that customers typically don’t make a purchase until after at least 5 interactions, so a great customer experience every time they interact is crucial.
5. Solve Problems with Detailed Product Information
Customers are ultimately shopping to solve a problem or problems they have. Before a merchant even begins to market their products, they should know what those problems are and how their product or service solves them.
Understand how the product will be used – the use case – and describe the product in such a way that its details, dimensions, weight, color(s), and other features help the customer resolve their problem. Remember to consider how products can be filtered and featured together to solve problems. For example, by color, by size, by fit, by season, and so on.
6. Share Customer Reviews and Feedback
Customers are more likely to believe and trust the opinions of other customers over a merchant’s messages, so they look for that type of content when they are shopping. Merchants can improve their ecommerce customer experience by featuring reviews and feedback on product pages and throughout their site.
Recent research shows that 94% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a business that receives a positive rating. However, they need to read 40 online reviews before they believe a merchant’s average star rating.
Merchants should make a point of soliciting reviews, user-generated photos, and more from their customers. The great reviews will help customers feel more confident in their purchase. And the not-so-great reviews? They’ll provide the seller with priceless data on how to improve.
7. Keep Customers Informed About Shipping Status
Think about the shipping issues that have plagued the ecommerce industry over the past year. How a merchant communicates stock issues or delivery delays can make or break the customer relationship. Connect inventory management data to product pages so customers aren’t unpleasantly surprised by an out-of-stock notification after they put something in their cart (or worse, after they complete their purchase.)
Shipping is a little trickier, especially for merchants that dropship. Work with manufacturers and warehouses to link product availability and shipping timeframes to product and checkout pages. Keep customers up-to-date with tracking numbers and links to major shippers. In general, it’s not the delays that irk customers the most – it’s the lack of communication.
8. Adjust Ecommerce Platform Fraud Filters
Most ecommerce platforms come with some level of fraud filters designed to help merchants avoid criminal fraud.
While these filters can be helpful, merchants need to incorporate them into a larger fraud prevention and protection strategy to make sure those filters are not damaging the ecommerce customer experience on their site. Left unchecked, these filters can cause more false declines and reduce the number of impulse buys, which are the lifeblood of many online merchant stores.
Learn how to combine your ecommerce platform filters with a fraud protection strategy.
9. Create a Smart and Easy Checkout
A merchant can create a superior ecommerce customer experience … and undo the entire effort with a poor checkout experience. In fact, 50% of customers cite problems with checkout as the reason for abandoned purchases. That ease, friendliness, and personalization in the online store needs to extend right through to checkout – and beyond.
Offer a range of payment options with links to PayPal, AmazonPay, GooglePay, and other payment processing partners. Make sure the products in a customer’s cart stay in the cart when they transition between channels. Don’t forget to clearly spell out return policies and provide multiple ways for customers to ask questions and report issues. This not only helps create a better checkout, it also reduces the likelihood of friendly fraud and chargebacks.
Creating a better ecommerce customer experience begins with the customer – understanding them and their process for making purchasing decisions. Just last month, ClearSale published our 2020 consumer behavior study that highlights the importance of a merchant’s ecommerce customer experience, as well as the expectations and needs that shape customer behavior. Check out this useful report to better understand how customer behavior will continue to shape the ecommerce industry for years to come.