Future of Commerce Blog

How to Create a Positive Customer Experience During Online and In-Person Purchases

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The retail industry is abuzz with the concept of customer experience. And when it comes to the modern consumer, customer experience happens at a number of touch points. In 2017, we had an average of nine shopping channels to choose, and almost three-quarters of consumers take advantage of these options and use multiple channels.

As these shopping behaviors evolve, it’s more important than ever for brands to be in tune with their omnichannel customer experience. That includes pre-purchase, point-of-purchase, and post-purchase. In the second edition of our customer experience series, we’re talking about how you can optimize the customer experience during the purchase on all channels.

Check out our first article on how to improve the pre-purchase customer experience >

Online: Your Ecommerce Store and Marketplaces

While you have less control over the purchase process on online marketplaces, you can set the stage for your own digital channels. As such, we’ll focus on ideas to enhance the online customer experience on your own eCommerce site at the point-of-purchase (POP).

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Implementing some CRO tactics on your eCommerce site in particular can help you improve the customer experience and drive more sales on product and buy pages.

    • A/B testing: Consider A/B testing elements on your product pages, such as copy/messaging, UI elements, imagery, pricing and CTA buttons. This will help you identify which options meet customer preferences and drive sales. 
    • Screen recordings and heat maps: To dig further into the nuances of the customer experience during a purchase, record user sessions. Identify trends in friction points and challenges for users so that you can enhance the experience on these pages. You can conduct screen recordings with tools like Hotjar, Crazy Egg and SessionCam. 
    • Simplified checkout: According to UX research firm Baymard Institute, more than a quarter of online shoppers abandon checkout because the process is too long or complicated. Reduce the number of steps to the bare minimum, and make intuitive for users. A/B testing, screen recordings and heat maps will help you optimize this process.

Live Chat

As we discussed during our pre-purchase customer experience strategies, including a live chat feature on your site can help customers feel better-informed and more willing to convert. Rather than solely assisting shoppers in finding the products to purchase, assist them through the actual purchase process.

Purchase and Fulfillment Options

Give your customers options to purchase your products the way that they want to. There are two key components to consider at the POP:

  1. Payment: Allowing customers to pay in different ways, such as debit/credit card, PayPal, gift card, or even cryptocurrency, improves the customer experience by offering convenience. This not only makes payment easier for shoppers, but it can also make them feel more at ease.

The Baymard Institute also found that 18 percent of consumers abandon checkout because they don’t trust the site with their credit card information. PayPal’s secure online payments, human-verification processes, and even something as simple as a lock icon next to the payment form can ease skeptics’ minds.

nike_secure_checkout_customer_experience
Nike has a lock icon in the field for shoppers’ credit card number to reinforce the fact that the payment information is secure and protected.

  1. Fulfillment: Much like payment options improve the customer experience at the POP, so do fulfillment options. As omnichannel customer behavior continues to evolve, fulfillment preferences change as well. Some may want orders shipped directly to home (remember to offer expedited shipping options), while others may want the option of in-store pick-up.

 

In-Person: Brick-and-Mortar Retail, Pop-Ups, and More

Whether you have permanent brick-and-mortar locations or you use pop-up shops to extend your online brand, the in-person customer experience is crucial. But it seems brands are under-delivering: Less than a third of shoppers go to stores because they enjoy the experience, while more than three-quarters avoid stores altogether, according to a report by Salesforce.  

Associates are an integral part of the in-person customer experience, and it’s a major differentiation from online shopping. And associate availability is critical or very important to three-quarters of consumers, according to the data from Salesforce — especially during a purchase.

Beyond equipping your staff with the know-how to facilitate an exceptional customer experience, you’ll want to make sure you’re staffing appropriately so associates are available when a customer is trying to buy. This means not only hiring the right people, but scheduling accordingly. If there are two dozen customers and two associates, even the best associates may have a hard time delivering great service. Retail analytics tools like Dor and ShopperTrak can help you understand foot traffic and staffing needs.

There are also little ways you can improve the in-person customer experience at the POP:

  • Payment options: Much like customers want options online, in-store payments should be flexible too. Beyond accepting various payment methods, consider things like self checkout and mobile pay. 
  • Checkout convenience: Stores like Sam’s Club and Costco sell direct-to-consumer wholesale goods, so products are often large and difficult to put on the conveyor belt. Every cashier has a scanning gun so customers don’t have to take the items out of their cart. 
  • Receipts: Options is the recurring theme, and giving customers the option of how they want their receipt is another way to improve the customer experience during the purchase. REI, for example, and many other retailers give customers the choice to have receipts emailed, printed, or both. Often times, these purchases are also linked to store loyalty accounts that allows store associates to look up past purchases even without the customer having to keep track of the receipt. 
  • Presentation: Many luxury retailers especially take care in how they place purchased items into shopping bags. Victoria’s Secret wraps items in tissue paper and places them in nice paper shopping bags, while Urban Outfitters has reusable bags.

    Quick tip: Offer complimentary gift-wrapping services and consider incorporating your brand or logo into the wrapping paper pattern.

 

Omnichannel: Bringing It All Together

Some customer experience tactics are applicable to online and offline channels, but it mostly boils down to one key principle: personalization. First, let’s take a look at some stats from Salesforce:

  • 64 percent of consumers want personalized offers from retail brands;
  • 52 percent of consumers will switch brands if you don’t make an effort to personalize communications to them; and
  • 63 percent of Millennial consumers and 58 percent of GenX consumers are willing to share data with companies in exchange for personalized offers and discounts

 

Implementing personalization can enhance the customer experience at the POP in a number of ways. It makes the purchase process more seamless, being that you can remember their preferences (such as shipping address, contact info, or payment information). It also enforces the relationship that you’re building with customers.

 

Learn about how customer experience is powering the fastest-growing brands in retail >

Ellie Kulick

Ellie is an experienced Marketing Communications and Content Specialist based out of San Francisco, CA. Passionate about technology and health, she is constantly looking for new challenges in effective communication and creative content development to help businesses grow and engage with current and prospective customers.

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