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How Can Online Retailers Provide the Ultimate Customer Experience?

In recent years, a new breed of consumer has joined the market. Known as flex shoppers, these consumers know what they want, and how to get it. They want the most convenient shopping experience and it’s definitely possible to give that to them. This post will address tips provided by comScore’s webinar on the Flex Shopper.

As always, pleasing customers should be at the top of retailers’ priorities. If a customer has a bad experience, they are more than able to spread the word. During comScore’s webinar on flex shoppers, Susan Engleson mentioned that 21% of shoppers are likely to share their dissatisfaction with a retailer on social media, whereas 36% are likely to share their satisfaction with their shopping experience. The same people who can tarnish your business are more likely to praise it, so be sure to make them happy.

While on the topic of social media, it’s important to mention how many people are using it for shopping. ⅓ of shoppers use social media to make purchase decisions, and ½ of millennials (currently the demographic with the most buying power) said their purchase was determined by social media. If you are not using social media accounts to your advantage yet, you should. It is easy, free, and there is little to lose for such a great opportunity.

Social media is becoming a standard medium for communication because it is easy to use, so why doesn’t your website follow suit?  In 2014, convenience in retail shopping reigns supreme. You want to do everything in your power to treat your customers like royalty, which can be difficult without any face to face interaction. Luckily, it isn’t really that hard, and people have been obviously pleased with their online experiences so far. Sales on laptop and desktop platforms grew 13% in Q1 of this year, with 47% growth in mobile usage. Shoppers are very multi-channel, so make sure all of your channels are optimized for the ultimate customer experience.

comScore’s surveys showed that people like browsing websites on mobile, but actually prefer to purchase products on desktops and laptops. Flex shoppers utilize multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously. About ⅔ of shoppers use smartphones while in-store to learn more information, and 40% of shoppers began searching on one platform, then made the purchase on another.

It is also very common for consumers to use versions of your website that weren’t created with their device in mind. Many people use the desktop site while shopping on tablets, whereas mobile apps and websites are less popular. comScore’s survey of mobile shoppers reported that 25% of mobile users like apps, 34% use the mobile website, and 41% like using the full website. But why is the full website the most popular?

  • 43% of smartphone users said they can view product pictures better
  • 34% said the product can’t be easily viewed on mobile sites
  • 31% said comparing products was too hard on mobile platforms

If retailers improve their mobile websites with better pictures and descriptions, they can increase mobile usage even more, and leave the inconvenience that comes with switching platforms out of the equation.

Consumers like having a seamless omni-channel experience and there are additional services that you can offer to improve the customer experience. First, establish a lenient return policy. People want return options, and 66% of consumers read the return policy before purchasing an item. There are many ways to please a customer with your return policy, but what are they looking for? Well, 58% want a no hassle/no questions asked return policy, and 68% want free return shipping. When retailers offer services like these, they are able to charge a premium and they could even see an increase in purchases.

Another thing you want to do for your customers is remove any uncertainty that comes with their purchase. Provide a delivery date to make sure they know when they can expect their package to arrive. Roughly 63% of shoppers want a delivery date early in their shopping experience, and 56% want an exact date. In addition, 82% want an estimated date in their confirmation email, so make sure you keep them informed throughout the process. Just as people like information, they want options, such as paying preferences. If you offer PayPal and other platforms alongside your standard options, you will make 54% of shoppers happy.

Improve upon the customer experience even further by implementing free shipping. comScore found that 81% of shoppers want free shipping with their purchase, and 93% will take some form of action to qualify for it. For example, if there is a minimum amount that shoppers have to pay to earn free shipping, 58% will put additional items in their cart to obtain it. If there is no option, 50% will choose the slowest shipping option possible. Of that, 85% will wait 5 days or more, if it means they do not have to pay for shipping. If you do not provide free shipping, 50% of shoppers will abandon their cart entirely, so it is obviously something worth paying attention to. Consumers are willing to inconvenience themselves to get rid of a shipping fee, so consider providing a free option.

Online retail is becoming a staple in today’s society, and its future looks very promising. Many have expressed a great amount of trust in online shopping. For 57% of shoppers their trust level has stayed the same compared to last year, 24% have increased trust, and 19% have a decreased sense of trust. By providing great customer experience online, you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Take advantage of these opportunities, and set yourself up as a leader in the world of ecommerce.

How else do you think you can enhance the customer experience online?

Contributing Writer: Brian Smyth

Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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