How To Optimize Your eCommerce Customer Experience To Drive Sales

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This article is based on a discussion with Linnworks CEO Callum Campbell and guests Jan Soerensen, GM North America for digital commerce experience experts, Nosto, and Hakan Thyr, Chief Revenue Officer for global marketplace, Fruugo. They talk through the latest consumer research from Linnworks and what it means for the ecommerce customer experience. Watch the full discussion.

Shopping used to be an activity people did. Now, shopping is a constant. 

According to the latest consumer research from Linnworks, 76% of consumers say convenience is their top priority when online shopping. What does this mean for the customer experience in the effortless economy?

Callum Campbell, CEO of Linnworks, says, “Commerce is moving closer to the consumer. It’s happening increasingly where the consumers are being entertained or spending their time. Some of the best examples of this are the emergence of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google moving into the commerce space and becoming commerce enabled. Ultimately, whether we want to shop in-store, on a marketplace, on a social platform, it’s all happening on our terms as consumers.” 

Brands and retailers have to ask themselves if their products are available for purchase where their customers choose to shop — whether that is on a brand’s website or in-store. Customers want shipping, discovery and returns to happen on their time.

What is ecommerce customer experience?

Customer experience in ecommerce is how a customer thinks and feels of their overall experience with your business. This includes everything from the interactions they have with you on social media to the moment your product is delivered to their door. 

How to improve the customer experience.

Here are 5 ways to improve the customer experience.

Provide convenience. 

Customers are increasingly influenced by convenience. Brands must focus on making the entire customer experience convenient for the customer.

Hakan Thyr, Chief Revenue Officer for Fruugo, says, “On our platform, [as a global marketplace], we are working to continuously improve the customer experience. We put a lot of effort into fine tuning the post-purchase experience and streamlining the customer service function on the platform as well.”

Create Seamless Journeys. 

Creating a positive and convenient experience isn’t easy. But for customers to keep coming back to shop with your brand, every touchpoint across the customer journey needs to be seamless. An example of this is the checkout experience: 67% of shoppers surveyed said they have abandoned a purchase due to complicated checkout features, according to the research from Linnworks.  

Jan Soerensen, GM North America for Nosto, says, “In general, when you optimize a website — we have moved away from purely conversion but to actual lifetime value, which speaks to the entire journey needs to be optimized.”

Prioritize social and marketplace third-party selling. 

Social commerce is on the rise. And shoppers have made it very clear they want to discover new products on social sites based on the research: One in three consumers has purchased an item while on a social platform. 90% of customers say they start their searches on marketplaces. 

Campbell says, “We’re certainly seeing more and more marketplaces emerge. Many of us are used to shopping on Amazon and eBay but we are seeing many more different marketplaces emerging particularly around specific categories and these marketplaces are becoming key players not only in terms of transactional environments but actually in the search and discovery of product.”

Marketplaces offer the conveniences of buying multiple products at one time. 

“When consumers are on a marketplace type of environment, they are empowered. They have visibility in terms of range, they can buy multiple products at the same time and they have visibility over  price so it is a highly compelling experience for the consumers.”

When it comes to social platforms, Campbell says that the social platform sits between the marketplace and the brand website and offers part of those both experiences. There’s an empowerment element, he says, but there is also a brand experience that is increasingly happening on social platforms.

On selling in different channels, Soerensen says that lots of brands are seeing they can have different strategies. “[For example], their D2C offering might be focused on higher-priced items. They do content marketing on a D2C property and the perhaps a little more transaction on the marketplaces.”

Offer flexible payment options and get delivery and returns right. 

Nine in ten shoppers say flexible payment options speed up their purchasing decisions. And four in five shoppers even expect a “buy now, pay later” option. 

It’s clear that the delivery experience needs to be positive. How do you get delivery right? Transparency. 62% of customers say they are more loyal to a retailer who is honest about delivery costs and the time it takes to deliver a product. 

Nosto is an ecommerce personalization platform. How do Soerensen’s clients optimize stages of the customer journey to drive conversion?

Soerensen says segmentation helps. “For example if it’s a new customer coming to the site or new user, we would highlight the payment gateway a little bit more prominently, the same with shipping options. Once someone has already converted that is maybe not as important. We do a lot around the CRO aspect of it — so specifically on higher priced items, if you’re shopping on a furniture site, we might want to introduce something like Affirm or Klarna if it’s available to pay in installments. We can even look at a user and identify them as price conscious and perhaps they need to pay in installments. So using much intelligence as we can and then highlighting the right content appropriately.” 

Be transparent with customers on the data you gather about them.

Consumers understand the exchange in their data and the value it might bring them in the customer journey. 51% of shoppers enjoy the personalization that sharing data brings to them in their shopping experience.

Campbell says, “If I think about my own personal experience, I am often quick to give a site information that it needs if I know it will make my life easier on that site now and into the future.”

So what is the minimum that retails and brands have to offer consumers to be willing to give over data to retail platforms?

“First, something that needs to be addressed is that you are transparent in what kind data you gather, how are you processing it and how you are using it,” Soerensen says. “I think most of the merchants are really waking up to that reality.”

The idea now is not to gather as much information as possible, but the opposite, to gather as little data as possible and then personalize accordingly, according to Soerensen.

Thyr also offers his insights on personal data: “We [at Fruugo] use broad transactional and behavioral data to improve the platform in terms of advertising and customer experience. In terms of personal data, it is something we use cautiously and we use it to improve customer experience when the customer has opted into sharing that data. 

He says it’s important for businesses to make sure they are careful with how they use data.

“There is a growing awareness among consumers about how data is being used and maybe not in the way they had intended to be used,” Thyr says. “And they are increasingly uncomfortable with that. Any retailer or marketplace just needs to be aware of that and make sure we don’t step over that line.”