Marketing tactics for online retailers have been evolving at a rapid pace since the birth of e-commerce. With increased accessibility to the Internet, faster Internet connection speeds, and improved functionality of online retailer websites, the Internet has become a staple of the multi-channel marketing strategy. Online retailers are constantly looking for ways to improve customer retention and outdo their competition.
A lot of studies and research have been held, to identify the core aspects of delivering a customer focused online shopping experience. Most of these studies have highlighted that the main drivers of a positive customer experience are safety, ease-of-use, and responsiveness. These are indispensable strategies to ensure a satisfied digital customer base for any company.
Safety: Digitally created worlds are changing the face of e-commerce and extending the use of Internet technologies to create a fascinating experience for customers. While lucrative, the virtual world is grappled with the challenges of identity theft, fraud, and virtual stalking. Businesses will not be able to fully leverage the Virtual World unless they address these security and privacy concerns.
The core principles of information security, therefore, come to play here which are essentially confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Confidentiality ensures that access to information is only provided to those with proper authorization. Integrity ensures that the data exchanged back and forth with the customer and website is accurate. Availability is the right to timely and uninterrupted access to information. Adherence to these three principles is essential for any e-commerce website, in order to win the trust of its customers.
The ubiquity: The last decade has witnessed the expansion of global adoption and seamless availability of the Internet with a multitude of its ubiquitous services. In tandem has emerged a new mobile era driven by miniaturization and personalization of communication devices. These developments have offered the user a host of new gadgets which he prefers to use in different environments. In such a scenario it is essential for an e-commerce application to run on a multitude of varied devices and over heterogeneous communication infrastructures where a user can access it from anywhere, anyplace and anytime as per his convenience.
Personalization: One distinct advantage of online shopping is the ability to store data and history of a customer’s choices and preferences and then use this data to personalize his entire visit. E-personalization efforts allow for quick and economical ways of meeting the customer’s needs in a very efficient and effective manner with the ultimate goals of ensuring customer satisfaction and repeat visits.
A few ways of personalizing are to use collaborative filtering that utilizes information from different sites to create a customized e-commerce experience. Personalized web pages too can be created by effectively studying and applying using user profiling. Personalization can be done with appropriate data mining and analysis tools that can help forecast customer’s needs and purchasing trends. Location based services can be deployed to assist a customer as per his present location.
Other methods of enhancing personalization are with specific customization tactics, such as personalized recommendations, sale previews, and exclusive offers. One important thing, however, is to ensure that personalization should not go overboard and should not intrude on a customer’s privacy.
Intuitive Search: Search is one of the most defining elements of user experience. Apart from engaging an intelligent search engine, it is critical for e-commerce sites to decide how to present the search results. For a good user experience, it is absolutely essential to assist the customer, discover and explore his need with an intuitive search. A search needs to guide a user to his “find” rather than making his life miserable in searching the find. It also matters as to how exceptions are handled. Example instead of a plain “No results found page” it is more useful to present related information which may interest the customer and help him explore other possibilities.
It is also advisable to create a robust partial match strategy and multiple content strategies. Another effective way is to use search-site analytics that records users needs and designs the search interface by taking cues from it.
UI Design: Good UI enhances user engagement, and user engagement is very critical for any e-commerce application. UI is the first layer through which a user interacts with and makes a decision to stay or move on. UI design is, therefore, a critical element of the e-commerce application and has to be designed by blending technology with art and creativity that ensures engaging user experience. While creating UIs, you also need to weed out things that tend to create friction in usage and diminish or break the engagement.
Responsiveness: An application’s responsiveness is decided on how well it handles cumbersome processing, exceptions, and heavy data traffic. In e-commerce applications, performance issues can cause the website to stall, abort or take an unusually long time to complete. Handling of such tasks and the system’s ability to recover from such difficult situations has a big impact on customer experience. Every minute lost can lose a customer. One effective way is to keep a user updated on what is happening with his transaction, this reduces his frustration as he is aware of what is happening, he also knows the amount of time in which he needs to visit the browser back while toggling among a host of activities.
Well above are a few essentials that we @CloudIO believe, go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction, not just for an e-commerce application but any application that is designed. Over the years we have, fine-tuned, and deployed these principles creatively in our application and seen astounding results. Some of our solutions have won praise and appreciation from different quarters of the industry for the sheer simplicity of design and ease of use it offers.