There’s a simple reason why Amazon became the go-to place for online shopping: customer experience. Shopping on Amazon is familiar, convenient, and comes with a dose of security that buyers seek out when purchasing online.
But the great thing is, you can easily match Amazon in customer experience.
You’ll just need to invest a bit more effort. And, as every company has its strengths, running an e-commerce website is an excellent opportunity to show yours off.
Whether you’re a small, family-owned, business or run a store that fulfills thousands of orders per day, there are simple yet effective ways to improve customer experience (and beat Amazon in the process).
Here are a few tips you can start implementing right away.
If you look at Amazon’s website, you’ll quickly realize that it hasn’t changed in years. Although that does offer some benefits like customer familiarity, it comes with drawbacks as well.
So, when looking to maximize customer experience, why not start with your website’s UX?
There are several things you can do, varying from simple and cheap to slightly more complicated. But, any of these actions have the potential of giving you an advantage over the world’s most popular shopping platform.
1. Mobile Optimization
According to Business Insider, mobile commerce made up a quarter of all online purchases in 2019. And these numbers are likely to grow. In the US, for example, mobile shopping is expected to make up half of the total online sales in 2020. This number might go even higher, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, it’s only natural that you should invest in mobile optimization for your e-commerce website. Especially if you look at how poorly Amazon is doing in this regard. Its product pages are too busy, the CTA buttons don’t necessarily stand out, and the product descriptions are limited to bullet points.
2. Streamline the Shopping Process
A well-designed and customer-oriented website can improve UX and ultimately increase your conversions. When you’re in charge of how your product and collection pages look, you can take the right steps to make the shopping process as streamlined as possible.
You can use your insight to direct customers towards the products they would be most likely to purchase. A great example of this is the Amerisleep website, which guides visitors towards “the perfect mattress” based on their sleeping position.
Alternatively, you can take a page out of ASOS’s book and work on functionality. The retailer’s checkout process is one of the most streamlined in the business, making it equally simple for new and returning customers to place their orders. Additionally, props go to their designer for making the cart easily accessible from every page of the website, allowing users to see their total and finish shopping at any given moment.
3. Minimize Loading Speeds
According to Google, page load time directly influences bounce rates. With a loading time of 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of a bounce is 32%. Should the amount of time go above 10 seconds, however, bounce rates can increase 123%. This information is easy to understand: website visitors want fast websites.
So how do you keep page loading times to a minimum?
Well, firstly, you should use leaner images. You’ll also want to optimize all media on your site, including fonts and structure, and avoid third-party files and redirect links.
You’ll find that minimalistic web design does quite well when it comes to page loading speeds. This design does an amazing job when it comes to directing your visitors’ attention exactly where you want.
A great example of a clean and effective website comes from Beardbrand, whose product pages are no-frills and to the point. They all include plenty of information, great product shots, instructions, and return info.
Once you’ve optimized your website in a way that will serve customers best, it’s time to move on to the other aspects of the customer experience.
Keep in mind that Amazon has an excellent system in this regard, but your advantage is going to be a more personal touch. So don’t be afraid to go back to your mission statement and values, and see how you can bring your service closer to what you set out to do.
1. Improve Shipping and Packaging
According to estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, 82% of US households have an Amazon Prime subscription. This means that they have access to free two-day and same-day shipping, release date delivery, replenishment service, and shopping with Alexa. So, if you want to beat Amazon in customer experience, you need to offer something that will top all of these benefits.
A big part of this will be your shipping procedure. Send packages out more quickly, offer free shipping, and provide tracking info so that customers have more information about when they can expect a package.
Furthermore, don’t forget about the fact that Amazon, though ubiquitous, does not offer delivery to all countries. This could give you a significant edge in less developed markets.
Another aspect to invest in is packaging, as it makes for a significant part of customer satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to find brands that have great packaging for inspiration, and keep in mind that people love a great unboxing experience. Simple things like adding stickers, personal notes, or just taking the time to protect the products properly go a long way.
2. Provide Added Value
Customer experience management doesn’t end once your products are delivered. What you want is to create an impression that will last. And creating content could help you do just that.
A blog section on your website, YouTube channel, or properly managed social media accounts are all excellent places to continue giving to customers. Whether you opt to compose how-to guides, write informative articles, or share entertaining content, your target audience is going to appreciate the effort. And these will also ensure that your SEO and brand awareness remain stable at all times.
3. Add a Personal Touch
Another thing Amazon can’t do, but you can, is adopt a more personal approach to ecommerce.
Although this is relatively easy to do, many businesses underestimate the importance of promoting trust. Take the time to show your web visitors that your company is a group of real people working their hardest to provide a great experience.
The easiest thing to do is add a customer support chat app to your website. A customer service representative can assist visitors, capture more leads and turn those leads into sales. Most designs aren’t intrusive, and can even be partially automated so that your team can use their time efficiently.
Other things you can do include special birthday offers, follow-up emails, and, of course, remembering to answer your customer service phone number.
Developing Brand Loyalty
Finally, running your own ecommerce website offers you an advantage over selling on Amazon in one huge way. You get to invest in brand loyalty and customer retention without having to jump over numerous hurdles.This can have a hugely positive impact on your business, considering that customer retention is five times less expensive than acquisition. Furthermore, it adds to customer lifetime value, and the right techniques might even help you bring back dormant customers.
Great practices include:
- Sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter
- Developing a loyalty program
- Special offers and exclusive benefits to returning customers
- Asking for feedback
- Making improvements based on customer comments
You also need to use reviews to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to show off great feedback, as the company Pela did in the example below.
But, don’t be afraid of negative feedback either.
Ignoring customer discontent can lead to more negativity, so find a way to address any problem quickly and efficiently. You need to respond within 24-48 hours, do your best to remedy a problem, and see every negative review as an opportunity to improve your service in the future. This way, you minimize the damage and show future buyers that you care about their experience.
Remember to Stay Unique
Although Amazon is excellent at what they do, keep in mind that you can offer more when it comes to customer experience.
Don’t be afraid of remedying your shortcomings. Look for ways to go above and beyond (even if they’re small and cheap). Remember that your customers always come first.
And, of course, know that a little bit of personalization goes a long way.
About the Author – Thomas Pruchinski is an ecommerce marketing consultant. From paid ads to organic rankings to writing copy that converts, he helps brands grow on and off Amazon.