As ecommerce founders, we all believe that we delight our customers. But is your ecommerce customer experience all that it could be? When was the last time you worked on improving it? Does it need a few tweaks? These are important questions to ask yourself often.
We all talk about running customer-centric businesses and point to hundreds of 5-star reviews as proof. Yet, the customer experience is more than a review. It’s the entire process from someone discovering your brand to repurchasing for the third time.
So, we need to constantly look for little tweaks for each step of our ecommerce customer experience and keep testing and measuring them. By maintaining a dedicated focus on the overall experience, your loyal customers will keep returning and become a free marketing channel!
Let’s explore how to build an exceptional ecommerce customer experience that delights at every stage.
What Is The Ecommerce Customer Experience?
Let’s start with the basics; so we’re on the same page. The ecommerce customer experience covers the point where a potential customer realizes they have an issue, to hitting the purchase button for the first time, and up to when they purchase again.
You want to capture someone at the interest stage. They could find you using a Google/Bing search or an Ad on Instagram. That’s just the start. From there, you want to capture and hold their interest using an attractive product page and retargeting.
Their first purchase is only part way through the customer experience journey. It’s vital to communicate with the customer between the purchase and delivery; and a few weeks after to ensure they’re happy.
Your job doesn’t stop until they purchase again, at which point, their ecommerce customer experience journey restarts.
Why Does It Matter?
Creating a remarkable customer experience is vital for a variety of issues. It can help increase brand awareness, lower customer acquisition costs, and ensure you retain existing clients.
Even in less competitive markets, you’re still in a battle to find and keep customers. So it makes a lot of sense to build systems and processes that ensure customers have a great experience and stick around. Without these elements, you’ll waste time, effort, and money.
Hopefully, you can see why the ecommerce customer experience matters and why it deserves your attention.
What Are The Stages In The Ecommerce Customer Experience
We can break the customer experience down into stages and develop a plan for each.
While many ecommerce marketers lump awareness and pre-purchase together, it’s important to recognize that they are two stages with different levels of intent.
I think of the awareness stage as looking for options but not yet settled. They know they want a blue hoodie but don’t know which brand to choose or might not yet have the budget to purchase.
So, it’s vital to create a memorable experience at this stage to capture interest. You’re trying to introduce your brand and get the visitor to bookmark your item or share it on social as a way to remember it.
For example, I have a long list of items I’d like to purchase saved as bookmarks. I often flick through this list and decide on my next purchase. At this stage, it’s just a wish, but we need to fan the flame!
If someone thinks about an item enough, they’ll find a way to buy it. Hopefully, during the awareness stage, you created a memorable impression that sticks with the visitor until they’re ready to purchase.
In the pre-purchase stage, you want the user to have enough content to move from finding your brand to exploring it. Your job is to inspire them to really desire your product and spend their daydreaming about it.
You want to ensure your potential customer can imagine themselves using your item using a mix of media (images, videos, and copy). Also, you want to make it easy for them to find details about shipping, returns, and customer support options.
Many brands get excited when they make a sale and think that’s the process over. Not so fast!
During the purchasing stage, you want to make checkout easy. Ideally, a single page checkout is best as it’s simple to fill out. Make it easy for the customer to understand delivery options and the return process.
Within minutes of placing an order, the customer should get an email confirming the order. Pretty basic stuff! Use this email to outline the process between now and delivery. You’ll keep the customer informed and free up customer support as they’ll have less to deal with.
The more informative emails during this stage the better, as they keep the customer in the loop and builds excitement. Your job doesn’t stop when the customer receives their package. Sorry!
Think about how you can engage with the customer after purchase. Can you like their Instagram post (that your brand is tagged in)? Or like their Tweet? All of this might seem simple, but it helps create a better customer experience as they feel valued.
About a week after purchase, it’s worth emailing them to ask for feedback and a product review. You can personalize this email (or emails) to ensure it gets opened and a response. Consider using a 3rd party review platform, such as Reviews.io or Trustpilot.
Remember this email has to allow the customer to share anything good, bad, or ugly. This is your chance to gather data, put right any tiny problems before they become massive issues, and build social proof (reviews).
We’re still not finished! The customer experience doesn’t stop after they are happy with their item and have written a nice review. You still need to inspire them to buy again and restart the process.
You can use email marketing, organic social, videos, events, and more to keep your brand top of mind. If someone has a positive experience once, they are more likely to purchase from you again. This means you don’t need to do so much heavy lifting on the front end.
How To Build A Customer Experience That Delights
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and look at how we can develop an ecommerce customer experience that delights.
Develop a unique value proposition
There’s a lot of rubbish on the internet about creating a unique value proposition. You don’t need to be wildly different to stand out. But, you do need to be slightly different.
Seth Godin wrote a book called Purple Cow. The basic premise is driving past a field of cows isn’t remarkable. Now put a purple cow in the field and suddenly people will start talking. We still have a field of cows, just one stands out.
You can become remarkable by crafting a compelling story that encapsulates your why. Another way to be unique is to be known as an industry problem solver. You could be the cheapest or the faster or the most expensive.
The good thing is your positioning can evolve. It’s not static. You can tweak it as your go. So start with something basic and refine it.
Build trust with your audience
Trust doesn’t grow on trees. But it does involve being honest. Most businesses talk about honesty but only exercise a tiny amount of it.
The best way to build trust is to invest in customer relationships. As my first business bank manager told me, people buy people. Another way is to admit when you get things wrong, then show your customers what steps you’ll take to rectify the situation.
You’re not perfect, but most mistakes can be corrected. Usually, you can solve issues in a way that benefits the customer.
Customer trust takes an age to build and a millisecond to destroy. It’s something you build slowly and intentionally.
Part of having a remarkable brand is creating evangelists who act as a free marketing channel. The reason why User Generated Content (UGC) on TikTok is highly profitable as the viewer feels they know the creator, and so trust them more than an advert.
Of course, most UGC is paid for, and so isn’t really someone honestly promoting the brand. But the idea is the same. You’re more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation over a random advert.
You should know who are your top customers. If not, this data is easy to find on your ecommerce platform. You could create a VIP club for them with referral bonuses and incentives, early access to new products, and more.
All of these schemes will help create a free marketing channel as your customers spread the word. Far more effective than Facebook ads, a blog post, or a billboard.
Where To Start When Improving The Experience
There are hundreds of tweaks you can make to drastically improve the ecommerce customer experience, but here are four simple ideas you can try today.
Sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it? However, if you don’t maintain a clear focus on your customers, you’ll struggle to pay the bills. One way to become more customer-centric is to talk to them and create honest relationships where they can give you feedback without it feeling personal.
Survey your customers
There’s a difference between asking for random feedback and surveying customers. No one wants to fill out your quick survey when they’re on your website. It’s annoying.
However, using the data you have stored in your ecommerce platform, you can select a few customers and ask them targeted questions. It’s best to focus on improving an area (e.g. checkout process/tracking) than asking general questions.
Study your customer’s journey
Very few ecommerce founders actually order from their store or get a friend. The reason I suggest getting a close friend or family to place an order is to explore the customer’s journey from the end user’s perspective.
You’ll quickly see things that need tweaking, removing, and general improvements. It’s worth doing this exercise a few times a year.
Conduct a design and UX audit
Even if you have a custom-designed theme, over time you’ll notice elements that need improving. As with the customer’s journey, it’s worth keeping a list of design tweaks to make.
As your ecommerce business grows, you’ll want to ensure the user experience (UX) keeps pace and makes it easy for customers to navigate the store and find the items they’re after.
It’s important with UX and major design changes that you work with a professional who has a solid background in user behavior, testing, and analytics. Otherwise, you’ll end up with poor results.
Creating a Superb Ecommerce Customer Experience
If you’re yet to think about your ecommerce customer experience in minute detail, here are some elements you should consider.
Create copy that triggers the emotions
We’ve talked a lot about creating copy that converts. You need to move someone’s emotions and not ask them to make a logical decision.
Start by thinking about the pain you’re solving. Next, consider how you can agitate the situation, and then how you can present the solution attractively. Use this basic framework to create product copy and category descriptions.
Add content that helps users and builds trust
A visitor is tomorrow’s customer (if nurtured correctly). So you need content that helps push them toward a purchase. You can use blogs, videos, and general pages to build trust and keep them engaged.
Another way to help users is to have clearly written policy pages. No one wants to read a 2,000-word page on delivery or returns. So keep them simple and up to date.
There are so many opportunities to present a personalized shopping experience. You can add the customer’s name to a welcome note on the homepage or suggest products based on what they’ve already purchased.
Personalizing the shopping experience can seem a little daunting. But you want to make small changes that enhance the customer’s journey. Don’t change everything at once! Go slow and track.
Proactive and responsive support
A problem with customer support is it can be difficult to streamline. Your customers can email, live chat, DM, Tweet, and more. It’s exhausting! Thankfully, you can use a platform like Gorgias to funnel these different options into a single dashboard, making support far easier.
Supply chain optimization
You can spend millions on marketing, but if your supply chain has issues, you’ll lose money and customer trust. So, it’s vital you work on optimizing your supply chain as part of developing the best ecommerce customer experience.
Think about your fulfillment options
Even if you run a D2C brand, you still can offer multiple fulfillment options, including door-to-door delivery or a 3rd party parcel locker. If you have physical stores, consider offering a BOCIS (Buy Online Collect In Store) option. All of these options help build a better shopping experience.
Offer multiple Payment options
You can reduce friction at checkout by offering several payment options. You might already have a deal with a payment gateway. But consider adding PayPal or Venmo and maybe Klarna.
Many customers are comfortable buying using a pay-in-3 option, so it’s worth testing if adding Klarna as a payment option increases orders.
Build a community
Nothing is as powerful as a community. The best example of this is BrewDog. They’ve used their community to raise funds, find locations for bars, and as a free marketing channel.
Building a community is hard work and requires investing a lot of time, effort, and money. But the rewards can be excellent.
How to Measure Overall Customer Experience
Measuring how your customers feel about their shopping experience can be tricky. It’s not a logical conclusion, but an emotional one. So you might feel that you’re trying to optimize for moving goals posts.
There are a few metrics we can measure that help us start to understand how the customer feels about your offerings, service, and brand.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
You can use CSAT to measure customer satisfaction with a specific product or service. Typically, the customer is asked to complete a survey with multiple questions. These questions target specific aspects of the customer interaction like customer support experience, shipping, and product quality.
Net promoter score (NPS)
Net promoter score (NPS) refers to the percentage of your customers who say they would recommend your business. Widely used, NPS is a simple, scalable way to measure customer satisfaction.
Net promoter score is calculated by asking customers to rate, on a scale of 0–10, how likely they are to recommend your business to friends or colleagues.
It differs from the customer satisfaction score as it better measures a customer’s ongoing relationship with your business rather than a single shopping experience.
Customer retention and loyalty
Another two simple metrics to track are customer churn and loyalty. These will tell you how well you’re doing with your target market.
To calculate customer retention, loyalty, and churn, look at:
- Purchase Frequency
- Loyalty Program Participation
- Average Order Value
- Purchase Return Rate
That’s How To Create A Remarkable Ecommerce Customer Experience
You now have a road map for creating a remarkable ecommerce customer experience. Don’t try to change everything at once. Instead, focus on making a ton of small improvements.
You can have all of the marketing tactics in the world. But without the right ecommerce marketing strategy, you won't get the results you deserve.
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