Customer Experience

How to improve the E-commerce customer experience

E-commerce shopping has changed the retail landscape as more and more consumers are looking for convenience, variety, and competitive pricing. E-commerce sales are projected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021, which proves that this massive shift from traditional retail is not going away anytime soon. This year, Toys R Us and Babies Are Us closed all of their retail locations, Best Buy announced it’s closing 250 mall-based mobile phone stores, and Sam’s Club is closing 63 stores and converting 12 of them to e-commerce fulfillment centers.

As consumers turn to online shopping, their expectations for customer experience also continue to rise. Research from HubSpot found that 80% of consumers would stop doing business with a company because of a poor customer experience. Providing an excellent e-commerce customer experience is not only helpful for business, it’s a necessity.

1. User-friendly website

Customers want an easy-to-navigate interface that allows them to browse your products and find exactly what they need. The store should be organized by categories, just like a physical store is. The search button must be easy to find and everything should be tagged and categorized on the back end. In e-commerce, customers tend to fall into three categories: those that know what they want, those that are browsing, and those that need help filtering through your products. A good search feature allows all customer types to get their needs met.

A good example is Zara’s website. It lists all of the categories on the left sidebar and the search bar is big and clearly visible at the top. It’s simple and doesn’t offer the consumer too many options.

2. Seamless Checkout Process

Creating an easy checkout process could reduce the number of abandoned carts you see. The checkout process should be simple, the shopping cart should be visible from every page, and payments must be secure. Offering many types of checkout options, including Paypal will ensure your customer doesn't get to checkout, only to find you don’t take his preferred payment method.

If you find that you have a high abandoned cart rate, you can quickly deploy a survey on your website to see if what the issue is. One Qualtrics customer rolled out a new checkout process on their e-commerce site and found they that they were losing thousands of dollars a minute after the release. After deploying a quick survey, they found it was a simple form field formatting issue that required dates to be formatted a certain way, but the error message didn’t tell users what they were doing wrong.

3. Personalize Experiences

Personalization is more than just putting the customer’s name on email messages. Content, product offers, and even ads should be relevant to the user or they will get frustrated. Use real-time info like location or product-browsing history to give users offers, or make recommendations based on purchases by similar customers or their feedback in surveys. Segment’s State of Personalization Report says that customers expect highly personalized experiences are willing to pay more for them. Consequently, 71% of people are frustrated when their experience is impersonal. Personalization drives impulse purchases, leads to fewer returns, and creates loyalty.

Amazon does a great job of personalization. When you go to their homepage, they give you personalized recommendation based on your recent purchases and shopping trends.

4. Provide product support

Since many consumers are purchasing your products online, they also want online customer support. By offering multiple channels for customer support like live chats, product support pages, forums, etc., you can increase the chance they get their questions answered. If you only offer one or two types of support options and customers can’t get their questions answered quickly, they may search for a competitor with an easier-to-understand site. Just like people can ask a clerk for help in a brick and mortar retail store, they must be able to talk to a live person about product questions, and many consumers prefer doing this over real-time chat.

5. Compelling product pages

A compelling product page must have descriptive copy, captivating visuals, and clear navigation. Communicate your value proposition immediately and include pricing, a product description, and photos of the product in use. Consumers should know exactly what your products can do for them and they should be able to visualize themselves using the product. Every detail of your website should be on-brand, including the copy on the product pages. Because social proof is important in today’s world, you should have user-generated content like reviews to add validity.

The Fitbit Charge 2 product page explains each feature. Although it’s a lot of text, the icons break it up and make it easily digestible. They have photos of the product being used, and information on sizing and specs, making it comprehensive and leaving little room for questions.

6. Optimize for mobile

More than one-third of e-commerce transactions occur on smartphones, so the mobile experience should be easy. Make sure your forms are autofilled-enabled on android and chrome, so the user has to do less typing. When the user does have to type, your fields should be formatted so that the number keypad pops up instead of the QWERTY keyboard.

Research by Google suggests that 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, so pages must load fast. This means you might need to exclude some of the fields you want to get from a mobile-user to make the process easier.

7. Use educational and compelling content on your website

Content can be used as a customer acquisition tool— to attract and build your audience—but is can also be a resource they continually use to get expert advice on a topic. By creating content that consumers want to read and adds value to their lives, it builds brand trust and a reason to keep coming back to your website.

Content should be published frequently and consistently, and be clearly integrated into the site. You could include infographics or video tutorials to make it interesting.

Beauty Brand Goop has their content on the top navigation listed out by category. Of course, the products are listed first, but after that, there’s tons of content that’s not related to the product but provides value to the consumer.

As digital customer experience expectations continue to rise, you must continually improve your brand to meet those expectations. According to Walker Insights, by 2020 customer experience will be the key brand differentiator, instead of price or product. If you would like to learn more about the digital customer experience, please download our Designing a World-Class Digital Customer Experience Program eBook.

Designing a World-Class Digital CX Program

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Diana Kaemingk

Diana Kaemingk is a contributor to the Qualtrics blog.

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