As eCommerce business owners, I’m sure we all set out to meet our customers’ expectations.
But as a customer, do we tell our mates about a shopping experience (or any experience) that simply meets our expectations?
No, I don’t think we do.
I’ve personally had several recent online shopping experiences that were fine (I did receive the products I bought in a timely manner), but nothing I’d bother telling my friends about.
As customers, we only rave about the times our expectations were EXCEEDED.
The experience needs to be outstanding to be brag-worthy!
So, as the business owner, HOW do we create the kind of eCommerce customer experience that customers want to share?
My client Lou, from Cake 2 The Rescue, is really skilled at creating the kind of experiences customers really love.
Her customers tend to become multiple repeat-purchasers and vocal brand enthusiasts as a result!
Here are 7 proven ways you can improve your Ecommerce customer experience
Here’s why a good customer experience is crucial for eCommerce
Before I dive into the 7 ways you can improve your own eCommerce customer experience, here are some sobering statistics that illustrate just how crucial this is for your business.
- 89% of customers will stop doing business with a brand after a bad experience.
- Only 1 in 26 people will complain (or tell you directly) after a bad experience. The rest will just leave.
- Customers are twice as likely to share bad experiences compared to good ones.
- 86% of customers will pay more for a better brand experience. (Just think about budget vs premium airlines as an example!)
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits from 25%-95%!
- Leaders in Customer Experience outperform those who don’t by 26%.
So how can you try to exceed your own customers’ expectations and provide them with a great customer experience?
#1. Product-led Website Navigation
Shoppers in your online store will generally be one of these three things:
- People who already know exactly what they’re looking for,
- People who have an idea but need to figure out the specifics (size, colour, design, brand, price, quantity).
- People who think they want something from your range but need to look around before they make a decision.
By making it easy for these people to find the products and information they’re looking for, you will improve your eCommerce customer experience.
You can do this in two ways:
- Separate your top-level menu into your most popular product categories, which is what Lou does on her Cake 2 The Rescue website, and
- Include a product search filter high up on your website, which Lou also does.
#2. Simple Checkout Process
This is pretty easy to achieve nowadays with platforms like Shopify, but basically you want to keep your checkout process quick, easy and hassle-free.
The goal is to have as few clicks between the product page and the order confirmation page. (The more clicks to complete a purchase, the higher the chance people will abandon their cart!)
In fact, did you know, by only asking for the shipping address (not insisting on billing address), you can increase conversions by up to 10%?
Another tip is to make sure you show the product image, name and price in the shopping cart and through the checkout, so that customers can very easily see that they are buying the item they selected from your store.
(Not including the product image, for example, invites the chance that the customer isn’t sure they’re buying the right product, and they are more likely to abandon their cart.)
One really clever thing that Lou does in her checkout, is to ask the customer ‘when is your baking date?’
She makes it clear she will ship the order close to the baking date, so the organised customer can order in advance and doesn’t have to keep the perishable products for long.
Additionally, by recording the customer’s baking date, Lou knows when to follow up those customers next year when they’re likely to need another cake!
What fabulous customer service is that?!
#3. Welcome new customers & anticipate customer service moments
A big bug-bear I have with many eCommerce stores I buy from is that the only communications I receive after I purchase from them are purely about the business wanting something else from me.
They want me to leave a review, or they want me to buy from them again.
Don’t get me wrong, as a business owner myself I am a big advocate for using these strategies. Of course you want to collect reviews and increase repeat purchases!
But, it can feel a little bit cold and capitalistic without some sort of conversation or show of appreciation from the store I just bought from.
The stores I love to buy from have a knack of making me feel special and appreciated first, before they ask for something else in return. This definitely improves the eCommerce customer experience for me.
Lou does an amazing job of this. Her post-purchase emails, though automated, are very chatty and personable and conversational.
She makes sure you know what to expect with your delivery, and gives you helpful tips on how to use it.
And you can reply back to her with a question and know you’ll get a personal response.
You immediately get the impression that she’s got your back and she’s completely invested in your success with her cake kits.
#4. Consider the “Unboxing” experience
How do you ship out your orders?
Most of the orders I’ve received from online stores recently have been fine. Just fine.
Products + packing slip inside a satchel with an address label on it.
This was actually problematic with one order, which ended up being faulty. The only contact details I could find on the packing slip OR the order confirmation email was a PO Box address.
I really needed to speak (either by phone or email) with someone about the fault to work out whether it was fixable or whether it needed to be replaced.
They made it really difficult for me though – I had to go searching on their website to find any contact details.
Not a great first impression!
On the flip side, I adore receiving orders from clothing retailer Birdsnest, who always wrap my items in tissue, include a hand-written note and often a free gift. It makes me feel very special and I enjoy the unboxing experience a lot!
And Lou from Cake 2 The Rescue also has the order presentation process down to a fine art.
Her delivery boxes are custom printed with her branding, every element of the kit has its own place inside the box, along with a printed photograph and instructions of what you’re about to make.
Opening up one of her cake kits with an excitable young child at your side, anticipating her upcoming birthday, is a lot of fun!
#5. Ensure customer success by creating high quality content
Part of this step is to help potential customers to make a purchase decision.
And part of this step is to help first-time customers have a successful, enjoyable experience using or consuming the product they just bought from you.
To ensure your potential customers can successfully reach a purchase decision, you need to think about what content you include on your website and how you structure that content in a logical, intuitive way.
For example, Birdsnest include ‘styled outfits’ on their website, to help you work out what items go well together. They also include detailed information about what shape body each article of clothing suits, and display them on different sized models.
Lou features fantastic educational content on her site, such as instruction videos explaining how to use her cake kits, or how to do buttercream or fondant icing, or blogs on how to do a Unicorn Birthday Party.
After a customer buys, Lou then sends a series of emails that include detailed written and video instructions on exactly how to create the cake in a step-by-step manner.
Customers are encouraged to join the Facebook support group for immediate help and advice as well.
#6. Collect and show customer reviews
I mentioned above about how irritating I find it when an online store asks me to leave a review straight after I’ve purchased – without barely a note of thanks or ‘how’s everything going with your order?’
But, collecting and showing recent customer reviews is incredibly important and a powerful way to create a great customer experience for NEW customers.
Showing that sort of social proof helps to give new customers confidence in making a purchase decision.
So how can you collect those reviews and testimonials in a positive way?
Firstly, you really want to make sure your customers are happy first (see #3 above).
When Lou asks for a testimonial, she actually first asks customers to answer a one-question survey – did they love their cake kit? If you click ‘yes’ she asks for a testimonial, but if you click ‘no’ she asks for feedback.
Another super cool strategy Lou used is to invite her most engaged customers to shoot a short video testimonial about how much they love their cake kits. So many people participated in this because they love Lou and their cake kits so much! Check it out here.
#7. Build an engaged community
As I mentioned in #3 above, most online stores I’ve purchased from recently have not even attempted to engage in any kind of conversation with me after my purchase.
One way to do this successfully is to focus on building an engaged community on social media.
This can be on pages like Instagram or Facebook, or you could follow Lou’s example and create a Facebook Group.
Lou’s group is a highly engaged support group in which she connects daily with her audience. She’s highly responsive and shows up in a very accessible, friendly, supportive and authentic manner.
You really can’t help but to like her! And that results in an audience that supports both Lou and her business (ie sales!)
Regardless of your target market, today’s generation is accustomed to spending time daily on social media.
It is a fast and immediate channel of communication.
Managed well – it absolutely helps to provide an exceptional customer experience, helping to encourage new first-time customers to buy and loyal customers to buy again.
Follow these steps to help improve your eCommerce customer experience
By loving on your new and existing customers, and making sure they have an amazing experience shopping on your website, you’re much more likely to experience sales growth.
Your online store will convert more highly, and you’ll benefit from more word-of-mouth referrals!
Your other marketing is more likely to be successful as well
If you have no engaged audience, or your customers don’t have a great experience shopping from you, it’ll be really difficult to succeed with other marketing strategies like paid advertising or email marketing.
But when you have a posse of raving fans for customers, all your other marketing strategies are much more likely to succeed!