The last two years have seen a huge growth in retail ecommerce across the world – global online sales have grown by 11% year-on-year in Q3 2021 (Source: Salesforce’s Q3 2021 Shopping Index) – and while growth had been forecast, the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated and significantly increased the scale of that growth.
While this has been good news in principle for ecommerce businesses, it has highlighted many challenges for the sector. In fact some of those challenges are causing businesses to falter rather than being able to exploit the opportunity. Here are some of those challenges that you may be all too familiar with.
One of the outcomes of the pandemic and resultant growth of ecommerce is the increase in levels of customer expectation. The demands of the customer are now greater than ever. The customer desires low prices, next day delivery, instant comms with the business and 24/7 support.
If a business fails to meet these expectations, then there is very little loyalty shown by the customer and even less chance of them recommending the product or service to others.
At the same time ecommerce companies are facing their own challenges in addition to meeting customer expectations. The marketing team is being asked to grow market share by the business owners because the ecommerce sector is growing so quickly. They are being asked to do so without any increase in resources and at the same time having to cope with new privacy legislation as well as the increasing cost of customer acquisition.
The service team are being particularly challenged by customer demands and are struggling to meet them. In many cases this is due to the inability to track issues until they have been escalated. The likely cause is the use of different platforms which have been added as the company has grown. So they might have separate email, order tracking, livechat, social media channels all operating without the means to see the data collectively. The people responsible for each of the platforms may well be operating in their own silos too – and in some cases working from home will have extended this communication gap..
Add to this the problems caused by Brexit, global supply chain issues and driver shortages then it’s not difficult to see why some businesses are failing to take advantage of the growth in the ecommerce sector. Even giants such as online retailer ASOS are forecasting a significant downturn in their business.
Yet some businesses are clearly enjoying increased growth and market share. So what are they doing right?
There are a number of key factors to being successful in ecommerce in today’s climate.
Customer satisfaction is becoming a key differentiator in a very competitive marketplace
Firstly, making customer satisfaction the key metric of success is necessary as opposed to the volume of customers or new orders. This is a significant mindset shift for many businesses but ultimately is the main driver to growing the business. A satisfied customer is much more likely to repeat purchase and recommend the brand, product or service to others which in turn will help grow the customer base and sales.
If you want to measure customer satisfaction as a KPI, having a single customer view is a prerequisite. A single customer view (SCV) is a centralised platform where there is a holistic view of customers across the entire buyer’s journey. With an SCV, it’s possible to identify and track every interaction with current and prospective customers, which allows for the development of relevant and targeted strategies.
A single customer view combines information from every interaction your customer has with you whether that’s on your site, in email, on social media, with your customer services team or in store. That information can be combined with data about their purchase history as well as information around demographics and other behaviours so you can get a full view of the entire customer journey from initial awareness all the way through to advocacy.
Once in place the SCV is also available to everyone in your company whether in a marketing, sales or service capacity which allows for far greater insights for the whole business.
In order to create the single customer view, a business needs a CRM-based platform that either provides all the functionality or one that can successfully integrate all existing platforms. Platforms such as Salesforce Pardot, Adobe Marketo, Salesforce Eloqua or HubSpot all do the above and depending on the scale of the business will determine the best fit.
Hubspot in particular targets the SME marketplace and is priced accordingly. It’s also designed to scale with the business so there is a low cost of entry with basic functionality that can go all the way to an enterprise level. This helps to de-risk a business that wants to move to a customer satisfaction model in a controlled and affordable way.
Hubspot can also integrate with other existing platforms so the move can be gradual rather than trying to do everything at once. A HubSpot license is usually less expensive than the collective cost of several alternative platforms so there can be a saving as well as digital transformation.
But no matter what your platform is, the same principles apply of being able to collate the data that is needed to give a single customer view and as a result being able to measure customer satisfaction.
Increasing the number of touchpoints for customers is another important factor in conversion success. It’s sometimes referred to as conversation marketing which essentially means allowing a prospective customer to talk with the seller at the point at which they are about to purchase. If there is any doubt in the prospect’s mind or they need clarification about the product or service, then they want to speak to the business. According to Forrester, 50% of adults will abandon a purchase if you can’t give them a quick answer to their question.
It would seem that most companies appear to make it increasingly difficult for anyone to get in touch with them but this is a mistake and only generates frustration for the prospect or customers.
Frequently Asked Questions can partially help in dealing with issues of concern to the prospect but often they don’t have the patience. So apart from being able to man the switchboard 24/7, which is realistic only for the largest companies, what other options are available?
Chat is increasingly being used by businesses as a solution as it is a flexible option for most businesses. Although chat as a technology has been around for many years, its accelerated growth is doubtless due to the restrictions of people not being able to get to shops as a result of the pandemic.
But it has grown, and is now becoming the preferred means of getting in touch with companies ahead of social media, email and even by phone. Prospects like it because of the convenience, reduced wait times and the anonymity of it.
More than that however, research shows that companies with chat have higher conversion rates of around 12% (Source: LTV Plus) and that 63% of customers are more likely to return to a website that has chat. (Source: Emarketer). We can only see the use of chat continuing to increase.
We believe that the companies that are undoubtedly exploiting the e-commerce boom are those that have adopted customer satisfaction as a key metric and are focusing on the needs of their customers as a priority by using tools like chat. We also believe that by adopting this approach they will continue being successful even after the pandemic has gone and life returns to normal.
If you would like to learn more about any of the above, then please get in touch with us and we can organise a demonstration of some of the key features mentioned.