The global eCommerce industry is expected to demonstrate a CAGR of 22.9%, thereby reaching a market valuation of 39.51 trillion USD by 2026.
Despite such powerful stats backing the viability and success of the global eCommerce industry, a majority of such businesses fail within the first year of their conception.
And, if you don't know what leads to such a mammoth failure rate, then, unfortunately, you can soon be a member of this club!
With so many eCommerce setups across the globe selling similar types of products, what do you think might be the reason that shoppers prefer some websites over others?
If you are thinking of discounts, then no, that’s not the answer!
The answer to success in eCommerce is customer experience!
In this blog, we will discuss how eCommerce customer experience can transform your business, revenue, and brand equity.
We also share some surefire tips to improve your eCommerce customer experience that will help you revolutionize your sales and steer your business towards sustainable growth.
Let us begin by understanding what the eCommerce experience is.
What is eCommerce Customer Experience?
E-commerce customer experience is the means an eCommerce brand caters to customers' needs, concerns, doubts, and questions, before, during, and even after a sale is made. Query resolution, effortless transaction, impeccable support, and flawless offerings - all of them are crucial parts of the digital customer experience.
In other words, what customers feel and perceive about your online brand and its offerings is what forms the eCommerce customer experience.
So, if you wish to deliver amazing and delightful customer experiences, you have to ace the customer service game!
Why is Customer Experience so Important for eCommerce?
An eCommerce store is a digital shopping environment where you don't have a tangible method to serve or cater to your customers. Once you build an eCommerce website, your visitors have to visit your store, browse your offerings, choose the ones they find relevant and have to pay for them, even when there are a plethora of options to choose from. And, some of them might even be more affordable.
Always remember, neither all the shoppers are focusing entirely on quality nor do all of them have an average shopping budget.
Some of them just want to enjoy the exhilaration of online shopping and wish to avail the luxury of shopping from the comfort of their homes, even with a small budget.
This is also one of the major reasons that eCommerce setups in the SME segment are more profitable as compared to large enterprises.
Below, we give you not one or two but 5 rock-solid reasons why customer service for eCommerce setups is a business must-have!
1. More Satisfaction More Revenue
Studies reveal that 56% of B2B customers and 40% of consumers would pay more to get better services and enjoy a better shopping experience. And, these are also the customers who will never do business with a brand for a second time, in case their first experience has been poor.
When you are able to project the "customer experience" as your major USP, you instantly help yourself stand apart in the crowd of eCommerce setups.
You gain the advantage of having undivided attention from the shoppers that are seeking brands that deliver across their expectations and preferences.
2. Sharing is the New Normal
We live in a world where people love to share their life moments, achievements, and experiences so much so that they make a living out of them.
So, if they actually feel the "wow factor" while shopping with you, they are bound to share the same over their social media as well as among their friends and families. This earns you a free word-of-mouth marketing asset that is highly likely to recommend your brand and its offerings as well.
So, if you wish to make the most of this trend, then go that extra mile to delight your customers.
3. Once You Are Their Friend, They Will Give You Some Leeway
Stats report that 49% of the buyers have done impulse shopping after getting highly personalized experiences from a brand.
So, if you are willing to work a bit more on making your customers genuinely happy and satisfied with your brand, they are also willing to walk that extra mile and make some on-the-spot purchases.
4. Customer-Oriented Brands Grow More
Brands that offer customer experience-focused services experience more than 1.5 times year over year growth as compared to the other companies. These brands also register growth in repeat purchase rates, customer retention, and customer lifetime value.
Customer experience also fuels customer loyalty which goes a long way in this digital shopping scenario where customer interest is extremely volatile and subject to distraction.
5. Customers Are More Mobile, Well-Informed, and Ready to Do Some Research
Gone are the times when customers used to shop from the same website times and again because they lacked options. Empowered with the internet, razor-fast devices, and an urge to avail themselves of better products and services, they have become highly selective even if they have to search for them.
93% of customers check reviews, and 96% of them compare prices before making the purchase.
So, customer experience matters more than ever, and now is the time you start working on it.
Before moving on, we would like to quickly address the difference between e-commerce customer experience (ECX) and user experience (UX), as both the terms have been and are being used interchangeably, despite being different.
E-Commerce Customer Experience (ECX) vs. User Experience (UX)
ECX or e-commerce customer experience refers to everything that happens between your brand and your customers. On the other hand, UX refers to the functional aspects of this "everything".
In simpler words, UX is the ability of your customers to perform the tasks they intend to perform on visiting your eCommerce website in the most efficient manner. As the customers are "using" your website for shopping, the ease of using it, browsing various categories it has, and making sense of everything it features - all of them come under user experience.
And, any inability to accomplish all these and other goals that they have in their mind while visiting your website will lead to poor user experience, and ultimately, poor customer experience.
Using smart and impactful tools such as POWR Tabs will allow you to streamline the website and content navigation for your visitors. When the customers can find everything they want without much ado, they enjoy a seamless user experience that translates into a memorable customer experience.
Now that we have had a detailed overview of customer experience and its importance, let us move on to discuss the best ways to improve customer experience in eCommerce.
12 Ways to Improve the eCommerce Customer Experience
1. Smart Digital Transformation
It goes without saying that digitization is the key to organizational agility and helps you cater to the needs of modern digital customers. However, this digital transformation must also be done smartly keeping the organizational goals in mind.
BCG points out the three major challenges in digital transformation, as shown in the following visual:
Your digitization efforts must be planned keeping the following points in mind:
- Create customer segments with proper attributes
- Customized approach to marketing operations
- Well-defined organizational roles and responsibilities
Armed with smart and organization-relevant software and platforms, you will be able to:
- Gather customer data and website data
- Process the data with advanced analytics to discover hidden trends in customer experience
- Cater to customer pain points well before they escalate into turn-offs and lead to customer churn
2. Omnichannel Customer Experiences
Customer shopping experiences are no longer linear or universal. Due to the increase in smart wearables, TVs, technology-enabled devices, and beacons, the customer journey has become similar to a pretzel!
The following visual shows an overview of the complex, pretzel-like non-linear customer journeys:
The customers can start their shopping experience online, via mobile or desktop, or visit a physical store. They can also visit your website to shop for a particular product and later lose interest and leave without making a purchase and then buy the same product from some other website as well.
As the customer journeys become more fluid and hard to predict, the number of touchpoints that you must target has also increased. This is why you need to invest in an omnichannel customer experience.
So, as an eCommerce brand, you must keep track of your customers on all the platforms and target them via various channels, such as texts, calls, chats, social media mentions, emails, etc.
Also, you need to effectively measure which of these channels are driving most of your sales.
3. Mobile-Centric Services
As the world registered 21 bn mobile sales in 2021, there is no way you can excel at eCommerce customer experience without focusing on mobile-centric services. Right from having responsive websites to website designs that offer an app-like interface to the visitors, getting your eCommerce right is nothing short of a challenge.
However, by opting for smart offerings, such as mobile-only incentives, push notifications, barcode scanners, coupons, and virtual reality services, you can transform your customer experience.
AR app development costs will differ drastically depending on the project type you choose.
Creating an AR app with only a few 3D models and a marker will take little time and, of course, cost less than building an enterprise-grade AR system.
Geolocation-based AR also costs more than other types of AR.
Some brands that offer impeccable examples in this regard are Ulta, CVS, and IKEA. Their mobile-first and customer-oriented eCommerce strategies have made them absolute favorites among their customers and have steered the brands towards futuristic growth.
4. Invest in E-Commerce Customer Service Software
Investing in smart and intuitive retail eCommerce customer service software like ProProfs Help Desk will allow you to deliver impeccable support, boost your sales and improve customer retention. You can deliver multi-channel customer service and capture customer service metrics for an in-depth analysis of your customer satisfaction.
The software also offers automated workflows for better and faster query resolution, allows you to deliver personalized service, and promotes self-service via a self-service portal.
You can generate more leads with live chat & chatbots and automatically route the complex queries to expert agents for maintaining higher levels of customer satisfaction.
As the customers are able to get rapid and genuine solutions in a timely manner, the overall response time is reduced as well.
Finally, you can analyze the agent performance for different time periods, such as days, weeks, months, etc. to ensure higher workplace productivity.
5. Fast, Easy-to-Navigate, and Appealing Website
Your website is the very first thing your customers interact with, and it needs to be fast, highly intuitive, and extremely easy to browse. Next, the website must be appealing and offer a neat and intuitive UI. Categories, menu options, filters, and different sections must be designed keeping the end-user in mind.
If you have a crowded website with unorganized buttons or design aesthetics, you are going to confuse your customers and they are going to leave within the first few seconds.
Stats suggest that users' eyes land on the most influencing area of a website within the first 2.6 seconds. And, if your website fails to offer that appeal within those first few seconds, the user will exit the webpage with no intent to return anytime sooner.
The best practices suggest opting for a neat, clean, and extremely clear website design, preferably the F-shaped layout that allows better scrolling and better spanning of website options.
6. Audits and Optimization
To understand how your customers and visitors feel about your website and app, you need to look at them from your customers' perspective. This can be done via a full-fledged external audit. It will help you understand what ails the user experience on your website and how you can remove the pain points related to UX and website design.
If you are a budding eCommerce setup or an SME, you can opt for a partial audit as well.
Key considerations of every audit comprise the following:
- Site navigation
- Immersive experience
- Ease of finding things and options
Once the audit is done, you must go for website and app optimization. Optimization allows you to repurpose and present your website and brand offerings in a better and customer-centric manner. Optimizing your website will also facilitate better customer targeting and lead gathering.
7. Customer Segmentation
Even before you start decoding your customer personalization and customer service efforts, you need to work on customer segmentation. You must create smart, well-defined, and relevant customer segments or clusters where you group all the customers based on different criteria.
However, you must keep the following things in mind while creating customer segments, such as:
- Classification and characteristics must target the business offerings and customer preferences related to them
- Identify and use key levers, such as new products, promotions, assortment categories, etc., to form unique and disjoint customer segments
- Optimize your offerings as per the key capabilities required and implications for each customer segment
BCG recognizes 8 customer segments in a typical eCommerce model:
Once you have the customer segments ready, you must work on personalization, which we will address in the next section.
8. Personalized Customer Experiences
Personalization is the heart of flawless customer experiences and stems from a careful analysis of customer preferences and bundling of business offerings accordingly.
Once you know which type of customers you have and what are their shopping experiences and brand expectations, you just have to work on creating the right offering bundles for them.
However, you have to ensure personalization across all the business verticals, such as:
- Communication - personalized emails, texts, newsletters, etc.
- Incentives - personalized offers, discounts, payment options, etc.
- Catalogs - personalized website catalogs that show products and services the customer has previously used or bought
Further, if you wish to ace at eCommerce customer experience, online shopping experience, you need to offer personalized as well as diversified services, as customers are seeking them:
9. Personalize Smartly
While personalization is a powerful tool, it must be utilized smartly. Depending on the purchasing power, spending power, and recurrent spending power, there are three key forces behind the revenue streams of an eCommerce setup.
These key forces contribute to the revenue and brand equity differently and are:
- Emerging forces - Classic luxury buyers and segment leaders such as fashion icons, celebs, etc.
- Bargain hunters, and price buyers - Emerging influencers and people looking for personal gains for doing brand advocacy and promotions
- Backbone forces - Mainstream buyers, quality-focused recurrent buyers, and trend followers
You must keep your personalization efforts aligned with the buying sentiments and calling of all these three types of customer clusters you have. While the luxury buyers might buy only a few times a year, they have a huge potential for sales and promise great returns. Also, they are not enticed by deals or discounts, but latest season merchandise and extreme personalization.
Likewise, you personalize keeping prices in mind for bargain hunters and keep the backbone forces happy by offering steady personalization in categories they prefer.
10. Listen, Act and Deliver
Your customers are your valuable assets, and if they seek some help from you, you put their queries on priority.
Whenever your customers reach out to you, you must respond with genuine, relevant, and thoughtful communication. Some brands are doing an impeccable job in this regard, such as Amazon, eBay, Target, etc.
These brands have a rocket-fast response rate on all the channels they have and they actually act on the customer queries and pain points to make them feel valued irrespective of the type of concern they have.
Also, these brands never fail to deliver across the customer expectations and are ready with infallible customer support on all the communication channels, such as social media, calls, chats, and even brand mentions on public handles.
When your customers feel valued and listened to, they are highly unlikely to search for more reliable shoulders anywhere else.
11. Gather Proactive Feedback and Act on It
No one can tell the symptoms of a disease better than the patient themselves. Likewise, no one can tell you all that is great and all that is poor with your customer shopping experience.
Hence, gathering proactive feedback via forms, surveys, pop-up quizzes, etc., is one of the best ways to improve customer experience. However, merely gathering the feedback is a job half done.
You must process the feedback and act on it to ensure that your customers can actually feel the value of contributing to the feedback.
The success story of Glossier has been quoted many times in many customer service features and articles, especially because of the brand's alacrity in working on customer feedback. The brand rose from its humble beginnings and emerged as a customer-centric brand that resonates with their skin concerns, cosmetic issues and creates what they demand!
12. Consistency is the Best Policy
It is human nature to do the effort once and forget it entirely till the need arises yet again!
However, if you wish to escalate your eCommerce customer experience, you need to work on your brand offerings, services, customer policies, and customer support, consistently.
You can never be BFFs with your customers until you are with them every step of the journey they have with your brand.
You must be consistent when it comes to:
- Gathering feedback and acting on it
- Engaging and responding to customers wherever they are
- Resolving their pain points and queries
- Optimizing your services and website, or apps
Always remember, customer success is the result of the cumulative efforts that are ongoing, consistent, and improving without fail.
Okay, so we learned some ways to deliver delightful and meaningful customer experiences in eCommerce. Now, how to identify whether these efforts are actually paying-off or generating the desired results or not?
Let us find out in the next section.
Metrics to Measure Customer Experience
You can measure customer experience via some well-known and reliable metrics. We discuss some of them in this section.
1. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Surveys
Customer satisfaction or CSAT surveys measure how satisfied your customers are with your products, services, and brand experiences. CSAT surveys will help you find your CSAT score and gather valuable insights for revamping your business strategies for customer retention.
CSAT surveys can be conducted frequently for a thorough and reliable pulse check across your customer base. Surveys can be taken in different ways for deriving CSAT scores and obtaining data for creating well-defined customer segments.
2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is another reliable and famous metric that is used for customer experience programs and measures customer loyalty for a specific brand.
The NPS scores are generated from a single-question survey and range from -100 to +100. A higher score indicates highly satisfied customers and is a desirable goal for every brand conducting the NPS.
Zonka Feedback is a feedback system that allows you to take surveys on tablets (Android and iPads), touchscreen kiosks, online surveys on websites, emails, etc. Create surveys and customize them to fit your needs. It also includes real-time alerts, comprehensive feedback reports, and features that help close the feedback loop. It helps companies collect and analyze customer feedback. The software is designed to increase customer satisfaction and retention, improve your company's profitability and make you more competitive in the market.
3. Customer Retention and Loyalty
When you deliver excellent CX, your customers stay with you and become loyal brand advocates. This boosts your customer retention and customer loyalty statistics that you can measure with a smart and feature-rich customer service tool.
Both these metrics are smart and reliable indicators of your customers' satisfaction.
4. Customer Effort Score or CES
Customer Effort Score indicates the amount of effort your customers need to put in for completing a task on your eCommerce platform. For example, getting a support query resolved, finding a product or category they are looking for, etc.
CES is calculated by sending a post-interaction survey to your customers wherein you ask questions about their experience with your brand.
Some other metrics that you can use:
- Customer churn rate
- Monthly active user
- Customer referral rate
- Average resolution time
Up next, we share the top three brands that are slaying the eCommerce customer experience like a pro and are inspirations for brands across the globe.
3 Examples of Brands With Astounding Ecommerce Experience
Amazon has been slaying as a customer-first brand for years now and has been wowing its customers with sterling experiences, even in daunting niches, such as fulfillment.
Here are some stats that show how awesome this brand continues to be:
- Prime Day 2021 was hosted in 20 countries and resulted in 3.8 bn USD in sales
- More than 250 million items were bought by prime members
- Small business products registered 1.9 bn USD in sales
Excellent deliveries, returns, exchanges, refunds, amazing customer service, and support that never goes down - Amazon has got all the basics of happy customers right!
Its offerings in subscriber and VIP member zone are also engaging and the brand is making customers its fans with every passing year.
From excellent chatbots offering engaging customer conversations to product recommendations and guided customer shopping experiences, Sephora crafts a truly personalized and shop-like experience in the online format. The brand excels at every aspect - communication, catalog, and customer readiness.
What makes it stand apart in the crowd is its singular offerings, such as showing the look of a makeup product on a person via social media mentions to bypass the whole influencer circuit.
IKEA is not a shopping place, it is an experience zone! If you are visiting the online store, you get to experience the AR-based IKEA studio that offers you a vision into how well their products fit your space.
If you visit the physical stores, you fall in love with the entire place and the homely, rich, and engaging feel it offers. The brand offers highly customer-centric services, starting from the catalogs that you can mark online in the app.
What makes the brand resonate with people of all types of budgets is its robust alignment with usability, natural essence of living, and nature-inspired catalogs.
Unlock Customer Success in eCommerce: Walk That Extra Mile in Their Shoes
Customer success in eCommerce is a result of cumulative efforts repeated time and again with the same readiness and motivation to keep your customers happy. This urge to deliver excellent service stems from the willingness to steer your business towards sustainable growth.
And, the insights for consistent improvement come from the willingness and fairness of understanding the perspective of your customer.
Remember, excelling at customer experience and reaping its results is gradual yet rewarding.
So, follow the tips shared here and start transforming your customer experience today!