Long before the COVID-19 pandemic spurred shoppers to turn to online shopping for groceries and other essentials, ecommerce was on the ascent. Whereas ecommerce accounted for only 6.4% of total U.S. retail sales in 2010, its share had climbed to 16% by 2019. COVID-19 has sharply accelerated the trend, with U.S. ecommerce sales soaring by 49% in April, including a 110% spike in online grocery orders.
While this represents a critical opportunity for online retailers, they face a host of offline challenges—from supply chain disruptions to last-mile delivery issues—beyond their control. What retailers can control, however, is their online presence—and the kind of digital customer experience retailers deliver can mean the difference between ecommerce success and revenue left on the table.
Accordingly, brands have been investing in emerging technologies designed to enhance the online shopping experience, including personalization services, re-marketing, checkout optimization, and more. Now, amid the coronavirus crisis, it’s all the more important for retailers to examine these investments and to ensure they’re delivering the quality customer experiences retailers wanted.
That feat isn’t as easy as it may sound. More than 50% of mobile shoppers, for instance, are multi-tasking while shopping, according to Namogoo research. For the legions of consumers now juggling remote work or job searches, caring for their family members, and coping with the stress of the pandemic, it’s more vital than ever to remove friction from their online shopping experiences.
Formidable as that task may be, retailers can accomplish it by focusing on the right services and with a smart, data-driven approach to ensuring that their investments generate the desired ROI.
Optimizing the customer experience
Few investments are more consequential than those dedicated to frictionless checkout. Research conducted by the Baymard Institute finds that retailers in the U.S. and European Union could recover $260 billion in lost revenue solely with better checkout design to reduce friction. That’s because checkout friction is one of the leading causes of cart abandonment. But the good news is that the market for checkout optimization solutions is enormous, with technology vendors ensuring seamless checkout processes. On top of that, other software powers personalized incentives during the checkout process itself, increasing conversion rates even more.
Meanwhile, in the era of personalized everything, delivering customers bespoke online shopping experiences is key. 63% of consumers say that they expect personalized experiences and a staggering 90% report that they’re willing to share behavioral data with brands for better customer experience. From individualized homepages to customized product lists based on customers’ unique interests and behavior, brands have a wide range of personalization services available.
It’s vital to deliver compelling messages and offers if retailers want to keep customers engaged and drive conversions. Retailers can fine-tune these communications with regular A/B testing. Re-marketing campaigns targeting shoppers who have previously visited a brand’s site can also be highly effective; previous visitors have by far the highest conversion potential, but getting them to return is the challenge—hence the need for well-timed and targeted outreach.
What’s impacting ROI?
It’s one thing for brands to know what investments they need to make to enhance their online customer experiences. It’s quite another to achieve the desired ROI. Two significant obstacles tend to hinder online retailers in this respect.
First, many brands lack sufficient data collection and analytics capabilities for understanding customer behavior. That makes digital analytics platforms essential; they make it possible to observe consumer behavior, track how it evolves, spot anomalies, detect glitches, and better understand traffic flow. These powerful insights are an absolute must, particularly amid the current surge in traffic and with ecommerce likely to be much more front-and-center even after the pandemic ends. Without robust data capabilities, many customer insights will slip under the radar, undermining brands’ ability to tailor the user experience and jeopardizing millions in revenue.
A lesser-known but no less serious problem is customer journey hijacking, a phenomenon impacting up to 20% of online retail customers. Hijacking occurs when consumers download extensions, apps, and other freemium software that come pre-packaged with unauthorized ad injections. These ads target the most engaged shoppers on a site, diverting them to competitor sites, stealing conversions, and effectively putting brands’ investments in the customer experience to waste. Blocking these disruptions can help brands recover lost revenue and keep customers in the funnel.
What retailers can do
There’s much beyond retailers’ power in the current climate, but the online experience isn’t. Adopting a customer-centric approach and staying ahead of the technological curve with proven methods for making every customer touchpoint seamless will allow brands to navigate the ecommerce surge that COVID-19 has accelerated better.
Beyond investing in tools for improving the user experience, brands must also take steps to ensure that their investments pay off—and by working with industry experts to address their most nettlesome challenges, online retailers can maximize the impact of hard-earned investments.
Namogoo’s technology prevents unauthorized ads from diverting website visitors to other websites.Favorite