Providing an exceptional customer experience is important for eCommerce merchants. In fact, research firm Gartner estimates that in 2016, “89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience“. To gain more insight into this topic, Riskified sat down with eCommerce expert Heather Nigro to discuss how retailers can optimize the digital shopping experience.
Heather told us about common mistakes brands make when it comes to the online shopping experience. We also discussed the KPIs retailers should track to improve customer experience, best practices for personalizing the online shopping journey, and how retailers can strike a balance between customization and intrusiveness.
What are the key KPIs eCommerce directors should track in order to better assess their customers’ shopping experience?
A lot of times the immediate answer people give is “conversion”. However, that can mean different things to different retailers and the KPIs should extend beyond that narrow concept. Retailers need to be thinking about the lifetime value of their customers as well. Tracking metrics such as time on site, and identifying where customers are having problems in the shopping journey, is crucial. Anything that can help a retailer to understand what can be done to bring a customer back is extremely important to measure.
How can retailers use various touch points to inform them about a customer’s overall experience on their eCommerce site?
Providing consistency across all digital channels, while still maximizing the experience of each one is the key to success. For example, a dedicated mobile site might be better at driving mobile conversions than a responsive version of the desktop site. Consumers will often visit several times before making a purchase, and retailers need to be sure to provide dedicated experiences every time.
Can you describe the biggest mistakes you see clients making as they try to keep a consistent customer experience across all channels and devices?
One size no longer fits all with today’s sophisticated consumer and retailers struggle with making enhancements for a true personalized shopping experience. Case in point – someone that is shopping in Southern California in December is in a different mindset than someone in Upstate New York in December. Serving them the same experience or products just doesn’t work. A brand needs to be nimble in creating an adaptive experience while simultaneously collecting as much information as possible without being invasive.
What are the most effective ways to personalize the online shopping experience? How can businesses maintain a balance between gathering insight while maintaining privacy?
The retailer has to be agile enough to know how to engage with their audience. I think the balance between personalized shopping experiences and privacy concerns is a generational thing. There is definitely a difference in how retailers should be engaging a millennial customer vs. a baby-boomer customer. For example, most millennial shoppers won’t engage with a retailer unless they provide a loyalty program. However, a loyalty program usually requires a customer to provide a lot of personal information. This is problematic for the older generations, who still tend to be guarded about sharing their personal information. Even if baby boomers are willing to provide some information, they usually don’t want to be bombarded with the kind of targeted advertising that a millennial shopper expects.
Are there any best practices you would suggest for how to design an eCommerce site with the customer experience in mind?
Creating iterative designs with A/B testing strategies is essential. This holds true both for the back-end and front-end of an eCommerce site. A retailer can have any back-end system, or any type of front-end design, but if it isn’t converting customers then it’s not doing its job. Retailers must be forward thinking, adaptive, and anticipate users’ expectations. It’s no longer viable to have static site design for three years – retailers that make assumptions about what is best for their customers are essentially operating in the dark. What retailers should be doing is experimenting and seeing how the customer actually reacts.
What are the common challenges or pitfalls that you have seen companies face as they try to maintain an authentic shopping experience as they scale their operations?
A lot of the biggest challenges revolve around leveraging innovation while remaining true to the brand ethos. There are a few steps businesses can take to avoid these challenges. First, retailers should network within their eCommerce peer network and discuss what is and isn’t working within the space. Second, it’s important for retailers to continuously audit their sites, identify key challenges, and think about solutions that they can implement. Third, management must listen to what their employees are telling them. The day in, day out, trials and tribulations of an eCommerce store’s staff provides invaluable insight.
Without giving too much information away, what’s the most common problem that you help large clients overcome?
I find that there are a lot of challenges around the integration of all of their systems. For example, ensuring all the data that you are capturing from your point-of-sale at a brick & mortar store is also being filtered into your eCommerce experience so you can best leverage customer data across channels. Retailers also struggle with understanding analytics and how to best use data to drive decisions. The key to understanding what caused a customer to purchase lies in the ability to identify a customer’s initial touchpoint, and then track their journey all the way through to the last point of attribution.
I also find that enterprise brands are not always able to leverage their talent and budgets in order to attract the millennial customer. Tactics such as digital displays need to be used to entice these consumers as well. Larger brands tend to be slow moving, and at times out of touch with the next generation of consumers.
What is the future for eCommerce customer experience?
One of the new ideas I find most exciting is how wearable technologies will interact with the mobile payments ecosystem. Wearables are becoming a way of life, and using them as your payment device is one of the most intriguing ideas. For example, MasterCard is currently beta testing wearable jewelry that you can slide over a payment kiosk. Retailers are also able to utilize wearables with their in-store associates in order to enhance the customer experience. Associates can be notified when a VIP customer enters the store, allowing them to not only greet them, but also to know all of the customers’ preferences.
Another trend we are seeing is the resurgence of “augmented” or “virtual” reality. This technology will allow consumers to put on their virtual reality headset, enter a store environment, and browse products. Additionally, I think the technology will be used to show products to customers inside their own homes. For example, if you are looking for a piece of furniture, you will be able to virtually place it in your home environment before deciding to purchase it.
The Importance of the Customer Experience
Providing a great customer experience across digital channels is essential to a successful eCommerce strategy. To gain insight into just how important the online shopping experience is to maximizing revenues, as well as get actionable tips for improving the customer experience, check out this Online Shopping Experience Infographic. For actionable advice on how to maximize eCommerce revenue, read about the 5 biggest eCommerce revenue killers.
Riskified partners with global brands across industries, including FarFetch, Footlocker, Giftcards.com, and Wish to ensure that fraud prevention never gets in the way of a smooth, frictionless, shopping experience for consumers.
About the expert
Heather Nigro is the CEO and Founder of Moxxii, a consulting firm developing comprehensive eCommerce strategies, conversion optimization, and analytics for retailers. A 17-year veteran of the internet retail space, she works closely with brands to optimize profitability across channels for a 360 degree approach.