eCommerce has revolutionised the way we shop. In this post, we explore several factors that have become important to creating a successful eCommerce experience and are positioned to become increasingly essential in the years to come.
1. Omnichannel Service Experience
Delivering truly omnichannel experiences is essential to giving customers consistent experiences across touchpoints. As a customer moves from email to mobile-app to website to social media the experience should continue seamlessly. A Harvard Business Review survey that 73% of North Americans prefer to shop across multiple online and offline channels – with 20% sticking to store-only and only 7% staying exclusively online. With a successfully connected omnichannel service experience, a customer should always be able to browse, buy, deliver and return regardless of the touchpoint.
It will enable you as a business to have a truly holistic view of the customer experience and their CLV across touchpoints as you can gain consistent feedback and insights across channels. Plus, BI Intelligence found that customers purchased more frequently when able to engage across multiple channels, spending 10% more online and 4% more in-store, proving that the ROI of omnichannel offerings are really worth it.
2. Hyper Personalisation
To keep customers loyal and happy, you should be offering them highly personalised experiences. Product recommendations and marketing should be made relevant to a given customer’s historical activity such as items purchased, level of spend, frequency of spend, search and any feedback they may have provided. This makes the shopping experience more pleasant and easier for customers. 69% of shoppers want personalised experiences, but unfortunately, only 40% of brands are offering them.
If you are a sports retailer, for example, and a customer is a regular tennis player, recommending mountain climbing apparel is much less like to lead to a sale and represents a lost opportunity. With the technology available, there is no reason for a customer to wonder “why am I seeing this?” Offering personalised customer communications and providing relevant discounts will help deliver a better shopping experience, strengthening the bond with your customers.
3. Voice Commerce
To be truly omnichannel you need to be thinking about Voice. Whether they are using the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod or Google Nest, consumers are increasingly relying on voice-activated speakers, with 72% of individuals with a device saying they use it as part of their daily routines. And the trend to use these devices for shopping is rapidly increasing. According to OC&C Strategy Consultants, 13% of U.S. smart speaker owners say that they were making voice purchases at the end of 2017, and that number is predicted to grow to 55% by 2022.
4. Bot Assistance
In 2018, Gartner predicted that by 2020 85% of customer interactions with brands will occur without any human interaction, using self-service digital interfaces, chatbots and virtual assistants instead. Furthermore, Forrester found that 63% of customers are happy to be served by a chatbot even if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human.
What bots lack in empathy and trustworthiness, they make up for in speed. According to a 2018 survey from Hubspot, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as an important or very important part of the customer experience, with 6 out of 10 customers defining “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. This is important when we look at metrics such as customer effort, which is heavily correlated with loyalty. The best experiences are the ones that are the most seamless and require the least amount of effort on the part of the consumer. If a bot can deliver a more seamless experience for a given task and get things done more efficiently it should be assigned to perform that task.
5. Going Green
While online shopping is incredibly convenient, its environmental impact is becoming a growing concern for many shoppers. Millennials, in particular, are both avid online shoppers but more environmentally minded. According to a 2019 Coupon Follow survey, 60% of millennial purchases were made online, up from 47% in 2017. They are also the group most likely to pay more (61%) for a more environmentally friendly product, with Gen Z (58%) not far behind them. Luckily, an MIT study actually showed that the carbon footprint of an online shopper is lower than that of somebody shopping traditionally – the efficiency of a delivery vehicle’s route, fewer resources wasted in a physical store, and petrol saved in travel contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions, but there is always more to be done.
To keep up with the onslaught of eco-conscious consumers, eCommerce retailers need to be doing their best to create more sustainable businesses practices. This can be done in a variety of ways, but shipping in recycled packaging, sourcing materials from fair-trade organisations, and offering more localised delivery options are a few ways to start. Depending on who your customers are, your decision to “Go Green” could be a key differentiating factor that makes them choose you over a competitor.
6. Leveraging the Advantageous Environment for Feedback
When it comes to measuring and managing customer experience, businesses embracing eCommerce have a massive advantage over those that rely solely on a brick and mortar offering. The metric for customer experience is feedback and measuring customer experience in brick and mortar retail is notoriously difficult. It is a lot easier in eCommerce to measure consumer behaviour as there is a treasure trove of data to hand, and it is exponentially easier to understand what is working and what isn’t.
In physical retail locations, the best you can do is to encourage customers to send feedback to a URL or Qr code listed on the end of a receipt, unless a loyalty programme is in place. In both of these scenarios, the response rates for feedback are so low that it is barely worthwhile to collect the data in the first place.
Capturing and monitoring customer feedback to gather, learn and apply your customers’ suggestions to enhance your offering needs to be an integral part of your eCommerce strategy.
This feedback can come in many forms. Of course, you can always capture feedback with integrated surveys, which are a powerful mechanism to get to the bottom of what is or isn’t working at a macro and granular level. But feedback can also arise in the form of data implied from behaviours, such as pages visited, search history, and spend history. Where relevant, you should also be gathering feedback from your contact centre, live chat and social channels.
It will be extremely difficult to achieve desired outcomes such as reduced customer effort, increased customer spend and advocacy without having a repository for all of this data. Trying to manage this manually would be a time consuming and thankless task. You need a system in place to manage all of these data flows automatically, while concurrently running sophisticated analyses that will prescribe appropriate actions to make significant improvements to your customer experience.