The largest trend concerning people’s consumption of products in the past decade is the shift away from physical stores in favor of online retail.
The eCommerce sector of the business industry has been enjoying steady growth year after year. All of this growth has also given rise to intimidating amounts of competition.
The eCommerce world is now more crowded than ever before.
The best method of cutting through this noise and reaching customers is by creating a customer-first approach to your eCommerce business.
What is Customer Experience and Why Does it Matter?
The customer experience is exactly what it sounds like.
The customer’s experience at a digital storefront is just as important, if not more important than it is at a brick-and-mortar store because in the eCommerce market it is even simpler to leave a store and find an alternative retailer.
This means that the ease and speed of the shopping process at your online store have a huge impact on important business results such as cart abandonment rate and webpage bounce rate.
Main Tactics Any E-Commerce Business Should Have
1. Allow Guest Purchasing
Requiring customers to create and register an account before completing their purchase is a major flaw. This slows down the purchasing process and drives many customers away from your site.
To circumvent this, allow customers to purchase products without an account. This is known as guest purchasing because the users do not have to be signed in to buy a product.
2. Have High-quality Photos of Your Products
It is important for your customers to be able to clearly see the goods they want to buy before making the purchase.
Having low-quality photos of your products on your webpage would be like a physical store allowing you to only view products from a distance, rather than up close where you can see the quality of the product.
Having high-resolution photos of your products on your website will allow customers to get a good idea of what they are purchasing and build a trusting relationship with your business.
3. Cater to Mobile Users
In today’s world, most online shopping is done from a cell phone while on the move. This means that you should absolutely expect most of your shoppers to be visiting your website from a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.
In fact, Google has begun taking a mobile-first approach to the way it ranks websites.
Webpages that are responsive, meaning they are optimized for both mobile devices and desktop platforms are being ranked higher in search results than webpages that are static.
If your website does not take mobile users into consideration, then you are missing out on the majority of the online shopping market.
4. Always be Available to Help Your Customers
Customer service is absolutely vital in the world of eCommerce.
At physical storefronts, the return process is fairly simple.
A customer can walk into a store where they purchased a product and ask for a return but the same is not true for eCommerce businesses.
The return process takes much longer for eCommerce businesses and can be frustrating if not properly managed. This is why it is important for you to streamline the return process as much as possible and be available to your customers whenever they have trouble returning a product.
Memorable customer service is one of the factors that separate an average eCommerce store from a great one.
Tips to Improve Your Customer Experience
1. Gather Useful Data
Optimization of anything begins with gathering data to inform the improvement process.
In order to be able to continually improve your online store’s customer experience, you need to have a steady flow of relevant information.
The easiest way to gather this information is through customer surveys.
After a purchase has been made or an account has been created, ask the customer a few quick questions about your website. Keep this survey brief (3-5 questions) or you will risk frustrating the more impatient shoppers.
2. Streamline the Checkout Process
A quick and simple checkout process is the most important part of any online purchase.
To make the checkout process as smooth as possible, be sure to remove any unnecessary fields and offer different payment methods.
You should also consider implementing tools such as a USPS shipping calculator to offer your customers the best deal.
3. Personalize the Purchasing Process
Personalizing the homepage of your store doesn’t have to be complicated.
There are more simple ways of making your online store’s products page feel more personalized without having to use an algorithm or remember past purchases.
For example, consider showing products that are typically purchased together alongside the item a customer is looking at. This tactic also works well for seasonal products. For instance, a swimsuit, beachball and sandals may all be part of a summer package.
Ivan Serrano is a web journalist living in the Bay Area of California. He mainly focuses his work on social media, small business, eCommerce, and finance. When he isn’t planted at his desk writing something up, he’ll be wandering around town practicing photography or watching his favorite sports teams with his friends.