Why is Customer Experience So Important in e-Commerce?
The recent pandemic has caused a huge change in consumer shopping habits. Because of restrictions on groups and movement, people have given up much of the traditional in-store shopping experience and have turned to online merchants to supply them with everything from food to medicines, clothing, home furnishings, appliances, tools and home DIY supplies.
While providing an enormous opportunity for online sellers, it has also raised the bar as far as customer expectations are concerned. Gone are the days when customers would “put up” with hard-to-navigate websites and shipping delays.
Customer experience is the phrase we use to refer to the totality of their experience with a business, in this case, businesses selling online. This includes their initial contact with you/your site, the ordering process, order fulfillment and shipping, customer service interactions and problem/dispute resolution.
Why is Customer Experience so Important?
It is the KEY to increased revenues: Simply put, satisfied customers spend more with businesses that give them an enjoyable experience. Your site must be able to navigate, information must be accurate and detailed (and current!), terms of service (TOS) must be clearly written and the checkout process must be flawless and easy-to-complete, even for those ordering using their smartphone (or other mobile device) rather than a desktop or laptop computer.
It is the KEY to repeat business: Customers who are given a great experience are going to be customers who visit that business, again and again. Every online business will seek to gain new customers via advertising/marketing. Successful businesses, however, have learned how to turn first-time customers into repeat customers and, eventually, loyal fans who spread the word about your company. You can’t build customer loyalty if you are losing your customers to the competition.
It is the KEY to better ratings and online reviews: Online businesses, especially, are vulnerable to negative reviews being posted about them. Reputation management is critical, and the best way to get people to give you good reviews about your products and services is to give them a good experience as a customer. This will turn an area of risk into a strength for your business.
It is the KEY to gaining a competitive edge: You would think that understanding the importance of customer experience is basic stuff for anyone in business. Why is it, then, that so many online businesses don’t seem to care? Perhaps because they give way to thinking that it is not worth the effort, that there is no way to please everyone, and besides, you can always just find new customers. But when your online business excels at giving your customers a positive experience, you truly stand out from all the “noise” of your competitors and position yourself clearly as a marketplace leader.
The Critical Role of Shipping in Today’s e-Commerce Environment
The booming e-commerce market has placed a lot of stress on shipping and logistics. Shipping carriers, for example, can have difficulty in delivering orders to your customers on time. Inventory shortages (think paper towels and toilet paper!) are common occurrences.
Remember that “customer experience” has to do with more than what happens on-site during the ordering and checkout process. It also includes everything that happens post-sale, including order fulfillment and ship-out.
A poorly-managed, inefficient back office operation can cause order delays, mistakes (such as shipping out incorrect items or improper packing), use of the wrong shipping containers or over-reliance on one shipper. All of this leads directly to a poor experience for you customers – and they will vote with their pocketbook and go elsewhere next time.
And remember that the most loyal customers are not just “satisfied,” they are customers who have been impressed. They have made a mental note: your business is different, way above the competition.
In the shipping industry, for example, one way to “impress” your customers is to offer “kits” or bundles of items, that cannot normally be purchased together, or that are more expensive if they are purchased separately. Kitting services for ecommerce business platforms are available, where 3rd-party logistics professionals will maintain the inventory, train the workers to assemble and store the kits, and even ship them out efficiently (and at the lowest cost) as the orders are placed.
A properly designed and managed kitting service will allow you to offer all sorts of unique products, which are really just assemblages of your existing inventory, which means that you are not actually purchasing more, or different items – but rather bundling them together in ways that are unique, to offer something online that your competition does not.
A Typical Kitting Scenario
Welcome to Paul’s Party Supplies. They are an online distributor of all types of party supplies – party hats, tablecloths, decorations of various types, party games, you name it.
Paul’s made the decision to utilize a kitting technique. Now they have about a half-dozen party kits that they offer. They allow you to choose the party theme (birthday, anniversary, wedding), the party décor theme (Mediterranean, tropical, urban) and the size of the party (10 guests or less, 10-25 guests, 25-50, or 50-100). These kits are already assembled and ready to ship at the warehouse. Customers love them as it saves them time because they don’t have to locate the individual items they need – everything is included.
And to further encourage the customers, they offer their party kits at a discount (compared with ordering the products individually). They have received many positive comments and reviews. This is a company that knows how to improve its customer experience. Could such a service help your business to grow? If you are like others, likely it would — but to be sure, why not reach out and consult with us and let us give you the benefit of our professional experience in the field of logistics management. You have nothing to lose – and everything to gain – by taking a good look at your current customer experience.