Getting your customers from landing page to checkout as smoothly and quickly as possible is the most fundamental goal of an eCommerce website.
People expect a pleasant journey through the system so instinctively that they only really notice when something goes wrong.
As the eCommerce store owner, your sign that something is wrong usually manifests itself as high bounce rates or abandoned carts. In more severe circumstances, however, you’ll be looking at 1-star reviews, drops in revenue and being negatively affected by the search engines. It’s vital to get your customer experience (CX) right from the start right through to purchase and beyond, also ensuring consistency after the buy button.
Why is it so important? The online space is highly competitive, and some stores are better set-up to thrive, while some will fail. Even before the internet, people could shop around to find the cheapest deals and the best customer experiences. Nowadays, a search will result in multiple tabs being opened and the customer comparing sites right before their eyes.
The ones that load slowly, send customers down blind alleys, give them endless pop-ups or don’t work on mobile will be the first to be closed. Importantly, that can even be the case if you’re selling the products at a more competitive price, or with better delivery options. That’s because the customer might not even get that far in the journey.
Below, we’ve listed some of the more common ways sites go wrong, with some quick and easy cures.
5 ways to ensure a seamless customer experience online
Here are five ways you can start to turn around a failing site, or take one that’s treading water and make it go full steam ahead.
1. Utilise analytics to see where users end their journeys
Whatever eCommerce platform you use, be it Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify or something else, you’ll be able to enable or add analytics to it. Essentially, it’s a piece of code on every page that tracks individual users along their paths through your site.
After weeks or months of data has been gathered (depending on your traffic), you’ll start seeing patterns.
One of the key things to look out for is cart abandons or visitors just quitting the site altogether. Where is it happening the most? It could be literally anywhere from colour selection to inputting card details, so pay close attention and fix the issue.
Never stop analysing performance, because solving one choke point might just reveal another one later in the journey.
2. Understand the importance of speed
There are two key speed metrics that make the user experience a hit or a miss. The first is known as the time to first byte (TTFB), and it’s a sign of the responsiveness of your site and its servers. If nothing seems to be loading after as little as 2 seconds, you can expect customers not to bother waiting. Second is the time it takes to load the page. If pages look sluggish, people simply won’t stick around.
The quality of your hosting servers and the amount of data that is loaded are the factors at play here. Make sure you’ve got the best package for your site and ensure code is efficient, and that images or video are optimised and as compressed as possible (without damaging overall quality).
3. Optimise your processes behind the scenes
Those running eCommerce sites often overlook another important part of the customer experience: the speed, accuracy and experience of product delivery. As long as the sale has been made, they reason, why should they care? It boils down to how much you value repeat custom and positive reviews.
No matter what the size of your operation, getting this element right makes a difference to your customers. That’s why it’s vital to partner with a warehousing and fulfilment company that aims to get your products in your customers’ hands in the best amount of time, considering cost and location. It’s all about technology, location, presentation and infrastructure and people who care (and we’ve got them in abundance).
4. Provide a personal approach
People do understand that the personalisation they get in their emails or delivery packages, and having their logged-in name displayed on the web page, are all digital. But it does still matter.
It’s not just from the deeper psychological effect of the apparent human touch. It’s a reassuring measure because it’s good to know that the company you’re buying from has made an account for you. It creates the impression that they’ll have your details if there’s a problem, and that future purchases will be easier. And if you offer a loyalty scheme, they know you’re paying attention to their purchases. Be sensitive and realistic, and you can make personalisation work for you.
5. Publish helpful content for your users
Customers who are making big one-off purchases need plenty of reassurance that they’re making the right decision. Some will look outside your site for “impartial” third-party reviews and advice.
But you can provide good, honest advice on your own site, and people do appreciate it. Point out the pros and cons of the product, give full details like dimensions and options, and allow customers to post their own reviews.
You can provide information hubs and FAQ pages so that people can make better judgments, and give clear channels to making personal contact over chat, email or phone.
Why understanding UX is a crucial component
A good user experience is the minimum requirement of a functioning, profitable eCommerce site. Without it, it doesn’t matter how good your marketing operation is, how well you rank in Google (although note that bad UX will affect your ability rank), or how much cheaper you are than your competitors. If people aren’t filling their baskets at your online store, you might as well set up a market stall and sell directly.
Understanding UX might take you out of your comfort zone, especially if selling in the digital realm is secondary to your operation. That’s typical of many businesses that have made products for years and sold through traditional channels. But picking up the lessons about what makes a good experience and applying them will pay dividends in the long run.
If your business is founded on eCommerce, for example if you’re a store front for other people’s products, you should hopefully have a better understanding of the pitfalls and benefits of your chosen channel.
But for those businesses, ongoing learning and improvement is crucial if you want to stay current and keep at least neck and neck with your competition. New technologies are always coming onstream, and anything that enhances the customer experience will make a difference.
The most important of the five nuggets above is the analytics, as most of the improvements you can make will be triggered by its findings. It’s how you will arrive at an optimised experience where customers flow freely through the funnel while your profits are maximised and costs minimised.
Where does Zendbox come in?
As we mentioned above, it would be wrong to think the customer experience ends with the payment going through. In reality, they’re quite near the beginning of the journey – the exact product they selected has to be taken from storage and shipped to their door, and it has to be well packaged and in good condition.
Finally, they have to be able to return it whether it’s damaged or not (depending on your company returns policy). Many customers will be very aware of the returns policy, and some will make their purchase decision based on it, so it’s essential that you get this right.
This is where Zendbox becomes your vital business partner. You’ll have access to Zendportal, where you can keep tabs on the current state of every single item in your inventory – what’s in storage, what’s on the road, what’s been delivered and what’s en route back to you.
We can offer this level of visibility because of the technology we use. We’ve re-thought the way eCommerce fulfillment works, and built a 100% visible solution around it. It’s how we can guarantee your products will be delighting your customers all around the world with the minimum of delay, and they’ll hopefully be posting those all-important 5-star reviews the moment they get a chance.
Have a look at our new “After the Buy Button” podcast, where we talk to experts in retail about optimising their customer experience. There’s a wealth of information that you’re free to use for your eCommerce business, so why not subscribe to the Youtube channel so you don’t miss an episode?