meeting user expectations

by Amba Wilkes

Online shoppers have high expectations: fast purchasing, speedy load times, attractive web merchandising, simple payment methods, intuitive experiences, personalised recommendations, quick delivery, seamless transitions between your store and website. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! In this blog, we will cover three fundamentals of meeting user expectations: effective web merchandising, omnichannel shopping experiences and customer loyalty.

eCommerce merchants need to obsess over user expectations more than ever before. Why? Consumers today have been given the gift of choice, making it harder to compete for their attention.

Online shoppers have high expectations: fast purchasing, speedy load times, attractive web merchandising, simple payment methods, intuitive experiences, personalised recommendations, quick delivery, seamless transitions between your store and website. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

But it is these expectations and your customers’ experience with your eCommerce store that matters most. To turn your users into loyal and happy customers who will keep on coming back, it’s important to view your website from their perspective. Tailoring features to keep up with their needs and wants is the only way to grab and keep their attention.

In this blog, we will cover three fundamentals of meeting user expectations: effective web merchandising, omnichannel shopping experiences and customer loyalty.

How to get the most from your traffic with web merchandising.

Let’s begin with the foundations – good web merchandising. The most important function of web merchandising is to guide your customers through your seamless buying journey.

Bricks-and-mortar stores are engineered to inspire customers the second they walk through the door. From window displays to skillfully designed mannequins and enticing layouts, physical stores are designed to be a memorable experience. One that makes you want to return. Many senses such as touch, smell and the ability to see the product are removed with eCommerce stores. Instead, you have a whole new toolkit at your disposal, ready to engage your users.

Provide in depth product information.

Providing in depth information on product pages helps customers form an accurate expectation of your product. Consider these pointers when creating product information:

  • Highlight key product features in bullet points at the top of the description for skim reading.
  • Include USPs on the product page to reinforce the purchasing decision. These could be free next day delivery, free returns or a promo code.
  • Write detailed and engaging copy explaining available colours, sizing, material and relevant instructions.
  • Include a variety of high-quality images, ideally a mixture of product and lifestyle images from different angles. Refrain from altering these images to make them look better online as this will only disappoint customers when they receive a product that not as they expected.

Use personalised product recommendations.

Is your homepage, product page and checkout tailored for each user? Personalisation helps make customers feel valued. Using a platform like Nosto, you can suggest relevant products throughout a customer’s shopping journey based on their behaviour. This not only enhances the user experience but can also increase the average conversion rate by 15.5% percent! Product recommendations could be bundled into different groups such as:

  • Customers who bought this also bought…
  • Recommended for you
  • Frequently bought together

Increase site search use.

Site search plays a key role in creating the optimum customer journey. Most of the time, customers know exactly what they want, with 43 percent of site visitors immediately going to the search box upon visiting a website. Even better, these shoppers are often indicative of high intent buyers who are 2-3 times more likely to convert.

Your site search box needs to stand out. For people to find the products they want, they need to be able to search through your website quickly and easily. But it’s not just the visibility of your search box that’s important, your search filters are too.

Don’t be afraid of negative reviews.

A product review is an authentic way of encouraging users to continue with their purchasing journey. Reviews and Q&As build trustworthy and engaging experience between brands and consumers, but this doesn’t only apply to positive reviews.

82 percent of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews to gain genuine opinions on a product, so you should always make time to display and respond to them. Not only do they show your customers you care by acknowledging their complaint, but only showing positive reviews can also lead to less credibility and consumer skepticism.

Align your physical and online stores.

Companies often fall into the trap of treating their digital and physical shopping experiences separately. But one thing is for certain: customers want to shop on their terms, wherever they are. As such, it’s important to align the two experiences.

Are your online customers the same as those who shop in-store? What are their buying habits and how does it vary online vs. offline? Could you better support your physical presence with your online presence and vice versa? Shoppers now expect their physical and online shopping experiences to seamlessly blend. Here are a few ways you can connect them to make a more immersive and convenient customer experience…

Online reservations for in store pickups.

During the buying journey, it’s convenient for shoppers if they are able to swap between the online store and physical store. Providing features such as online reservations for in-store pickups can save the customer time and expense when they want to avoid shipping costs, get an item fast, or pick up an item while out and about.

When connecting your online and offline channels, it’s critical to show accurate inventory of nearby stores so you don’t disappoint your customers.

Apply personalised experiences from one channel to another.

It’s important to make loyalty programmes and promotions easy to transfer from one channel to another. For example, a voucher sent in the post or over email should be made applicable for use online or in store. By limiting incentives to one or the other, you’re putting a barrier to conversion in place and could prevent a sale.

Loyalty is synonymous with success. Our emotions impact our decisions and the creation of a positive lasting impression often inspires us to return to a brand, spend more money with them and become an advocate for them.

Due to the increased competition that eCommerce has created, consumers have become less brand loyal making it more important than ever to build a loyal customer base to stay competitive.

When your brand is aimed at everyone, your messaging becomes diluted and your conversions suffer. Use your customer data to understand your audience and their specific needs. This allows you to deliver tailored messaging and provide relevant communications at different touchpoints.

Get the most from your technology.

It’s important to consider whether you’re getting the most from your platform. Is it scalable? Is it safe and secure? Can it adapt with your business? Are page load speeds fast enough?

An online store is often at the core of a business so don’t let bad software and poor infrastructure slow you down. With Shopify, you don’t need a massive budget and an army of developers to get the store you want. Thanks to the cloud-based infrastructure of Shopify’s premium offering, Shopify Plus, the platform has an overall uptime of 99.98% with storefronts loading nearly three times faster than other SaaS platforms.

Modern eCommerce platforms give you the ability to be proactive and constantly respond to changing consumer needs – a key factor of creating an online experience that keeps users returning again and again.

Get personal with your email marketing.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the opportunity ends once the consumer converts. The post-purchase experience is an important stage of securing customer loyalty. By offering loyalty schemes such as points systems or VIP promotions and events, you can build an engaged database for your email marketing. We integrated with LoyaltyLion for our client NEOM, allowing them to create and promote an exclusive NEOM points system for use across their website.

Similarly, an automated wish list reminder or product recommendation email can also be sent to remind users of what they have previously shown interest in. By actively capturing emails on your site, these can then be used to communicate with your audience for promotional purposes and incentives such as sales, events and peak trading periods.

Commonly used email marketing platforms include Wired Plus and DotDigital, which, similar to Shopify Flow, allow you to automate these tasks so none of your valuable time is wasted.

Allow for fast reorders.

Additionally, by using Shopify Payments and dynamic checkout, customers can skip the cart and go straight to the checkout. Through a one-tap feature, a user can buy direct from the product page with their preferred payment method which also helps to reduce abandoned carts.

Clearly signpost your delivery and returns processes

Ensure you communicate your delivery and returns processes and timescales clearly across your website. This can be done at various touchpoints of the customer journey including having a dedicated page, featuring the information on the product page and also a reminder during the checkout process.

Many customers return items because they need it to arrive before a certain date. Ensure you consistently highlight expected delivery times to avoid miscommunication, particularly around annual dates such as Father’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Consider creating a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page which acts as a central repository to cover common questions around delivery, prices and return options. This will not only reduce the amount of questions asked of your customer service team but also helps in keeping your customers content by providing instant answers.

Improve the user experience

Conducting a UX audit can uncover barriers to conversions and improvements that need to be made to your UX. It’s important to remember to see your website from your customer’s point of view. Just because you have a clear customer journey in mind and understand your website doesn’t mean your users will follow the same conversion path. A UX audit considers both the positive and negative areas of your website and can generate insightful considerations. Common themes we often see appear in a UX audit include:

  • Where and why are users abandoning their shopping cart?
  • What stage do users most often leave you website?
  • Which areas of your website are users struggling to understand?

By combining data analysis with our expert’s knowledge, you can understand how users travel through your website, identifying and removing site barriers to power up your conversions.

Key takeaways.

Your homepage is the front door to your online store. Once a user lands on your website, it’s up to you to make the experience as engaging, memorable and intuitive as possible. If the user experience of your eCommerce site doesn’t meet the expectations of your audience, it will directly affect your conversion rates.

The good news is that by understanding who your customers are and using a modern and robust platform like Shopify Plus, you can optimise your website with your customers at the core. Don’t let your competitors outmanoeuvre you by ignoring what your audience want. Your competitors are just a click away and unfortunately, your customers won’t think twice about switching once they’ve had a bad experience. Put yourself in their shoes and optimise accordingly.

If you want to chat more about the opportunities available on your website, contact our team of eCommerce experts. A premier Shopify Plus partner, we hold over 20 years of experience and knowledge working with brands to deliver websites backed by real retail know-how.

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