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Online customer experience Five tips on how to improve it in 2023
I regularly advise businesses, helping them to improve their e-commerce and in particular their online customer experience. The principle is simple: the more satisfied customers are with their experience in an online shop, the more likely they are to place an order and – even better – recommend the shop to colleagues, family and friends. I’m listing for you the five tips that I currently give most often.
Offer content that is (really) suitable for smartphones
The smartphone is the most used device when searching for products or getting information about them, be it on the go in the train or at home in the evening. In other words, potential customers gain their first impression of an online shop predominantly on their smartphone. According to the Statista website (in German), when it comes to purchases, the desktop PC is still the most used device (55 percent), followed by smartphones (33 percent) and tablets (12 percent).
In practice, I find that many e-commerce websites don’t offer a good shopping experience on small screens. All too often the images are incorrectly sized, appearing either too small or too large on the smartphone screen. The same applies to text, the contents of shopping baskets and check-out details, with many blanks, shifted elements or others that simply don’t appear on the smartphone screen (such as header and footer elements).
I really recommend testing the entire customer journey on a smartphone and correcting the display errors. Google’s PageSpeed Insights test is a simple and free way to get indications of your own performance on smartphones, as well as specific recommendations on where you should improve. If there are too many problems, you may need to completely redesign your shop along the lines of the “mobile first” principle. This involves an investment, but smartphone-friendly content is one of the most important factors for your e-commerce’s long-term success.
Increase logistic transparency
When will I receive my parcel? It’s a simple question, but many online shops can’t really answer it and are not at all transparent about delivery times. Logistic transparency is important for the end customer. For example, on digital marketplaces, where there are several suppliers for a product, availability and delivery time are more crucial than price for a customer purchasing the product.
Customers want to know when their order will arrive because they often want to make sure that they get the item in time for a weekend event or a birthday.
I therefore recommend the following points for more transparency in delivery:
- Always display stock levels on the product pages. Even if it’s obvious to you that all your products are available, it’s not necessarily so for the customers. It’s not essential to display the exact number of items remaining. A simple text in green stating “in stock” will reassure customers.
- I recommend indicating the delivery times as accurately as possible on the product pages. If you process orders every day, it’s highly recommended to state the last daily order processing time. For example, if you send an order as an Economy parcel, you can specify: “Delivery within two to three working days if ordered before 3 p.m.” It depends on how much time you have available to get the orders ready for dispatch and take them to the nearest Swiss Post branch, or when you have Swiss Post come to collect your parcels for dispatch.
- Have this information repeated throughout the purchase process, including in the shopping basket and on the checkout pages.
- Finally, offer track and trace. When it comes to logistics, this is the most important delivery option specified by consumers in the Swiss e-commerce trend indicator 2022 (PDF, 195.5 KB).
Integrate TWINT as a payment method
The smartphone boom is also having an impact on the way people pay. TWINT has gained a big foothold here in the past two to three years. The payment app is now the third most popular payment method among customers in Switzerland, close behind credit cards and invoices.
TWINT has become indispensable, and I’ve also noticed this in exchanges with our e-commerce customers. So if you haven’t already done so, integrating this payment method is an easy way to reduce the number of abandoned shopping baskets and improve the shopping experience in your online shop.
Score points with sustainability
End customers’ expectations in terms of sustainability and environmental friendliness are increasing year by year. Some e-commerce companies, such as Nikin, even make this the core of their business model, which is one of the reasons for their success.
Even if a company doesn’t want to go that far, I recommend that e-commerce providers apply the principle of sustainability to their processes as soon as possible and showcase their actual efforts on a special page or on their homepage. Carpathia recently published an interesting article (in German) that outlines specific guidance:
- Adjust the size of the packaging to the products.
- Limit the filling material as much as possible or choose sustainable materials if it is absolutely necessary.
- Ship consignments together.
- Provide reusable packaging for returns.
- Provide information about your other efforts, for example, that you use a sustainable source of electricity.
Also note that Swiss Post offsets its carbon emissions for all parcel and letter mail. For this reason, you can affix the “pro clima” label to your parcels’ shipping labels.
Give returns the attention they deserve
The online shopping experience is only complete if you have a returns process in place. According to the e-commerce trend indicator 2022 (PDF, 195.5 KB), the two most important points for customers when it comes to returns are a simple returns process and clear returns conditions.
As with delivery, I recommend transparent information about the conditions for returns, preferably on a separate page. We also recommend that our customers offer unconditional returns of non-food products within 14 days, wherever possible. This is the legal standard in the EU and many Swiss customers are accustomed to benefiting from it.
This year, in collaboration with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) and the IKM Marketing Institute, we published a comprehensive study on returns with concrete recommendations for action.