One might think after an exhausting global pandemic that any big challenges are finally behind us. But with rising costs reducing consumer spending, new obstacles are forecast for this year. How e-commerce stores face these hurdles will be pivotal in attaining their revenue goals. And it all begins with managing the growing number of customer expectations.
This year, an estimated 218.8 million US consumers will shop online, and having great products isn’t enough to keep them happy. 70% of a customer’s journey is based on how they feel they’re being treated.
In order to maintain brand loyalty and increase conversions, online retailers need to take the necessary steps to meet their customers’ growing demands.
While pulling out a red carpet online isn’t literally feasible, there are other ways to ensure your customers feel valued and remain loyal. Here are nine areas online stores should focus on meet customer expectations in 2023.
1. Personalized Experiences
Today’s shopper is looking for unique experiences that make them feel looked after. A recent study by Insider Intelligence found that 73% of customers expect companies to understand their specific needs and that 88% believe the experience a brand provides is just as important as its product.
Personalization is a great way to form deeper connections and create ongoing loyalty with your customers. This translates to more sales. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot of heavy lifting, if you have the right AI technology in place.
Data plays a big role in delivering personalized experiences, and the information collected through artificial intelligence tools (like Granify!) enable you to tailor each shopper’s online experience to their exact preferences—from specialized promotions and offers, to particular product recommendations based on their previous browsing and purchase history.
2. Flexible Shopping
Nowadays, convenience is everything. In order to keep customers happy, online retailers need to deliver a flexible shopping experience. What does this mean exactly? Simply put, ensuring shoppers have access to a variety of online channels and services that make it easier for them to buy from your store.
Nearly 80% of online buyers shop at least monthly, and 86% will use at least two different channels when making a single purchase. A shopper may start browsing on a store’s website from their laptop at home, continue later on using a store’s app on their mobile device, and then complete their purchase after seeing a product they want off of a retailer’s social media page.
Having an omnichannel presence is key to meeting your customers’ expectations. Besides unifying your customers’ touchpoints, a multi-channel retail experience streamlines the buyer journey, making it easier (and more desirable) to get shoppers to the checkout page.
Providing flexible shopping experiences doesn’t just stop there though. Services like one-click shopping and Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) can help meet consumer demands for faster, better purchase options. In fact, a study done by the National Retail Federation found that 70% of customers say BOPIS improves their shopping experience.
3. Self-Service Features
When you think of customer service, it’s easy to imagine one person helping out another. But more than half of online shoppers actually prefer resolving problems on their own. Even more, a report from Zendesk shows that 70% of customers expect self-serve options.
For e-commerce stores, offering self-service features empower your customers by providing the tools they need to help themselves. Shoppers can find answers through various self-service features, like search fields, FAQs, chatbot help centers, and discussion forums. Just make sure that these tools are available 24/7 and cover information on commonly asked questions and topics, such as shipping, returns, and refunds.
4. Mobile Optimization
With roughly three-quarters of US adults making online purchases using their smartphones, ensuring your e-commerce website is mobile-friendly should be a top priority.
How can you optimize your e-commerce site to create a better mobile experience?
- Speed up your site and ensure pages load quickly.
- Modify your content (including image sizes) for smaller screens so it’s easy to navigate.
- Add a search icon on all pages to make it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
- Make it accessible for all shoppers by having auditory or visual content, like product photos with alt text.
- Provide easy checkout by reducing form lengths and implementing tools like Rich AutoComplete.
Earlier, we mentioned self-service features, and chatbots fit right into that category. Aside from providing 24/7 customer support, chatbots can answer questions in a quick and efficient manner.
Even better, they’re able to take your customer’s purchase history and real-time data to offer everything from personalized responses to accurate recommendations that could help increase your average order value (AVO).
If you don’t have chatbox technology on your e-commerce website yet, get it. Nearly 90% of users view them as both acceptable and extremely helpful.
6. Checkout and Delivery
By now, you probably know that a bad checkout experience can leave a lasting impression on shoppers—and not in a good way. Currently, 80% of shopping carts are abandoned. While the why reasons vary, many take place during the checkout process.
Creating a simple and easy checkout is essential to managing expectations, and can increase conversions by 35%. Some must-dos for a delightful checkout experience include:
- Guest checkout
- Clear shipping details, like timelines and costs
- Free shipping on orders that meet a minimum spending requirement
- Simplified payment form
- Complimentary returns
Tip: Want to really wow first-time customers and exceed their expectations? Offer them a discount during checkout for their first purchase when they sign-up. You can then send them follow-up emails later to thank them for their purchase or offer future incentives.
7. Payment Options
Gone are the days when credit cards were the only acceptable form of online payment. Now, shoppers expect a wide range of payment options to complete their purchases.
Digital wallets are the preferred payment method among digital shoppers worldwide, used by 49% of online shoppers (Worldpay, 2022)
What payment method do online shoppers prefer using most? According to Worldpay, 49% of online shoppers opt for their digital wallets when making a purchase. Of course, this is just one option you should provide. PayPal and Apple Pay are also highly used, while Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) appeals to many shoppers because it allows them to pay for their purchases in installments.
This feature is so popular that experts predict that over 104 million online shoppers in the US will use BNPL by 2026.
8. Privacy Protection
Did you know that an estimated 30,000 websites are hacked every day?
As more consumers share their personal information online, the concern about their privacy continues to grow. Without the proper measures implemented on your e-commerce site, shoppers will look elsewhere.
A safe and secure shopping experience isn’t an option—it’s a necessity. Protecting your customers’ data will not only save you from unwelcome headaches later, but also gain the trust of shoppers. Steps to ensure protect your customer data include:
- Collecting only the data that’s needed, like name, email, and mailing address
- Limiting access to data to only those who need it
- Using data encryption
- Utilizing password management tools
- Storing data in one place only
- Setting minimum security standards
9. Clear Communication
Any time a potential customer visits your site, they expect to see all the relevant information they need, front and center.
Whether it’s viewing a product page or checking out shipment times, shoppers want clear, transparent communication. When considering how you communicate with your customers, follow these best practices:
- Ensure the information on your website is current and accurate.
- Be upfront about any additional charges.
- Keep your customers informed about their orders.
- Publish news about your brand, products, or other exciting updates on your site and social pages.
- Send thank-you emails after purchases are made.
- Respond to customer inquiries made via your site, email, and social media in a timely manner.
- If you’ve made a mistake, own it. You’ll do more damage by avoiding the issue or making excuses for it.
Remember, honesty builds trust, and trust is key to developing brand loyalty.
Like e-commerce, customer expectations are always changing. As an online retailer, your job is to deliver personalized experiences that are engaging, convenient, and make your customers feel like their needs always come first. Achieve this, and you’ll not only meet your customers’ expectations, but exceed them—and earn some sweet revenue as well.
Curious about the latest e-commerce trends for 2023?
We’ve got the scoop, and the tools needed to make this year as successful as possible. Granify has everything you need to create exceptional shopping experiences that will boost your conversion rate and delight your customers.
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