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8 Must-Do Ideas to Create a Killer E-Commerce Customer Experience

Providing a killer customer experience is vital for E-Commerce success. And today it’s more important than ever.

According to Bain & Company, 80% of CEOs believe they deliver a “superior customer experience” – yet only 8% of customers agree. Leaving a huge gap between what businesses think they’re delivering, and how customers actually perceive it.

And with more competition than ever nowadays, customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding other businesses to shop with.

Meaning you need to deliver a quality experience to keep them coming back. So here are eight must-do ideas to do just that.

1) Send customers a birthday treat

Celebrating your customers’ birthdays is a great way to:

  • Strengthen your relationship with them;
  • create a lasting impression;
  • and increase customer loyalty.

It’s a great opportunity to make your customers feel special and show them you value their business. And on top of that, offering them store discounts encourages them to purchase more from you.

Studies show that 88% of positive reactions from birthday messages translated to an increased brand loyalty. And those that included some type of discount or gift were 24% more effective in positively impacting consumer opinion than simple birthday greetings.

Retailers who’ve mastered this will send emails on and even in the run-up to each customer’s birthday.

Take a look at this from NBA Store:

Victoria’s Secret even give out free items to ‘Angel Card’ holders on their birthday:

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And here’s an example of handmade cosmetics retailer, Lush going above and beyond for a customer’s birthday off the cuff:

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2) Re-post customer content

Reposting your customers’ content shows that you appreciate them. But it also encourages content creation in the first place and, in turn, helps drive viral growth.

Recent Crowdtap and Ipsos research found user-generated content (UGC) to be 35% more memorable than other media, 50% more trusted and 20% more influential.

For example, fashion retailer Missguided encourages their customers to post images of their recent purchases on Instagram alongside the hashtag #babesofmissguided.

With over 185,000 posts appearing under this hashtag, fans of the brand are essentially free marketers posting images to their friends and followers.

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The brand even features their favorite images on their website, encouraging followers to compete in making the best content possible to make the cut.

Encouraging followers to generate content under your chosen hashtag not only creates huge brand awareness but also ensures you’ll never run out of fresh content for your social media channels.

Here Public Desire takes the opportunity to market their own product through reposting customer images:

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Ensure that you keep reinforcing your hashtag on new posts, and remember to always give credit and preserve the authenticity of the original image.

3) Avoid out-of-stocks

Stockouts can be a retailer’s worst nightmare, resulting in a loss of:

  • Sales;
  • customer satisfaction;
  • and customer loyalty.

Out-of-stocks can cause customers to feel let down, disappointed and frustrated.

Even worse, today’s customers will freely take to social media to voice their negative experience. Ultimately damaging your brand’s reputation and spreading negative associations to their friends and followers:

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But there are many ways you can avoid this altogether.

Inaccurate data caused by returns, missing items, misplaced products and so forth can cause inventory levels to not match what retailers have on record. This can be avoided by:

  • Conducting regular stock takes.
  • Using a contemporary inventory system.
  • Potentially using an RFID (radio frequency identification) system.

4) Loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs are proven methods for growing and sustaining market share.

Studies show that obtaining a new customer costs 5-25 times more than it does to retain and sell to an existing one. While existing customers spend 67% more than new ones.

So keeping the right customers happy is extremely valuable.

It’s said that while customers are usually a part of around 14 loyalty plans, they only have the ability to engage with seven. So it’s important that your program is actually of value.

There are a few ways you can do this:

  1. Points system. Set up a system where your customer earns points for money spent. Lots of retailers fail at this by making the conversion so complicated, so make sure you keep it simple.
  2. Upfront fee for customer benefits. Although it may seem to contradict the concept of a loyalty reward, offering an extra service for a fee can be rewarding so long as it is beneficial to the customer. Amazon Prime, for example.
  3. Tier system. A tiered system offers customers different rewards depending on which tier they are in. Setting milestones encourages customers to purchase more to move into the next tier, receiving better rewards.

Multinational chain store Sephora demonstrates the points system well, by offering one point for every dollar spent. They also offer higher reward programs for their most loyal customers spending the most money:

Starbucks also runs a successful loyalty program with tiered rewards. Customers begin on the green level, but move to gold status after reaching 300 stars – becoming an exclusive member with a Gold Card:

5) Give away free items

Including freebies in orders makes customers feel special and exclusive. What may seem like an extra expense can massively pay off in the long run.

Free samples have boosted sales in some cases by as much as 2,000%. And according to the Journal of Consumer Research, a freebie item is valued much higher when given alongside an expensive order.

Plus, surprise freebies are a great way to generate “word of mouth” marketing across social media. An article in the Journal of Marketing found that people who got a product for free talked about it 20% more.

For example, a considerable amount of people took to social media recently to share their experience of receiving free chocolate bars in their ASOS orders:

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6) Thank you notes

Handwritten notes are a powerful way to send a message to a customer to thank them for doing business with your company.

Surprisingly, not many businesses do this today – but there are huge benefits for those that do.

In the same way as giving out freebies, taking the time to thank customers personally can mean a lot. This will strengthen your relationship with them and set you apart from the competition – all for the cost of a piece of card.

A company that does this incredibly well is pet retailer Chewy. Here’s one of many customers showing that the company reached out to them personally after hearing about the loss of their pet – along with a delivery of flowers:

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While sending a handwritten note in every order might not be scalable, you can always set a monthly goal for yourself or for your team or send them to your oldest and most valued customers.

Remember to keep your notes personal, specific and honest. Let your customer know why you’re thanking them and put yourself in their shoes – what kind of message will make them happy?

7) Stand-out packaging

Strong packaging can help build a concise brand personality, attract new customers and keep existing customers coming back.

While many businesses use basic packaging to keep costs down, spending a little extra to create a more pleasant experience for the customer can pay off in the long run.

A notable example of a brand doing this well is cosmetic company Glossier. Their 600% year-on-year growth isn’t down to having the world’s best cosmetics – but the massive buzz created by providing an overall impressive and standout experience for its receivers.

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When Glossier customers receive their packages, it’s more than just cardboard and bubble wrap – and instead looks like a gift.

Orders are packaged in aesthetically pleasing pink packaging, including stickers and thank you cards with every purchase. And it’s these details that spark and maintain Glossier’s cornerstone of user-generated content.

8) Speed of shipping

87% of online shoppers identified shipping speed as a key factor in the decision to shop with a brand again. And 67% would pay more to get same-day delivery if they needed the package by a certain time, such as a birthday.

Meaning fast delivery can massively boost customer satisfaction. Especially when they may not be expecting it:

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If the customer hasn’t paid for next day delivery, it’s likely that they’ll be far more tolerable. Apparently, 60% are willing to wait five days or more – as long as it earns them free shipping.

In this case, there’s no need to get the order out for the next day. But it is important that shipping arrives at the promised time – so investing in quality shipping software is key to ensure orders are sent out on time.

Charging customers for next day delivery and not delivering can cause frustration and a negative brand image

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Conclusion

Customer experience is one of the biggest opportunities available for e-commerce businesses to retain customers and get people talking about their brand.

It’s important to first consider the experience a user is having on your actual website. So as your business grows, it could be worth investing in higher-end platforms like Magento and Shopify Plus.

You can then follow through on the back-end by investing time and money into your customers’ experience through the ideas in this post. It could be a massive differentiator for your business.

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