January 14, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Ecommerce was enjoying steady growth before the pandemic, but 2020 accelerated the trend like never before. Cyber Monday 2020 shattered online shopping records, with more than $10.84 billion in sales on that one day alone.
Many customers have since permanently changed their shopping habits, making most (if not all) of their purchases online instead of in-store. While this creates significant opportunities for ecommerce brands, it also highlights the importance of how improving the customer experience is one of the most valuable ways your brand can stand out in an increasingly competitive online marketplace.
1. Embrace live chat
Ecommerce customers typically don’t want to pick up the phone and make a call if they have a question about your products or your store in general. Many prefer more of a “self-service” approach that allows them to quickly resolve problems on their own.
Though not entirely self-service, live chat has quickly become a powerful tool because it provides an easily accessible solution that is right at their fingertips. Live chat provides an immediate response, as opposed to waiting for an email reply or being put on hold on the phone.
Not only do 41% of customers list live chat as their preferred contact method (higher than any other option), but 52% are more likely to make a repeat purchase from an online business if it offers live chat.
When customers get a quick, actionable answer to their questions, their entire experience improves dramatically. They are less likely to click away from your site and more likely to stick around to make a purchase. Chatbots can help with basic inquiries, but keep human support on hand for more complex issues.
2. Integrate both logistics and sales processes
So many ecommerce stores focus exclusively on getting customers to make a buying decision in a virtual world. While important, the delivery experience in the physical world affects this decision and has long-term implications on a brand’s value.
As Antonio Perini, CEO of Milkman Technologies, explained during a recent conversation, “All too often, there is a disconnect between sales and logistics. If a brand doesn’t offer flexible, convenient and cost-effective shipping options or projected delivery timelines are inaccurate, it will derail the overall experience. Today’s customers want delivery options; they want to know when their order will arrive. The tight integration of sales and logistics is more vital now than ever before.”
Research from Narvar shows that 53 percent of online shoppers won’t complete a purchase if they can’t get an estimated delivery date. The vast majority of customers also expect regular updates, such as when an item was shipped or if a delay occurred. A lack of transparency could sour their entire experience with your ecommerce brand.
3. Personalize the relationship
Online shopping may not feel as personal as standing at a checkout counter with a living, breathing person, but the most successful ecommerce brands are consistently making an effort to personalize their interactions. In fact, personalization is so important to customers that an Accenture report found that 33% of customers who abandon a business relationship do so because of a lack of personalization.
While you may not be able to personalize the browsing experience the first time someone stumbles upon your site, future interactions can easily be personalized based on the information you collect during the checkout process. After all, your marketing emails will be much more engaging if they use the person’s name instead of a rote phrase like, “Dear valued customer.”
Similarly, tools like Facebook Pixel can help you make social media retargeting more personalized by adapting ad content based on prior actions a user took while on your site. Personalizing ads based on browsing history, an abandoned cart or past purchases will make ad impressions far more engaging and effective.
4. Invite feedback
Online shoppers want to make an informed decision. It’s why so many rely on Google reviews for local businesses or Amazon star ratings when shopping on the ecommerce giant’s website.
You can build consumer confidence in your ecommerce brand by actively inviting feedback and enabling customers to leave reviews of your products on their site. In fact, a Microsoft survey found that 77% of consumers will view a brand more favorably if it asks for (and listens to) customer feedback.
Ecommerce brands can easily accomplish this by sending a followup email asking customers to leave a review after they have made a purchase. This doesn’t just help you accrue testimonials that will encourage other online shoppers to buy. It also gives you valuable feedback regarding what changes you can make to improve your products and services.
Acting on that feedback (and responding to negative reviews) will show customers you genuinely care and are working to improve your ecommerce experience.
Set yourself up for a successful 2021
2021 will undoubtedly be rich with opportunity for ecommerce brands — but only those who go the extra mile to better serve their customers. As you adjust your operations to more fully meet customer needs, you can have confidence that your brand will also be able to enjoy the ever-increasing shift to ecommerce.