This is a guest post from Jake Rheude at Red Stag Fulfillment.
Shoppers want a quality experience, and if they don’t have one, your sales are going to take a hit.
Today’s modern online shoppers are more tech-savvy than ever before, looking to connect with you and your brand, as well as read plenty of reviews.
They’ll check out your company on forums, ask their friends, and even research your customer service before showing you they’re interested in buying.
If you want to learn how to satisfy the modern online shopper, you’ll need to meet their demands. Among the growing list of demands: fast or same-day shipping options, social media activity and support, exciting web design, and more. It can feel impossible to cover it all, especially if you’re a small but growing ecommerce business.
The key isn’t to do it all—just to find what’s right for you and most effective for your immediate needs.
To figure out what those are and start tackling them, let’s look at five significant shifts that your site and customer strategy can benefit from while keeping things sane and affordable.
Sort customer demands into two buckets.
Before we tackle any specifics for your online store or shoppers, we should create an approach to addressing all the things they’ll ask of you.
The best method we’ve found is to take the massive list of demands that you’ll see and cut it into two specific sections (throwing out the rest):
- Things you can reasonably afford to offer that customers want most
- Things that directly benefit you too
When you start looking across all the channels you have, you should hopefully see patterns in the requests. Customers might want clearer information on your site, the ability to see the colors you’re offering, social media updates, coupons and discounts, better shipping, or support for PayPal.
When you generate the total list, start Googling options for resolving them. You’ll quickly come across solutions as well as blog posts (like this one) that show how certain tasks will cut your costs too.
Shipping partners, for example, get goods to customers faster but also tend to save you because they have better rates with carriers that you can’t get until you’re a giant operation.
The good news is that there tends to be a lot of overlap. Define your elements and look for intersections with the data, so you can cover as much ground as possible. This is about walking in with the idea to match needs and capabilities.
It’ll be easier on your budget, and you’ll have a more straightforward case for getting leadership to back your move.
Customers have demands.
Every online shop is a little different, so let’s briefly take a look at the improvements that customers tend to want in general. They’re items you might be able to tackle, though the exact solution will be a bit different even from your competitors.
Based on the research, here are the big ones:
- 97% of ecommerce site visitors don’t convert, with the top reasons being shipping costs too high or that they were simply doing research.
- 88% of Americans say shipping price and speed are very influential in determining ecommerce habits
- 63% of all customers want you to have up-to-date information on your website.
- 66% of millennial customers are okay with you having their data, but you have to ask them to share it.
- 60% want your mobile site to load quickly.
- More than half of your customers want to find you via search.
- 5% of users will trade email for a competition entry, and 4.3% will do it for free delivery.
- A faster website can improve conversion rates by up to 78%.
And those are just a few of the things to consider. They tend to be process-focused improvements around clarity and website development.
Your store itself isn’t always getting judged on products—many of these concerns occur before someone even browses your collection. Work on everything it takes to get people to your store pages and then get out of the way.
Make it easy for people to find your amazing goods, so they can sell themselves.
Seek improvements that benefit you too.
There are several changes and improvements you can make to your site to address customer needs that also enhance your day-to-day operations.
Consider problems customers have and think about creative or fundamental ways to solve the issues.
Improved site performance, for instance, helps customers find your products. So, you have roughly three to seven seconds to capture and keep their attention.
This helps the customer find what they’re looking for and helps your business by enhancing conversion rates. Optimizing your photos and other site details will load pages faster to give the customer a more enjoyable experience, while potentially reducing your costs per site visitor.
Hiring a specialized ecommerce fulfillment partner can help you offer better shipping rates and faster shipping times to your customers, which they’ll love. For you, it means more reliable orders and fewer returns, better insight into shipping habits, and the ability to scale, even if your current warehouse or site doesn’t have physical space.
Shipping partners also take care of the integrations with shopping carts for you, allowing you to provide accurate tax and shipping costs, as well as dates earlier on in the checkout process.
This is smoother, and customers can automatically get tracking details. You’ll get those details too, meaning you can track how fast orders are shipped and received, verifying that you’re getting the service that you pay for too.
One of our other most significant pieces of advice is to make the returns and any other vital policies 100% transparent on your site.
Make these easy to find too. When customers know what they can and can’t do, they go into a sale with better expectations.
For example, if they have to agree that all sales are final, you’re going to get fewer calls and emails about returns. You’re also less likely to get poor ratings online around customer service (we can’t help you out with product quality, unfortunately).
Site improvements can also go hand in hand with this transparency push. Think about product images, whether you’re selling specific goods or it’s a software dashboard.
Real, honest photos help people know what to expect and be more satisfied when they get your product. When things are up to date and clear, there’s far less chance of misunderstanding or concern.
Great photos improve your site too by encouraging more sales and even giving you high-quality ways to make a case for an up-sell or cross-sell when the time’s right.
Ask what your customers want most.
It’s never been easier to ask people, so don’t neglect this step.
You have things customers want and they have the information you need, so encourage a swap. Offer coupons for surveys and social shares.
Send out emails with questions to prompt personalized style guides or packages. Follow up from a sale by thanking your newest customer and ask what you can do better next time.
The customers who engage with you can quickly become repeat purchasers. You’re raising the customer lifetime value by asking and listening.
That second part is essential. If you just ask what they want and how they want it but don’t follow through, then it’s a waste of time.
Customers may even grow frustrated when you’ve sent them the same survey a half-dozen times, but nothing’s changed.
Incentivizing a conversation will help you get some baseline answers. Social media conversations give you a chance to find happy and frustrated customers as well.
Review sites and forums also show you how customers are talking about your brand. They’re talking. Make sure you’re listening and adapting.
When in doubt, talk it out.
Every change and shift in information can introduce issues or concerns. Avoid this by talking with your customers about the problems they’re having.
They’re ready and willing to tell you what they need or want, any concerns they have, and what’s confusing about your site.
You want to talk to customers about what they need in order to complete a sale with you. This is your chance to get all of those concerns out of the way.
One of the best ways to start talking with them more regularly is to add chatbot support to answer customer questions.
These tools have become readily available and affordable. They can help you deliver better customer service and you may lose fewer sales by offering them.
Chatbots record all of their conversations and customer details, so many now come with their own analytics capabilities to help you determine what customers need.
They’ll find the most frequent questions, biggest complaints, and other data you can use to adjust your site and improve its performance.
If everyone is asking your chatbot for a size chart, it’s time to add one to every relevant product page.
When they routinely need help with something like fast, reliable shipping, then ask to get more details.
Explain your process and what’s available, and keep the conversation going. The more you’re talking, the better you can de-escalate situations and improve relationships.
The internet is nothing if not noisy. It’s time to turn all that noise about your brand into something useful, by encouraging customers and listening to what they have to say.
Use their words to guide your other efforts, and you’re ready to deliver your best service while meeting customer expectations.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.