Customer expectations have been steadily rising over the past two decades in line with the growth of online retailing. Advancements in eCommerce have created a ‘want it now’ environment and if online retailers cannot meet these expectations, they won’t be able to keep up with their competitors from around the globe.
Customers also expect companies to provide immediate assistance when required. The ‘want it now’ environment extends to customer support and if you don’t answer customers’ questions straight away and resolve their issue in a timely fashion, you are not going to survive.
There are six major areas that online retailers need to address when it comes to meeting customer expectations:
- Enable convenient shopping
- Provide fast delivery
- Ensure privacy protection
- Provide detailed product information and stellar reviews
- Give a wide variety of options
- Perfect your customer support
Enable Convenient Shopping
Just like customer expectations, the desire for convenience has increased. Hyperconnectivity and the widespread availability of 4G networks, coupled with people’s busy lifestyles has led to an explosion in the growth of mobile eCommerce. By 2021 54% of all eCommerce sales are expected to take place from a mobile device. But mobile eCommerce shouldn’t be focused on in isolation; omnichannel interactions are now the norm and buyers tend to switch channels and even devices before they make a purchase.
As an online seller you need to offer a flexible shopping experience. This not only refers to your website but to all channels you are present on like Facebook or Instagram and regardless of what device they are using.
Offering the option of in-store pick-ups, one-click shopping, recurring orders, voice activated shopping, can all make life that little bit easier for your customers. If you can change the way you interact with your customers so that it fits in with their lifestyle you will create lasting loyalty.
Providing fast delivery
No matter what country your shoppers are buying in, fast delivery is one of the most crucial aspects of online shopping and it can make or break a sale. Online marketplace giants like Amazon have heightened customer expectations when it comes to fast delivery. Amazon recently cut its free Prime shipping in half from two days down to one and Walmart have followed suit.
45% of U.S. consumers expect that orders placed by 1 PM to 4 PM should be eligible for next-day delivery. With the strong desire for immediacy, you can really differentiate yourself by offering this type of service.
Consumers not only expect fast shipping but a variety of delivery options and affordable prices. Delivering on these can build trust and loyalty. For example, online shoppers still enjoy being able to order online but many still prefer to pick up their orders in store. Almost 2 in 3 people have used Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store programs. The main reasons for doing this is so they can avoid shipping fees, immediacy and convenience.
In the US, according to a consumer survey conducted by Internet Retailer and Bizrate Insights, nearly 90% say they are willing to wait longer for delivery of an online order in exchange for free shipping.
By seamlessly blending the online and offline worlds, it improves the online shopping experience and can increase your chances of closing a sale.
Ensure privacy protection
Online shoppers around the world have become more concerned about their privacy and data protection while shopping online. With large scale data breaches from companies such as Facebook, shoppers now expect a safe and secure shopping experience. Recent studies find that only 13% of U.S. consumers trust online retailers with their data, and 84% may not shop with a retailer that has experienced a data breach.
Expectations are high. If you don’t protect consumer data, you risk facing repercussions from regulators and backlash from your consumers who say they will take their business elsewhere.
As an online seller you need to incorporate cyber security and privacy as part of your strategy in order to gain the trust of potential and current customers. A survey carried out by Salesforce stated that 84% of customers in the US and UK, are more loyal to companies with strong security controls. You should be forthcoming with your data governance and privacy protection policies and address any concerns online shoppers have. This is an area all online retailers will need to invest in for the future.
Provide detailed product information and stellar reviews
When it comes to online shopping, consumers don’t like surprises and want to see all relevant information before purchasing. In order to appear credible and increase sales potential, you should provide precise information on products, order-status, pricing, arrival dates. You can then combine these with positive customer reviews so demonstrate the products value and build trust.
Consumers are less forgiving about inaccurate, vague descriptions and will grow skeptical if they encounter this. It’s in your best interests, therefore, to avoid broad generalizations and be upfront and honest about any additional charges. It is an opportunity to differentiate yourself by providing accurate, high-quality information that users know they can trust.
Customer reviews are one of the main aspects taken into account by consumers when deciding to purchase from an online retailer. 91% of 18-34 year old US consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and in the UK, 46% of online consumers regularly check star ratings for online retailers before buying from them. Online retailers should utilize feedback software such as xSellco Feedback to build positive reviews across all their marketplaces, review sites such as Trustpilot, as well as their website.
Give a wide variety of options
Consumers expect a wide range of options during their online shopping experience. This can range from more choices for payment, shipping, delivery, and even customer support channels. Offering flexibility will allow your customers to shop on their own terms and enjoy the experience.
Payment options and preferences vary wildly in different countries. You should be offering as many payment options as possible including credit card, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Visa checkout, Bank Transfer and Apple Pay. If you are shipping to different countries it is necessary to consider accepting payment using the most well-known global payment methods as well as popular local methods. For example, in Japan credit card payments are more popular when buying online but in Germany Direct debit and Wire Transfer are more common.
Online shoppers also expect a variety of options when it comes to customer support. They want help to be available in a multitude of ways such as chat, phone, email and social media. Consumers have different needs and levels of urgency when it comes to issues, so by providing the option to send a quick message instead of waiting on the phone can really benefit the online retailer. Not only do you need to provide a variety of options but you must be able to respond in a timely and satisfactory way. Expectations are high when it comes to good quality customer support; in the US, delivering excellent customer service is seen as vital to differentiate your product or service. Keeping up with all these channels can be time consuming and complicated, so implementing an eCommerce specific helpdesk such as eDesk will help support agents immensely and could even reduce your customer support costs.
Perfect your customer support
Customer support is a critical advantage to the sellers that do it well and a nail in the coffin of those who do it poorly. If you let down a customer, they will be hesitant in buying from you again and worse still, they could leave a negative review. This will affect the purchasing decision of shoppers browsing your site in future and will have a detrimental effect on your eBay Best Match position and chances of winning the Amazon Buy Box.
Things do go wrong for online sellers but when they do, if you can provide answers promptly and informatively, dealing with their queries and solving tickets as a team, you could actually improve your online reputation. eDesk will put your business in the best position to manage customer support quickly and effectively by consolidating all your incoming messages from wherever you sell into a simple easy to use inbox your team will love.