In today’s highly digitised world, with many e-commerce businesses vying for consumers’ attention, creating a positive Customer Experience (CX) can be an important differentiator and a winning formula for success in the crowded e-retail landscape. In many cases, more than great products and competitive prices are needed to retain consumers and build trust in the longer term. Therefore, companies operating online, still focusing on a transactional model, must focus on a more customer-centric approach and prioritise technology empowerment to succeed. By putting buyers first and promoting emotional connections in the digital space, e-businesses can ensure loyalty, repeat business, and secure revenue growth.
A specific characteristic of retail e-commerce is that most touchpoints of interaction with consumers are placed in a virtual environment making it challenging to engage mainly through digital channels with limited direct human involvement. Additionally, with the increasing number of e-businesses in the global market offering products or services in similar categories without geographical or language limitations, competition is only a click away. It creates an excellent opportunity for consumers with almost unlimited possibilities to visit and explore online stores, easily compare products, services, prices, and reviews and switch from one provider to another.
However, when feeling essential and valued by a brand and being provided with top-notch support, buyers are more likely to recommend their preferred e-stores to others and repeat purchases. It is all reflected by some statistics presented below:
(Source: HubSpot Research)
On the other hand, when unsatisfied with a brand, consumers will quickly switch to another e-retailer, and even worse, they will share their negative opinions with others. It is a result of the fact that buyers have become more aware and selective and have higher expectations for convenience, speed, and personalisation when shopping online.
According to CX Today’s analysis of Customer Experience’s state in e-commerce, “85% of consumers now expect faster service interactions and an increasing number of people are seeking greater efficiency from their online shopping experiences. To stay ahead, companies must invest in innovative ideas to meet these growing demands.” For e-commerce businesses, this means providing a more agile and efficient CX strategy that aligns with the industry’s specific requirements and goals.
The key guiding principle for a successful CX strategy in e-commerce
What sets the CX for e-businesses apart from other market segments is the importance and necessity to deliver a seamless, personalised, user-friendly, and entertaining digital experience while going far beyond simply addressing requests, complaints, or concerns.
Therefore, the ideal CX strategy for retail e-commerce should be crafted with a deep understanding of customer behaviour and preferences and should be consistent throughout the overall consumer journey, encompassing all the interactions in the most strategic touchpoints in the best feasible way. These include connection points such as websites, text messages, messaging apps or chats, in-person interactions, etc.
There are a few suggestions below on what are the fundamental concepts, technological solutions, and powerful tools that e-retailers can adopt to enhance their CX capability leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty:
CX strategy centred on the consumer
Customer-centricity is crucial for running a successful e-commerce business, maximising profit and making buyers’ journeys more engaging and enjoyable. By prioritising consumers in decision-making processes from browsing to checkout and beyond, companies can ensure that all CX processes are shaped according to factual expectations and that services are provided in the manner consumers prefer and appreciate.
The most critical aspect of customer-centricity in retail e-commerce is personalisation. Companies can maximise customer satisfaction, strengthen loyalty, and increase revenue by providing deeply customised and tailored online interactions, proactive support, targeted communication, and recommendations that resonate with buyers. To achieve this, they must leverage comprehensive data from various sources that cover every consumer interaction. By subjecting this information to sentiment analysis, e-retailers can generate insightful and actionable intelligence that better understands customers’ preferences and behaviours, enabling them to personalise all activities directed towards their target groups. When these objectives are met, it replenishes the brand’s equity, increases customer satisfaction metrics such as CSAT and CES, and drives revenue growth.
Another essential element in creating a customer-focused retail e-commerce CX strategy is consumer journey mapping. This process involves collecting insights into the specific touchpoints between buyers and e-businesses to understand the critical interaction points. Journey mapping makes it possible to assess better CX performance, more precisely determine individuals’ preferences or get a deeper understanding of customers’ behaviours and habits to plan adequate actions to improve the overall experience.
Consistency of CX processes across all communication channels is also essential to customer-centricity. It ensures that consumers receive a seamless and unified experience, regardless of the touchpoint with which they interact. Companies can implement a multi-channel CRM solution to enable consistency, which integrates various engagement points into a single platform while streamlining, managing, and measuring buyer interactions. Such a solution is multitasking and automates customer data collection, provides complex insights into customers’ behaviours, identifies existing weaknesses in the CX strategy, organises automated marketing campaigns, and continuously efficiently improves the digital CX.
Strategies for delivering high-quality and CX empowerment
Implementing various strategies and tools to improve the quality of the retail e-commerce Customer Experience can lead to tangible benefits such as increased productivity, growth in a loyal client database, and improved retention rates. Achieving this involves streamlining CX processes with innovative technologies allowing for automation and AI-driven enhancements.
In today’s world of instant gratification, speed is a critical component of a successful digital CX strategy. Automation technologies help e-retailers provide faster and more efficient services while allowing growth, expansion, and scalability. By automating various CX operations, companies can reduce workloads, eliminate time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and provide services with greater agility, speed, and cost-effectiveness. Automation also minimises the risks of errors and eliminates buyers’ frustration caused by long wait times and incomplete task addressing. For example:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology facilitates and boosts tasks like data entry, order processing, and customer service inquiries, allowing support teams to provide rapid and accurate services.
- Moreover, a Ticketing System simplifies the customer support processes while managing incoming requests in a centralised location while helping agents respond to inquiries quickly and prioritise issues based on urgency and relevancy.
- Additionally, AI-powered chatbots provide e-consumers with a faster and more efficient support experience 24/7, enabling basic inquiries resolution at hand, handling multiple queries simultaneously, and sometimes eliminating the need to wait for a human agent to become available.
In addition, implementing AI-driven technologies like Natural Language Processing and Augmented Reality can enable a cutting-edge digital experience for retail e-commerce customers. These are the significant changes offering the industry a significant improvement in satisfaction and loyalty, regardless of the scale or type of operation. Its strengths lie in the ability to carry out more profound and granular analysis and more relevant interpretation to promote context-specific and virtual experiences while understanding human intentions and imitating behaviour. This may include, for instance:
- Engaging in human-like dialogue with customers on chats while providing accurate and personalised responses in real-time, as people would do.
- Creating realistic, interactive, and customised environments to increase consumers’ engagement with the immersive shopping experience, including, for example, virtual testing or trying products.
Developing empathy for the customer’s perspective
The success of a CX strategy in retail e-commerce also heavily relies on developing an empathy-empowered human touch concept. While AI-driven insights and solutions can help to understand consumers’ needs better, provide customisation and even deliver free-of-human support in real-time, they cannot replace the personal connection entirely.
With the support of dedicated, skilled, and empathetic agents, buyers feel heard, understood, and appreciated when interacting with businesses. This is especially true when addressing complaints or problems, where human compassion can make all the difference. By showing it, agents can de-escalate tense situations and find solutions that meet the customer’s needs, finally turning a negative experience into a positive one allowing for increased loyalty, repeat business and positive referral sharing.
According to PWC’s insights in the “Experience is Everything” study, “the employee experience is the cornerstone, and the human touch is a major connector, linking human-like technology and tech-equipped employees to create better customer experiences.” As per the PWC document, “82% of the top-performing companies report paying close attention to the human experience around digital and tech”.
However, such an approach requires continuously improving the knowledge and skills of employees interacting with customers. This includes technical proficiency, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and product familiarity.
Measuring and tracking success to drive improvement
With the ability to precisely measure and carefully track the status of the e-commerce CX strategy, it is possible to identify areas for improvement. This can be done by using relevant metrics to gather customer feedback, devising the best KPIs, and monitoring the results over time to identify weaknesses or opportunities that addressing can help boost Customer Experience. The areas of measurement should include the following:
- Loyalty: Measuring factors such as customer loyalty and retention using metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Retention Rate (CRR), or Repeat Purchase Rate (RPR).
- Satisfaction: Verifying customer satisfaction using tools like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES).
- Operational efficiency: Assessing CX operational efficiency with metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT), First-Level Resolution (FLR), or Abandoned Call Rate (ACR).
- Attrition and churn: Providing customer attrition and churn feedback using metrics like Churn Rate or Customer Retention Rate (CRR).
Data protection and security
Data privacy and protection regulations compliance can also impact how consumers perceive e-retailers and their brands. As e-commerce organisations collect, process and store substantial amounts of customer data daily for personalisation, they should also try to keep and manage the information safe. It can be done by implementing appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of security breaches and cyber threats, such as encryption algorithms and multi-factor authentication, and ensuring data storage protocols. Feeling that their confidential information is secure with an online store, buyers will more likely repeat purchases and share positive opinions about the e-seller.
Deciding on CX outsourcing for retail e-commerce: factors to consider
Selecting an outsourcing partner to handle retail e-commerce Customer Experience can be the right solution for organisations with limited resources or expertise. A Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provider can be an invaluable asset for e-businesses in creating, managing, and developing their CX strategy. This option should be deliberated by companies that:
- Lack of in-house resources, knowledge, experience, and appropriate technology to run CX processes effectively.
- Face a high volume of customer inquiries that cannot be handled by existing staff and solutions appropriately.
- Want to ensure 24/7 availability of services and consistent quality without bearing a significant investment.
- Plan to reduce operational costs while improving efficiency and scalability.
- Shift their focus from managing CX processes to their core business operations and direct efforts towards driving growth and hitting business goals more efficiently.
- Plan to expand into new regions with varying authorities and data protection laws but need to gain expertise in navigating CX in different legal environments.
“When considering collaboration with a BPO provider, retail e-businesses should prioritise key factors to ensure that the selected partner can deliver high-quality and effective