The E-Commerce Experience Wish List
E-commerce is becoming the default way to shop, and there’s no going back. According to the February 2021 Adobe Digital Economy Index, 2020’s e-commerce growth roughly equaled previous estimates for the next three years combined. And all indications are that this realignment will last. Year-over-year (YoY) retail e-commerce growth for January-February 2021 was 34 percent.
Now that more consumers are shopping online—and doing it more often—they’re becoming commerce connoisseurs. They expect an exceptional digital experience across all devices and all channels, and they’re more willing to switch brands, since more choices are just a click away. In the past year, 40 percent of consumers tried new brands or made purchases with new retailers. And up to 20 percent switched brands due to relevant messages or promos in their preferred channel.
For retailers, this highly competitive digital environment can be an opportunity, especially for those willing to invest in their customer experience. 84 percent of consumers go out of their way to spend more money with brands that deliver a great experience.3 And, according to research from Adobe and Econsultancy, businesses that are customer experience leaders were three times more likely than mainstream organizations to have “significantly outpaced” their sectors during 2020.
This article gives a a pre-read on what today’s consumers really want in an online shopping experience, the eBook provided as a free download offers actionable strategies for giving it to them.
Transform mobile shopping
We all thought that people would shop less on mobile devices and more on their laptops and desktops while they spent more time working at home. We were all wrong. Mobile shopping is growing faster than ever. Smartphones are on track to contribute more than 50 percent of online spend by September 2022. And the use of mobile payments is set to grow by 27 percent through 2025.
Although mobile shopping is accelerating, many retailers continue to report high levels of mobile traffic combined with lower conversion rates. We believe this happens because mobile purchases are often encumbered by complicated, multi-step forms and a checkout process designed for desktop users. This less-than-ideal buying experience leads consumers to window-shop on their mobile devices, but make actual purchases elsewhere. For retailers, improving the mobile experience is one of the fastest paths to accelerating growth.
Provide more flexible payment options
Many consumers experienced financial stress during 2020—and a growing number of e-commerce providers began offering flexible “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) payment options. The net result is that BNPL has become wildly popular. The first two months of 2021 have already seen 215 percent YoY growth in usage.
When done correctly, BNPL becomes a seamlessly integrated part of the checkout experience. Moreover, when shoppers use it, they’re likely to spend more. Orders placed using BNPL are 18 percent larger than orders placed with other payment methods. For retailers, adding flexible payment methods such as BNPL can increase average order value (AOV).
Keep curbside pickup and “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS).
While curbside pickup initially became popular during 2020, it’s clear that customers appreciate the added convenience and want it to continue. As of August 2020, 43.7 percent of the 245 retailers with stores ranked in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 offered curbside pickup, a sharp increase from 6.9 percent at the end of 2019.7 And Adobe research suggests that 30 percent of online consumers prefer BOPIS or curbside over delivery.
Some of this change is due to consumers who work at home and can run short errands during the day. In 2021, this change in behavior resulted in consumers spending an extra $1.2 billion during work hours. However, since working from home appears to be a lasting trend, retailers should be prepared to keep curbside pickup and other forms of BOPIS easily available—and even make it better.
Deliver a personalized customer experience
Today’s consumers are easily frustrated by a one-size-fits-all customer experience. More than 70 percent say that one of their biggest frustrations is repeating themselves multiple times when interacting with brands.3 And lack of personalization makes 64 percent of consumers “feel like a ticket number” when they ask for help.
To please today’s consumers, retailers must infuse all aspects of their experience—from email outreach to digital commerce to in-store shopping—with an intelligent, personal touch. This can include personalized content, product recommendations, and special offers. Ideally, all interactions with every customer should be informed by their history with your brand and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Bring augmented reality to virtual shopping
Even before the pandemic, consumers were intrigued by mobile augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Already, more than one-quarter of US adults have used these technologies—and of those who have, nearly half use them at least weekly.
Since the pandemic, AR and VR have become a fixture in online retail. A growing number of housewares, home improvement, and health and beauty retailers are inviting customers to try out their products virtually. In fact, consumers are coming to expect AR experiences like virtual makeup counters, fitting rooms, and show rooms—and starting to judge brands that don’t provide them.
AR experiences are also evolving quickly. Virtual pop-up stores, virtual fitting rooms that “bring” you clothes based on your preferences, and social shopping experiences in virtual environments are just a few of the innovations that some retailers already deliver.
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