CX game changers like chatbots and voice search indicate that practices once considered trends can quickly grow into established industry staples. With the ecommerce industry being as competitive as it is, these trends represent an important opportunity for businesses of all sizes to differentiate themselves.

Whether directly or indirectly, a keen eye for what customers demand from their retail experience is a core reason for the ecommerce success of certain businesses, despite the competition. In an industry projected to grow by 50% over the next four years, it’s not about what your customers want today — it’s about what they’re going to want tomorrow.

1. Less Minimalism, More Interaction

The 2000s and even the early 2010s were dominated by websites loaded to the brim with videos, animations, GIFs and even Flash elements. Customer preference soon evolved toward a more refined and minimalist experience, as shown by standard-bearers like Zara and, of course, Apple.

That’s all set to change. Customers are displaying a strong preference for personalization and interaction over the current minimalist zeitgeist. AR is a great example of this, with Shopify reporting a conversion rate increase of 94% for pages that incorporated AR elements. Users don’t just want to see a photo of what a couch looks like — they want to see what it looks like in their home.

This doesn’t mean web design agencies should be scrambling to return to a 2000s-style CX. Minimalist designs work incredibly well for certain brands, and that’s not going to change. It is, however, a strong sign that incorporating more engaging elements like parallax effects, animations and micro-interactions could pave the way for a memorable customer experience.

Related Article: Augmented Reality, Experimentation, Ecommerce and Your Customer Base

2. Marketplace Ecommerce

Digital marketplaces provide a convenient solution to the bounce problem. Customers don’t want to click off to a new website to complete their purchase, and now they don’t have to. Platforms like Shopify are allowing sellers to integrate their product lists with apps like Instagram. Users can discover, explore and purchase products without having to leave the app.

This integration is spreading from Facebook and Instagram to other platforms like YouTube. As support for marketplaces grows, businesses can seize the opportunity to come up with personalized CTAs and find their customers with highly targeted marketing.

3. The Omnichannel Experience

A preference for integrated marketplaces doesn’t mean you should be neglecting your other business channels. Paradoxically, even though customers prefer not to leave an app while shopping, they will go through as many as six touchpoints before a conversion.

The main driver behind this statistic is convenience. Customers can easily go from your social media page to your blog to learn more about your products, and an omnichannel approach is the best way to stimulate this kind of exploration.

Omnichannel retailing involves creating a consistent customer experience across every facet of your brand, all the way from your home page to your chatbots. An increasing number of brands are shifting to this approach for the personalized CX it creates through segmentation and cross-channel support.

Related Article: 4 Methods for Hyper-Personalization That Get Results

Learning Opportunities

4. Automation

Automation’s been around for a while, but the way it’s being used to fine-tune the customer experience has the potential to redefine how we look at ecommerce.

Let’s take chatbots as an example. Most businesses are using them in a rudimentary capacity to answer basic customer questions during times when a representative might not be available. Certain chatbots, however, can integrate with CRMs to create personalized solutions for each customer. Tasks like resetting a password, changing account permissions or retrieving order statuses can be automated to provide fast, hassle-free resolutions for customers.

Chatbots don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s possible with automation. Send out automated follow-up texts after a purchase, track orders through automated logistics management and get your customers to the finish line faster with pre-filled online forms. Keeping up with a changing CX landscape has never been more convenient. 

5. The Compliance Question

Compliance might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about CX, but growing customer awareness around privacy has cemented it as a key part of the overall experience. Empowered by laws like GDPR, customers want control over the data they’re handing over to a business.

With repeat purchases in free fall and customer acquisition costs rising across the board, merchants need every advantage they can get to retain a customer. Baking compliance into the overall CX boosts retention by letting them know their data is safe with your business. It’s time to treat transparency as an inseparable part of the ideal customer experience.

Related Article: GDPR Compliance: What Marketers Can Expect in 2022

Conclusion: CX Challenges

Adapting to new channels and introducing unfamiliar tech stacks can call for a sizable investment for small businesses. For example, adding AR to your retail experience will involve ecommerce photography to capture each product. Additionally, wading through pages of complex customer data for meaningful insight is a challenge for businesses not well-versed in analytics.

All that said, these challenges are growing pains at worst. Customers are setting higher standards for the kind of experience they expect from a marketplace due to large-scale providers like Amazon. Businesses will have to adapt to those CX standards to ensure long-lasting ecommerce success.

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