Having a well-planned eCommerce strategy for your online business is vital to its ongoing success. The right strategy can propel your business to new heights, as goals are surpassed by higher aiming goals. It can position you as a leader in your niche – one that your competitors look up to with envy.
But an eCommerce strategy that is missing an important component is one that can cause your sales to flatline. It’s like a game of Jenga with a missing piece. Yes, it might stand for a while, but there’s a chance that the missing piece could eventually cause the entire structure to collapse.
Many retailers have learned to recognize the importance of customer experience as an important element of a successful eCommerce strategy.
Finding great products to sell on your website and using SEO and PPC ads to drive traffic isn’t enough these days. Everybody does that. But to differentiate your business from the competition – to really stand out – you need to be hyper-focused on your customers.
What exactly is the customer experience?
To best explain what it is, it’s important to point out what it is not. Many confuse customer experience with customer service. Although providing great customer service is one important part of the overall experience, the two terms are not interchangeable.
The customer experience involves how a customer interacts with a company’s eCommerce website and the emotions it invokes. Just a few elements of the experience include:
- Is the customer able to easily find what they want?
- Is the website user-friendly and visually appealing?
- Are the product descriptions easy to read and understood without unnecessary fillers?
- Is the checkout process simple and quick?
- Are there any pain points in the shopping experience?
- Are customer service inquiries answered in a timely manner?
- Does customer service advocate for the customer?
The ultimate goal is to create a shopping experience so amazing that customers wouldn’t even consider buying from a competitor. The experience should lead customers to believe that your business genuinely cares about them.
Why is the customer experience such a big deal?
The goal of being hyper-focused on the shopping experience is to build brand loyalty. If a customer has an amazing shopping experience and genuinely feels like the company values them, there’s a good chance that this customer will have your business in mind when it’s time to order again. This is critical for companies that sell replenishable products.
Another important consideration is referral business. Many businesses derive a lot of their sales from customers recommending them to others. People tend to put a great deal of trust in a referral from a friend, family member, or a coworker. Likewise, when a bad shopping experience happens, people like to tell others about it – to warn them and let them know that they should take their business elsewhere.
An eCommerce business can’t exist without customers. And while it’s definitely possible to continuously drive new customers to your website with SEO and PPC ads, building brand loyalty is a critical component of sustained growth.
Creating the wow factor
The good news about the customer experience is that it is something you can always improve on. This is especially true if it is currently not a focus in your strategy.
In eCommerce trends, more website owners are recognizing the importance of creating an amazing shopping experience. By being proactive, you can poseposition your website for success by being an early adopter of this strategy.
The first step in creating the wow factor is to identify any weak points in your current eCommerce website. One of the best ways to do this is with a site audit. This just means obtaining unbiased opinions on the current shopping experience, taking these recommendations into consideration, and then making necessary changes to improve the overall experience.
Conducting the site audit
One way to conduct a site audit is to create a list of tasks for the auditors to perform, and then asking them to rate how difficult it was to perform those tasks. Just a few examples of things you can ask auditors to evaluate include:
- How difficult is it to find specific products?
- Is the website visually appealing?
- Is it easy to view and modify the contents of the shopping cart?
- Is the checkout process simple and easy to understand?
- Is the website easy to read and informative or is the content overly technical and verbose?
- How customer service handles problems? (suggest an auditor to call with a hypothetical issue)
In addition to completing these tasks and rating them, auditors should also be given the opportunity to comment on anything else they discover that they believe needs to be improved.
It’s very important that the auditors you use should be people you don’t know. You want the information you obtain to be completely unbiased. If you ask friends or relatives, for example, they may not be completely honest with you in fear of hurting your feelings.
There are several ways you can find unbiased auditors. One option is to hire local college students. Students will often work for affordable rates, and many will welcome the opportunity to earn a little extra spending money.
Another option for finding unbiased auditors is to hire freelancers. There are several websites that specialize in connecting freelancers with those who need work done. Posting a job is very easy, and most job listings receive several responses.
Once the site audit is complete, you can then take the information and see if the auditors noticed any similar issues. Rank the issues in order of importance, and then work on correcting them.
Customer experience as the most important factor in creating business strategy
There are many companies that sell products online. And in the sea of competition, you need a way to stand out from the herd – something to differentiate your business from the others.
Making the customer experience an important part of your strategy is the best way to build brand loyalty, generate repeat business, and also benefit from referrals. It’s a great way to establish your eCommerce business as the leading brand in your niche.
The customer experience is something that many businesses take for granted. You can use this to your advantage to dominate over the competition by creating an amazing shopping experience that people won’t forget.
The customer experience is something you should definitely add to your eCommerce strategy. It is of such importance, in fact, that it may very well be the most important factor of all.