When it comes to the e-commerce experience, we are all looking for more than just a reasonable price. As customers, we have become more tech-savvy, more aware of our options, more confident when buying online, and more likely to put our values above the convenience of purchasing a product.
With the help of Adobe's report, "Getting eCommerce Right in the 2020s", we want to give you a short overview of how much the eCommerce landscape has changed, what consumers are expecting, and what brands can do to adapt to those expectations.
The whole customer experience is changing.
The COVID-19 lockdowns forced consumers and retailers to change how they shop and interact with each other. According to the report mentioned above, these are some of the most significant changes in consumer behavior:
- We're trending towards mobile: Consumers are more likely to use smartphones than laptops or desktop PCs to buy online. It's not enough to have a website that works well on mobile devices: it needs to be designed and developed with mobile users in mind.
- We want VR: More people wish virtual reality and augmented reality for ecommerce —consumers want virtual reality to be integrated into online shopping. Although complex to implement, AR and VR in eCommerce provide immersive product information in various ways, like 3D models, a virtual tour of your store and more. According to Social Sprout, though, understanding age groups will be critical to an intelligent implementation, as AR/VR is most popular with younger shoppers (18-40).
- Consumer preference's matter: Knowing your audience's demographics will help you determine whether AR and VR in your eCommerce will be a good investment. Keep in mind that 6 out of 10 consumers say they want personalized experiences based on personal preferences.
In an interview with us, Jay Proulx, Head of CXM at TMG, emphasized this point: "Customers want to feel like brands understand them, are equally invested in the relationship, and are ready to personalize based on their recent interactions. When those expectations aren't met, consumers will quickly look for new brands that will meet them", he summarized.
Moreover, media outlets agree. According to Mckinsey, in the best-personalized experiences, retailers make customers part of the dialogue with one-to-one personalization powered by data: "Customers receive offers that are targeted not just at customers like them, with brands targeting at the segment level with broad-based offers, but at them as individuals, with products, offers, and communications that are uniquely relevant to them", they claimed.
The relevance of personalization is rising, and it is one of the major CX trends expected to grow this year.
- Shop 'til you drop (online): Consumers are feeling more confident in buying online from retailers they hadn't used before. This is an opportunity for new companies to get their feet wet, so don't be afraid to try something new.
According to JungleScout's Q1 Consumer Trends Report, these are the main reasons why consumers try new brands:
- Price is still king: A clear, easy-to-find price is still the most valued website feature. Make prices clear and concise, and your chances of converting will increase.
- It's all about your website: More people are revisiting websites multiple times before buying. Optimizing and personalizing their experience can be the defining factor in bringing new or repeated customers. This is where augmented reality for eCommerce comes into play: including features or website sections with AR and VR in eCommerce helps brands to personalize customer experiences as much as possible.
- Values first: 8 out of 10 say their values play a role in where and how they shop online. Agustín Farías, Adobe Commerce Practice Lead at Conexio, believes that "humanizing" organizations and showing that you care for and want to understand your customers is a major trend. "And by 'understanding your customers', I mean product personalization and understanding which channels and messages will impact that customer the most", he said.
Indeed, other industry experts also agree that there's been a shift towards connecting more intimately with customers. Transparency will also be essential for Jack Vawdrey, Head of Content Marketing at Vista Point Advisors:
"Transparency is becoming a key differentiator for companies looking to stand out from their competition. With a wealth of information at their disposal, customers can make more informed choices between vendors, and they tend to choose the company that is most transparent upfront about the sale and post-sale relationships".
In short, shifting towards meeting the values of your target audience could be an excellent long-term investment.
How can brands adapt to the ever-changing customer expectations?
The convenience and ease of online shopping are some of the most important factors driving its demand, even though physical stores are already open or opening up again. In fact, 44% of the survey participants claimed they expect to shop online more in the coming 12 months, solidifying the need to develop a consistent eCommerce strategy.
As the report shows, consumer expectations evolved to become more far-reaching, varied and, sometimes, more complicated to meet.
What does this shift in behavior mean for retailers —and how can they navigate through it?
To succeed, retailers must now meet a wide range of expectations: from practical factors mostly within their immediate control —like simplifying the shopping process as much as possible—, to more systemic cultural changes that reflect wider consumer values and preferences. With these points in mind, here are the key takeaways to help retailers navigate this changing environment:
- Consumers want clear, easy-to-navigate purchasing experiences. Modify your mobile, app and web store experiences to meet this demand. In particular, online retailers should prioritize mobile-friendly websites: optimizing load time and ensuring that all features are available on mobile devices. You can also benefit from adding augmented reality for your eCommerce experience.
- Pay equal attention to the shopping experience on your website, app, and in-person store. While mobile shopping is rising, customers still prefer in-person shops for certain products like furniture.
- Leverage mobile payment technologies to get consumers to buy sooner. Their flexibility will help you offer options and payment plans for your customers.
- Be transparent about your production sources and supply chain while minimizing packaging. Reducing carbon emissions and reducing waste is not only responsible; it represents the modern customer.
- Empathize with your consumers’ values and make adjustments to meet them. Consumers are very aware of far-reaching problems like climate change, employer abuse, social inequalities, and more. Make an effort to understand their values and meet them.
Although in-person shopping will always have its place in the retail landscape, it's clear that consumers have become used to the convenience of online shopping and will continue to demand improved services and experiences. As a result, retailers need a clear strategy to ensure that they offer meaningful benefits to consumers and stay competitive.
Hopefully, the insights provided by this report will help us better understand the consumer trends driving this shift towards online shopping and how we can meet their needs, preferences, and expectations. If you're looking to up your customer experience game, reach out to our experts. At Conexio, we have collaborated on +300 projects working side by side with Fortune 1000 companies to create and deliver fantastic experiences for their customers.