Consumers are making increasing use of digital technology to connect, communicate and engage with brands, with two-thirds of shoppers now expecting to purchase via digital channels. eCommerce companies that need to stay competitive in such a market should consider how they can make use of digital technologies to provide the customer experience (CX) that today’s consumers expect. Here we look at some of the ways online retailers can achieve this.
Expand your use of digital channels
From your own website to the various social media platforms, there are a growing number of channels through which to engage your customers. With your website, the way forward with CX is to increase personalisation and convenience. Install a product recommendation engine, add improved search features, enable products to be compared and make use of messaging apps and emails to send out reminders for things like shopping cart abandonment or to send offers.
Beyond your website, social media continues to grow in importance for CX. Your social media channels can be used not just to inform and advertise, but to entertain and engage – things that attract new customers and build loyal audiences. While Instagram, Facebook and Twitter remain the main areas of focus for businesses, don’t forget up-and-coming platforms like TikTok and the various metaverses that are growing in popularity.
Adopt a mobile-first approach
The growth in smartphone internet use led Google to advise website owners to adopt a mobile-first approach to website design several years ago. Indeed, the latest figures show that during 2022, 91% of people accessed the internet using a smartphone while only 66% did so via a PC. Interestingly, 30% accessed the internet using a TV, 28% by tablet, 15% by smart home device (e.g., Amazon Echo), and 13% by a games console.
While brands will need to consider how to use all these devices to engage with customers, the mobile website, given its precedence, has to be the priority. From a CX point of view, companies also need to be able to deliver omnichannel communications, where, regardless of the device a consumer uses to access their services, or the channel (website, app, messaging service, email or phone), there is continuity. For example, if someone adds something to their basket on the website, it will also appear on the app and customer service will know about it if someone gets in touch via WhatsApp.
Make use of emerging tech
Shoppers like brands that make use of new technologies as they find them more engaging and convenient. It makes sense, therefore, to explore how you can use them to improve your customer experience.
At present, the emerging technologies that eCommerce stores are finding advantageous include visual search, personalised product recommendations (both on the website and in email marketing), chatbots, augmented reality and voice assistants.
Ease of communication
Customer service is an integral part of the customer experience. Unfortunately, one of the most complained-about aspects is the difficulty consumers have in communicating with a brand. There are, however, plenty of things an eCommerce company can do to improve this, and digital technology can play an important part.
First and foremost, customers have to be able to navigate easily to customer support on your website and it should also be made clear what your targets are in terms of how quickly you respond to any question or query.
While phone lines are expensive to operate and result in queues that everyone hates and gets frustrated by, they are a necessity and not having them creates distrust. Lots of people will not buy from a company that doesn’t clearly display a telephone contact number.
Online stores can ease the burden on their telephone lines in many ways. A key part of many websites, today, is a help section. These vary from a basic FAQ page to more advanced services that direct customers to the specific type of help they require. AI-powered chatbots, meanwhile, are able to undertake conversations with customers, handling some queries automatically, learning as they get used more and, when required, passing over conversations to human customer service personnel. At the same time, rather than having customers send emails, creating an enquiry form with the appropriate fields, dropdown options and checklists can speed up the time that is needed to process the query and ensure it ends up with the right person.
Finally, it is important to unify customer data and create customer journey maps so that whoever (human or AI) is communicating with a customer, they are aware of all previous interactions across all touchpoints. You don’t want to be advising a customer to buy a product that they have previously returned and complained about.
Digital technology enables eCommerce stores to engage with consumers in ways that enhance the customer experience. From reading this post, you should now understand the different ways this can happen and the digital technologies that make it possible.