5 ways to drastically improve your commerce experience
The eCommerce experience of today is nothing like it was even a few years ago. Customers expect to be put front and center with content that is consistent and personally relevant regardless of where they are or what device they’re using. But keeping up with evolving customer expectations, with all the additional touchpoints, and delivering the experience your customers now demand can be a challenge.
There are a lot of things you can do to help make your customer experience a cohesive, connected one. These are just five, however these five are ones that have the potential to make a drastic difference.
How did we get here?
Forrester marks the start of the “Age of the Customer” in 2013, but we really entered this era in 2008 with the rise in popularity of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And as technology and innovation has expanded, digital experiences, devices and platforms have increased significantly too, naturally resulting in more ways for brands and retailers to engage with their customers.
As customer expectations have grown, so too has the demand for content. But many brands and retailers are still maintaining legacy technologies that were built to support singular channels. They don’t cater for the likes of social and IoT, so brands have had to add on new tools and system to their digital architecture to keep up. All in all, they’re producing an enormous amount of content, often-times with different teams and departments managing different channels, or all working across different platforms. It means content is either duplicated or built bespoke within the system that supports that specific experience, and resultingly the customer experience is often disparate too.
With all that said, let’s get to the ways we can make it better.
1. Elevate your product information.
Product information is the bedrock of eCommerce experience. Sure, every eCommerce retailer has product information, of course. But those that convert more, and that are providing a true experience for their customers are doing more than just providing your standard product description. Practical and technical information are helpful yes, but shoppers are often buying through want not need, there’s an emotional connection driving their purchases, so you need to elevate your information to appeal to this. Above your core technical information like color, materials, dimensions etc, look to bring the product to life with usage information. Showcase how it might be used, how it would fit into the buyer’s life, and let them relate to the product more. Then layer in emotional information, the information that really draws the shopper into the brand, features like celebrities the audience will relate to wearing the product, or sensory elements like scents and texture.
2. Speak to the individual, not the masses, with true personalization.
Customers are no longer just shopping for products, but also shopping for experiences. By that, we mean your customer experience will be a differentiator, your values and the meaningful relationships you create with your buyers will set you apart and is also what they expect.
These meaningful relationships are the driving force behind the need to add in layers of personalization into your eCommerce journey. Because shoppers don’t want to feel like just another sale or a number. But similarly knowing someone’s name and inserting it into an email or having a few product recommendations isn’t enough. That’s simple, baseline stuff now.
Shoppers are only with you for a short time, so you need to optimize that time to be as effective as possible. Your personalization has to go further. It needs to really harness the data you have looking at what you know about the shopper, about their behaviors, and in real time. Then you can even layer in other data, things like weather information. It’s almost limitless. Importantly, it all adds up to make the customer’s experience easier, more enjoyable, and gives you relevancy.
3. Make navigating your site and finding products seamless.
We all know how frustrating it can be as a shopper when you can’t find what you’re looking for. And it’s even worse online when you're searching or navigating for a product and it’s not showing up, especially when you know they have it because you’ve seen it on social media for example.
A frictionless search experience is worth its weight in gold, in fact it’s actually proven to increase revenue. So no longer can you neglect this area of your customer experience, nor can you steer its focus to being solely on helping customers find products.
A modern-day search and navigation experience means you are serving up products of course but also related and supporting content, from customer support articles to blogs and more. You are ensuring the results that are returned are hyper relevant, for example ordered appropriately based on aspects like buying habits or even the device they’re on to make use of the space on the screen. And you are returning results that are personalized to the specific customer, product recommendations a prime example.
As well, ensure the results factor in all the different words, variations and spelling in the language your customers use when searching. Never underestimate all the different ways people will describe your product when trying to search for it, or even the nuances between what words or spelling they use.
Overall, a valuable search and navigation experience not only means customers can get to what they’re looking for a lot easier and quicker – which they’ll thank you for – but it also helps to build engagement and loyalty with customers when both in and out of buying mode.
4. Ensure everything is consistent.
With so many channels at play, a connected customer experience relies on your product information, your branding, your entire experience, being consistent across all your touchpoints. Because there’s nothing more off putting or untrustworthy to customers than experiencing your brand in one light on say social media then heading to your mobile app and getting a completely different experience. If it’s disjointed shoppers will simply go elsewhere.
On a similar note, remember that customers are no longer on a linear shopping journey anymore, it’s not just homepage to product listing page to product description page to checkout. They are hitting pages much deeper into the eCommerce journey than previously before, arriving from any number of external touchpoints. Your supporting content and experience need to be built out across all areas of the site as a result, with the likes of videos, testimonials, interactive features, etc, all used to highlight your brand and values throughout the entire journey.
5. Be unique and create the content customer want.
We all know that first second (in fact it’s more like half a second) is crucial as to whether a customer likes what they see or starts looking elsewhere. Yet you’d be surprised by how many retailers are still reverting to the same old templated UX designs across their sites. It’s hard of course when the technology they have is dictating what they can do.
To improve your customer experience you need the freedom to create and design what your customers actually want and will resonate with. One big factor in this equation will be your visual design and assets, so make sure you are showcasing your products and content across all channels with really rich media, everything from videos, 360 degree imagery, shoppable lookbooks and the like. Really immerse your customers in your brand and products.
Another factor will be being aware of where your shoppers are located. Cultural and regional differences can be a huge factor for shoppers. A sleek design in one market may not resonate as well in another, certain language may be offensive to some and not to others, some colors denote certain things in particular countries, for example. All these things need to be looked at when selling in different markets and to a range of customers.
Give your customers an experience.
It’s not just about selling; it’s about giving your customers the experience they expect and that they always wanted from retailers. And by digging into the points above and executing them across your eCommerce channels, you’ll certainly be well on your way to improving your commerce experience.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build consistent, customer centric, digital-first customer experiences, and the technologies and strategies you’ll need to do so, then we recommend checking out our report, Designing connected customer experiences for the modern world.
Or, simply get in touch with one of the team here at Amplience who can chat with you about executing all of the above.