The world of eCommerce is becoming a rather saturated place. There seems to be an almost infinite supply of products from an almost infinite number of suppliers across the globe; many eCommerce stores haven’t changed their core strategies in years however and it seems that many still try to compete on price and product alone.

For those selling identical or emulated products, stocked by other eCommerce stores, price and product alone don’t seem like rational strategies. If a consumer can easily find the same product for the same price on another site, what makes you think they will choose to buy from you?

To set yourself apart from those other competitors you need to start considering customer experience; customer experience is an aspect important to the customer right through their buyer journey and can mean that consumers choose you over similarly priced competitors.

The eCommerce market is heavily saturated but at busy periods, such as Christmas, the number of eCommerce sales dramatically increase. Online sales and mail orders are set to increase by 13.5% in the 2014 holiday season and holiday sales made up 23.5% of total eCommerce sales in 2013.

This increase in sales and the chance to grab more of the market should be helping you realise the importance of setting yourself apart from the competition with an outstanding customer experience.

 

The majority of customers are looking for companies that provide the full service. Now that so much shopping is completed online, customers expect more than just a cheap price online but also a good customer experience and a user friendly website. One in five UK and US consumers did ALL of their Christmas shopping online in 2013.

Shoppers at busy times of the year in particular want a stress free experience, including: when searching for the product, it being delivered to their door and any refunds, returns or post sales service they require.

 

 

Search Engines

75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results…so it’s obvious how important SEO is to the traffic levels of your eCommerce store. Have you considered how crucial SEO is to visitor experience though?

Imagine a customer typing into Google the product that they really want and finding you at the top of the list. They’ll love that they could find the product so quickly and they’ll attribute some of that love to you for stocking it and selling it to them (some of the love will probably go to Google as well I guess).

This shows how important your product descriptions are, not only for customers making sure that they are buying the correct product but also for customers having a stress free experience of finding the perfect product.

A tip for increasing your search engine ranking is using a few different phrases to describe the product in the product description, so that customers phrasing the product name differently can still find it. This works for your site’s own search function too, of course.

 

 

Store Experience

Finding the right product is just one of the hurdles which a customer must conquer before completing a satisfying purchase. After finding the product page it won’t be a surprise that the customer often need more information before clicking ‘Add to basket’; online shoppers often need delivery, returns and warranty information.

Shoppers are very unpleased with their experience if they can’t find the answers to their questions. A recent Forrester study proved that 45% of U.S. shoppers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat to be helpful for getting the answers to those all important questions, quickly.

Site design and the user experience design are also crucial to eCommerce customers. Your site visitors want to be able to easily navigate your site immediately, even if it’s their first time visiting – that’s where user experience design comes in. A professional design also builds trust with consumers; if a consumer has found the product that they really want then they want to be able to trust you, they want the payment page to be secure and easy to follow.

Product reviews can also be a source of trust for customers and getting feedback from consumers that have already bought from your store adds to the positive experience; this means more customers will convert if real and honest reviews are present on product pages.

 

 

Delivery

For Valentine's day, Christmas and birthdays in particular, when delivery by a certain date is crucial, eCommerce shoppers want reasonable delivery prices, speedy delivery dates and reliable couriers.

Choose a reliable delivery company for your customers so that they can be trusted to complete this part of the process for you. A professional delivery company means that you’ll be able to give accurate delivery date estimates to customers; customers want to know that they’ll be able to get their product in time and that they can be in the right place to receive the package.

Space 48 has some great examples of delivery do’s and don’ts which explain how you can make the customer happy whilst maintaining high conversion rates and low delivery costs. Only offering free delivery after £x amount is spent for example and not making delivery options confusing for customers.

 

 

Returns Policy

For customers to be happy to buy from your eCommerce store rather than a competitors or a physical store, customers need to know that they are able to return products if they are not happy with them.

Your refunds and returns policy needs to be clear for all customers to see. That means making it clear on your website and with the delivery slip that they receive with their product. Even if customers don’t have the intention of returning a product, knowing that they have the option is a positive experience as they don’t want to end up paying for the wrong product and being stuck with it. Knowing that they can return a product quickly is also part of a positive experience at busy periods of the year.

 

Customer experience is an important factor for winning customers all year round, but a smooth and friendly customer experience is particularly important around stressful times of the year, such as Christmas. Customers remember positive experiences and will return to you throughout the year if you give them one from the start to finish of the buying process.

On the other hand, negative experiences can turn customers away and/or cause negative word of mouth on social media. 91% of customers leave after a bad customer service experience and will not willingly do business with that company again.