One of the most direct routes to customer loyalty runs through providing a positive customer experience. When all is said and done, how your customers feel about your business will determine whether or not they remain steady customers. This means you need to think of them long before they even visit your store.
Here are several ways to improve the ecommerce customer experience.
- Use Consistency to Foster Community
While you might think your shoppers’ journeys begin when they enter your site, they actually start before they learn you exist. This will be either through social media, a marketing campaign, or a search result. When your persona is consistent across your entire customer facing communications, they will have developed something of an affinity for you before they arrive.
Once you settle upon the image you want to project (one to which your target demographic can relate in a positive fashion) infuse it into every aspect of your presence. Your social pages, your ads, your blog, the look and voice of your store, your newsletter, emails, text messages, videos—everything—should be consistent in tone and style.
Doing so will encourage the coalescing of a community around it.
- Make Shopping Your Site as Easy as Possible
Yes, that avant garde site design looks hella fresh, but it also better be hella easy to use. You’ll get three types of customers, those who know what they want, browsers and people who need help finding things.
There’s nothing wrong with being distinctive, as long as you think like someone who’s navigating by intuition. People enjoy interacting with your site when the design is intuitive. They also have more patience and shop longer.
Organize the site by categories, just like a physical store would be. If you’re using a platform like those provided by Shopify to sell ebooks on your own website, organize it like a physical bookstore. Have a mystery section, a history section, and one for every other genre you sell.
These should be reflected in your navigation bar. And, your search function should be located in the top right corner where users have been trained to expect to find it.
Keep your shopping cart visible on every page and rig it to tally up the purchase amount as items are added. This way, your customers aren’t blindsided when they get to the checkout page—which can lead to cart abandonment
- You Win Hearts and Minds When you Personalize
A curated experience is an appreciated experience. It’s also a more lucrative one for you. For proof, you need look no farther than the ecommerce leader.
Amazon’s “customers like you also bought” feature drives impulse sales, minimizes returns and incites repeat business.
Configure your backend to keep track of data such as shoppers’ browsing histories, locations and survey responses to feed a recommendation engine. You can then show your customers content, product offers and promotions tailored to their demonstrated preferences.
- Deliver Captivating Product Pages
Beautiful visuals, descriptive copy, fluid navigation and compelling demonstrations of value will hold a customer’s attention.
Speak in terms of benefits as opposed to features. Show the product in use by people who appear to be enjoying the experience. Social proof is huge, so you should always include testimonials from satisfied buyers.
Communicate your value proposition clearly—along with a description, photos of the product in use and a video clip when the product lends itself to that treatment. This is also the time to disclose pricing, shipping, handling and sales tax charges (if any).
Create an environment in which they can see themselves using the product. After spending time on one of your product pages, a shopper should have a clear idea of how the product would enhance their life—without having been hit over the head with a sales pitch.
- Provide Outstanding Support
Try as you might to answer every conceivable question, some people will need their hands held. This gives you an opportunity to kill them with kindness.
Offer a multitude of channels for interaction—live chat, support pages, FAQs, forums, live phone calls, text messages and the like.
When people are on the verge of making a purchase decision and have questions, they want answers quickly. If you can’t bring it, they’ll look for someone who can.
- Demonstrate Expertise
Would you rather buy from someone who demonstrates considerable knowledge or somebody who just happens to have what you’re looking for?
Most people gravitate toward the knowledgeable individual.
Show customers you’re that person with solid content offerings. Your blog should be an integrated aspect of your site. Refresh it daily (at minimum) and tout new content postings in your social media feeds so your audience will come check it out. Infographics and video tutorials are particularly effective.
In addition to being a traffic magnet, this furnishes your community a water cooler around which to gather, discuss, learn from and educate one another. It also builds brand trust and gives people a reason to visit your site, even when they aren’t shopping.
Folks appreciate you more when you add value to their lives.
- Create a Hassle-free Checkout Process
While you want customers to think and engage everywhere else on your site, you don’t want to make them stop and think when they get to the checkout page. Everything there should be conducive to fast and easy functioning.
Don’t make shoppers register for your site to make their first purchase. Give them the option of checking out as a guest. You can always invite them to register and save their payment information once the transaction is complete.
Offer a variety of the most popular payment options, so you don’t lose a sale because somebody couldn’t use their favorite way to pay. You also want to make sure the customer knows their personal information is secure. Earn security seals from McAfee, Norton and VeriSign to help shoppers feel more secure on your site. Post those seals on every page.
- Be Mindful of Mobile
All of the above strategies need to be optimized to function just as well in a mobile environment as they will on a desktop machine. More than 30 percent of all online sales involve mobile devices as of this writing. That number has been growing for years and will only continue to do so.
Keep in mind, mobile shoppers tend to be less patient, so your screens have to load fast and be easy to navigate. According to Google, you only have three seconds to hold a mobile shopper when they’re waiting for a screen to render.
You must also make forms easier to use. Auto completion is a good tool for this purpose. Additionally, when a form field requires numbers rather than letters, make the user’s keyboard switch to digits automatically.
These eight ways to improve the ecommerce customer experience will help you develop a legion of loyal customers who will enjoy visiting your site, even when they aren’t shopping.