Not long ago, ecommerce was a trendy concept. It was a new way for us to do the things that we did before.
Today, ecommerce is part of our lives. It fundamentally changed the way we do things. Take, for example, the travel and hospitality world: Today we buy our plane tickets online. We do our research, reserve our hotels and book our car rentals online.
We tend to go to our trusted brands first, but our pain threshold is low. If our trusted brand fails us, we look for alternatives and sometimes we find those options give us better experiences.
Recently, I went on a vacation overseas. Two decisions were easy to make for me: which airline to use for the long journey and which hotel chain to stay at the night I arrived and the night before I came back. It was simple because I used my trusted brands, where I have loyalty programs and benefits. Everything else was open: where to go, where to stay and what to do.
While I was abroad, my usual context changed: Internet connections were not as fast, time online was greatly diminished and suggestions from locals appeared.
I still planned to do all the purchasing (car, hotel, tours) online. Here the experience delivered by the different providers made the difference.
The online travel agency that I typically use annoyed me while looking for hotels: They changed my currency and the language of the display (yes, I was in Italy, but I didn't want the site in Italian), so I tried an alternate provider and bought from them. Not only that, I opened an account and have already used it twice since the trip. They have a new client, and my previous provider will make less profit from me.
As you look to enhance your customers' digital experience, here are four things to keep in mind:
Digital Experience Is Not an Add-on to Ecommerce
For traditional markets, ecommerce may still mean a cart where you put items and check out later, but for many verticals this is not the case.
How a client arrives to your brand, the consistency between the different channels and the capability to provide solutions at the right time are essential ingredients for a happy customer.
Sometimes clients know they want something, but they don’t know what. If you manage to present them with the right option at the right time, it will be an easy sell for you. For example, if an online travel agency knows that their client is already on the road (they can know whether they see the change of IP, or through localization with an app), the experience provided should be different than the experience they provide at home. For example, they could consider presenting a lighter version of their site that loads faster, send targeted campaigns to that ongoing trip or ask about the current experience.
Trying to understand what a customer wants is hard, but it is the only thing you can do to keep him around. Big data and artificial intelligence are quickly becoming tools that will enable true personalization, and you should explore these opportunities now.
Customers Are Not Loyal to Brands
Digital commerce nurtures brand disloyalty. It's hard to accept, but it's true. However, this can be good news for companies that implement personalization techniques correctly and present the right choices.
Customers are open to possibilities, but they are quick to look for alternatives, and it is very cheap for them to consider what similar companies have to offer.
Personalization Plays a Role, but Let the Customer Drive It
The ways you can personalize an online experience are becoming cheaper, smarter and easier to implement. However, this doesn’t mean that you should “over-personalize” your customer experience. To some extent, you should let customers choose.
Currency, language, time zone changes are good examples. Many sites try to localize their content based on geolocalization. This often, but not always, makes sense. If the client is making his first visit, it makes sense, but if it is a logged user that we know speaks English and has paid in dollars, it is nonsense to present the site in Italian and make him pay in Euros, just because he is currently in Italy.
Don’t Forget the Simple Things
Once a customer has decided to buy something from you, make life as easy as possible. Your analytics can help understand this process because once a client has decided to buy, he is looking for simplicity and ease instead of good appearance in a site or app. Don’t annoy customers with long forms, cranky validations or lengthy registration processes. Your goal should be to enable a sale through a few clicks.
Technology helps, but common sense must be part of your experience. The goal is not to make fancy experiences, but to create ones that drive conversions. For most of your customers, their online experience is not just an add-on for their real life, but is part of their reality. Help make that reality a better place.
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