Table of contents:
What does shopping experience mean?
The term shopping experience covers all aspects of how a customer experiences its interactions with a vendor, at every touchpoint from the first contact through the transaction and beyond. How customers view their shopping experience is all about feelings and emotions, so it exists on a spectrum: from positive to negative and everything in between.
Why is it important to create a positive shopping experience?
Ensuring customers have a positive shopping experience is crucial for retail businesses, whether e-commerce, brick-and-mortar or a mix of the two. First, and most obvious, is that customers are unlikely to purchase if they have a poor shopping experience. Why would you buy from a company that made it difficult to purchase, had rude customer service or was generally negative to work with? You probably wouldn’t.
Second, just as you won’t win customers over with a poor experience, you definitely won’t win repeat customers. Three in four consumers (including 73% of millennials) say a consistent customer experience increases the likelihood that they will continue doing business with their favourite brand. A great shopping experience also makes it more likely that a customer will join a company’s loyalty program.
Creating a positive shopping experience can actually make you more money, too; not only because you’ll win over more customers, but because those customers are willing to increase their spending. A whopping 86% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for a great shopping experience.
Finally, a great customer experience can set a vendor apart from the competition, something that is more important than ever in today’s retail landscape.
What factors can influence a customer’s shopping experience?
The e-commerce shopping experience can be influenced by an endless number of factors. Here are some examples:
- User interface and website design: A well-designed and user-friendly website or application interface enhances the overall shopping experience. It should be easy to navigate, visually appealing and offer intuitive browsing and search functions.
- Sales channel design: The design and layout of the sales channels, from the desktop website to the mobile app should be consistent across devices and optimised for seamless browsing, product selection and checkout.
- Product journey and information: Customers appreciate detailed and accurate product descriptions, high-quality images, product reviews and ratings. These elements help customers make informed purchasing decisions and build trust in the e-commerce platform.
- Shipping and delivery: For an e-commerce business, shipping is one of the biggest factors customers will remember. If everything goes right, they might never notice; but if everything goes wrong, they’re sure to be frustrated and feel they had a negative experience overall. Sellers need to ensure that shipping and delivery processes are reliable and efficient, and can impress customers further with services like transparent tracking or options for express or same-day delivery.
- Customer support: Talking to a grumpy or rude customer service representative can ruin anyone’s day, while also decreasing the chance of them buying from you again. That’s why prompt and reliable customer support has such a significant impact on the shopping experience. Efficient communication channels such as live chat, email or phone support should be available to assist customers at any time.
- Personalization and recommendations: Customised recommendations, offers or discounts based on demographic information about the customer or behavioural targeting can enhance the shopping experience by providing relevant and enticing product suggestions.
- Additional services: Going above and beyond makes all the difference. Offering additional services like gift wrapping, fast shipping options, flexible return policies or personalised assistance can differentiate an e-commerce seller in a crowded field.
- Assortment breadth and depth: A wide variety of products across different categories increases the likelihood of customers finding what they are looking for. Having a deep assortment within each category also helps cater to diverse customer preferences. However, having an endless supply of products only helps if they are relevant to the target customer base, so this should still fit within the wider retail strategy.
- Payment options and security: Providing multiple secure payment options and ensuring robust security measures for online transactions adds convenience and gives customers confidence in the safety of their transaction. In Europe, some of the most well-known options that customers expect include Visa and Mastercard, Paypal, Klarna, Apple Pay, Google Pay, iDeal, Giropay and others.
- Post-purchase experience: The post-purchase experience, including order tracking, order updates and timely resolution of any issues, is crucial to complete the cycle of a positive customer interaction.
How to improve the shopping experience
- Take care of your employees: Happy employees make happy customers. If you aren’t treating your employees well, especially ones who are customer-facing such as service representatives, then customers will bear the brunt of that frustration and have a poor experience.
- Consider the end-to-end experience: Every touchpoint with your customers counts. With purely e-commerce businesses, this means looking at every interaction your customers have with the brand online. For omnichannel or brick-and-mortar, think about how the in-store and online experiences flow together.
- Reward loyalty: Make it worth it to be a loyal customer of your store by rewarding those who choose to continue buying from you. It’s no small feat to win a loyal customer, and celebrating them will increase the likelihood of retention.
- Don’t disappear after the purchase: Post-purchase interactions are still a part of the shopping experience. It’s important to follow up with customers, make sure they are satisfied and request a review or rating if they were, so others can find your store as well.
- Create community and connect: It can be tricky to create community if your company operates solely online, but having those long-term connections with your customers, and between the customers themselves, can be highly impactful for the business.