In the early days of e-commerce, low prices and product diversity were the main methods used to occupy the market and win customers. As the online marketplace becomes more mature, all kinds of businesses (large and small) start to go online and the competition in e-commerce becomes increasingly fierce.
Customer demand has also switched from pursuing low prices to perfect and personalized purchasing experiences found in physical stores. Therefore, optimizing customer experience has become an indispensable part of e-commerce marketing. So, compared to doing business offline, customer experience is even more important for e-commerce and here’s why:
- E-commerce is a virtual market where products cannot be seen directly, and can only be judged by texts and images. Just like shopping in physical stores, customers need an understanding of the whole purchasing environment, which is mostly achieved by the product information. Thus the way a product is described or exhibited can significantly affect customers’ buying decision.
- The e-commerce buying process is more complicated than offline shopping. Online payment tools are necessary to make a payment; shipping service is needed to pass a product from a seller to a customer. Customers’ experience with payment and delivery forms a part of their overall evaluation of the product or the seller.
- There is a time gap between purchasing and receiving products. During this period, many factors would influence customers’ subjective feelings about both the seller and the product. Customers are often quite excited when placing an order; however, after the process of sending and receiving, the feeling of freshness may have already been gone.
- E-commerce is supported by IT and internet techniques, which are able to realize most steps of a deal but not all of them, such as some premium promotion methods, credits among different stores, limit of using coupon, product change and return, etc. When customers cannot get what they want in a convenient way, the experience cannot be perfect.
Thus, in order to enhance the e-commerce customer experience business owners should make optimizations in these four areas:
Visual experience: simple is better.
We all know that the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is quite important for delivering a superior customer experience. For instance: Are products displayed reasonably? Is the environment comfortable and relaxing? Is it easy for customers to find what they want and be guided to promoted products at the same time? The same rules apply to online shopping, where the shopping environment is the online store home and product pages.
The main elements in online store design include: product display, page layout, reliable payment methods, etc. Most online stores share the same basic product display with slight customizations catering to the preferences of a specific target audience. Actually, whether you’re a B2B, B2C or C2C store concise pages are almost always welcomed by customers.
A good product page should grasp the following principles: a) clear page outline, making it distinct between what’s essential and what’s not. Display information that customers eager to learn; b)Try to reduce customer clicks. The fewer clicks required for customers to reach the page they are looking for, the better experience they will have. At the same time, try to reduce navigation menus; c) clearly classify products — similarly to the layout of a physical shop. Product categories should be clear, making it quick and easy for customers to find the products they want.
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