How to Apply a “Customer First” Mentality to Your E-Commerce Business
Mobile happened. Eventually the term “mobile first” came to be by changing the way websites are designed and applications are created. In fact, the mobile strategy actually changed the way businesses reach out.
Yet, we missed something along the way. Apart from the fact that we marketers love using phrases and buzzwords like Mobile First, there was something else begging for immediate attention.
That something (someone, rather) has always been: the customer.
Now mobile-first, or anything-else-first, always makes way for “customer first.” SEO, design, functionality, and marketing, last time we checked, all got down on their knees for the customer (and the omnipotent Google also intends to keep it that way). The rise of responsive design along with increasing adaptation to UX/UI principles is now an inseparable part of design.
Businesses now have a need to “go selfless” – to think about the customer and not so much about revenue and profits. As Emma Jackson puts it on Small Business Trends, this is an emerging culture at leading brands like Google, GE, and others.
The customer lifecycle is used to equate the total volume of transactions over a period of patronage with respect to a customer. Now, that stands corrected. It’s about the “customer experience lifecycle.”
How do you get this experience to your customer? How do you make your e-commerce store more user-friendly and pro-customer oriented? Here are a few tips:
Forget “Mobile-First,” go “Whatever Touch-Point First”
In an eMarketer interview, Johnna Marcus, Director of Mobile & Digital Store Marketing at Sephora, declared this:
“Sometimes we get hung up on mobile-first meaning we have to do something for mobile before we do it anywhere else, and that’s important, but it’s more about making mobile very strong and comprehensive. So it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to market first with mobile, but that the customer should be able to come and go from whichever touch-point she wants and get the information or get the experience.”
Going mobile is mandatory. It’s not even worth asserting. But it’s also obvious that emphasis should move to all those touch points that customers have access to social media networks, in-store aisles, online shopping experience overall, emails (including transactional emails), SMS, phone calls, in-person interactions, etc. You just have to be everywhere your customer is likely to be.
Allow your customers to pay in any way they find comfortable. Enable mobile commerce for instant checkout through any device. For online stores with an offline presence, use web-based, available-anywhere transaction points. An example is Vend HQ’s responsive POS system that works on iPads, Macs, or Windows PCs and connects barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, and the like.
Reduce Friction (Your Store Might Still Have Some)
Friction has an ugly way of creeping in, without you knowing it. Your e-commerce store – while you might not be aware of it – still has some things that slow it down.
Give what your customers really want (you’ll know what they want if you listen to them) as Emily Heyward said on Fast Company.
Additionally, do the heavy lifting for them.
A few checkpoints relevant to your e-commerce store:
- When they land on your home page, do they know what to expect from you in less than 2 seconds (assuming your site loads in the preferred 1.5 seconds)?
- After they seemingly know what to expect, do they know what to do next?
- How many elements on your landing pages have STOP slapped all over them? Read Oli Gardner’s critiques on landing pages regularly to see where you’d possibly go wrong.
- Shopping cart abandonment is an online retailer’s nightmare. The average documented shopping cart abandonment rate is about 67.91% according to Baymard. Shopping cart abandonment is partly attributed to customers’ indecisiveness. The other part could be friction. How many clicks does it take for the customer to complete the transaction? Even checkout form descriptions could cost you millions. Are you doing it right?
Emails are Precious
Jason Corrigan reported on the Search Engine Journal that emails have an ROI of a whopping 4300%. Everything you do with your email to run your online store affects profitability.
To start with, how compelling are your subject lines? Jay Baer of Convince and Convert revealed that at least 35% of consumers open emails based on subject lines alone, and over 44% of them actually made a purchase following a promotional email.
Again, how considerate are you, really? When a demo could be made available online in the form of a video, why should a customer actually spend time and fill up forms just to see how a solution works? Take this email from Vocus.com:
Clicking on that button leads you to this page:
Requesting all this information for a demo is an unnecessary step since this demo could be shown on the site in video format. If you argue that this is a great way for signing up new subscribers, remember that you already need to be subscribed to Vocus to receive this email in the first place.
Do you see how easily a few steps in a customer purchase flow can go redundant?
The best thing to happen to email marketing is the advent of triggered emails. You can now send out automated emails when a user completes a certain action on your site or even on your social networks. Each time a fan clicks a relevant link on your social networks, send them an auto-responder email that helps them take the next step toward a purchase.
Emailing tools now include features such as GetResponse’s auto-responder, which offer you the flexibility of sending emails on triggers that make sense to your brand, regulating the times these emails are sent and defining exactly what you want to say in each of them.
Test every design element, color, button, and microcopy on your e-commerce site. Don’t take anything for granted. An e-commerce site can lose customers at any of a multitude of points.
If you thought that these fault lines are more of an exception than the norm, know that most e-commerce sites don’t visually reinforce credit card fields, have out-of-context mobile checkout forms, and aren’t fully optimized for touch-sensitive keyboards.
Going “customer first” might sound like a new marketing buzzword, but there’s work behind it. Not following this will result in your online store bleeding cash.
What are you going to do about this? How ready are you to go customer first?