7 Strategies to Create a Great Customer Experience for Ecommerce

If you run an ecommerce business, customer experience (CX) is likely the centerpiece of your table right now. (And if it’s not, it should be.) And if you’re a small ecommerce business, you want to learn about different types of CRM software made with you in mind.

Data from SuperOffice reveals that 45.9% of the 1,920 business professionals they surveyed said customer experience is their number one business priority in the next five years.

Source

And it’s easy to see why: a lot of customers say customer experience is a major factor they consider when making purchase decisions.

If you want to stay above the competition and maximize sales, improving CX is an essential part of your B2C marketing strategy. Without doing so, you run a much greater risk of finding a one-star review written by a passionate keyboard warrior on your Google My Business page.

We’ll start with what customer experience actually is, then dive deep into seven strategies for creating rockstar-level CX as an ecommerce business.

What is Customer Experience and Why is it Important?

“Customer experience” is one of those marketing terms that each major thought leader seems to have their own definition of.

There’s the Investopedia definition: “the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it.”

And then there is Annette Franz’s definition, the founder and CEO of CX Journey: “the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the relationship with that company.”

But if you look closely, you might find the best definition in the name itself.

A “customer experience” is simply the overall experience a customer has with your ecommerce brand. It can be good, bad, or mediocre. It can be excellent to the point where they become die-hard fans, follow you on social media, and recommend you to all their friends—or, it can be so terrible that they spend part of their day leaving you a one-star review and ensuring no one in their circle ever pays you a cent.

And that’s exactly why customer experience is so important.

The experience your customers walk away with determines the fate of your brand—will you one day find it on the Fortune 500 list, or will you be part of the approximately 50% of small businesses that don’t make it past year five (SBA)?

1. Incentivize Customers with Rewards and Loyalty Points

In the online world, there’s a myriad of ways you can give back to (and thus, further incentivize) your shoppers. One of the most popular is rewards programs, also known as loyalty points, that help them save money.

According to Accenture, over 90% of businesses have a loyalty program of some kind. And what’s more, Yotpo reports that 52.3% of customers loyal to a brand will join one.

Take Chick-Fil-A, the fast-food restaurant infamous for its peanut-fried chicken nuggets, for example. Each time you order from their mobile app for delivery or pick-up, you earn rewards points. Then, you can redeem your points to get certain menu items for free. Earning points through the app is so easy that I got a chicken sandwich and fruit cup for free a few days ago.

SHEIN is a prime example in the ecommerce world. Not only do they seemingly always run sales and give discounts, but their rewards program is top of the charts. For every $1 you spend on the site (excluding shipping and insurance), you earn one rewards point. Posting a comment gets you 5 points, posting one with pictures is worth 10, and posting one with size information is an extra 2. You even earn points for checking into the site every day for seven consecutive days.

To delight shoppers who haven’t yet joined your program (and further please those who have), you can also give rewards like free gifts, T-shirts, raffle tickets, giveaways, special discounts, free shipping, and more. Again, this is something SHEIN does extremely well (and quite frankly, is one thing that made them so popular).

Lastly, an excellent referral program rewards current shoppers for recommending your brand to new people, bringing you more sales at the same time.

2. Create a Strong Community for Loyal Customers

Humans long for a sense of community—it’s just part of who we are. We want to belong somewhere, so we choose to identify with groups, music composers and bands, hobby clubs, and even brands that share our core values or interests.

Luckily, the worldwide web has once again made this feat easy to accomplish for ecommerce stores. Social media, an email list, and unique hashtags are just a few of the ways you can start and create a community out of your shoppers.

You can start by creating vibrant social media pages for your brand (this can be easily done with a social media management tool), and by investing in email marketing. The key to building a tight-knit online community is by harnessing your own unique voice. This can be done with the hashtags you use, the way you write your posts, the type of content you feature, your color scheme, implementing influencer strategies, and even by featuring user-generated content (UGC)—content created by your customers that you repost.

Consider having a team meeting where you lay out a few strategies that your company can work on to bring in a community of loyal customers.

3. Use ChatBots or Live Chat on Your Website

Customer service has a major impact on customer experience. Bad service usually leads to bad experiences and good service to a good experience.

But as an ecommerce brand, people from around the world visit your website and shop for your products, which means you’re dealing with drastically different time zones. Plus, having an online store means now there’s nothing to hold back the 3 AM shopper.

If these people need help, do you make them wait until 8 AM in your customer service team’s timezone?

The answer should be absolutely not. Anything else won’t pass on the internet!

There’s a multitude of remote sales tools out there. But for an even better customer experience, treat your shoppers to convenient self-service through chatbots or even live chat. Chatbots are exactly what they sound like—robots that send automated responses to questions your shoppers ask. They can even recommend questions.

Live chat, on the other hand, typically works during certain hours (like 8 AM to 5 PM) because, unlike chatbots, it isn’t a robot. Instead, there’s a real person on the other side who can message back and forth with customers in need of help within minutes. And fortunately, you can easily integrate this feature onto your site with chat plugins.

To see just how common these self-service features are becoming, businesses of all sorts (not just ecommerce stores) are implementing them. Take for example the live chatbox on the website of Allen Law Firm:

4. Respond to and Engage with Your Social Media Followers

You’ve built a community, but now you need to interact with them. This means liking comments, responding to comments, answering direct messages, sharing user-generated content (UGC), and more.

Interacting with your followers gives your brand a human feel. No one wants to be part of a community where the ringleader is a faceless being behind a computer screen who’s too good to engage with its fans. It might work for celebrities, but the data consistently shows it doesn’t for businesses.

In fact, data from Stackla shows that 79% of consumers say their purchase decisions are highly impacted by user-generated content alone. So by simply sharing posts your customers make about you and your products, you can bring in significantly more sales.

5. Ask Customers for Their Honest Feedback…and Listen to Them

One of the absolute best ways to improve customer experience? Ask customers about their current experiences with your brand.

Collecting customer feedback is as simple as creating an online form that takes less than a minute to fill out. According to SurveyAnyplace, the average email survey response rate is 30%. Even better is SMS text messages, with an approximately 40% response rate.

But more often than not, you can gather customer feedback without asking them to complete a survey. All you have to do is log onto social media.

Sprout Social reports that 47% of unhappy customers vocalize their complaints on social media. Just by having a presence on the major platforms—think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—you open a portal to limitless feedback.

Of course, asking for feedback is always a good idea. It makes customers feel like their input is valid, thus strengthening their loyalty and sense of community. Plus, most feedback you’ll find on social media is likely to be negative. Often, someone who had a positive experience shopping with you is less likely to go out of their way to leave feedback without being asked for it, which can be discouraging to see as a business owner.

But what happens after you ask for feedback is even more important than the request itself. Now, it’s time to listen to your shoppers and do your best to make their customer experience even better than before.

For example, if you find that several customers would appreciate a simpler checkout process, consider ways to fulfill their request and then send out an email to let them know about the new changes (and once again thank them for their feedback).

6. Make the Customer Journey as Easy to Complete as Possible

In today’s world, the word “online” means “fast, easy, and convenient.” And if your business isn’t living up to that definition, odds are you’re receiving negative customer feedback, less sales than you’d like, and high cart abandonment rates.

In ecommerce, the “customer journey” refers to the process consumers must go through to become your buyer.

There’s the awareness stage (where they’re just learning about your brand), the consideration stage (where they compare you to competitors), and the decision stage (who they buy from). Then, they can sometimes go on to the “loyalty” and “advocacy” stages, where they return to buy from you again and even recommend you to those they know.

To maximize your conversion rate and sales, this process should be smooth sailing and seamless—especially when it comes time to checkout.

Many times, customers get all the way to the decision stage, but then fall out of the sales cycle at the last minute because the checkout process takes too long, looks sketchy or untrustworthy, and/or involves too many steps.

A few best practices that make the customer journey more seamless (and prevent high cart abandonment rates) are:

  • Optimizing your online store for mobile
  • Accepting multiple payment types (like PayPal)
  • Keeping shoppers on the same tab or screen

7. Personalize Your Customer’s Shopping Experience

Gone are the days where marketing to anyone and everyone flies. In 2021, customization and personalization are hot.

According to Segment, 71% of consumers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences. What’s even more astounding is that almost half say they check Amazon if the brand they’re currently shopping on doesn’t suggest products relevant to them.

This type of data shows us that what customers mean by “personalization” is relevancy. If John is shopping for sports equipment, he doesn’t want to be shown cooking supplies. And if Mary only uses an online clothing store for their dresses, she doesn’t care about their shoes.

A few excellent ways to incorporate personalization in your customers’ shopping experiences are by including features like product suggestions, telling shoppers what other buyers purchase with the product they added to the cart and “style this item” options.