CMO at AdScale, the leading marketing platform for e-commerce.
The explosion of online shopping has made it easier for businesses to reach broad audiences with very few barriers.
While it made the industry ripe for competition, it also introduced an obstacle businesses must tackle to scale their operations to the next level: the customer’s online shopping experience.
Also known as customer experience (CX), this explores better ways of engaging with customers throughout the buying journey. It leverages customer data to build a CX strategy that will improve sales in the short term and encourage brand loyalty in the long term.
But why has CX become more important than ever, especially for e-commerce businesses?
In the world of e-commerce, the experience of in-store shopping has disappeared entirely for some businesses. And this is where high-end customer experiences can help a business get ahead of its competitors.
Strategies To Improve The Online-Shopping Experience For Customers
1. Provide more information.
From product images to customer reviews, more information about your products will help the customer make an informed choice. In contrast, a lack of information may lead visitors to click away from your listing. To increase engagement and conversions, improve the quality of information you provide. Use high-definition photos of the actual product and list all the essential details that will compel visitors to click “purchase.” Many e-commerce stores don’t provide details about the stock availability of tangible products. You can boost transparency by providing customers with information like backorder dates, delivery options and availability.
2. Enable self-service.
E-commerce customers are savvy, and user experience has become a crucial tipping point that can make or break a sale. Unfortunately, many businesses still make it difficult for customers by making them navigate complex customer service or help desk features. A simple solution to encourage self-service online is to build a knowledge base so customers can look up solutions to their problems independently.
3. Use customer data.
Customer data is invaluable to businesses — geolocation, previous purchases, browsing history and reviews are important details you should leverage to elevate customer service. You may already be using customer data for research and development or marketing. But CX is another area that could benefit from it. Customer data offers information particular to the customers visiting your website, purchasing your products or accessing your customer services. You can gather the data, interpret behavior and categorize patterns for different consumers. You can then come up with different strategies for every group you identify.
Personalization can provide a significant boost to CX. The primary purpose of personalization is to provide customers with a superior shopping experience by responding to their unique queries. It is pretty easy to implement personalization into customer service, given all the data you can access. Simple location details, product research, reviews, comments, feedback, complaints and browsing history will give you everything you need to give your customers a unique experience.
5. Reduce response time.
Convenience is one of the biggest differences between in-store and online shopping. This should be reflected in the response time of customer service operations. Whether you communicate via chatbots or on social media channels, the faster your responses to queries and complaints, the happier your customers will generally be.
6. Use a cross-selling strategy.
Cross-selling involves giving customers suggestions for complementary products or services with each item they browse or purchase. Businesses can use these methods for cross-selling.
• Discount offers.
• Product bundles.
One cross-selling strategy businesses can use is leveraging AI to understand customer behavior patterns and help them navigate the buyer journey. This can reduce their need to look up related products they may be interested in.
While cross-selling can increase sales by improving CX, it can require some finesse to employ a strategy that works. Often, businesses get it wrong and drive away consumers with intrusive and irrelevant suggestions. Test your cross-selling efforts with a small group of customers and get their feedback before a wide launch.
7. Make your website mobile-friendly.
With the continued adoption of smartphones by customers of all age groups, a mobile-friendly website is vital for continued success.
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to develop mobile apps, responsive website designs and purpose-driven web pages.
8. Reduce load time.
Slow load time is a significant threat to any online business in this day and age. And while load times of three seconds or less are often adequate, they aren’t ideal.
Websites should load within a split second, or else you risk visitors bouncing. With so many e-commerce options out there, customers can quickly abandon a slow-loading or glitching page and move on to the competition.
9. Allow users to save carts.
Browsing and adding products to a cart is a popular pastime for online shoppers. However, the rate of cart abandonment in March 2021 was nearly 80%, according to Statista data (paywall).
One of the ways to avert this is by allowing customers to save their carts for the future. If visitors are not ready to make the purchase, they can come back later to check out or add more items.
10. Provide a seamless experience across multiple channels.
Customers are accessing websites from multiple devices, and it’s important to understand how they move across multiple channels.
This includes the start of their journey (during the research phase) and the end when they’re ready to purchase or use the product.
Yet numerous businesses still lose customers due to a jarring experience of moving between channels. 2020 Salesforce research found that up to 54% of consumers reported that they felt like they were interacting with siloed departments instead of a unified business.
Creating a seamless omnichannel experience involves understanding target audiences, analyzing their journey, anticipating their needs and delivering on all fronts.
While there are plenty of strategies to improve your customers’ online experience, it takes time to implement all of them successfully.
As important as it is to understand what you need to do, it is also important to understand what you shouldn’t do. Make sure you aren’t making the common e-commerce mistakes I discussed on my company’s blog that could be dragging your business down.