Management & Finance

Customer Experience Matters

After more than a decade of ecommerce activity and an arsenal of new technology at our disposal, it’s still the basics that most sites haven’t mastered. Problems in the checkout process and having products that are too hard to find remain among the top issues that irritate customers and fuel shopping cart abandonment rates.

There are various studies (and opinions) on whether shopping cart abandonment is as high as 75 percent, as the Shop.org study indicates. However, every ecommerce owner who studies his analytics reports knows his site has many more visitors than he has people who make a purchase. In addition, ecommerce owners can see a multitude of products sitting in baskets that didn’t make it through the checkout process.

Why did customer leave?

All of that leaves ecommerce owners wondering why the customer left his site, and did he leave unhappy?

Ed Dawidowicz, senior consulting director for Creative Good, one of the country’s leading firms specializing in improving customer experiences, says the basics still have many people bamboozled.

“People running the ecommerce site assume they are the customers, so they create the site for themselves,” he said. “In fact, your actual customers act much differently.”

He says that most ecommerce sites make it too difficult for customers to quickly find the product for which they are looking. Searches yielding “no results found” messages, incomplete results or poorly designed experiences continue to frustrate shoppers. Such frustration sends shoppers searching for another site that can meet their needs.

Be sure to help customers

Adelle Emery, director of customer experience at Siteworx.com, said some key things you can do to help customers through the checkout process are to offer a progress indicator throughout the process, show a receipt before an order is placed, let the customer change anything in the order quickly and easily and keep your shipping and return polices at the forefront. She also said action buttons should be labeled clearly—don’t put “submit” if what you mean is “place my order.”

Dawidowicz says there are various reports an ecommerce merchant can generate to track customer behavior at a website. However, when wanting to learn about your customers, he says there is no substitute for watching customers in action at your site.

He recommends pulling customers into a place where they can be observed so a business owner can see first-hand where a customer struggles navigating a website. His firm conducts “listening labs” for ecommerce firms of all sizes to help merchants understand what the customer is experiencing. He says that type of research is far more telling than any statistical report from an analytic package.

If you really want to know what your customers are thinking and why they are frustrated, “the single most important thing you can do is observe your customers using your website,” he said.

He says that, by doing so, you can see where customers get frustrated and begin the process of fixing the issues with your website and improving your conversion rates.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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