In 2017 alone, it’s predicted that more than 8,600 stores will shut down. Retail giants such as Radio Shack, Payless Shoe Source, and Staples will close a staggering combined total of 1,982 stores and shift more of their focus to e-commerce.
Modern shoppers are flocking to digital, with 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers preferring to shop online rather than in-store. Digital presents a huge opportunity for growth, not only in revenue but in your company's connection to each individual customer. The customer experience in e-commerce could make or break your online efforts.
And when it comes to the importance of customer experience in e-commerce, the experts are in agreement. Here are some insights and tips from top influencers in the e-commerce space:
Understand Customer Touch Points
How do you over-deliver to every customer every time? It begins with understanding each of your customer touch points.
A touch point is a single interaction a visitor or customer has with your brand. These interactions can be anything from a visit to your website, a live chat session, the condition and appeal of the package they receive, a follow-up email correspondence, or even a single Tweet.
Every single touch point a visitor or customer has with you and your brand has the opportunity to meet, exceed or fail customer expectations. You'll want to consider every point-of-contact with your visitors and customers for each of your major categories, no matter how small.
-- Richard Lazazzera, Founder at A Better Lemonade Stand, @richardabls (from Shopify)
Write Content for Each Stage of the Consideration Funnel
The trick with content for e-commerce is that it’s not one thing. You have to create content that answers key customer questions at each stage of the consideration funnel, and you have to answer those questions with multiple types of content. Also, I’m a big believer in decentralized content. Everything good can’t exist only on your own site, because you’re preaching only to the choir in that circumstance.
-- Jay Baer, Founder at Convince & Convert, @jaybaer (from Automated Insights)
Mobile Should Not Be an Afterthought
After talking to numerous sellers and through my own personal shopping experiences on mobile devices, it is clear that the mobile experience can often be an afterthought. That’s a mistake. Almost two-thirds of US consumers use mobile to shop, according to research released by the CTA earlier this year. With the Amazon marketplace, the number is likely higher. A few years ago, more than 70% of Amazon customers shopped via a mobile device during the holiday season. Bottom line: the mobile experience should be a number one priority.
-- Carina McLeod, Amazon Retail Consultant at eCommerce Nurse, (from eComEngine )
Play to Our Innate Selective Attention
As humans we love to be entertained, and we pay most attention to the things that draw our attention. The notion of selective attention plays a part in the benefit of e-commerce personalization. Selective attention pertains to the idea that we naturally shift our focus and attention to things we value and are invested in. Personalized e-commerce experiences in the forms of curated products, targeted ads, and recovery emails can draw the selective attention of potential customers.
-- Sudar Ganes, User Experience & UI Designer at Think Research, @SudsAndJunk (from the Usabilla blog)
Create a Seamless Omnichannel Experience
The omnichannel experience is everything.
In traditional marketing-speak, omnichannel means that we seek to give our customers a seamless and unified shopping experience across all channels.
Today omnichannel isn’t just a technology or shopping play. It’s more broadly the brand experience that a customer has with you across various platforms and channels, at every step of the way. It integrates technology, data, content, and communication across an organization in an effort to deliver a seamless experience to the customer or prospects.
In other words: What your customer experiences over here also matches what they experience over there. When all those touch points are aligned… it's a powerful thing. And when they aren’t, your customers and prospects end up feeling uneasy and disappointed at the mismatch. Haven’t we all had the experience of an amazing brand with a disappointing UX or rude customer service person?
-- Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, @annhandley (from Ann’s personal blog)
If there is one thing that we can conclude from the advice of these e-commerce experts, it’s that the customer experience is crucial to an e-commerce company’s success. Emerging technologies offer new and exciting ways to delight and captivate the consumer throughout the buyer's journey. However, as the experts have pointed out, if you don’t obsess about the customer experience, you will fall behind.
One theme throughout all of these tips is that the customer expects more while shopping online. To truly please consumers nowadays, it is important to treat each shopper as an individual. Creating a buying experience that is unique to each person will give you a leg up against competitors, increase your ROI, and even more importantly, delight your shoppers.