I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Attracting NEW customers is a costly endeavor. Why? It can cost 5 to 25 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to sell to an existing customer. This means it is vital to learn how to improve e-commerce customer experience wherever possible so that you can instill brand trust and gain repeat and loyal customers over time. So how do you go about gaining this trust and loyalty? In today’s post, I am going to show you 5 step-by-step ways to easily improve your e-commerce customer experience for your online store. Let’s start by considering the mind of the typical visitor to your website…
Which would you choose?
Since people are used to the convenience of a physical shop, we subconsciously look for a similar experience online. Therefore, your e-commerce store should resemble and operate in a similar fashion to a physical retail shop.
Picture two brick-and-mortar clothing stores with similar items and prices:
One has pale yellow lights, random items thrown on the floor, no dressing rooms, and the retail associates are nowhere to be found. The other store has bright LED bulbs, beautiful décor, clean floors, orderly racks, and retail associates ready to help you with any question you might have. Which store would you want to shop at with your hard-earned money?
Of course, you would want to shop at the second store!
Online shoppers go through the same process as physical retail shoppers. The process of deciding whether or not to shop at a specific store occurs in an instant rather than over the course of a few minutes. You must WOW your visitor right from the start, retain their interest, and effortlessly lead them to the shopping cart to add, and ultimately purchase, items. Once they have been converted from visitor to customer, use techniques to improve e-commerce customer loyalty and woo them into returning to your shop again and again. Here are 5 ways to improve the e-commerce customer experience to keep customers happy and avoid losing them to your competitors.
#1 Simplified Navigation and Website Design
Newer e-commerce stores are known for having minimalist designs for both mobile and desktop visitors with a lot of white space and a simple navigation header at the top of the store page. It is easier for customers to navigate through your store and find items to purchase when they do not have to constantly battle outdated information and multiple menus. One navigation bar in the top header is enough for most modern stores. When a person scrolls over or clicks the menu, a submenu can be a great addition to give the shopper more options to find exactly what they are looking to buy.
There is a misconception that numerous menus options right off the bat is the best way to go because some larger e-commerce stores, such as Amazon.com or Walmart.com, operate in this fashion. However, these large e-commerce stores have 100,000s of SKUs and are catering to millions of visitors every day!
For medium and smaller online stores, the best options are site search, FAQs, or intelligent e-commerce chatbots that can help visitors find what they need.
- If you have an e-commerce store built with a CMS (Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, etc.), make sure you are on the latest version, and update your website with a new simple-and-clean-looking theme. A representative from the company or your webmaster should be able to guide you through the process of updating your theme.
#2 Simplified Checkout
The #1 reason an e-commerce online store exists is to offer a visitor a product and sell it to them. So why not make it easy for a visitor to become a customer?
Bringing it back to the physical retail store, if you were ready to buy an item, stepped up to the counter, and the first thing a retail associate said was, “You need to create an account before you can purchase this item,” wouldn’t you hesitate?
That hesitation is resistance, and it is the last thing you want any buyer to do. You never know – it might just be the thing that pushes them out of buying because it’s “too much trouble” to make an account just to buy whatever they have in their cart. You want to give them an effortless shopping experience throughout the checkout process so that there are no obstacles to making the purchase (and thus no hesitations).
Forcing them to create an account before they buy or making them go through multiple pages in the checkout process is a good reason for your potential customer to never become a customer.
Here are few ways to quickly simplify your checkout:
- Change the theme of your checkout to a one-page checkout design.
- Add additional payment options (more on this later).
- Display shipping information in the cart. Display FAQs or a chatbot to help with any questions that might pop up.
#3 Informative Product Page
The big difference between an e-commerce store and a physical retail store is the ability to touch and experience the product in your hand.
So why do some e-commerce stores only have minimal information and pictures of the products sold?
It is IMPORTANT to make your online store feel as if your visitor is in a retail shop so that they can get a good sense of the products. This includes multiple pictures, detailed product information, and possibly even a video illustrating features of the product or showing the best way to use it.
For example, Nine West has multiple pictures of each pair of their shoes. They even have pictures of the overhead and bottom views of the shoes. Many e-commerce shoe stores do not have numerous pictures of their products, so this gives them a competitive advantage. Furthermore, they display detailed information about their products and their shipping/return policy on each product page. They make the shopping experience easy for customers.
As you can see from the Nine West example, another important way to improve e-commerce customer experience is to clearly display the shipping information on each page.
Including an estimated shipping and tax cost tool on each product page could help prime customers to expect how much their order will cost. This is crucial because additional, unexpected costs are the number one reason people abandon their carts.
Go to one of your product pages (or ask a friend), and try to act like a visitor who is on the site for the first time. Ask yourself questions about the product such as:
- Do I have pictures of all angles of the product?
- What’s missing in the description to fully explain the product’s function and appearance?
- Am I missing any basic descriptive information I would know intuitively if it were in my hand, such as the weight, length, width, height, colors, feel, etc.?
- Do I have clear shipping, tax, and return policies on the page?
- Would visitors have any additional questions about not only the product but my e-commerce store in general?
#4 Build Instant Trust
Nothing makes a person click away faster than a slow-loading website. Visitors get impatient, and they will gladly move on to another site that loads quickly. Also, people these days tend to be relatively cautious of potential hacking or viruses coming from shady websites, and a slow-loading website might lead them to suspect your shop.
But if this wasn’t enough to convince you, you should know that it hurts you in the pocket as well. Amazon calculated that even one additional second of page loading time would cost them $1.6 billion dollars in sales each year!
Another thing potential customers in every e-commerce store pay attention to is their security. Yes, my friends, secure sites are very important in the world we live in today.
Customers need to be assured that if they enter their name, address, and credit card information, it will be safe from hackers. Nowadays, it’s necessary to have a secured HTTP site (https://), and displayed security seals from vendors such as Norton or Thawte help to make your visitors feel safe.
Check out Brooks Brothers’ checkout page with their security seals below:
- Run Google’s Page Speed Insights to find out ways to make your site run faster.
o Your webmaster should be able to help solve any of the problems Page Speed Insights highlighted.
- Make sure you have a secured HTTP website and updated SSL seals from vendors such as Norton.
o If you do not have a secured HTTP site, it should be a quick fix you can discuss with your website domain and hosting provider.
- Add third-party review badges to your site, such as Google Customer Reviews, to give your site the clout of a well-known company “believing in” your store along with reviews from past customers.
#5 Multiple Payment Options
E-commerce stores usually support payments from the usual main credit card companies: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. PayPal is also an easy integration, and many accept payments from them too. But that’s where it usually stops.
Over the years, we have witnessed a payment revolution! 30% of all U.S. e-commerce comes from mobile shoppers. And the percentage is even higher in Asia and Europe! New mobile and digital options such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Venmo, Bitcoin, Amazon Pay, Samsung Pay, and more have made it easy for mobile users to purchase online. This is great news for e-commerce stores, and it easily improves the e-commerce customer experience if the stores support a few of these new payment methods.
One of the biggest reasons people abandon their cart is a long checkout process. With a mobile option such as Apple Pay, buyers do not need to input their payment details or shipping address. Their payment and shipping information was previously entered during the payment setup process when the shopper activated the feature on their phone.
Checkout can be as simple as a few seconds versus minutes in a regular checkout process!
Some e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce have already integrated Apple Pay, and all you would have to do is activate it for your store!
- Go to your e-commerce platform and check to see if they have an option available to activate additional mobile payment options.
- Adding at least one or two of these new options can help you convert some buyers that would think twice about going through the normal checkout process.
Increasing e-commerce customer experience is 100% about making things easy for the shopper. You want them to take the chance on your store, love the effortless process, and receive their product without any hassle.
Also, you want to give them reasons from their positive experience to spread the word about your store to their friends.
Winning raving fans isn’t too difficult…but only if the customer’s experience is easy and worthwhile, just like a good brick-and-mortar retail shop.