One of the biggest trends in the consumer world in the last decade is the shift to online retail and purchases. Consumers are increasingly accustomed to buying nearly everything online, from clothes to housewares to pretty much anything that can be bought or sold. Ecommerce has been growing significantly and steadily every year.
In 2021, the global ecommerce market is expected to total nearly $4.9 trillion in sales. That means providing a great ecommerce experience for your customers is no longer an option—it’s a must-have for any retail business that wants to grow.
Customers aren’t only measuring your ecommerce experience against your competitors in your industry anymore. They’re expecting an experience on par with huge corporations like Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb, so your ecommerce experience needs to stack up with some heavyweights. But there’s no need for stress—this guide will cover everything you need to know about creating a great ecommerce experience.
What is ecommerce experience?
Ecommerce experience is a piece of your overall customer experience, which is how customers perceive all their interactions with your brand. Customer experience is a broad umbrella—it covers online and offline experiences from the first time a customer hears your company name through the post-purchase process.
Ecommerce experience refers specifically to the customer experience when purchasing your products or services online. Ecommerce experience covers everything from purchasing a new vacuum on the Amazon app on your phone, to buying a concert ticket on your desktop, to choosing and paying for a music subscription service on your tablet.
Ecommerce experiences can vary widely. But they all need to be simple and satisfying for your customers, or they will become frustrated and find another option for making their purchase. And despite how critical ecommerce has been to revenues for nearly every industry in the past few years (a trend only accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic), many companies still offer a mediocre or downright bad ecommerce experience for their customers.
How to improve ecommerce experience
Before we talk about what you can do right in your ecommerce experience, it’s helpful to talk about where most businesses go wrong. There are many ways to make mistakes in your ecommerce experience, but there are a few far-too-common errors.
As with any part of your customer experience management strategy, you should be looking at the whole purchase process from the view of the customer. Things that slow down shopping and purchasing, or make it frustrating, can include:
Requiring customers to create and register an account before purchasing
Having poor quality or too-small pictures of your products
Not considering the mobile experience for customers
Making it difficult for customers to contact you when they have an issue
Resolving these common problems can significantly increase the amount of customers who shop your website and make a successful purchase, and return to do so again. There’s a real cost to having a negative ecommerce customer experience: PwC found that 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
So what are the best ways to improve your ecommerce experience for customers? There are many ways to improve the ecommerce customer experience—here are just a few of the most effective ones you should try in your ecommerce strategy.
Customer satisfaction survey
Understanding customer satisfaction and sentiment is crucial for improving your customer experience, and that’s especially true for your ecommerce experience. Listening to what your customers think and feel about your ecommerce experience is the best way to make the improvements that really matter to your customers.
The ecommerce experience for every company is unique. That’s why trying to guess what customers want when they make an online purchase from your business can be futile. You could end up chasing things that seem like improvements to you, but don’t actually matter to customers all that much. Instead, asking customers directly what matters and what needs fixing improves your experience with efficiency and effectiveness.
The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey is a great way to capture this feedback about your ecommerce experience. You can ask customers a question such as, “How satisfied are you with the checkout experience on our site?” Or you could ask them about their satisfaction level with browsing, adding items to their shopping cart, and payment as well. CSAT surveys can cover any specific part of the ecommerce experience, or the experience as a whole.
Voice of the Customer survey
Creating a Voice of the Customer (VoC) survey is a great way to actively listen to what your customers need and value. Keeping your customers happy is all about meeting and exceeding their expectations, and conducting a VoC survey regularly is an effective feedback channel. They provide businesses with insights about your customers’ likes, dislikes, and any areas for improvement in your ecommerce experience.
Learning what your customers need and prefer isn’t limited to surveys, however—you can also use social media to pick up on customer feedback and engage with your customer directly.
Customers will often leave comments about your products, services, and online experience on your social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter. Responding to those comments quickly is important so customers know you’re listening. But you can also gather those comments and analyze them over a period of time to see if any trends come up.
For example, if you notice you’re suddenly getting an increase in Facebook comments about a buggy checkout process, you will know you have a problem and be in a position to fix it. And you can engage customers directly to offer support and thank them for their feedback on the issue while you solve the problem.
Live chat is another way customers may contact you directly when they have questions about your products or services, or want to offer feedback on an issue they’re experiencing. It offers a fast, simple way to get in touch and solve problems without much effort on the part of the customer, and that’s a big portion of customer satisfaction. (In fact, it’s so important there’s a metric called Customer Effort Score to measure just that.)
Live chat enables businesses to answer questions from customers quickly, without the customer needing to leave the website to find answers elsewhere. It also allows you to gather feedback and note any trends happening in live chat questions. Is one topic or aspect of the ecommerce experience coming up frequently? That means you should take a closer look and see what might be going on so you can fix any issues that are frustrating potential and current customers.
Putting high-quality product content on your business’ website provides an excellent experience for your ecommerce customers. After all, you want to clearly and attractively present your products to the people who are interested in purchasing them. That means your products should be displayed in a way that is enticing, but also accurate, so customers know what to expect when they make a purchase.
Quality product content serves many purposes. It’s good marketing practice, of course, and it draws in sales. But it can also help to educate your customers about your products and company, answer any questions they might have before or during the purchase process, and satisfy any concerns or objections they have as well.
There are many kinds of product content out there, and not every choice will be right for your business. You can pick and choose which ones work best for your company and your ecommerce strategy.
Augmented reality experiences in ecommerce are still pretty novel, but they’re an exciting development. One of the biggest drawbacks of online shopping is that customers can’t see how clothes will look on them or how a mattress feels, and that can make potential buyers hesitate. Augmented reality can help bridge this gap.
For example, Target has launched a new augmented reality feature called “See It In Your Space” on their website that allows home goods shoppers to see how furniture will actually look in their own home with their smartphone. And Warby Parker offers a VR option so customers can see how their potential eyeglasses purchase will look on their face from the comfort of home.
Including high-quality, attractive, accurate product images on your ecommerce site helps customers get drawn into your product pages. Madewell is an example of an apparel brand that has particularly good product images on their site, where the models show a stylish version of the clothes without any awkward poses that distract from the products themselves. You can also change the model so you can choose a body type closest to your own. Plus, their product pages feature Instagram posts from real customers so buyers can see how the clothes look in the real world.
Mercedes-Benz also features excellent product images of their cars on their website. With sleek, luxurious pictures of their vehicles, you can see the cars from every angle even without going to a dealership. And Apple has kept its traditional clean, modern styling with the product images on their website as well.
Getting a feel for how a product moves and looks in real life is difficult to do online. That’s where product videos are useful for online retailers. For example, Patagonia features videos of its clothing on models on all of their product pages. This allows potential buyers to see how the products move and fit on the body when in motion, which helps increase consumer confidence before purchasing. Shoe and apparel retailer Zappos also features product videos for shoes, so consumers can see how a shoe looks in motion and from every angle as well.
When customers are thinking about making a purchase, they often conduct research online to help them make their decision. They are looking for answers to their questions and reassurance that your business offers what they need.
That’s why adding FAQs to your product pages can improve your ecommerce experience and increase your conversion rates as well—customers don’t need to leave your site to find the answers they’re seeking. Their experience becomes seamless, since they can do research and purchase your product all on the same site.
Customers also tend to have the same common questions over and over. Answering these questions one by one in your live chat or social media pages gets tedious, and requires some level of work even if it’s partly automated. But an FAQ page or section on your product page can eliminate many of those duplicate questions and allow customers to educate themselves instead. It’s efficient, effective, and makes everyone happier.
Contact us page
Having a way for customers to easily contact you when they run into an issue on your website or have a question is essential to keeping them satisfied. That’s why fast, effective help and customer service is a cornerstone of Pandora’s customer experience strategy. We’ve probably all experienced the frustration of running into a problem and not being able to find a way to contact customer support quickly, and that’s a poor customer experience.
An easy way to streamline and enhance your customer support to make things easy for your customers is by adding a complete, up-to-date Contact Us page on your website. This is important for every business, but it’s especially critical for online retailers since customers can’t simply pop into your store to get help. Your Contact Us page should include the following elements:
Making it easy for customers to contact you online begins with including an email contact form on your website. That way, customers can reach out to your business and get help even when they aren’t able to pick up the phone. This could be because they’re browsing your site on the bus ride to work, or they’re busy multi-tasking and just want to send a quick question to you.
Of course, to make this experience satisfying, you also need to respond quickly to customer email questions and issues as well. Customers can also contact you via social media, but when you include a contact form on your website, customers can get help without leaving your site and disrupting their shopping experience.
If your business wants to go above and beyond and provide a great customer experience for your online shoppers, you can also provide a phone number on your contact page. This phone number shouldn’t take your customers through a complicated and automated phone tree, but connect them directly to a real person who can answer their question or solve their problem quickly and empathetically.
Mobile ecommerce purchases are expected to make up more than 72% of all ecommerce purchases by the end of 2021. But despite the rapid growth of this ecommerce area, many businesses neglect to provide a satisfying and simple-to-use mobile shopping and purchasing experience. Optimizing your website to look good and function well on mobile devices and tablets as well as desktops means you can serve your customers better than a competitor that’s lacking in the mobile-friendly area.
Personalized customer experience
One interesting and effective way to satisfy your online shopping customers is by designing personalized user experiences in ecommerce. You can delight your customers because they’ll feel like their shopping experience was designed just for them. And it will also help them select and decide on a product or service they’re considering purchasing from your business.
You can offer personalized customer experiences in your ecommerce strategy by suggesting related items that your shoppers might enjoy, or using customer data to personalize aspects of your site like the checkout and homepage.
Offering suggestions and recommendations that your customers might find helpful is a highly effective way to personalize your website for shoppers. For example, you can show related products on product pages, or suggest items that similar customers also purchased when they bought that product. You can also suggest items that the customer has already viewed so they don’t need to search through your site again to find something they looked at in another shopping session.
With more and more consumers making their purchases online, it’s important to keep improving and refining your ecommerce experience. Providing an online shopping experience that is attractive, functional, simple, and enjoyable is harder than it looks—but it’s what customers expect from every business now.
Ensuring that your ecommerce experience includes an effective way for customers to get questions answered, find help when they encounter an issue, and closely recreate the in-store shopping experience when possible will all help you delight your customers.
And of course, improving your ecommerce experience is much easier and more effective when you have accurate, actionable data on what your customers want, including what changes and additions they’d like to see. Using GetFeedback’s robust customer experience platform, you can get deep insights and access to trends so you can create a truly enjoyable ecommerce experience that increases customer loyalty and satisfaction.