Why is a great online experience important, and what does it look like?
Written by Zach Kamphuis
The online customer experience you provide is more important now than it has ever been before. Shopping has gone from a local to a global activity. Your customer's product selection is no longer limited by their geographic location. Global selection means global competition. In California alone there are over 60,000 registered wine labels.1
Conventional product advantages have been made redundant by hypercompetition. With a ton of substitutes, providing a exceptional product at a reasonable price is no longer a key selling point, it is a base requirement. Customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.2 It is the new battlefield you must compete on. Your customer’s experience in the tasting room drives the first sale. Does their online experience drive the second?
“Your customer’s experience in the tasting room drives the first sale. Does their online experience drive the second?”
To answer this question, you first have to understand what a great online experience looks like. There are three key points associated with a great online experience: personalization, ease, and speed.
This can be broken down into two parts.
The first part involves providing your customers with a tailored experience. To do this, you must learn from and know your customers. Amazon recommends you books based on what you’ve recently read, Netflix recommends shows for you based on what you’ve recently watched, are you recommending products to your customers based on what they’ve recently purchased?
When you learn from your customer, and truly know them, you’re able to give them personalized recommendations and personalized marketing. Personalizing their online experience can bring you significant results. Through personalization, you’re able to drive impulse purchases. According to a study done by Segment, 49% of consumers surveyed had bought items they did not intend to buy due to a personalized recommendation from the brand they were doing business with. With personalization you’re also able to drive customer loyalty. The same research showed that 44% of consumers say they will likely become repeat buyers after receiving a personalized shopping experience.3 Not only does a personalization enhance a customers online experience, it prevents a negative one. 71% of consumers express some level of frustration when their shopping experience is impersonal.3
The second part of personalization revolves around allowing your customers to personalize their own experiences. A good example of companies doing this would be Blue Apron and Winc. Both allow you to add and remove products from your next package. Winc also gives you the ability to skip a shipment online. Both of these companies are allowing their customers to personalize their online shopping experiences. You might already allow your customers to make edits to the items in their club shipments, or their shipping date - but do they have to contact you in order to do this?
Your staff are most likely very friendly to talk to, but the truth of the matter is that your customers do not want to have to talk to them. When they reach out, it takes away from their online experience. 3 out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own.4 Giving your customers the option to personalize their experience on their own, and empowering them to customize their online experience can positively impact how they feel about your winery. 65% of all consumers say they feel good about the company they’re doing business with when they resolve a problem without talking to customer service.4
Don’t make things difficult for your customers online. Do your customers have to jump through a ton of hoops to navigate your site and make a purchase? A great online customer experience is easy and simple. Creating a simple and easy customer experience should take into consideration the paths your customers take on your site, the number of clicks needed to complete objectives, and how the experience plays out on all devices (mobile and desktop).
A fantastic example of a simple online customer experience is the purchasing process on Amazon. When I go to Amazon’s website, I’m already logged in, all items I’ve recently searched for are easy to find, items in my cart from previous sessions are still there, and if I want to make purchase I can do so with one click. No hunting around the site is needed, making a purchase is easy, and there are minimal hoops to jump through.
The final element to a great online customer experience is speed. It's extremely frustrating to navigate around a slow website. Consumers are now more demanding and impatient when it comes to website’s speed. A slow site might be more disastrous than you expect. When it comes to online shopping, 52% of shoppers claim that site loyalty is contingent on page speed.5 14% of online shoppers will use a competitor if your site is slow.5 40% of Facebook mobile users abandon sites that take even three seconds to load.6 Even if a consumer makes a purchase on a slow site, 79% are less likely to return and buy again.5
You may think that the speed of your site is dependant on your customer’s internet connection. This is true to an extent. There are however, a few things you can do to speed your site up on your end:
- Use smaller images on your site
- Put your site on a content delivery network (CDN)
These three actions will improve the speed of your site.
If you’d like your site to be even faster, there are some more technical things that can be done. At Commerce7 we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on speed. On our front end website and our admin panel we cache everything. Load our website and then shut the internet off - you can still visit the other pages. Load our admin panel, click on a few things then shut the internet off. You can still view data across the app. That's because we have a "cache first" loading policy.
Your customers receive a great experience in your tasting room, carry that hospitality over to your online store. Designing your customer’s online experience can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Focus on giving them a personalized experience, on a fast and easy to navigate site. Doing so will allow you to stand out from an ever increasing pool of competitors.
Thoughts or comments? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org