Changing customer and consumer behavior is nothing new. It always happens. In the past, however, the changes usually revolved around the nature of where they were making a purchase. In brick-and-mortar retail, the customer was always king, and customers adapted to expecting to be treated in a certain kind of way in stores. With brick-and-mortar now also digitizing, customer expectations have undergone seismic changes over the past few years.
Their expectations are now way beyond fair pricing and service. They now expect proactive service, personalized interactions, and connected, seamless experiences across digital channels at all shopping locations and on all touchpoints and channels.
What do customers expect in ecommerce?
Customers no longer expect static relationships with the companies selling to them. Their expectations can be summed up in a few words – enhanced customer experiences. A representative survey by Salesforce in 2020 found that 80% of customers now consider “the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services.” Because products are displayed to consumers in the form of product data, businesses must make this data and their branding consistent and accurate across all touchpoints and channels – the digital product and the experience are intertwined and together influence the purchasing decision.
Moreover, the product data also has to match the kind of experiences that potential buyers expect from that brand and that product. A Shopify report from June 2021 found that 70% of carts were being abandoned, which suggests that a large number of consumers are disengaging from their shopping experiences.
With acquisition costs skyrocketing – particularly on social commerce – high numbers of abandoned carts signal a disconnect between marketing departments and their potential buyers. Simply getting people to the products they are looking for is no longer good enough to close a sale. Consumers expect value from their shopping experiences, and businesses need to identify what value they are offering their potential buyers, as well as determine how they get more value from their product value information chains – the common denominator requires integrating feedback from consumers into the outbound product information flows.
We’ve gathered the primary customer experience topics ecommerce businesses need to analyze if they are to reduce spiraling customer acquisition and retention costs.
Seduce, inform, reassure: the product data challenge
One of the major surprises and successes of recent digitization has been the consumer take-up of click-and-collect/BOPIS hybrid shopping models. The challenge for sellers in these areas has been to create compelling, accurate, and trusting product experiences where consumers feel they are buying something they need and won’t have to return it. Sellers have to produce high-quality content while also supplying all the required and recommended information each channel requires. They also have to include trusted shopping options and ensure that the stock information is correct – and all of this for all of their products on all channels 24/7.
Mastering these challenges in today’s infinitely complex retail environment – known as commerce anarchy – requires the latest product-to-consumer (P2C) strategy and the technology that supports it. Feed management, order synchronization, image and video enhancement tools, consumer feedback loops, and AI-driven data management have all become crucial elements for any business seeking to thrive and grow. Your potential buyers will not accept anything less.
Make it personal and make more sales
Shoppers are also demanding more personalized shopping experiences, and they want tailored product recommendations based on their previous shopping habits. The digitally-native generations have grown up with segmented, tailored advertising, and they purchase based on recommendations much more often than older generations. And personalization goes way beyond upselling and cross-selling. The whole journey from ads to email to checkout should be personalized as much as possible.
A GlobalWebIndex report in 2020 found that 70% of consumers would gladly share data with brands for a more personalized experience, and a significant 72% only engage with platforms offering personalized messaging.
It’s the money! Multiple payment options essential
Since the first lockdown, people expect to pay everywhere in stores and restaurants with whatever payment method they choose. So why not online? A 2022 survey from Baymard found that an average of 9% of abandoned carts were due to insufficient payment methods. Checkouts have to be quick and painless for consumers. Shoppers expect the convenience of paying with whatever method they wish. Increasing numbers are paying for their lives on and offline using mobile payments and digital wallets, such as PayPal, Venmo, and WeChat. Last year’s The Global Payments Report projected that digital wallets and mobile commerce will account for around 40% of all online purchases and payments globally in 2022. And it’s not just the payment type that’s important. Klarna and PayPal are leading the way with hugely popular BNPL – Buy Now, Pay Later – options for shoppers on a budget or looking to purchase more expensive items.
Maximize sales and minimize returns with transparent shipping options
Local, regional, and even international shipping have all changed massively over the past two years and there is no going back. The whole industry had to revolutionize and digitalize to keep up with the online shopping explosion caused by the global lockdowns. Free shipping, uncomplicated returns, and multi-courier strategies have become pivotal to wooing consumers to make purchases. Customers expect ecommerce businesses to deliver exactly what they want when they want it.
Go omnichannel, your customers are already there
Customers are now happy to pave their own personal shopping paths through the commerce jungle. They search for items in a marketplace or look at them in a store, but then make the final purchase on, say, a social commerce platform. Customers can no longer be relied on to make purchases where you expect them to. They are shopping Omnichannel, which means you need to be selling omnichannel to find them.
Omnichannel sales require consistent, blended, and compelling experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. This is no easy task given the extraordinary complexity of the retail space.
Immersive consumer experiences on the meta-horizon
As surprised as many people were about Meta’s metaverse announcement, immersive shopping experiences are the logical conclusion from all of the consumer expectations listed above. Compelling shopping experiences, multiple payment methods, “seeing” the items, personalized service, omnichannel options – whichever metaverse or level of augmented reality you find yourself shopping in the coming years, all of these elements will be the pillars upon which the shopping experiences you sell are built.
The augmented and meta shopping experiences will be virtual twins of “real” shopping environments where shopping will include real-life or even digital-only items. This distinction will be lost on Generation Alpha as they mature. For them, digital products are also consumer goods in the exact same way that tangible items were for their grandparents.
P2C tech – the easy way to meet high consumer expectations in ecommerce
There are many piecemeal solutions out there to address one or more of the challenges above. Only a P2C platform can easily manage all consumer expectations and enable businesses to meet their consumers wherever they are. Get in touch with us today, and find out how our P2C platform can offer your customers and potential customers the experiences needed to close sales.