What does it mean to “earn” the customer? It means you have to put the work in. eCommerce brands must be strategic about delivering great customer experiences that keep customers coming back.
Why is this so important? eCommerce is booming – US eCommerce sales are expected to keep growing by double digits – and as a result, the landscape is more competitive than ever. Brands who want to thrive into the future can’t compete on price and maybe not even on product/service. Customer experience is the secret sauce of success that builds customer relationships, trust, loyalty and long-term value. It’s also an edge that large marketplaces, like Amazon, can’t leverage.
We believe that earning the customer revolves around three key areas where brands will see the most return: customer-centric UX design, compelling and unique brand content, and amazing customer service, including post-purchase experiences. These are table stakes – and you can read more about them in the following articles.
Also consider, once you have these basics in place, what can your brand offer customers in terms of experience that they can’t get elsewhere? Are there unique policies you can offer to create a super convenient online-offline customer experience? Are there ways you can build community among customers with similar interests? Can you help customers get even more value from your products/services with educational content?
Earning the customer through great experiences involves more than a fast site and cool UX. This is the exciting stuff marketers and emerging brands thrive on! Are you ready to think outside the box?
1. Earn the Customer with Customer-Centric UX Design
Baymard Institute reports that the global average cart abandonment rate is 69.2%! That means that more than two-thirds of customers get to the brink of purchasing and then… don’t. Even if things aren’t quite this bad on your site, chances are you can still do better.
To reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions, a best practice is to review the customer journey on your site – from research to checkout to purchase – through a more customer-centric lens.
What do customers need or want when they come to your site? What information do they need to confidently make a purchase? Where and when are they running into barriers that cause them to cut and run? (Hint: barriers often stem from inadequate product details; information about sizing, cost, shipping, return policy, and payment options.) How can you better help them solve a problem or find what they want?
Read the article and download our Customer Journey Audit Worksheet (available at the end of this post) to help you evaluate the customer journey on your site. You also may want to consider investing in doing some user research.
2. Earn the Customer with Unique Brand Content on Your eCommerce Site
After you get your UX in order, brand content is another key area of focus. DTC brands get it. They put a lot of effort into connecting emotionally with their customers – they often have a social purpose and a strong brand story that customers want to tap into. Connecting with customers involves providing engaging content, such as lifestyle and educational content. Accessing and consuming this content can make customers feel like they’re part of a club or community.
Even if you have a multi-channel retail strategy, your owned eCommerce site is essential for capturing and owning customer data and building customer long-term value. Lifestyle and educational content, including photography, user-generated content (UGC), videos, recommendations, articles and more, can make it worthwhile for customers to engage with your brand directly.
3. Earn the Customer with Better eCommerce Returns
The post-purchase experience is often ignored by retailers – your brand should take full advantage of that fact. Customer experience continues after the package is delivered, as customers use your products or services. Can customers connect with you post-purchase? If you don’t already, it’s time to leverage contact channels including chat and email and enable 24/7 service via chatbots and FAQs.
A major part of the post-purchase experience is returns. And most online retailers do a crummy job – Baymard reports that 54% of eCommerce sites have significant user experience issues with their returns process.
Nobody wants returns – you want the revenue, customers don’t want the hassle – but returns don’t have to strictly be a cost center. “Return” is not necessarily synonymous with “refund.” Instead, returns can be a way to differentiate your brand through a great customer support experience – and possibly even increase AOV.
Step up your eCommerce customer experience
There are many ways you can earn the customer through customer experience, from UX, lifestyle content and returns as covered here, to other areas like on-site search, sizing and smart recommendations. We have lots of great ideas and the expertise to help you implement them. Give us a ring.
Get the downloadable 'Customer Journey Audit Worksheet'
These best practices are based on eHouse's collective CX experience and expertise, as well as published research from resources like Baymard Institute & Nielson Norman Group.