As ecommerce and technology undergo rapid change, customer expectations are also transforming. Brands looking to build a loyal customer base must understand how online shopping has altered the customer experience at each touchpoint.

Fara Haron, CEO, North America, Ireland and Southeast Asia & executive vice president, global clients, Majorel

Ecommerce has become the norm in today’s world and has revolutionized the ways in which people shop. Consumers have come to expect ease and convenience from online retail interactions, even for traditionally offline transaction-based industries like grocery, healthcare and banking.

Today, 76% of US adults shop online, with 16% of people doing so weekly. From a brand’s perspective, online shopping has become a way to control costs and drive efficiencies. While big brands have adapted more easily to the online landscape, smaller organizations can find it challenging to build a successful online presence that can win customers away from large competitors.

With the introduction of more purchase channels, new payment technologies are crucial to streamlining the customer experience and making it easier to re-order items.

For online shoppers, an individualized, convenient and user-friendly experience is imperative to establishing brand loyalty. Now more than ever, best-in-class customer service and customer experience (CX) are a powerful opportunity to stand out from other companies. In fact, Forrester research indicates “brands with highly rated CX improve revenue at twice the rate of brands with poor experiences.”

As ecommerce and technology undergo rapid change, customer expectations are also transforming. Brands looking to build a loyal customer base must understand how online shopping has altered the customer experience at each touchpoint.

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Below are three ways the ecommerce landscape has impacted the customer journey:

New Platforms for Product Searches

If a potential customer cannot quickly and easily find a product, they are likely to abandon an online purchase. To avoid losing out on sales, it is critical to ensure all search methods are user-friendly. As ecommerce continues to impact consumer behavior, it is important to consider the below recommendations for online searches:

Optimize for voice: Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri are increasingly popular search tools. Consumers are using voice assistants more and more for quick searches that deliver simplified results. Instead of a long list of products, voice assistants often offer a single output, which means brands must rigorously optimize their content to be helpful for customers and appear in search results.

Create short promotional videos: With the rise of YouTube, 70% of shoppers say they are open to learning about products on the platform. YouTube is a powerful marketing channel to create awareness about products among new and existing customers. As more consumers view videos on mobile devices, short promotional videos are an effective way to communicate about products and services.

Leverage augmented reality (AR): Today, AR digitally transforms the user’s environment, enabling searches, selections and purchases that are tailored to a particular customer. AR technology bridges the offline and online worlds during the purchase decision process. For example, consumers can see virtual furniture in a real room or virtually test makeup products.

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Growth in the Number of Payment Options

When it comes to payments, consumers have numerous options for processing transactions online. Nearly 30% of online merchants accepted mobile wallets in 2018, up from 24% in 2015. With the introduction of more purchase channels, new payment technologies are crucial to streamlining the customer experience and making it easier to re-order items.

Connected devices are also facilitating purchases, making it faster and easier for customers to complete transactions. For example, smart shelves with Bluetooth signals are used to send targeted, personalized notifications to consumers’ smartphones about offers near them. Digital transmitters, or beacons, can trigger payment when a customer exits a store or alert employees to when product needs to be replenished.

Voice assistants can also authenticate payments via voice command, although many consumers are still concerned about errors. As people become more comfortable using voice assistants, it will be more popular to use the technology for payments.

Rising Expectations for Delivery Speed and Visibility

Consumers have grown accustomed to ordering more and more products and services online. With people using ecommerce for items like groceries, expectations for fast delivery times continue to rise. Next- or same-day delivery options have become common practice for many online retailers. By 2023, 78% of logistics companies anticipate offering same-day delivery and 39% of companies think that items will be delivered in a two-hour window by 2028.

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As a result, the last-mile is critical to ensure goods reach the right location and at the right time. Technological support is critical to achieving this level of shipping speed. Advancements like machine learning, automation and drones will see greater implementation for their ability to make deliveries more efficient and customer-friendly.

Visibility has become integral in the delivery process. Many customer inquiries are associated with where an order is within the supply chain, particularly if a shipment is delayed. Implementing greater visibility into the delivery process is essential to providing customers with proactive updates and answering questions. Consumers also expect transparency, which can be achieved by sending photos of the package at the customer’s front door.

To successfully attract online customers who will make repeat purchases, brands must understand how ecommerce trends have impacted the entire customer journey. Whether it is searching for products, processing payments or providing fast delivery, companies must understand how online shopping impacts customer expectations. With the right strategy and technology tools, organizations can create the right experience that will lead to greater customer loyalty.

Majorel was formed early in 2019 by combining the worldwide customer service businesses of Germany’s Bertelsmann and Saham Group of Morocco. The company has 48,000 employees in 28 countries.

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