Satisfying eCommerce customers is multifaceted. Your customers need to be in love with your brand, product, and overall customer experience. Because the option to ditch your brand for other better brands is always open.
It is critical to always remember that successful businesses are built on happy customers. Research has shown that high customer satisfaction leads to greater customer retention and higher lifetime value.
You need to know how to impress customers down their bones and keep them returning again and again. So, let’s get straight into the tried-and-true strategies for delighting your eCommerce shoppers.
4 Strategies To Keep Your Online Shoppers Happy
1. User Experience Design Is King
For online shoppers, it’s more than just about the bargains – user experience (UX) is a massive piece of the puzzle. And more often than not, UX is followed by the word “design.”
According to Adobe, 38% of online shoppers will leave a website if they find the design to be unattractive. In the words of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, “Great customer experience starts with what customers first see when they visit your website.” That is, in essence, your website design.
This is what a research paper published in the Oxford Journal Interacting With Computers mentions: “The goal of UX design in business is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
Speaking of customer satisfaction, let’s reflect on the factors that shoppers evaluate during online purchases:
- Value: Does the product have enough benefits to offer?
- Functionality: Does the product work well?
- Usability: It is composed of three particular aspects:
- Is it easy to navigate and conduct searches on the site?
- Do the pages load swiftly?
- Is the ordering and checkout procedure convenient?
- Impression: Is the website pleasant to look at?
As you can see, Value and Functionality are directly related to the product. But, what about Usability and Impression? Well, UX Design is what dictates the two.
As quoted by John Amir-Abbasi, the User Experience Researcher at Facebook:
“User Experience Design is an approach to design that takes into account all the aspects of a product or service with the user. That includes not only the beauty and function: (usability and accessibility) of a product or a flow, but also things like delight, and emotion—things that are harder to engineer and achieve.”
As defined by the guru of Webpage usability - Jakob Nielsen, Usability is an attribute that determines whether a user interface is easy to use.
Let’s see what happens when your site is not user-friendly.
If your website is difficult to navigate, shoppers leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state your brand’s offers, people will leave. If your webpage doesn’t load fast enough, they leave. If users get lost on a site, they leave.
The bottom line is: If surfing your website is as tough as piloting a ship through the fog, your usability is poor. And what will the shoppers think of it? To be honest, not much. With a goldfish's attention span, buyers will waste little time figuring out your interface.
On top of that, modern-day shoppers have a plethora of options at their fingertips. So it comes as no surprise that their first line of defense is leaving when confronted with a problem.
Now, let’s delve into the components of Usability.
- Navigation & Site Search
While shopaholics enjoy spending hours exploring a site, the majority of people do not. Most people want to find what they are looking for within two or three clicks. If they are unable to do so, they will soon be heading somewhere else.
“Site search remains a neglected part of the E-Commerce customer journey. Yet, search provides an easy way to connect the user’s intent with the right content” - Will Cook, Vice President, Multichannel, HP Marketing Optimization
Back in 2000, a study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group revealed that
- Shoppers wanted a clear and visible search box on every page
- They wanted the simplest possible search: one search box and one search button
- They expressed their dislike for search results in technical jargon
- They wanted to search for non-product terms e.g. free returns, exchange, etc.
- They wanted the search engine to be tolerant of spelling errors
Fast forward to two decades, customers still expect the same, if not more. So you know what to do to keep your customers happy. Here are two examples of menus that showcase simple navigation.
You can take some inspiration from H&M as well. The brand is a classic example of great navigation in UX. Their enormous yet organized menu reveals nearly every part of the store.
This exceptional information architecture keeps everything in order, which delights their customers all day every day.
Furthermore, H&M offers breadcrumb navigation - helping people know where they are at any given time and helping them get to where they want to go.
By offering this, H&M is basically following the “Visibility of system status” rule as mentioned in Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. Systems should always keep users informed about which stage they are in so that they can decide what to do next.
- Fast & Responsive Site
The 'buffering' circle is a sight that no one wants to see, right? As a matter of fact, it is the shoppers that dislike it the most. If your site leaves shoppers twiddling their thumbs every now and then, they will eventually abandon your site, no questions asked.
According to a study conducted by Kate Moran, slowness (or speed) has the potential to become one of the brand values customers associate with a site. This demonstrates the extent to which site speed affects the customer experience.
“Aim to keep website load time to [a few] seconds or less. Your biggest threat isn’t a competitor, it’s the back button. If your website loads too slowly, customers won’t wait around. They’ll go elsewhere.” - Gabriel A. Mays, founder of Just Add Content
Now, what does the term “few seconds” actually imply? According to Jakob Nielsen, there are three key limits to consider when it comes to site speed.
Up to 0.1 seconds
Up to this limit, the site visitor gets the feeling of instantaneous response which makes him/her happy.
Up to 1 second
At this stage, visitors can detect a delay but they sit still while feeling in control of the overall experience.
Up to 10 seconds
During 1–10 seconds, users start getting distracted by other tasks they may have at hand. And if the site fails to load at the 10th second, they will simply up and leave.
The fact is, a swift user experience will always win over a flashy one. Here’s what you can do to ensure yours:
- Select the right host for your E-Commerce site
- Optimize images/videos without compromising quality
- Assess the best add-ons and look at their functioning before integrating them into your site
- Enable Caching for Faster Load Times
- Hassle-free checkout
The checkout process is an important aspect of any shopping experience. You don't want to lose sales at the last moment because your checkout process is complicated or features needless steps.
According to the National Retail Federation, 97 percent of customers have canceled a transaction because the service was inconvenient.
On the other hand, if done right, it not only ensures customer satisfaction but also brings them back for more. Here are some tips on how to simplify the checkout process for your customers:
- Provide multiple payment options and eliminate any hidden or extra fees
- Simplify the payment form with minimal form fields
- Do not compel people to sign up - offer a guest checkout
- Make sure your checkout is optimized for mobile devices
- Offer a one-page checkout
- Discard multiple CTA buttons and other pop-ups that may distract the shopper
- If possible, implement an in-chat checkout feature
- Save cart content so that customers can come back later and complete the transaction
Humans tend to jump to conclusions. An initial impression of someone takes only 1/10th of a second to form. The same can be said for websites.
Users will establish an opinion about your website in roughly 0.05 seconds and decide whether to stay or depart. Hence your website aesthetics needs to be top-notch.
In a paper titled Visual Appeal vs. Usability: Which One Influences User Perceptions of a Website More? it was revealed that the visual appeal of a site can greatly influence a shopper’s first impression. Users gave high “usability ratings” to sites with high appeal and low “usability ratings” to sites with low appeal.
The key takeaway here is that site design matters when it comes to attracting and engaging customers.
- Unique visual style
According to Cheskin Research, there are 6 significant aspects in building trust with an E-commerce company: Brand, Navigation, Fulfillment, Presentation, Up-to-date technology, and Security logos.
Here, presentation refers to the unique visual of your site. If your site is ordinary (similar to your competitors), why would shoppers check out your product pages? Build something that is in line with your brand identity.
Take for example MVMT. The website design reflects MVMT's fundamental brand philosophy, "Style shouldn't break the bank." Hence, it features sleek, stylish colors and styling, as well as timepieces, eyeglasses, and jewelry at reasonable prices.
- Appealing product photos
When it comes to selling items online, perception is everything. Consider your product photography to be an ambassador, spreading the promise of your goods online.
Here’s a pro tip: Photograph your products against a white background. That way it will be easier for shoppers to see the items in more detail.
This is exactly what The Paper Cub Co does.
Eye-popping colors and playful photography showcase The Paper Cub’s brand and keep shoppers interested in browsing its bestseller thank you cards, checklists, postcards, and more.
2. Shipping Perks
Amazon has conditioned customers to expect two-day delivery on almost everything.
According to a study conducted by BigCommerce, 50% of shoppers have avoided stores that do not offer free shipping while 77% have abandoned a purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping alternatives. On the flip side, 30% have in fact raised their order amount to qualify for free shipping.
However, here's the thing: Offering free shipping may not be sustainable for your business.
Hence, as an E-Commerce business owner, you have to opt for other shipping-related bonuses that will keep customers pleased.
- By all means, establish delivery expectations prior to checkout. Inform the consumer of the anticipated arrival date of their order based on the price they are ready to pay and then deliver on time. This will make them happy. On the other hand, you will end up disappointing them if they pay for two-day shipping and you deliver on the third day.
- Devise novel strategies that will offset your shipping loss while simultaneously making shoppers happy. It might be increasing the price of the goods to cover delivery expenses or enticing consumers (with offers) to add additional items to qualify for free shipping.
- Consumers expect real-time delivery updates. This is an important element of customers’ shopping experience. Hence, offering shipping updates will give shoppers peace of mind.
3. Excellent customer service
In today’s customer experience-driven world, you cannot overlook the importance of customer service.
By offering superior customer service, you can recover customer acquisition costs and create a loyal following that generates word-of-mouth, bringing in more revenue.
“Over the years, the No. 1 driver of our growth at Zappos has had repeat customers and word of mouth. Our philosophy has always been to invest the majority of our profits in customer service and the overall customer experience. , letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”
But consider this for a moment: How often does a shopper patronize a company solely for its exceptional customer service? You can think of a few examples, for instance - travelers prefer to stay at hotels with cordial staff. But you're not going to come up with many.
Now ask yourself: How often do customers abandon a business owing to poor customer service? All the time. Take, for example, the 2013 case of British Airways. A disgruntled consumer took to Twitter to criticize British Airways' customer service, sparking a social media uproar.
The fact is, customers tend to punish bad service more than to praise good service. Hence, keeping your customers satisfied with your service is non-negotiable.
- Multi-Channel Support is the new cool
At the core of multi-channel assistance is the idea that it will boost customer happiness and retention.
Shoppers are more inclined to purchase your product if they can readily reach you with any inquiries, regardless of website or social media. For example, if you’re selling to Gen-Zers, they are most likely to reach you on Instagram.
As a matter of fact, the benefits of multi-channel support go beyond customer satisfaction.
Having everything centralized in a single platform makes it easier for your customer support team to work at ease and reply instantly. And needless to say, speed is crucial when it comes to customer service. MyAlice is completely free to sign up and we recommend you try out their multichannel integration functionality because it just makes your daily tasks as an eCommerce store owner easier.
-Ask for feedback from your customers on your existing channels and check if they need other support outlets.
-Next, ensure consistent communication across channels. For example, an agent who provides live chat support should also be able to provide social media support.
- You can never go wrong with self-service options
Gone are the days of "How may I assist you?" customer support. Customer service has now shifted to "How may I assist myself?"
As reported by Harvard Business Review, 81 % of customers seek to resolve issues on their own before contacting a live agent. This not only frees up time for your customer service representatives to handle complex issues but also saves money.
- Knowledge Base:
Suppose a consumer is unable to discover a clear sizing guide on your website and finds it difficult to navigate. Do you believe they will continue their shopping experience?
In another scenario, the buyer discovers a sizing calculator. They also get access to a library of customer testimonials as well as FAQs on how to maintain the form of a garment.
Which of the scenarios will result in happy customers? Of course, the latter.
Along with help center articles, generate content that tells shoppers how to get the most out of their purchases. This might be in the form of e-books, video tutorials, or simply posting articles on your site. Take, for example, Beardbrand.
If there is a smarter rendition of a knowledge base, it is none other than a chatbot. Thanks to AI, bots know when to search for an answer from a knowledge base, when to ask for clarity, and when to direct shoppers to a human agent. Hence, over 50% of customers prefer to communicate with chatbots before reaching customer representatives.
So, how exactly do you make a chatbot work for customer self-service?
-Sketch out your buyer’s journey and identify all the potential pain points where your customers may have a query
-Enrich your knowledge base with up-to-date information
-Create a repository of the FAQs with ideal responses
In a nutshell, an immediate response from the bot boosts customer happiness, and if it provides the exact information the consumer is seeking, the benefits to the brand can be enormous in terms of customer loyalty.
4. No-hassle returns
Your return policy is a large reason why potential customers will—or will not—hit the “buy” button.
You might have a stellar website, an active social media presence, and an easy checkout process. But if your customers are frustrated by your return process, that’s going to leave a bad impression.
The generous return policies of Amazon and Zappos have helped them grow their successful businesses. In fact, customers that are most devoted to Zappos also have the greatest return rates.
“In the US, we offer free shipping both ways. A lot of customers will order five different pairs of shoes, try them on with five different outfits in the comfort of their living rooms, and then send back the ones that don’t fit or they simply don’t like — free of charge. The additional shipping costs are expensive, but we really view those costs as a marketing expense.”- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
In a study conducted by comScore, it was revealed that 60% of online shoppers prefer free shipping for returns while 51% want a hassle-free returns policy.
So, what should be your course of action? Simply put, you have to make sure that the post-purchase experience is as easy as the purchasing experience.
- Communicate your return policy. Let customers know what products they can return, whether they get a full refund or store credit.
- Offer a flexible window for returning items. Thirty days is good, 60 is generous, and 90 is outstanding.
- Encourage further sales by offering free return shipping. And make it easy on customers by including a prepaid return shipping label in the package.
Go Forth & Serve Your Shoppers
In the wise words of Michael LeBoeuf, the author of How To Win Customers & Keep Them For Life, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
Happy customers tend to be return customers, and it takes more than a good product or sale to ensure customer satisfaction. Customers will be the happiest when you pay attention to their complete customer experience and make sure they don't run across any roadblocks along the way.
Summing it all up, the key to unlocking customer happiness is ensuring delightful browsing, buying, and post-buying experience.
As consumer expectations reach sky-high, going above and beyond the current quo will determine whether a brand survives or struggles.