In today’s e-commerce retail world, it’s difficult to know just who your customers are. Unlike brick and mortar shoppers, today’s online customers are anonymous which, of course, makes it far more challenging to understand their wants, needs, and specific requirements.
And today’s customers face new problems as well. Bombarded with a constant stream of choices and offers, online customers often feel overwhelmed or, at the very least, confused by which online business will best serve their needs.
In other words, today’s web-based enterprises face two major problems: (1) how to cater to online shoppers without really knowing anything about them. And (2) how to stand out against the competition.
Case Study: Gathering Feedback to Improve Visitor Experience
These were the very problems that plagued Advanced Website Ranking, an e-commerce business specializing in the development of software packages which track online rankings. The company was concerned that its website was too difficult to navigate. Its vast and complex array of products were not clearly displayed, making it difficult for website visitors to see or, even, make sense of all its offerings.
The company began an overhaul of its website by first surveying customers in order to gather information which would be used in the redesign process. Specifically, they asked customers “Were you able to find what you were looking for?” providing visitors who answered “no” an opportunity to elaborate on their response.
Visitor responses provided the company with the exact information they needed to make the right changes and successfully improve their site. After the redesign was complete, visitors stated in subsequent surveys that they experienced far fewer problems navigating and finding precise information on the site.
Keeping in mind that its website was its main hub of business, Advanced Website Ranking knew it had a real problem on its hands if visitors found the site difficult to navigate. Indeed, numerous reports have highlighted the necessity of providing customers with a user-friendly online experience. Studies show that online customers expect websites to be easily navigable and, increasingly, optimized for all channels. For example, in 2014 MarginMedia reported that 48% of respondents to a survey felt that when they arrive on a site that isn't working well or optimized for mobile, they assume the business doesn’t really care about them. Obviously, this was not the message Advanced Website Ranking wanted to send its visitors, and neither should you.
The Take-Away: Improving Visitor Experience is Paramount
In today’s e-commerce business world, no company can afford to run the risk of seeming indifferent or careless with visitors, especially when you consider the increasing importance e-commerce will have in the future. Forrester predicts that by 2019 online sales will amount to $480 billion and, by 2020, 45% of offline retail sales will be web-influenced. Optimizing online platforms to provide the best possible user experience should, clearly, be a top priority for any business.
However, according to one recent study, only 55% of businesses are currently engaging in any online user experience testing. Alarmingly, according to another study, just 22% of marketers say they are “ahead of the curve” when it comes to responsive design. 29% say they have “average” experience level. And 23% say they’re “behind the times.” Meanwhile, 4% admit they are hopeless. Considering that 27% of 13-32 year-olds say they shop on their phones at least once a week, and 26% say they shop on their phones at least once a month, companies need to develop and manage their online platforms to deliver a true omnichannel, customer-centric experience. That is if they want to maximize the lifetime value of their customers.
The most successful e-commerce business will pay attention to the details that matter most to their visitors, ensuring customers convert and continually return, two aspects which are vital to the health of any online business.
These businesses know that the best way to continually improve their e-commerce site in order to ensure customer happiness, and increase conversions, is to talk with their customers. Customers know what they want so, rather than guessing and wasting time and money with unnecessary changes, companies like Advanced Website Ranking understand that going straight to the source is, simply, the most efficient way to address issues and resolve any problems.
Whether your e-commerce business has questions about the checkout process, the clarity of product descriptions, or how easy it is to find specific information, customers will be able to provide invaluable feedback to troubleshoot and optimize your e-commerce platforms. You just have to ask.
Don’t Wait! Know Your Customer Today
We know that by 2020, customer experience will completely overtake price and product as the number one form of brand differentiation. Providing a generic, one-size-fits-all e-commerce experience just won’t do.
94% of e-commerce companies agree that personalization is critical to current and future success. To remain competitive, tailoring your online platforms to meet the needs of customers will continue to be one of the key attributes for creating an engaging and profitable user experiences in your e-commerce store. And the more customer intelligence you have to address issues with your online platforms, the more likely it is you will be able to meet the specific needs of your customers and prevent abandonment.
If you can identify who your shoppers are and what they need, you can more effectively tailor your online platforms to deliver a precise online experience which will, ultimately, nudge more visitors onto the checkout page and into conversion. But to successfully make this happen, you must start a dialog with your prospects. And the sooner you can do this, the better.
Remember, you want people to use your product instead of your competitor’s. To make this happen, you need customer intelligence. Without relevant knowledge, you won’t be able to make the product and/or deliver the service that people really want.