E-commerce isn't the playground of big businesses any longer. Businesses of all sizes are turning to e-commerce to scale and sustain their companies and with this comes a growing awareness of customer experience's importance. Customer experience (CX) includes a wide range of items from user experience (UX), to customer service, to email communications, and more.

We can influence the customer experience on a website before they even buy. While UX concerns itself with practical issues such as where things are, what size they are, etc., as well as the emotional impact on the person interacting with these elements, customer experience allows us to tailor the overall experience across touchpoints — both online and off.

And even more importantly, it can put us in a position to pre-empt dissatisfaction or complaints by giving each customer exactly what they want. If tailored appropriately, the odds of dissatisfaction decrease precipitously.

Let’s look at some basic steps you can take on an e-commerce website to enhance the CX via a combination of UX and content.

Responsive Website

If you haven't done so already, one of the crucial updates to make on any site — especially e-commerce — is implementing mobile responsiveness. A responsive website is just that — responsive to whatever size browser and platform visitors use to view the site.

A good responsive website not only adjusts the display of the content to the viewport, but it also optimizes load time and performance. At a time when users will wait as little as three seconds for your website to load, this is key, especially on mobile.

Responsive is the best way to target mobile. It uses the same code base and can mimic the most important parts of your overall UX. This is useful for consistency of experience as well as branding.

Dynamic, Personalized Content

Searching and finding website content on a mobile phone is hard, so take advantage of the opportunity to spoon feed visitors the content they want to see. There are several ways to implement a dynamic, personalized content experience on your e-commerce website:

  • For new visitors: Share content tailored to the source of their visit, for example, welcome new visitors who arrived via organic search with a custom message, or serve up imagery that fits the banner ad they clicked to get to your website
  • For repeat visitors: Show them content based on prior interactions. Perhaps they viewed a blog post about choosing a designer dog collar; show them products for dogs. Maybe they spent time browsing the section of the site where you sell chess boards; show them books about chess. Or maybe you know some demographic data about them from past visits – emphasize potential content of interest based on what you know

Pretty much anything you know about a visitor is fair game for personalizing the next visit. Use that to your advantage.

Interest-Based Recommendations

In addition to the content targeting described above, you can serve up ecommerce functionality based on purchase history or other tracked interests.

  • Recommend products similar to what the client has viewed on past visits
  • Remember prior interactions such as CTAs completed, customer service discussions and chat sessions. Emphasize products or content accordingly
  • Serve up product recommendations like Amazon does, for complementary products to use with past purchases or borrowing their “people who bought this item also bought …”
  • Build a custom workflow that incorporates marketing automation to call them back on abandoned carts, and sends them to custom product pages that try to close the lost sale

If you run an e-commerce site and are not tracking any or all of these items, why aren’t you? A massive amount of data is available for the taking. Start tracking it so you can improve future customer interactions.

Location Specific Content

For either first time or repeat visitors, you can serve up content that is specific to their physical location. Two easy ways to do this is to ask for it when they arrive, or make a zip code mandatory when they register for the site. To get even more specific, you can employ geotargeting based on the actual location of the phone when they arrive on your website.

The location specific content can be useful in a number of ways.

  • Focus on the nearest physical store, if you also run a brick and mortar version. Offer tours of the store, real time inventory for the location, etc.
  • Take advantage of local events, the weather or other items of interest specific to their locale. I’ve seen local businesses here in Austin, TX serve up content about Austin City Limits Festival or South By Southwest in the week or so heading up to those major events. Even as an experienced internet marketer by trade, I was impressed when I saw it
  • Consider serving up offers for your retail location with a very short shelf life. If someone is in the area and looking for a product you sell, a three hour discount on the product could very well bring them into your store instead of the discount version down the street

Tying In Real Life to Online

Smart companies are also working in the opposite direction — they are tying the online content to the “In Real Life” (IRL) experience itself. Here are a couple of ideas for how this might work:

  • QR Codesquick scans at the point of sale can pull up offers, microsites and personalized versions of product pages
  • Contestshave customers take a picture on premises and post to Facebook or Instagram, with a prize for the most creative

These are only two ideas, but the possibilities are limitless. See what good ideas you can cook up on your own.

The Customer Experience Doesn't End Online

E-commerce isn't going away anytime soon, so the time has come to optimize the CX across online and offline retail. How are you tailoring the experience to the customer? Did I miss any other great ideas? Add them in the comments.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  jronaldlee