Getting the customer experience right in online retail can be tricky. From the usability of the website and apps to the product selection and delivery, many pieces need to be perfectly aligned to contribute to a good experience. Delivery, in particular, can be challenging writes Dan Hughes, principal product & strategy lead, Beyond.
Nearly 25% of attempted online purchases abandoned at checkout for the lack of satisfactory delivery options. This is estimated to cost retailers £31.5bn in potential sales.
With many retailers actively trying to grow the proportion of online business, the user experience from when the customer first lands on the site to the moment they leave – ideally after completing a purchase – is something they need to pay attention to. If it fails already before checkout, how can they build brand loyalty and grow business?
Bridging the gap between digital and physical
There appears to be a severe disconnect between retailers and customers when it comes to defining a good digital user experience. According to a recent study, over 80% of retailers think they offer a good choice of delivery options, but less than 50% of customers agree. If potential customers are unhappy and, crucially, not completing their purchases, then there’s no point in investing heavily in website and app design.
Similarly, costly marketing campaigns to drive traffic to the site will be futile if the purchase process gets abandoned as soon as it moves from the digital realm to the physical. Shoppers are increasingly digital-savvy and expect one-click purchasing and quick delivery. Online retail is about instant gratification, and the digital user journey must cater to this need. Moreover, this expectation goes for returns as well, with shoppers expecting hassle-free returns that are painless and supported by a customer-friendly and simple-to-read policy – a lack of which can quickly translate into another barrier for purchase.
So, what can retailers do to optimise the customer experience? If they want to reduce the number of items left in baskets, they need to stop thinking of the customer journey in silos. Delivery is a natural extension of the digital experience where users browse products on the website, and brands need a holistic view of this journey from the beginning to the end if they want to identify and address the reasons why customers don’t complete their purchases.
Understanding how, when and why customers choose to shop can enable retailers to provide delivery options that work for their lifestyle and budget. A fashion retailer, for example, could offer last minute delivery of multiple outfit options for an event, while a furniture retailer could capitalise on a careful delivery and assembly service through its trusted partner. In both cases, the delivery could be used to add new value to the user experience.
When designing the user experience for e-commerce, the focus is on making it as frictionless as possible every step of the way. If their data shows that customers often leave shopping in their basket, retailers can address this by offering other options at that stage to get customers to engage before leaving. For example, if records indicate that customers tend to use the basket as a wish list when browsing products, retailers can add an option to save the basket contents for later. Here, well thought out abandoned cart strategies that leverage CRM and retargeting can also help customers drop back into the shopping experience exactly where they left off. Future purchases can also be further simplified by enabling personal and payment information to be saved at checkout. In the end, however, these adjustments will make little difference if the delivery options don’t meet customer expectations.
With the customer all the way
Ultimately, if retailers want to succeed in this highly competitive field, they can’t afford to neglect any parts of the user experience. This is particularly crucial in online retail, where the whole shopping experience is built on the success of the digital journey. Unlike brick-and-mortar retail stores where human shop assistants are on hand to mitigate potential issues, the online shopping experience lives and dies with the quality of the service provided.
A good user experience is an invaluable differentiator, helping encourage repeat business and foster customer loyalty. If retailers want to ensure their offering resonates with customers, they need to take a user-centric approach and review the entire journey from the beginning to the end – including the last hurdles of delivery and returns – to see how it adds up. If any part of the equation is found wanting, getting it right should be a priority so that nothing stands between the customer and the purchase.
Dan Hughes, principal product & strategy lead, Beyond