By Finny Chellakumar
With e-commerce growing almost four times faster than in-store retail and set to account for half of all sales made by 2021, retailers must deliver a personalised, seamless and accessible experience, or customers will migrate to another brand. As customer expectations are changing, your customer experience (CX) has to evolve alongside those changes. If you aren’t investing in a great online experience, you’re likely to lose customers. In fact, more than 80% of retail businesses expect to compete mainly based on CX. Hence, improving CX is a must as a good CX translates into profits. According to Forrester, improving CX can increase a retailer’s profitability by five times.
Listed below are the cornerstones that cover most of what you need to know about great e-commerce customer experience and how to drive improvements in customer service delivery.
- Creating a customer-friendly website, improving product pages, introducing a simple checkout, optimising your e-commerce site, etc. are a must to deliver superior customer experience. Equipping your e-commerce site with a multitude of tools such as instant messaging, abandoned cart reminders, newsletters, consumer review tools, etc. can help retailers meet customer demands and create an enjoyable and stress-free shopping experience.
- Unified commerce Experience (UCE) is the latest Buzzword in E-commerce. Omni-channel is yesterday’s news, and retailers have realised it. Unified Commerce goes past Omni-channel, putting the customer experience first, breaking down the walls between internal channels and leveraging a common commerce platform. It offers a single view of your inventory and every channel you carry out your sales in—beginning from your website and mobile channels to various brick-and-mortar stores as well as marketplaces. On the other hand, you can gain insights into customers’ behaviour such as buying history, personal data irrespective of their choice of channel thereby making you more competitive, driving up your sales and improving customer engagement. Hence, to deliver the most experiential shopping journey for your customers, retailers need a unified commerce platform to support them as it remodels the way they connect their business.
- Multi-device experience- More consumers today are beginning their shopping journey on one device and migrating to another before completing a purchase. E-commerce sites are not limited to desktops/laptops anymore. New innovations around digital devices and services have created even more opportunities across the ecosystem. Latest technologies like voice, new devices like smart speakers, continue to drive growth in this sector. Your online business has to be multiple devices friendly to reach the customers conveniently through their gadget of choice (speakers, tab, mobile, and laptop). With an estimated 10 billion Mobile connected devices currently in use, retailers need to build a website/app that is intuitive, flexible and user friendly across all devices. To make this an error free reality, you need to rely on effective multi device testing. Also, retailers who are tracking their customers across multiple devices are able to gain valuable data on who their most valuable customers are, how often those customers are interacting with their brand, and what those on-site experiences look like. Using these insights, customers receive all the benefits of a more cohesive, personalised experience, as a direct result of being recognised throughout their journey.
- AI-Driven personalisation- E-commerce players have seen the biggest wins from investing in the latest technologies. By applying artificial intelligence/machine learning to key business processes, they are driving higher sales, predicting demand, and personalising the shopping experience through AI driven UI. AI algorithms, engines and tools embedded in e-commerce sites can help retailers analyse massive amounts of data sets about customer preferences, provide tailored content that meets each customer’s unique interests, and make informed decisions about where to spend their valuable marketing dollars. Utilising AI technology allows retailers to create more personalised digital experiences that turn potential customers into loyal customers. By 2023, the majority of organisations using AI for digital commerce will achieve at least a 25% improvement in customer satisfaction, revenue or cost reduction according to Gartner.
Enriched Visual experience is still the king- Truly successful brands prioritise creating compelling and consistent visual assets. Underestimating the way visuals influence shopping behaviour in 2019 is to be myopic which is reflected in the following states:
- In 26% of cases a shopping cart was abandoned due to poor quality images or too few images
- 67% of consumers rate the quality of a product image is very important when choosing and purchasing online
With that in mind, it is essential for retailers to rethink the role of visual content in brand strategy. The absence of rich product experiences and engagement was one of the primary reasons limiting interest in e-commerce at its emergence.
Every retailer should be guided by the motto “Customer experience is first and foremost”. Today, as already explained, creating top-notch customer experience is not only helpful for business growth, it’s a necessity. Customer service is (and will continue to be) the driving force behind retail success. Retailers who offer a remarkable experience from beginning to end, no matter where or how a person shops, create the long-term customer loyalty that inevitably leads to long-term business profitability.
The author is practice head of consulting and digital commerce at Aspire Systems.