Assessing your Ecommerce Customer Service

Returning customers provide the best ROI for ecommerce companies. While there are lots of things you can do to retain customers, it’s important to remember the primary factor that influences whether a customer will continue to order from you: do you provide a good customer experience? To answer this question and make any necessary improvements, you have multiple options for assessing customer experience.
    
One excellent method is to become your own customer. Contact your company for help with placing an order. Buy something from yourself and evaluate your checkout process. After the order arrives, call customer service to troubleshoot some issues. Go through your returns process. Evaluate what you see from this perspective and ask yourself which areas have the highest need for change.

You can also assess your customer experience by looking at collected feedback. To start, you can analyze the latest product return codes to look for common themes (or, you can decide to implement new codes to get more granular data). If your customer service department uses call monitoring and/or complaint logging/reporting, that’s also an excellent way to find areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Finally, you can always ask your customers for constructive feedback with survey tools.

Don't forget: your competition's offerings and customer expectations are always evolving. Since it's a major competitive differentiator, it's critical to periodically assess your customer experience and make improvements where necessary.

Ecommerce & Social Media Synergy

Social media is one of the most powerful tools for growing your ecommerce business. But it's not enough to just have an updated Facebook or Instagram page for your site. To be truly effective, your ecommerce site and your social media presence need to work together. By integrating social media features on your ecommerce site, and ecommerce features on your social media pages, you'll be able to grow the audiences faster than you would by treating them as separate. In this post, we'll look at some social media and ecommerce integration points and how they can enhance each other.
    

Social Sharing Plugins

This is a standard tactic you are likely already using, but it's a great example of social media/ecommerce integration. If you don't have them already, add social sharing buttons (like the ones at the top of this blog post) to your product pages and content such as newsletter articles, marketing emails, blog posts, etc.

Social Login

Allowing users to log in to their ecommerce account using their social media credentials makes the registration and checkout process much easier. Social login also allows you to capture data about your website subscribers that you can use to customize your product recommendations and marketing emails to your customers’ interests and preferences.

Sale Funnels

Many social media sites have ways to funnel users directly to your ecommerce, like Facebook's "Shop Now" buttons and Pinterest's "Buyable Pins." If you use these features, don't forget to track their performance in addition to your other sales statistics.

Customer Service

Because it provides a convenience to most consumers, offering customer support through social media is a great competitive differentiator. It's also an excellent opportunity to engage with customers - even the ones who don't need support. By promptly responding to customer issues on social media, you're demonstrating your commitment to customer service to all your followers (not just the ones who need assistance).  

Tips for B2B Ecommerce

When comparing the shopping experiences between the two, it's common to see B2B and B2C companies take very different approaches to ecommerce. On one hand, larger audiences and intense competition have driven B2C ecommerce to grow and evolve rapidly. Meanwhile, B2B companies have focused on industry networking and strengthening relationships with returning customers – often at the cost of allowing their ecommerce capabilities to stagnate.

Slowly but surely, this is changing as more B2B companies are refreshing the design and functionality of their ecommerce sites to mimic some of the strategies for growth and customer retention employed by B2C ecommerce sites. In a way, a business is a group of consumers working together to find a product or service to meet a common need – so it makes sense to provide a shopping experience for businesses that’s similar to one for individuals.

In this post, we’ll point out key areas B2B companies should focus on to improve their ecommerce performance.

User Experience    

Customers expect a quality experience when they’re shopping online – whether for themselves or on their company’s behalf. To give your B2B customers a better user experience, take a hint from what B2C sites do by bolstering your site’s content and making it easy to find. Detailed and well-written content gives users the confidence to take the next step and contact you, or place an order. Additionally, a well-organized site structure helps customers find that information in as few clicks as possible.

Behavior Data & Analytics

B2C sites are experts at analyzing user data to accurately target customers for cross-sells and up-sells. Tracking user behaviors by way of site analytics can provide valuable insights you can leverage to better cater to your customers.  

Account Info

Customer accounts on B2B sites tend to be filled with comprehensive information. But, they aren’t always fully accessible for the customer. Allowing users to view order histories, check account data, and see the status of orders in progress can help users customize their B2B shopping experience while reducing common customer service inquiries.

Ideas for Reinvigorating your Product Images

In ecommerce, images are an important part of the design for your product pages. The purpose of product images is to help customers get a strong grasp of what it is they’re actually buying. While the product description is also important for building this consumer confidence, images can be more impactful, since they are the closest thing to "experiencing" the product first-hand. To ensure the images for your product pages are effectively driving purchases, follow these best practices for ecommerce images.
    

Images should be properly sized

Image files should be as large as possible to show necessary details, but they also need to accommodate the design of the product page. Use modal windows (aka, lightboxes) to enlarge thumbnails and provide manipulation features (e.g. zoom, rotation, etc.).

Show as many variables as possible

Ideally, images answer all of a customer's potential questions about the product's size and appearance. Make sure that your product pages utilize a gallery of images to show customers as many models, colors, angles, and other variables as possible.

Use many types of images

Give your users something more than the standard manufacturer-provided photos – which tend to convey only the most basic information about a product. Add images of the product in use, before assembly, and on display to give customers more information. Additionally, you can allow previous customers to upload photos they have taken of the product.

9 Tips to Lower Cart Abandonment Rates

Cart abandonment is one of the most common ways ecommerce sites lose sales. It’s a ubiquitous problem that happens to even the best sites. But fortunately, there are many features and preventative measures you can implement to improve sales and the customers’ experience.

Be clear on the final cost

Many ecommerce sites notice a huge bounce rate once a customer begins the checkout process and sees the final order total - especially if it has increased since the checkout process started. Since increases are usually due to shipping costs, include an estimated shipping fee as early as possible in the checkout process. Or, eliminate shipping charges altogether.

Don't force shoppers to create an account

Forcing a new customer to create an account with your website before completing a purchase has its pros and cons. While account creation helps you track user behavior and preferences, the process can be perceived as an inconvenience - plus, it adds another layer to what should be the simplest part of your website. In addition to adding "guest" or "express" features to your checkout process, try allowing shoppers to easily create an account via their social media login to ensure that your account base continues to grow.
    

Emphasize Security

In this day and age, customers want assurance that their financial data is safe. Highlight the security features of your site so customers can confidently complete a transaction.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Alternative payment options like Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, PayPal, etc. help simplify the checkout process, come with built-in security features, and cater to shopper preferences.

Accommodate mobile users

Customers are using mobile devices more than ever before. If your checkout process is confusing or cumbersome on mobile devices, then your cart abandonment rate will likely increase. A responsive design that works on all screen sizes can solve this issue.

Highlight customers support options

Every action in the checkout should be easy to find – especially support options like FAQs, live chat, and other customer service features. Make sure they are clearly available during each stage of checkout.

Auto-apply Coupons

Shoppers become understandably frustrated when they get deep into the checkout process only to find that their discount code doesn’t apply to their order. If your store is having a sale or offering a particular discount, automatically apply the coupon code at checkout, or display coupon codes in a site-wide banner for customers.

Include options to modify orders

Make sure customers can change the quantity, color, size, and other attributes of the items in their order without having to leave the checkout.

Maintain site stability and speed

If your checkout process crashes or loads too slowly, it’s going to cost you sales. Make sure to test it thoroughly and account for potential user actions, like using the browser’s back button.