What Goes Behind Delivering Delightful eCommerce Customer Experiences In 2021
When it comes to online shopping, your customers today have more options than they can possibly evaluate. You might be able to win over a shopper by offering an irresistible deal or discount once or t
When it comes to online shopping, your customers today have more options than they can possibly evaluate. You might be able to win over a shopper by offering an irresistible deal or discount once or twice, but it won’t help in turning one time buyers into loyalists. In 2021, if there’s one secret ingredient to staying ahead of the curve, it's this - a delightful customer experience.
In this post, we deep dive into how you can build a solid eCommerce customer experience strategy for your online store. This includes some evergreen eCommerce customer experience best practices, as well as the new tactics that have been recently added to the playbook.
Let’s start from the beginning.
But, what is eCommerce customer experience?
Customer experience encompasses all interactions a customer or potential customer has with your brand - it could be on your owned digital properties, social media, via communication channels such as email or chat, or even offline. It’s simply a measure of the kind of experience they have upon engaging with your brand and what the end result is.
With regard to eCommerce, customer experience defines the interaction a shopper has with your online store when browsing through your catalog, wishlisting products, placing an order, and even the service they receive post order placement.
Being able to make an informed purchase in minutes, accounts for a great eCommerce customer experience.
On the flip side, something as small as not being able to exchange a product easily, accounts for a bad customer experience.
Why is offering a great eCommerce customer experience even important?
eCommerce customer experience is one of the primary factors that influence shoppers’ buying decisions. It’s much more important than discounts, deals, and offers when it comes to determining customer loyalty. Shoppers are loyal to brands they know are always going to delight them and will never give them a chance to complain.
They would even go out of their way and purchase only from brands that offer a seamless customer experience as opposed to brands that couldn’t care less about it. Loyalty is not something you can win over by simply offering the best deals among your competitors. Instead, customer loyalty can only be won if you consistently strive to deliver delightful experiences that shoppers wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Here are some additional statistics to convince you:
86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience
74% of consumers are more likely to make online purchases based on the eCommerce customer experience alone
Needless to say, if the customer experience you offer is unmatched by your competitors, you wouldn’t have to worry about churn or retention. Customers would automatically prefer purchasing from you, no matter how irresistible the other deal is. Shoppers always remember the experience they had with a brand, and keep it in mind when deciding where to buy from the next time around.
Also, it’s 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. If you focus on improving your customer experience, you wouldn’t have to spend heavily on your revival and retention activities. Your loyal customer base will make sure they repeatedly purchase from your store and keep your retention figures high.
48% of consumers have left a website without making a purchase because of a poor customer experience
32% of customers stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad customer experience
Higher customer LTV
A significant part of your marketing efforts goes into getting one time buyers to repurchase from your store. By focusing on improving your customer experience based on the feedback you receive, you can expect to drive more ROI from each shopper by increasing their customer lifetime value. Loyal customers will not only purchase repeatedly from your store, but also spend more and stay longer.
Retained customers tend to pay a 17% price premium if it means getting excellent customer service from the brand
Better word of mouth
As customers, we inadvertently tend to share both good and bad experiences we have with brands with our close friends and family. As a brand, you want to be the one your customers talk positively about and recommend to others as shoppers take recommendations very seriously, especially when it comes to online shopping.
If your customer experience is something shoppers remember long after making a purchase, you will definitely benefit from the word of mouth promotions they do for you (and absolutely free of cost). Therefore, customer experience is worth investing in, especially because it will save you some big bucks on other marketing and advertising activities while driving better results.
64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers a great eCommerce customer experience
71% of consumers recommend a product or service simply because of a “great customer experience”
65% of all consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than any form of advertising
How can you improve the shopping experience on your online store?
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of focusing on improving customer experience on your online store, the next obvious question that comes to mind is - How exactly does one go about doing that?
Let’s take a look:
Perform thorough user research and get to know your shoppers better
You cannot improve your store’s user experience if you don’t know your target persona well enough. So, go back to the drawing board to comprehensively research who your target audience is. Make sure to drill down as deep as you can to understand their demographic and behavioral attributes, likes, dislikes, preferences, motivations, and aspirations.
Conduct usability tests, focus group discussions, interviews to get to know your audience better as well as how they perceive the shopping experience on your Shopify store. Tools such as eye tracking, session recordings, and heatmaps can come in handy in helping figure out how shoppers navigate through your site and app, the roadblocks they face, the elements that distract them, those that capture their attention, and much more.
The important part here is to not assume anything and focus on gathering all answers you can to craft your target persona(s) towards which all your future activities will cater. Once you have that, acing your eCommerce customer experience becomes so much easier.
Invest in an eCommerce live chat and humanize it
Customers crave instant resolutions. And while making an online purchase, they have plenty of questions that go unanswered in the usual product descriptions or FAQs. This is where an eCommerce live chat comes in, giving you an opportunity to talk to your store visitors just as you would in a brick and mortar store.
Now you can do this in two ways. First, you implement a chatbot on your store to instantly reply to your visitors, answering questions and concerns. You could use this chatbot to link them to information already available on your website.
But that’s not enough. According Harvard Business Review, your customers want to see the human behind a product when making a purchase. They’d also rather ‘talk’ to a human before making a purchase decision. This is where the second part of the live chat comes in - being able to step into a conversation to guide the visitor towards a conversion.
This is where an eCommerce live chat solution like TextChat steps in. It lets you leverage the power of chatbot automations and human conversations at the same time.
So when a visitor drops you a message, the app notifies you on SMS instantly with a one-click join link. You can open this link in your mobile browser and chat with your customer as easily as you would with a friend on text.
Now whether you’re managing your store all on your own with a team of people, TextChat helps you enhance the eCommerce customer experience you offer via the live chat. Quick turnaround times and a human touch have improved conversions by 135% for most!
Here are some additional numbers for you to crunch on:
69% of consumers said their customer service experience improves when agents don’t sound robotic
71% of customers expect customer service agents to already answers to their questions
Personalize all communication you can
If there’s one sure shot way to up the customer experience on your store, it is by personalizing your messaging. Customers demand exclusivity and customization. No one wants to buy from a brand that sends out automated, robotic communication that could be addressed to anyone and everyone. They expect each communication they receive to be personalized as per their likes, preferences, and needs so they can quickly make decisions. Therefore, make sure you personalize all your email, SMS, and push notifications to cater to each customer segment individually.
And don’t just stop at using first names in emails. Personalization today goes much beyond that. You can share personalized product recommendations on your store and via other channels, customize search results basis shoppers’ purchase history, share a year in review of customers’ purchases from your store, and so much more.
Thanks to the endless amount of data available at your disposal, any interaction you have with your audience can be personalized if you use it right.
Make your site and app user friendly
This is one of the most obvious steps, yet the most ignored sometimes. Customer experience is directly proportional to how user friendly your site and app are. If your online store is a pain to navigate through, has too many distractions, shows way too many pop ups, does not have a proper flow, and is overall complicated, your customer experience can never be smooth and seamless.
Therefore, one crucial step would be to increase the user friendliness of your site and app. Make sure the navigation is absolutely frictionless, shoppers are able to find what they came for within seconds, and your header and footer share the most relevant links including - Categories, Cart, Profile/Account, Wishlist, About, Contact Us, FAQ, Shipping Policy, Terms, and so on.
Next, make sure all important flows such as onboarding and checkout are simplified to avoid overwhelming shoppers. Also, ensure the cart button is omnipresent so shoppers can navigate to their carts at any point in their shopping journey. Try streamlining category pages too. For example, you could provide “Add to cart” and “Wishlist” options on the category pages itself so shoppers who are in a hurry can shortlist products directly from there.
Filters are an extremely important aspect when shopping online. Try to offer as many relevant and useful custom filters as you can. It helps shoppers narrow down on their choices and get to their desired products much faster. Without helpful filters, it can be extremely tough for visitors to find a product that meets all their criteria and they might just end up dropping off.
As online shoppers have a few trusted payment modes that they use repeatedly, try to offer as many payment modes as possible so that no drop offs occur due to lack of availability of a preferred payment method.
Streamline your checkout flow
No matter how well you optimize other aspects of your online store, the buck really stops at the checkout process. If your checkout flow is full of distractions, has unnecessary steps and long form fields, or has unanticipated surprises, shoppers are going to drop off, no matter how high their purchase intent was.
Therefore, optimizing your checkout flow should be one of your topmost priorities to improve your store’s overall customer experience. All stages of your checkout should be seamless enough to nudge shoppers to complete the process as quickly as possible, without having any second thoughts.
To start with, make sure you mention shipping and all other charges upfront on the cart page so that shoppers don’t face any unpleasant surprises later on. Also, remove all distractions from the checkout page and ensure it is as cluttered as possible. Add only trust elements to these pages. Offer an option to checkout as a guest and don’t force shoppers to create an account to checkout. Very often, this ends up annoying them and they abandon their carts.
You could also consider enabling one click checkouts. This is extremely valuable for on the go, mobile shoppers who don’t have time to go through the entire checkout process and have all their details saved.
You can read a comprehensive guide on designing a great checkout process, by CXL, here.
A/B test your product pages
Product pages are where shoppers spend the majority of their time and make their final decision. And, how you design these pages determines a whole lot about their decision. Therefore, instead of taking the conventional approach, spend some time designing a couple of options and then A/B test them. Let actual shoppers decide which one they prefer, so you can make a data-backed decision of implementing the right one universally.
Some best practices to keep in mind would be to declutter your product pages to ensure product descriptions stand out and try product videos instead of images to give shoppers a sense of what the product in use looks like. Leverage customer reviews as social proof so shoppers don’t have to open another tab to look for reviews and ratings. Overall, just bear in mind that the product needs to be the hero and every other element is just there to support it.
Ensure your CTAs such as “Buy Now” and “Add to Wishlist” stand out and are sticky so they can be accessed from any fold of the page. Most importantly, do mention all shipping and additional charges related information on your product pages itself. You could even add a shipping and handling charges calculator so shoppers can calculate the same for their locations.
Looking for some good examples? Check out this article by Sleeknote that will inspire you to experiment with product pages like these:
Up your customer support game
No matter how extensive your product catalog is and how irresistible deals you offer on your store, if your customer support doesn’t leave shoppers satisfied, they will never come back. So, make sure your customer support is best in class, so that even if shoppers are not attracted by your enticing price range or fancy products, they prefer sticking to your brand as they are assured of the service they will receive.
Since it’s the era of omnichannel, your customer support cannot possibly be restricted to just email and phone. Offer live chat, chatbots, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and even text support so that shoppers always have an abundant choice. Also, ensure your average turnaround time is as low as possible as no one likes to wait to get a response, more so when they are frustrated with the product or service not being up to the mark.
You can even offer self help guides on your site and app that are much beyond FAQs, so shoppers can try resolving issues by themselves before they reach out. This would save their time as well as yours. These should include How to videos and detailed steps to troubleshoot an issue. Finally, focus on real time resolution as that’s where the world is headed and customers appreciate brands who respect their time and are proactive enough to tackle concerns with agility.
Here’s a simple example of an eCommerce FAQ section:
Improve engagement on social media
Social media is an important channel where your customers, potential customers, and target audience interacts with your brand the most (apart from your store itself). Therefore, improved engagement on social channels can go a long way in improving your customers’ overall experience. Be consistent with your social posts, both in sharing updates as well as engaging content. Also, be agile as you can in responding to positive as well as negative comments.
Apart from hygiene best practices, come up with various ways you can engage your audiences and improve their overall experience beyond just shopping on your store. For instance, contests and giveaways are a great way to keep customers hooked to your social handles. It not only encourages them to try out your products, but also to share their feedback with your larger community. You could even conduct AMA sessions with experts in the industry and invite questions and queries from customers to be answered by them.
Trying out various formats will help you figure out what works best for your audience so you can double down on it. Whatever you do, make sure you remain consistent and aligned with your brand’s overall tone of voice so your audience immediately resonates with it as soon as they see a post while scrolling through endless ones.
Never shy away from asking for feedback
Customer experience is all about what your customer wants and you should never miss an opportunity to hear straight from the horse’s mouth i.e. - your customer themself. The only way to do that is by regularly asking for feedback as it would give you qualitative insights into what your store’s shopping experience is lacking and how you can improve it.
Make sure you leverage all opportunities to ask for feedback around what customers are enjoying while shopping on your store, what they wish was better, what would make them visit and shop more often, and how likely they are to recommend you to others. You could also ask shoppers to rate and review your delivery and post sale service.
Use feedback strategically to improve subtle and essential aspects of your store so you can turn infrequent buyers into loyal shoppers. You could prompt feedback questions on thank you pages, through email and SMS, or even run polls on your homepage using an app like Qrite.
One tactic to increase the completion rate of your feedback forms is by offering incentives to do so. You could offer free store credits or loyalty points that shoppers can redeem on their next purchase to nudge them to share their opinion.
Upgrade your post sale service
The point where a customer makes a purchase is only the beginning of their relationship with your brand. The quality of the post sale service you offer determines whether they are likely to return to your store or not. This includes delivering the order on time, sharing timely updates on the status of the order, asking for feedback once the product is delivered, as well offering a timely resolution in case they have any concerns or questions.
Therefore, focus on these aspects as well when strategizing to improve your customer experience. These little things go a long way in defining a shopping journey and delighting customers. If a customer is unsatisfied with post sale service, they are very less likely to return to any store. On the flip side, if they are satisfied with the post sale service, they will keep returning to a particular store, no matter what.
Post sale service also extends to nurturing customers via email and other channels, timely reaching out on special occasions, offering exclusive discounts for next purchases, announcing seasonal sales and offers, and so on. Constantly strive to improve your post sales service and you’ve won a customer for a lifetime!
Let’s redefine eCommerce customer experience!
Customer experience can never really have a straightforward definition or a single playbook. To win at it, you just need to understand your target audience really well and make sure your store is optimized to cater to their likes, preferences, motivations, or aspirations.
And, every little change you make, you do it keeping the customer at the forefront.
Beyond that, it's all just a matter of experimenting. So, feel free to experiment all you want to gather data backed answers to what works and why it does.
Ready to take your eCommerce customer experience to another level?