Customer experience is having a moment, because it’s becoming the deciding factor in eCommerce success. Online shoppers are spoiled for choice, and they expect a lot from the stores they do business with.
In a 2018 Salesforce survey, 80% of consumers said the shopping experience is as important as the products a store sells. And stores that create great experiences can grow their revenues twice as fast as stores that don’t, according to Forrester Research.
What Is ‘Customer Experience’?
Analysts, marketers and digital commerce experts have been trying to nail down a concise definition of customer experience for years. Because customer experience includes every experience a customer has with your business (emails, time spent on your website, social media conversations, interactions with customer service, etc.), the details can get complicated.
To keep things simple, we like the definition of customer experience Forrester offers:
“how customers perceive their interactions with your company.”
4 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience for Your Online Store
How can you make sure your customers feel good about their interactions with your online store? Make things easy for them. Here’s how.
1. Help your customers find what they want fast
Why it matters: Shoppers who know what they’re looking for want to complete their purchase and move on to something else. Shoppers who aren’t quite sure what they need want help finding the right items. In both cases, they’ll move on to another store if they can’t place their order or get help quickly.
How to make it happen:
Help customers find what they’re looking for, fast.
- Review your store’s navigation, product categories and search tools to make sure visitors can get from homepage to product page in as few clicks as possible.
- Feature your best-selling items and most popular categories above the fold on your homepage to speed things along.
- Implement personalization (more on that below) so returning customers can quickly reorder items or find things they’re likely to want.
Help customers quickly find information and products when they need help making a decision.
- Give your customers immediate access to customer service information via live chat or a chatbot.
- Choose a chatbot that acts as a personal shopper, asking questions to help your customers find the right item.
- Make your store’s buying guides and product reviews easy for customers to find on the site.
- Provide personalized recommendations.
2. Help your customers track their orders
When customers do place an order with you, don’t make them have to work to find out when it will arrive and where it is along the way. Provide plenty of options so your customers can use the tool that works best for them.
Email and text updates with tracking links are the industry standard, so if your store doesn’t offer both, now’s the time to fix that.
Consider adding push notifications for mobile devices and web browsers.
When your customers opt into your web and/or mobile push notifications program, you can send status updates that appear on their screens regardless of what they’re doing at the time. There are WordPress plugins that will allow you to add push capabilities to your site.
Set up your chatbot to provide order tracking details, too.
3. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you
You’ve probably had the experience of shopping with a new store, getting all the way through checkout to the payment page, and then realizing that the only form of payment the store took was credit cards.
If you happened to have your card handy that would be fine. But if you were on a crowded bus, you probably didn’t want to pull out your card. And if you were on the couch in the middle of a Netflix binge with your dog on your lap, you probably didn’t want to move. So never mind.
Adding payment options solves this customer experience problem. It can also help reduce the intractable problem of cart abandonment in eCommerce, which leads about 70% of shoppers to bail before they check out.
At the very least, your store should offer PayPal and another wallet service like Google Pay, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout or Square. Check out our roundup of eCommerce payment options to find the details on 10 of the most popular services.
If a lot of your orders come from other countries—or if you’d like to earn more cross-border sales—you may want to add some regional payment options, too. Some to consider are
- China-based UnionPay, the biggest card network on the planet.
- Sweden-based Klarna, a popular EU option that allows customers to pay in installments.
- Brazil-based Elo, popular with Brazilian consumers who shop at online stores outside the country.
4. Show your customers that you know what they want
Personalization is a big factor in how customers perceive their interactions with stores. Microsoft’s 2020 retail trends report shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with stores that give them a personalized experience: knowing who they are, what they’ve bought before and what they might like now.
When customers opt into your store’s personalized offers (whether they arrive via email, text or push notification), it’s a win-win. They get a better, more customized experience and a sense that your store recognizes them. Your store gets customer data you can use to refine your offers and make customers’ experiences even better.
Earlier, we looked at other customer experience elements that involve personalization:
- Showing customers items they may be interested in.
- Suggesting additional items they may need based on past purchases, like mittens to go with a hat or replacement batteries for a portable device.
- Chatbot personal shopper support that includes personalized recommendations based on past purchases, like sizes, color preferences and other customer data.
These types of personalization not only make customers feel special, they save them time. That creates a great impression of your store as attentive and convenient—the kind of place they’re likely to shop with again.
Want more ideas for creating a great customer experience in your online store? Check out these blog posts: