Ecommerce has enabled small and midsize businesses to compete with larger, more established competitors. With the right technology and expertise, brands with direct-to-consumer business models can convert traffic, acquire and retain new customers and deliver a stellar online experience.
However, to stand out in the crowd, brands need to compete on more than product and price. Your ecommerce site is the face of your company, so you must provide not only a great online user experience but extend that excellence to all touchpoints of the brand. Consistently positive user experiences foster brand loyalty and customer lifetime value. In fact, brands that lead in customer experience are growing at a much faster rate than their peers, according to Forrester.
When optimizing for customer experience, every nuance matters. From shopping on the website to receiving emails or text messages to interacting with sales representatives and customer support, both B2B and B2C customers expect to be delighted at every touchpoint.
Why Customer Experience Matters
Shoppers expect relevant and consistent customer experiences from the companies they engage with regularly. Brands with strong online presences have heavily invested to deliver. However, most small and midsize retailers have lagged behind and under-invested in building captivating ecommerce capabilities. Now, with ecommerce sales up double-digits year-over-year, focusing on technologies that build online brand awareness and provide engaging customer experiences is no longer optional for companies that want to compete.
Customer Experience Statistics You Should Know
Everyone knows that great customer experience leads to larger returns and higher ROI, right? Well, we can back up that conventional wisdom with data. Here are five key stats to make the case for investing in a great customer experience:
- Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag behind. This could be for a number of reasons: an easy-to-use website, fast customer follow-up, even customer satisfaction with the product itself.
- 77% of consumers view brands more favorability if they seek out and request customer feedback. Customers really appreciate when a seller reaches out post-purchase to inquire about the shopping experience. This effort helps build trust, which often leads to brand loyalty. A follow-up is an easy way for businesses to show they care about their customers while getting something in return, in the form of input.
- Almost 90% of customers stop doing business with a brand after a bad experience. A negative experience, whether it’s an issue browsing the website or poor customer service, is likely to cost the seller shoppers’ trust—and drive them to take their business elsewhere.
- It takes 12 positive customers to make up for one negative experience. Customers are twice as likely to share a bad experience than a good one, so sellers must ensure consistently high satisfaction and work extra hard to motivate brand ambassadors to share user-generated content, like product reviews. It’s important that every complaint is heard, and corrective actions taken, before a disgruntled customer costs you new business.
- 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. This applies for both commodity-based staples and luxury items, but especially so for higher-priced products. Although some shoppers like to hunt around for the best prices, they are not necessarily buying from the least-expensive seller. Many will pay a bit more to purchase from businesses they are comfortable shopping with.
5 Tips for a Great Customer Experience
Know your shoppers: In order for businesses to provide a great customer experience, they need to fully understand their customers’ behaviors and attributes. The easiest way to gain these insights is by diving into ecommerce and CRM dashboards or third-party analytics platforms like Google Analytics. By evaluating website traffic at the macro level, businesses can identify trends across all visitors and then filter down to smaller segments, like new or repeat shoppers, domestic or international visitors, and desktop or mobile devices. Measuring website activity over a longer period of time often provides more holistic insights. Businesses can leverage this data to develop a strategic game plan to improve their weakest areas.
Optimize for mobile: With the majority of sessions coming from mobile devices, it is imperative to maintain a mobile-optimized storefront so customers can easily shop on their smartphones. Instead of developing costly mobile applications, which are tough to maintain on top of an ecommerce website, many agile businesses utilize a responsive design, where the page automatically adjusts from desktop-optimized layouts to mobile-optimized layouts when the browser window shrinks. Besides improving search standing, this allows businesses to provide the best user experience on both devices instead of catering to one at the detriment of the other. The desktop experience can include all the bells and whistles, while the mobile experience can streamline and eliminate nonessential components across category, product and checkout pages. As shoppers utilize different devices throughout the day, they receive the most optimized experience for each.
Data enables personalization: Personalization relies on data, so it is imperative for businesses to organically collect user information through account registrations and order transactions. Most systems require a unique identifier, like email address or account number, to associate information back to an individual; otherwise everything is anonymous and is lost after shoppers clear their web browser cookies. After a user logs into her account, ecommerce websites can associate the user’s browsing and order history to deliver more robust personalization in the form of product recommendations, targeted promotions, wishlists and loyalty program details like rewards points.
Businesses that are able to utilize this information across their various customer touchpoints (online, in store, mobile, email, social) can provide more consistent, relevant experiences. Personalization is even more impactful for B2B organizations that rely on strong business account relationships to increase average order value and purchase frequency. As two business buyers are rarely alike, B2B-focused companies can use personalized product catalogs to display unique inventory and pricing to particular accounts or customer segments based on factors like geographic region, previous transaction history or account type.
Keep checkout simple: To optimize conversions and minimize abandonment, checkout should be as streamlined as possible. That’s why many ecommerce sites use multistep checkout processes that enable them to focus on the most important elements of each phase—billing, shipping and order review—instead of trying to cram everything onto a single page. A few best practices:
- To minimize the number of steps, offer customers a guest checkout or the ability to log in with existing Google or social media accounts; this allows new visitors to easily bypass the account registration process.
- Leverage persistent cookies to save a shopper’s cart contents across multiple sessions, so cart contents are not reset. That improves conversion rates when shoppers inevitably abandon checkout and come back at a later date.
- To establish trust, businesses should maintain their own SSL certificates to keep customers on their own domains throughout the entire checkout process. It’s very disruptive to send shoppers to a third-party checkout provider to complete the sale.
Align with digital marketing: Although the two should go hand-in-hand, many businesses fall short on meshing their ecommerce customer experience strategies with digital marketing efforts. Instead of creating separate experiences for each marketing channel, marketers should strive to leverage real-time customer, order and browsing activity data from the website to compliment the online experience with more relevant email, social and mobile communications.
Shoppers have come to expect and actually appreciate receiving messages about their online account creation, saved cart and order status. Companies with great ecommerce customer experiences typically have outstanding retargeting campaign results as shoppers choose to go back and shop again. By weaving ecommerce and marketing experiences together, businesses come out stronger, with improved engagement and conversion metrics.
How to Measure Overall Customer Experience
One of the biggest benefits of operating a digital storefront is that customer experience can be meticulously measured. Whether it is quantitative metrics regarding engagement and conversions or qualitative information like customer feedback and product reviews, businesses can collect and thoroughly analyze many data points.
Here are some of the most important ecommerce customer experience metrics to set up and measure:
- Average session duration is the average length of all website visits combined. This important user engagement metric shows how long users stay on your website. The benchmark is two to three minutes, which is typically enough time for users to interact with your site and view content. Longer sessions demonstrate more engaged visitors who are having a better shopping experience.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page website visits. It is a common signal of user engagement and can vary depending on the traffic source and type of page (home, category, product). The benchmark is 50%, but rates can range from 35% to 65% based on industry. High bounce rates indicate users are not engaged with your content or that something is wrong with the website, like broken pages or slow loading. If there are outlier pages compared with the website average, dive in deeper by segmenting the audience or traffic source to see why users are bouncing.
- Cart abandonment rate is the percentage of visitors who add something to their shopping carts but leave the website without purchasing. This usability metric showcases the bottom half of the shopping funnel, where users have shown intent but did not convert. The benchmark is 70%, so businesses with lower figures indicate improved cart and checkout processes.
- Ecommerce conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that complete a purchase. Although conversions can be set up for any quantifiable measurement, like email signups or social media shares, ecommerce conversion rates explain customer experience effectiveness at the aggregate scale. The benchmark is 2% and is closely tied to website engagement and overall customer experience. Since this metric is a direct reflection of business goals, segmenting by traffic source can help determine which landing pages require optimization.
- Customer retention rate is the percentage of customers you keep over a period of time. As it is much less costly to retain existing customers than acquire new ones, this user engagement metric exemplifies how well businesses are satisfying their base and growing loyalty. The benchmark is 20% but can vary wildly per industry. Businesses should strive to continually increase this figure—a mere 5% increase in customer retention can increase overall revenues by 25% to 95%.
- Customer lifetime value is the total profit businesses earn from a customer over the length of their relationship. This vital customer experience metric reveals how valuable a customer can be over the long-term versus just looking at the first purchase. This indicator is difficult to benchmark as it is so unique to each business, but it can be calculated by the average order value and customer lifespan against acquisition and ongoing service costs.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the percentage of customers who say they would recommend a business to others on a scale from 1 to 10. By sampling customer feedback, companies are able to measure customer satisfaction amongst all of the user’s aggregate experiences. NPS promoters score 9 or 10, passives score 7 or 8 and detractors score 6 or below. Instead of surveying customers periodically, businesses should set up drip NPS campaigns triggered after each purchase to keep an ongoing pulse on their ecommerce customer experiences.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the average survey rating from customer feedback, usually measured after recent purchases or customer service interactions.Whether these customer satisfaction questionnaires include open-ended qualitative questions or quantifiable numeric scales, they are helpful in understanding the “happiness” level of shoppers. Businesses can leverage these results to identify areas of improvement.
Great Ecommerce Customer Experience Drives Results
When these customer experience leading practices are followed, businesses are able to continuously analyze and optimize their ecommerce storefronts to drive customer engagement and sales.
Topo Athletic is a great example of providing superior ecommerce customer experience. After the company migrated to a modern ecommerce platform, the retailer increased its mobile conversion rates by 133%, making mobile its No. 1 source of web traffic and purchases. Paired with modern web design and engaging content, time on site also increased by 86%, conversion rates rose by 50% and average order value was up 12%. By truly understanding its customers and providing an efficient and engaging shopping experience, Topo Athletic is set for long-term online sales success.
Future of Customer Experience
Customer experience is at the forefront of any effort to drive online sales, meaning it is essential to business resiliency. It’s time to invest in technology that provides real-time access to the data needed to create engaging ecommerce customer experiences and build personal relationships with customers at scale, ensuring ongoing loyalty. When we refer to “modern ecommerce,” we mean a single unified platform that delivers the business intelligence and contextual, actionable insights needed to build a true 360-degree view of the customer.
As a next step, when ecommerce is unified with CRM, financials, marketing and order and inventory management, businesses benefit by delivering consistent brand engagement and amazing online customer experiences.