E-commerce has transformed the retail landscape. And while the first generation of e-commerce was all about price, the second generation is focused on the shopper experience. A recent report by Walker Insights shows that customer experience will be the most critical brand differentiator by 2020. As customers become more sophisticated, their expectations around delivery, convenience and customer service are rising.
According to a report from Shopify, e-commerce sales are set to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021, proving the transition from traditional retail still has some way to run. As shoppers increasingly migrate to online merchants, the demand for exceptional customer service continues to grow. According to HubSpot, 80% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer experience.
But in an era where thousands of e-commerce companies are emerging each month, it can be difficult for new businesses to differentiate themselves and deliver true value to the customer. Earning the shopper’s trust is a challenge, but there are several key aspects that merchants can focus on to deliver a superior customer experience.
1. Stunning & Clean website
Customers demand a clean, well-organized and user-friendly interface that lets them quickly find the products they need. The checkout process should also be seamless, with the shopping cart available from every page, and multiple secure payment options.
2. Personalized experience
Today’s consumers are willing to pay more for a personalized experience, and 71% become frustrated if the experience is impersonal, according to a report by Segment. Personalization is not just about including the consumer’s name on email messages. Product suggestions and even ads should be targeted to the individual user. Industry giant Amazon leads the way in this respect, with a strong reputation as one of the world’s most customer-centric businesses. Amazon does an excellent job of giving the shopper personalized recommendations based on their shopping habits.
3. Flexible delivery and tracking
Another way that e-commerce suppliers can distinguish themselves from the competition is at the delivery stage. Customers desire the ability to select when, where, how and by whom their goods are delivered. An insufficient range of delivery options can result in the shopper looking elsewhere. Customers also expect detailed tracking information for their purchases.
Its key to constantly keep innovating else you competition would eat you up. Much can be seen from the recent news on 'Toys R Us' on which CBS News mentioned that, in addition to the debt it was saddled with by its private-equity owners, Toys R Us found itself in a battle to its seeming death with Amazon.com and other big toy sellers like Target and Walmart.
5. Persuasive copy and visuals
Product pages should contain compelling branding, descriptive copy, and high quality photos. All pages should be optimised to look good and load quickly on both mobile and desktop devices. Infographics and video tutorials can further enhance the products.
5. Strong product support
Customers who purchase online also expect online support. By providing multiple support channels such as live text chat, voice chat, forums and product support pages, businesses can increase the probability that the consumer will have their questions addressed satisfactorily, without being tempted to reach out to a competitor.
Modern shoppers demand a convenient, flexible, personalized and seamless e-commerce experience, with helpful support available on-demand across channels. Merchants who focus on exceptional delivering experiences, not just products, will give themselves a clear advantage in this competitive marketplace.
In a nutshell, the offline businesses small or large who do not embrace internet as a primary channel are going to shut down in years to come.