Have you ever spent hours online looking for a brand you can trust, only to give up and go with the cheapest option?
How about the time when you found a brand that looked promising on its website, yet failed to continue that great e-commerce customer experience (CX) in the real world when your package arrived?
We feel your pain.
The importance of consistency to the online shopping experience is at an all-time high. Gartner research suggests that 89% of businesses see CX as their primary basis for competition.
Viewed in this light, improving the way customers view and engage with your brand becomes a competitive advantage that contributes directly to your bottom line.
But what makes one brand’s experience better than another? And how can you improve the e-commerce customer experience to stand out in an increasingly competitive online environment?
This article looks at four ways to make the kind of improvements that will delight customers, as they finally find a brand that they can rely on!
Make the Experience Seamless Across Devices
Few things frustrate online shoppers more than a site that works on one device but fails when they move to another.
The customer journey is now such that a purchase takes several brand interactions, often spanning various marketing channels and different devices.
Try to imagine how your customer feels as they undertake this journey. Open up a browser window and experience what it’s like to be your customer.
Your e-commerce customer experience needs to flow from desktop to mobile device without any noticeable disruption.
Start by making sure your mobile experience is up to snuff. Google’s new mobile-first focus means that this will be the baseline for consumers finding your site in future.
Check that your products are as easy to browse on a tablet or smartphone as they are on a desktop device. Do they look as good? Is it possible to find all the information you need without having to scroll endlessly?
Above all, remember that the more succinct you can be on your site, the quicker it will load and the less confused your customer will be. When in doubt, simpler is better.
Make Customers Self-Sufficient
According to Aspect Software, 73% of consumers surveyed expect to process their own transaction and handle any questions that arise without having to ask. That requires a site that’s easy to navigate, offering all the resources that your customer needs within just a few clicks of arriving on site.
If your site still has a long way to go in terms of making customers self-sufficient, consider the following questions to get the ball rolling:
- What are the most commonly asked questions and frequently solved issues that your customers face? How can you answer these on-site in a way that is comprehensive and easily accessible?
- What resources can you add to make your customer’s life easier?
- Identify areas where you can integrate case studies and white papers to show your customer what to do.
A side benefit of empowering customers in this way is the decreased load on your customer service team. When customers solve their own issues and answer their own questions, it frees up your service reps to spend more time on complex problems, keeping more clients happy in the process.
Think Global, Act Local
We’ve talked about getting physically closer to customers in the past, but the sentiment can and should now be extended to improve the e-commerce customer experience.
Your expansion plans might include global domination (insert evil laugh here), but your online experience should be tailored to more local, personalized content. This can be achieved in a number of ways.
First, make sure that you use segmentation in your e-mail campaigns. This includes location but can also be extended to other characteristics, such as age, income level, purchase history, and much more. A CRM-driven mailing list should hold a wealth of information about your customers and prospects, all of which you can use to target specific interest groups with information and offers that are highly relevant to them.
Another way to reach specific locations is to use the geotargeting options available on social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, and YouTube allow you to promote content in specific areas, right down to a 10-mile radius. This kind of hyper-targeting can get extremely complex if you have multiple locations with multiple campaigns, but it’s a powerful way to get a highly relevant message to customers in one place.
This approach can also be used on pay-per-click ad platforms like Google’s Adwords, although here the range of messaging you can convey is limited to the user’s search intent.
When customers receive only thoughtful and relevant messages from your company, they will elevate your brand as one they value and trust.
Improve Product Images to Increase Sales
It’s an all-too-common occurrence to shop for something online, only to reject several sites because of poor image quality and choose to purchase from a different website — or perhaps not purchase at all.
Think about it: what does an ill-considered image say about your site and, more importantly, about the items that you sell?
If the images you serve up for e-commerce customers are low quality, it’s a direct reflection on what the consumer thinks about your brand. Their first impression will quickly shift from limited images to questions about product quality and potential service issues.
Last year, research by BigCommerce found more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed want more from the product images they see on e-commerce sites. That aligns with the regular tests on Behave.org, which frequently show that even minor visual adjustments make a significant difference to customer conversions.
Even with the best product and service out there, an e-commerce site lacking images that show your brand in its best light will limit appeal and lose potential customers.
Before jumping on the next big social channel, spend some time streamlining your e-commerce customer experience for different devices and users. Your visitors will thank you for it!