We live and work in an era of all-time high consumer expectations, where simply providing a great product is no longer enough to win over your target audience. Businesses must deliver all-around exceptional customer experiences (CX). This means we must go beyond a web store’s user experience (UX), its overall level of usability and quality of navigation, and cover every touchpoint a customer encounters on their conversion journey, from brand discovery to post-purchase follow-up.
As a competitive ecommerce provider, you need to craft a digital journey that grants meaningful and memorable CX. How to figure it out? We’ve interviewed over 100 ecommerce executives from our customer base and researched even more cases to uncover the CX trends that drive today’s customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
To guide you in the darkness of competition, let’s explore seven key CX trends shaping the ecommerce industry in 2023.
Predictive analytics to turn data into insights
Predictive analytics is a modern-day crystal ball for businesses. But instead of psychic powers, it relies on data analysts who use customer data to derive valuable insights into the past and future of consumer behavior.
Many ecommerce providers collect vast amounts of customer data over the years but don’t always dive into it deep enough to analyze shopping behavior and emerging trends. A study sponsored by Google Cloud reveals that 22.4% of manufacturers struggle to improve customer experience due to siloed and inaccessible customer data.
On the flip side, according to our COO at Elogic, Igor Iakovlev, “Business analytics may actually 50x your revenue if you use it right”.
The solution lies in advanced analytics tools and customer data platforms. Technologies like Microsoft BI, Tableau tools, Qilk, etc. enable businesses to:
- Collect extensive data to draw conclusions about customer behavior patterns.
- Enhance business decisions regarding budget allocation, marketing efforts, and customer targeting, etc
- Base customer personalization on relevant insights and stand-out pain points, achieving a superior CX.
But let’s start from the top.
It all starts with simple descriptive analytics, where you collect a rich dataset to put at the core of a CX strategy. This dataset describes basic customer segment aspects, like geographical locations and preferences. This information helps you tailor business strategies to specific TA needs.
But forward-minded businesses take it further by implementing prescriptive or predictive analytics, which leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Predictive analytics, in particular, encompasses a blend of techniques to forecast market demands, customer behavior, and more.
One major benefit of predictive analytics is personalization. Customers increasingly expect brands to understand their needs and deliver tailored recommendations. About 73% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs from the get-go (more on that below). Predictive analytics can fulfill these expectations, raising the bar for future CX.
Smart data analytics techniques have been pushing ecommerce giants from Amazon and Walmart to Spotify and Netflix for years now. As for a more recent case from a more unusual niche, global fashion brand Farfetch went and adopted Talkdesk’s advanced solutions, including its CX Cloud, Studio, and Agent Assist. This combination and the brand’s total rehaul of customer experience and support brought on a 25% customer satisfaction boost, 50% support resolution time decrease, and 40% overall cost-efficiency growth.
Customer service & chatbots advance
CX goes beyond the user interface, covering all aspects influencing customer satisfaction. And your customer service is what shapes (or eliminates) that satisfaction in the first place. CX is all “about the details that make loyal customers,” our CEO Paul Okhrem says.
Surprisingly, about 62% of consumers prefer using customer service chatbots rather than waiting for human agents to respond. Many businesses are embracing AI-powered chatbots to address common customer queries, relieving the burden on human customer support teams.
The results of adopting chatbot technology are remarkable, with seven out of ten consumers stating how they form a better bond with a brand they can contact at any time (and 65% of consumers preferring to use chat for that). While this trend is more pronounced among Gen Z buyers, it’s also significant for other generations.
A Zendesk study confirms that 75% of customers are willing to shop more with companies that provide the CX they expect. This is why integrating chatbots into your CX strategy can be a valuable approach to cater to younger audiences and provide exceptional service.
One of the first brands to realize the potential of CX automation, H&M, built a unique chatbot called Ada. It was designed to engage with customers and help them find fashion products based on individual preferences through data analysis and natural language processing (NLP). Ada eventually evolved into a Kik bot that now offers personalized showrooms, styling recommendations, and more, granting a 200% engagement boost and 70% more revenue.
Need a chatbot to boost your storefront’s efficiency? Turn to seasoned specialists at Elogic for consulting services that cover your ecommerce inside-out.
Personalizing CX drives differentiation in retail
Salesforce says that 73% of consumers prefer to buy from companies that understand their unique needs and expectations. This desire for personalization is not hindered by recent changes, such as the demise of cookies and tightening data privacy policies. In fact, consumers are willing to share personal information in exchange for perks and discounts offered by retailers.
Feedback on past purchases, ideal price ranges, and product categories of interest are examples of data consumers are comfortable sharing. This data is invaluable for retailers looking to tailor their product offerings to each customer. Personalization also builds customer loyalty and trust in the long run.
How can you begin your service personalization journey? The first step is to collect as much customer data as possible and break down data silos, consolidating it into a single source of truth.
Many retailers are investing in Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) that pull information from multiple systems, process, and aggregate it into a unified customer profile. This profile contains information about customer interactions, such as opened emails, website clicks, and past purchases.
A CDP captures data from all sources, both online and offline, and ties it with cross-device identification. This unified view of the customer allows retailers to personalize their CX at scale, especially when implementing omnichannel commerce strategies.
The benefits of personalization extend to revenue growth, increased customer loyalty, and improved CX instances. The report by Ecommerce Site Search Trends points out the following:
- Revenue increase. Customers who receive personalized recommendations tend to order 39% more items on average.
- Higher purchase frequency. Customers who join a loyalty program and redeem rewards are 68% more likely to make a second purchase.
- Better brand visibility. Retailers that build communities around their businesses can improve products with the help of direct feedback and benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.
- Increased customer lifetime value (CLTV). Each time a customer returns for another purchase, their CLTV increases, offsetting rising customer acquisition costs.
Talking about taking things further in terms of CX personalization, Amazon opened its first-ever physical store just about a year ago. But not just any store – Amazon Style is an innovative, tech-enabled take on the clothes shopping experience. Customers can pick outfits to try on using a digital catalog, and the required clothes appear in a “magic booth” automatically.
Lightning-fast website load speed never goes out of style
Customers expect immediate attention and fast service across the board. This expectation extends not only to customer service, where rapid response time is essential, but also to website performance.
On average, users expect a website to load in less than 3 seconds. Every additional second required for loading directly impacts conversion rates, meaning users are less likely to make a purchase or submit an inquiry.
According to Portent, a website that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate five times higher than a site that takes 10 seconds to load. The highest ecommerce conversion rates are typically recorded between 1 and 2 seconds of loading time.
Website performance is crucial because it directly affects your customers’ perceptions of your brand. Slow-loading product pages or a clunky checkout process can deter potential buyers and lead them to choose competitors who offer a more seamless experience.
Walmart felt the effect poor loading time had on a conversion rate: 1-2 seconds of extra loading time costs 2%+ of their usual conversion rate. And vice versa, one measly second of extra speed results in up to 2% more conversions. An advantage that Walmart certainly took up, seeing how it remains among the leading giants of ecommerce at the moment.
Omnichannel commerce is a must-have to meet your customers where they are
Today’s customers expect to engage with your brand through various channels, not just your ecommerce website. This multi-channel interaction may stretch over phone calls, social media, email, mobile apps, and more. To meet these diverse customer needs, many brands are transitioning to an omnichannel customer experience.
Almost 75% of shoppers use multiple channels to compare prices, search for discounts, or even shop online while in physical stores. This trend is even more pronounced in the B2B sector, where smooth interactions can help make difficult purchasing decisions. Another striking statistic is that omnichannel customers spend at least 13% more money in-store than single or multi-channel customers.
It’s important to distinguish between simple multichannel sales and the organization of a true omnichannel experience.
- Selling products/services via multiple channels is a regular multichannel commerce approach, where separate customer touchpoints (e.g., an in-app and a website checkout pages) are serviced independently;
- An omnichannel approach integrates all sales and marketing channels and touchpoints to achieve a unified customer experience (e.g., a product recommendation in a mobile checkout promotes items from the customer’s desktop browsing history and vice versa).
An effective omnichannel experience depends on data and customer journey mapping. Providing a unified and seamless CX requires a deep understanding of expectations and pain points at every stage of each unique customer journey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made omnichannel a necessity for business survival. Many consumers now seek omnichannel features, such as online ordering for in-store pickup, and they plan to continue using these services. Other omnichannel trends identified among our respondents include:
- In-store integration. Customers still appreciate in-store experiences, even just for picking up orders. Offering opportunities for in-store engagement can significantly reduce return rates and boost purchase rates.
- Social selling. Social media platforms offer opportunities to connect with your target audience, particularly younger consumers. Integrating ecommerce capabilities within social media apps enables customers to make purchases without leaving their social networking profiles.
- VR/AR shopping. Virtual and augmented reality technologies allow customers to visualize products right at their homes or in a digital environment before making a purchase. This is particularly valuable for fashion and home decor brands.
- Mobile apps. Mobile apps offer a range of features that enhance in-store experiences, such as notifications, loyalty rewards, inventory checks, and coupon redemption.
Target came up with a forward-minded integration idea, partnering up with Pinterest and adding the Pinterest Lens feature to its dedicated application. Customers received a great tool for advanced product search where they can simply scan a product via a smartphone camera and learn all about it. Target’s omnichannel strategy evolved also to bring us handy in-store pick-ups and same-day service apps like Shipt and Drive Up, all of which brought Target a firm 10% increase in revenue (and growing).
Loyalty programs & subscription services
The Pareto principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule, applies to customer experience, too: 20% of loyal customers often drive 80% of a business’s revenue. Incentivizing high-value customers and cultivating long-term relationships with new ones can be a winning strategy for enhancing your CX. Subscription models and loyalty programs can be used to achieve this much-desired customer consistency.
Traditional loyalty programs are free to enroll but oblige customers to make purchases over time to earn rewards, such as points.
However, a disruptive trend in CX is the rise of premium loyalty programs, which provide immediate benefits in exchange for a membership fee. Amazon Prime is a notable example of such a program. A survey conducted in 2022 found that 78% of consumers are willing to pay for a premium loyalty program, particularly if it offers convenience, savings, and valuable rewards.
Consumers are willing to invest in loyalty programs, but the benefits must be compelling enough to attract their interest. Brands that succeed in offering valuable loyalty programs get benefits such as:
- Boosted average order value (AOV). Customers who redeem loyalty rewards tend to order 39% more items on average.
- Higher purchase frequency. Customers who join a loyalty program and redeem rewards are 68% more likely to make a second purchase.
- Improved brand visibility. Retailers who build a community around their business can enhance their products with direct feedback and benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.
- Increased customer lifetime value (CLTV). Each time a customer returns for another purchase, CLTV grows, offsetting rising customer acquisition costs.
Sephora’s Beauty Insider is regarded as one of the top efficient loyalty programs out there. All due to the brand’s exclusive service approach and original take on the program itself. The Beauty Insider has different premium tiers that encourage customers to grow into VIP status. This opportunity, combined with a handy loyalty app, brought Sephora over 35 million loyal customers, who generated 80% of the brand’s revenue!
Self-service takes over B2B decision-makers
Self-service is on the rise, and B2B decision-makers are embracing it. Customers used to prefer personal service via dedicated sales agents. But now, 70% to 80% of B2B buyers are willing to complete purchases through end-to-end digital self-service processes. This shift is due to the changing demographic of B2B decision-makers, who increasingly belong to digital-native generations.
While self-service is gaining prominence, it doesn’t mean that B2B businesses should entirely abandon in-person sales cycles, which will certainly remain relevant and valuable for a long time. However, providing self-service portals for B2B customers is essential, and these portals should offer capabilities such as:
- Quick ordering and reordering
- Product catalogs tailored to buyer-specific requirements
- Account-specific pricing, including negotiated deals and pricing rules
- Real-time availability and pricing information based on ERP data
- Customized promotions and offers
- Easy viewing and reconciliation of invoices for orders placed across multiple sales channels
- Self-service account management
Self-service empowers customers to have more interactions with your brand and enables them to solve problems on their own. This approach not only enhances efficiency but also saves costs for both customers and businesses.
Are you looking to enter the B2B segment with a bang? Or to optimize the existing solution? Learn how to build a market-defining B2B marketplace based on the experience of the Elogic specialists.
Several real-world examples demonstrate the efficiency of a good self-service B2B portal: Zendesk Help Center, Microsoft Dynamic 365 Self-Service Portal, and HubSpot Partner Portal all provide the necessary materials and tools to help B2B buyers/sellers organize business without investing in some platform or becoming a part of some ecosystem. And by equipping your own ecommerce store with a dedicated self-service portal, you get to save up to $11 on each customer query handled without direct contact with live support.
The key goal of CX is to create seamless and enjoyable customer journeys that leave customers feeling satisfied and eager to return. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, implementing these CX trends strategically can help enhance your brand’s relationship with customers.
To navigate the CX transformation successfully, business leaders should consider the following practical steps:
- Recognize internal challenges. Conduct a thorough business audit to identify internal challenges that may affect CX.
- Understand your customers. Gain a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, and their aspirations.
- Focus on expectations. Align customer expectations with the current state of your business and its processes.
- Map out processes. Develop a clear roadmap for the processes and milestones that will shape your desired CX.
- Establish governance. Implement cross-functional governance and an agile operating model to ensure a seamless CX.
- Deploy a measurement system. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and success metrics to measure the effectiveness of the CX that you designed.
Elogic can serve as a valuable partner in guiding businesses through the CX transformation process. By reducing friction in the shopping journey, leveraging customer data transparently, and empowering customers to become brand advocates, we will help you create a CX that leaves a lasting positive impression.
This feature is a part of a big whitepaper dedicated to major CX trends. Read it to explore more of Elogic specialists’ takes on all things shaping the present and future of e-commerce.
What is customer experience (CX), and why is it so important for business?
An online store’s CX is the big picture a customer (or potential customer) sees when they come to the store to buy goods. It is the reflection and summary of all touchpoints, interactions, and processes a customer goes through while making a purchase. The CX outlines a journey that starts with an ad that leads a new user to the store – the first touchpoint. When prioritized and optimized, all CX touchpoints combined (from product listings to the checkout page) shape and drive the overall level of customer satisfaction, conversion, and loyalty (while poor CX drives customers away).
What role does technology play in shaping the future of CX?
Modern technology is a driving force that sets the future of CX in motion. It enables businesses to provide personalized experiences, automate routine processes, and engage with customers through more digital channels. AI, chatbots, data analytics, and CRM systems are just a few examples of technologies that enhance CX by streamlining operations and enhancing customer interactions.
What are the main CX trends for 2023?
In 2023, some major CX trends include the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) for smarter personalization, a growing focus on omnichannel experiences, a shift towards proactive customer service, and the rise of ethical and sustainable business practices. On top of that, a huge spotlight is set on the adoption and leveraging of advanced tech like AR/VR, blockchain, Big Data, cloud capacities, and more. We discuss the seven most standing-out CX trends in detail above and even in greater detail in our big whitepaper.
How can a business find the best-fitting ways to improve CX?
The most efficient individual CX enhancement results are achieved through scrupulous research and auditing, as well as the collection and analysis of real customer feedback. Businesses can collect the feedback through surveys, reviews, social media, and direct interactions. They can analyze this data using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and data analytics. By tracking feedback and behavior patterns, businesses can identify areas for improvement and adjust their CX strategies accordingly.
How does a business stay competitive in the dynamic aspect of Customer Experience?
To stay competitive in the fierce niche of customer-winning CX designs, a business should continuously adapt to evolving customer preferences and emerging technologies. In order to keep up, you may have to invest in employee training, adopt innovative tools, stay in tune with all industry trends, and actively seek and build upon customer feedback. You may as well lead the competition in the CX landscape if you remain flexible and customer-centric enough.