How to Keep Up With Changing Customer Expectations in E-Commerce

8/18/17 3:21 PM / by sterling

Customer shopping behaviors have already changed – and the pressure is now on merchants to keep up. It seems like each new generation is demanding something different from the shopping experience, and the rise of e-commerce has brought an onslaught of customers with increasingly high expectations for speed, reliability and convenience for shopping.

With such rapid changes in customer demands, as well as technology, its easy to feel like you're always one step behind. How do you adapt your business to what the customer wants today, next week or next month when it changes so quickly?

Simplify the customer's experience

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that users are impatient and unforgiving. There are plenty of competitors that a customer could readily switch to if your store is not up to their standards. Worried yet? Well, don't be...your strategy should be pretty simple: reduce user effort and improve the online customer experience. For better or worse, shoppers don't want to have to think too much, which can usually be traced back to three main factors: too many choices, too much thought required, or lack of clarity. Any tools that can reduce online friction and simplify the user’s input are going to be huge:

  • Subscriptions and replenishment plans: This is a very simple service to add to your store, and it can make a world of difference. Many customers purchase limited-use items (food, makeup, bath products...etc) which will need to be replaced or refilled after a set amount of time. Capitalize on this and simplify your customers life by subscribing them to a replenishing plan where you will automatically send more of the product when they run out. This reduces the customer effort and gives you a sure-fire repeated customer. Win win!
  • Make it personal: Having a customer login should be a no-brainer at this point, but many businesses are still not taking full advantage of this opportunity. With personalized customer information, you can greet a customer by name when they open your website or app, know their preferences, and suggest products they are looking for. Once the customer selects a product, you can remember the color, size and quantity they prefer, and of course have all their payment information on file. By automating the personalization, you reduce the effort and steps involved with making a purchase, and greatly speed up the process for the customer.
  • Alerts and Notifications: You can't expect customers to check back in to your website or app to see if the shoes they wanted are back in stock, or if the price of the jacket they were looking at has been reduced. This is one way that personalized alerts and notifications can come in handy. Send personalized push notifications to remind your customers about items in their shopping cart, price reductions, or special offers relevant to them. Not only does this pull customers back in and keep your brand in the forefront of their mind, but it makes the customer's life easier by reducing the effort it takes for them to find the products and deals they want.

Social Selling

The days when businesses could get away with not having a social media presence are long behind us. Now, not only is it important to exist on social media, but its increasingly important how you use these platforms, and what impression your brand makes on your customers. Social media has become an avenue to connect with your customers personally, and build a voice for your brand and a social community around it. There are several things to keep in mind when establishing your social media presence:

  • EngageDon’t just create and deliver content, be personable and connect to your customers. Try to understand who your customer is, and post content that is relevant and relatable to them. Social media is also a great platform for answering questions, sharing excitement with new customers, and yes, even responding to unhappy customers in a public setting. 
  • Create a consistent voice: By establishing an online presence, you are building an image and voice for your company as a whole, which you should try to keep consistent. Work together with your team to make sure you can maintain this voice as a company, because this is an important way you can connect to people and build a community around your brand.
  • Make it personal (again):  Social selling is not just about gaining access to customers, its about building relationships and really getting to know your customers and what they want. Once you have an idea of the customer, you can strategically listen for the right moment to join the conversation so you can present yourself as a solution to a current problem.

Analyze the Data

Customer data is one of the most important assets you can have. Many people don’t know how to analyze their data in any meaningful way, and end up losing valuable customers because they are unable to interpret what the user data actually means, and what to do about it. Especially when you are making changes and improvements to your business, you want to track how these changes actually affect customer behavior and overall sales.

  • What is your baseline?
    • The first step to analyzing your data is understanding what your customers are doing at every stage. Look at how much traffic your website and/ or app is getting, what your customer retention rate is, conversion rates and so on. There are many analytic tools you can use to calculate this, the most common being Google Analytics. You should also use acquisition cohorts to divide your users into specific groups to get a clearer understanding of what the data means.
    • Once you start making changes to your business, maybe you add customer login and a replenishment plan, you can track how the customer data has changed to see the affect of your improvements.
  • Behavioral analytics: 
    • Another important aspect to analyzing the data is looking at your customer behavior. For this you can use behavioral cohorts to divide your customers into categories based on what actions they take inside your app. By doing this you can see if the people who use the login function have a higher probability of making a purchase, for example.

Tracking the data is how you establish what's working and what isn't, and can help guide you in making your website or app exactly what the customer wants. While it's sometimes hard to keep up with customer expectations, following the simple steps of maintaining an easy to use interface, engaging with your customers, and tracking your customer data will help you stay ahead of the competitors and keep your customers happy.

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Topics: E-Commerce, E-Commerce Trends, Improving Store Performance


Written by sterling