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How to Improve the Ecommerce Customer Experience

by Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer

Online or shopping mall? Customers are increasingly choosing online stores over brick and mortar locations, with ecommerce sales representing more than half of all retail sales growth last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce

As with any business in today’s “age of the customer,” e-retailers must focus on creating exceptional experiences in order to stay competitive. Pivotree, a global commerce and information management services firm, found that 79 percent of customers who run into any kind of website performance issues will be less likely to buy from that site again. Here are a few ways brands can improve ecommerce customer experience.

Speed Up Your Site

Online shopping is all about convenience, meaning customers aren’t going to wait for your site to load. In today’s world of instant gratification, ecommerce customers require a fast page load time. While the fastest ecommerce sites load in under 0.5 seconds, Pivotree also found that 47 percent of online shoppers expect web pages to load in two seconds or less.

Optimize for Mobile

When online shopping, many customers make purchases from their smartphone. In fact, Google reports that over 40% of online transactions are now done on a mobile device. 

While having a mobile-friendly site should be a basic requirement for ecommerce brands at this point, there are ways to further enhance the mobile customer experience. Make sure forms remember and auto-populate a visitor’s information, so customers can move through the process quicker. 

Streamline the Checkout Process

The goal of an ecommerce site is for customers to make purchases. Why make the them jump through hoops? Customers should be able to easily navigate your website to find what they’re looking for.

“Make it as easy as possible to access the shopping cart or the final checkout area,” Leah Preston, a marketing coordinator for Enclave Hotels & Suites, told CIO. “Attention spans are getting increasingly shorter online, so you want the user to be able to access the final destination in no more than two or three clicks. If it takes too long [to complete a purchase], your user may get frustrated and give up.”

Add a search bar and organize your products in a way that’s user-friendly. You can further streamline the browse-to-purchase process by limiting unnecessary clicks and reducing the number of fields customers need to fill in. For example, when a customer enters their shipping address, give them the option to use the same address for billing, so that’s one less form they have to complete.

Personalize the Experience

According to AgileOne, 79 percent of customers expect personalization when they interact with a brand. Using names, making recommendations, and remembering past experiences are all ways brands can personalize the online shopping experience.

Netflix, for example, has personalization down to a science. The video streaming service utilizes machine learning to provide personalized recommendations based on the user’s viewing history and ratings. Customers are also required to create accounts, so their name can be used throughout the site, showing up as “Top Picks for…” Don’t have time to get through an entire movie or show? Netflix will remember exactly where you left off and keep track of what you have watched, so you can pick back up or re-watch a show or movie at any time.

Use Chat for Customer Service

The beauty of ecommerce is that shopping isn’t limited to store hours. However, many shoppers enjoy the in-store experience because of the human interaction. According to a Forrester study, 44 percent of customers said being able to get answers to their questions during a purchase is one of the most important features a website should offer.

Deploy chat on your ecommerce site to offer around-the-clock assistance to customers, like helping them find items on your site and answering questions about your products. Forrester also found that interactive chat can result in as much as a 120 percent ROI in a six-month payback period.

Provide Education and Compelling Content

Your product pages have one job: To convince the shopper to buy your product. Every product page should include:

  • Pricing.
  • A variety of pictures, showing different angles and contexts.
  • Product details like sizing, color, and material information.
  • Customer reviews.

Also, look to other areas on your site to provide educational content around your products. For example, at IntelliShop, we use our blog to teach our clients about our services, like what to do (or what not to do) with our mystery shopper report, answer frequently asked questions, like “How frequently should I shop my business?” as well as provide thought leadership on customer experience trends and topics.

Content like this is engaging, educational, and relevant, while not coming across like a sales pitch. Additionally, your ecommerce site is also the perfect place to host video content to further engage and educate online customers. You can even repurpose this content on social media and through email marketing.

Track Package Deliveries

Customer communication doesn’t stop after a purchase is made. It’s important to keep customers in the know throughout the delivery process. According to Narvar, 83 percent of U.S. online shoppers expect regular communication about their purchases, while 53 percent won’t even purchase a product if they don’t know when it will arrive.

When customers select their delivery option, give them a time frame of when they can expect their purchase to arrive. When the item ships, follow up to 1) notify the customer, 2) give them a tracking number, and 3) tell them the expected arrival date. It’s also good form to send another message once the package has been delivered to ensure everything arrived as expected.

Create a Memorable Unboxing Experience

The post-purchase experience can sometimes be just as important as the purchase itself. Dotcom Distribution found that nearly 40 percent of customers would share a picture of an online order via social media if it came in a unique, branded, or gift-like box.

Look for ways to create a fun and memorable unboxing experience for your customers. Consider brands like Trunk Club, which is an ecommerce company that ships clothing to men and women. The shipping boxes are designed to look like actual trunks, with the items inside often bundled and tied with ribbons. For an added touch of personalization, all orders include a handwritten note by the stylist explaining the contents of the package.

Assess Your Customer Experience

Your ecommerce company should strive to continuously optimize its customer experience. IntelliShop can help you understand how customers navigate your website to determine the effectiveness of your online customer experience. Our specially trained in-house team of Internet experience experts will click, scroll, explore, and order from your website, carefully evaluating every step of the customer experience along the way.

Contact IntelliShop today to request a quote and see how we can improve the customer experience for your ecommerce business.