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How to create a first-class ecommerce customer experience?

How to create a first-class ecommerce customer experience?
Guest blog by Vaimo

A good customer experience is front and center in business development. Due to the strong growth of ecommerce, the importance of digital touchpoints has increased. Therefore, an excellent digital customer experience is an important strategic goal. Constant measuring and continuous development help meet this goal.

  • Which elements build up the customer experience in ecommerce?
  • Why does digital customer experience matter so much?
  • How can you optimise your customer experience in ecommerce?

These are the topics we will dive deeper into below. In this post, we’ll share the latest trends in business and our insights on how digital customer experience can be used to drive your business.

Improving customer experience – everything starts with good usability

Flawless usability lays the foundations of a successful customer experience in ecommerce. Today’s consumers expect a quick and smooth online shopping experience. By meeting – and even by exceeding – customer expectations, you build the bedrock of a long-term, loyal customer relationship.

Be sure to consider these:

Technical website usability

When your customer lands in your online store, the technical website performance is one of the first factors they notice. Do the pages and images load quickly? Is interaction smooth when clicking buttons, for example? Are the page elements stable or does the layout shift erratically? These factors can be evaluated with Google Core Web Vitals metrics. Good technical usability is an important part of the overall digital customer experience and also helps you rank better in Google.

Mobile usability

Today, over 50% of all shopping is done on a mobile. It pays off to design the mobile website usability carefully, separately from its desktop version, while ensuring that images work on mobile devices and texts are snappy and easy to read. Another aspect worth considering are the benefits of developing a mobile app or a progressive web application (PWA) that imitates an app but runs in the web browser.

Intuitive and clear product categorisation

Your company-internal product categorisation might not be the optimal solution from your customers’ point of view. Clear and intuitive categories can only be created based on customer insight. This way, the categories help your customers quickly find the products they need while getting inspired by responsible choices, seasonal products or brand ambassador’s favourites along their purchasing journey.

Versatile delivery and payment options

Understanding your customers also helps with selecting the suitable delivery and payment options. Customers are primarily looking for the easiest solution: some prefer a click-and-collect delivery, others might want to choose a convenient home delivery. You should also provide various payment method options to cater for different customer preferences and life situations.

Customers appreciate having alternative product return methods, too. You can provide a seamless customer experience by allowing products to be returned also to your physical store instead of mailing, for example.

Quick and clear checkout process

A smooth checkout process minimises the risk of dropout before checkout. A good payment flow typically contains just one or two steps. It’s also worth considering whether you require your customer to register an account or would it be possible to provide an easy checkout experience as a guest. One-click checkout has been the go-to strategy for industry leaders for a long time, so it’s really worth considering in your case as well.

Cater for special needs with additional services

Customers appreciate flexibility. In an immediate need for a product, an express delivery for an additional fee might be invaluable for a specific customer. Some customers may also be willing to pay extra for the possibility of selecting an exact time slot for their delivery. On the other hand, an environmentally conscious customer might appreciate a recycled delivery box or an environmentally-friendly delivery.

Additional services for extra fees, such as an extended guarantee and “passing the queue”, are advanced online customer service and most likely an increasingly popular feature in future ecommerce.

Collecting and utilising customer data

According to the Adobe Digital Trends 2022 report, leading companies are today fully committed to developing their customer experience. The development efforts are based on thorough customer understanding: how the customer behaves and what the customer’s preferences and needs are.

As an online merchant, you should continuously measure where your customers come from, what the customer journeys in your online store are, and what kinds of calls-to-actions lead to the actions you want. In addition, you should learn what your customers are interested in, what products they buy and what kinds of recommendations they value.

Another important goal is to identify your page visitors by making them register an account or subscribe to a newsletter. As third-party cookies will not be available for much longer, the importance of identification in marketing will increase and marketing automation will be further highlighted as an essential tool for companies.

Keys to success: personalisation and marketing automation

Customer data collected at various touch points holds a key role for segmentation, which in turn allows providing customers with relevant communication and personalised offers.

In the future, real-time personalisation will be a major competitive advantage. However, according to the Adobe’s Digital Trends 2022 report, 37% of the respondents reported badly integrated systems as the biggest blocker for personalisation. In fact, seamless integrations between systems will become increasingly important in the future.

Marketing automation will be an important part of future online commerce. Targeted marketing actions can provide customers with a consistent path – prospects can be guided to become customers and customers to become returning customers.

Recommendations and personalised offers that are based on customer data and purchasing history typically increase sales when they accurately match customer habits and preferences. In addition, they invite customers to consume the company’s marketing content, increase customer engagement and generally improve the digital customer experience.

From a strategic point of view, it is also wise to focus on existing prospects and customers: an engaged, loyal customer is less likely to compare competing solutions and is less sensitive to pricing.

Content focus and customer empathy create superior value – augmented reality can be the crown jewel of customer experience

The content shown in an online store is an important part of the digital customer experience. Is the content relevant, adequate and engaging?

The following information is typically needed at the minimum to support a purchase decision:

  • Adequate product information (materials, country of manufacture etc.)
  • Measurements and dimensions
  • Product photos or videos
  • Product reviews
  • User guides or installation videos
  • Information on supplementary or mandatory additional products

As a merchant, you should also take note of the special characteristics of your business domain. For example, if you work in the clothing industry, you might be able to provide an estimation how accurately the product sizes fit the standard measurement conventions, for example. An environmentally conscious customer might be interested to know how the product packaging can be recycled.

When you really want to take your online commerce customer experience to the top, augmented reality, AR, could provide your prospects with exceptional digital customer service. With AR, the customer could, for example, remotely evaluate just how well a specific product suits him or her personally.

Examples

  • The buyer can test whether the colour and dimensions of a couch match his or her living room.
  • A cosmetics brand offers the possibility to review the shade of a foundation cream on the customer’s own face.

Melissa Gonzales, an expert in customer experience and CEO at Lionesque Group, has stated that a personal approach and customer empathy will become increasingly important competitive advantages in the future. They are both ways to give the customer a truly surprising and delightful experience.

Vaimo is one of the world’s most respected experts in digital commerce and experience. As a full-service omnichannel partner, we deliver strategy, design, development and managed services to brands, retailers and manufacturers all over the world.

Author

Suna Koljonen (MBA) is the eCom and PIM consultant at Vaimo. Her career began in marketing 20 years ago and from there she has moved from the online business side to the intersection of business and technology. Suna has experience from both the customer and the technology supplier. She has worked for Gasum, Schneider Electric, Rexel, and Digia.