Liudmila Ganzha
Sep 13, 2017 | 4 min read

We’re experiencing a major shift in customer expectations, which directly affects e-commerce sales levels. What worked before, may not work now.

Now customers want not just the ability to buy online, they demand much greater convenience in multiple aspects of their online shopping experience.

Online businesses need to keep pace with the changes to stay afloat and increase sales.

So is your online store equipped to handle consumer expectations?

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1. Site speed

There’s a direct correlation between your site speed and sales levels. A second may not seem a big deal but in practice, it can cost you losing hundreds of dollars. Modern consumers people are simply not willing to wait when they can always switch to competitors who are more responsive.

According to Kissmetrics, 47% of customers expect a web site to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of consumers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

If your site has some heavy elements and can’t be optimized to load in less than 3 seconds, keep visitors by showing an interesting preloader.

An example of a creative preloader from Thunderfuel.

2. Transaction security

Any security issues can put e-shoppers off sale. They’ll buy at your store only if they are convinced that have their bank details assured and there will be no security or data breach.

To make clear that their sensitive and private information is protected, you can

  • add security certificates to your page to demonstrate you’re taking appropriate measures to keep their sensitive data private
  • include appropriate badges, like Norton Secured, McAfee Secure and Truste Certified Privacy
  • obtain an HTTPS status too to show that your server is secure.
  • if your site has a lot of subdomains, consider a wildcard SSL certificate as it applies to all subdomains and thus costs less than separate certificates for each subdomain.

Example from L.L.Bean

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Also, consider using EMV, point-to-point encryption, advanced fraud-detection capabilities and tokenization that works across different channels.

3. Product selection

Provide a large variety of sizes, types, variations, models to cater to the needs of every particular customer at your store. Moreover, customers expect all of them to be in-stock so make sure your inventory is strong and supplies are never short.

To ease the choice, offer an advanced search option with a sorting possibility by brand, category, price, type etc or whatever features may be important to customers.

Example from shopbop

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While buying anything, a consumer normally wants to explore several products. Provide a suggestion bar showing similar products side-by-side and enabling to compare their features, specs, details or anything else of interest for the product.

Give plenty of choices but don’t fall into extremes –  offering too many options can cost you sales if the customer feels lost or tired of analyzing infinite alternatives.

From the moment a customer enters your shop till the final purchase,  lead him/her through all the stages of your sales funnel in the way that narrows down the number of alternatives and arrives at the thing needed by the customer.

4. Impeccable customer service

Self-service. The rise of smartphones and technology has led to customers preferring to find answers on their own. Make sure your website provides comprehensive information about the products (photos, shapes, sizes, prices, discounts, warranty terms), a good FAQ section, and easy navigation.

Still, however good and well-planned your website is, customers will have questions.

A study by Forrester Research reveals that a 44% of online shoppers think that the ability to get live help is crucial to complete a purchase.

Fast and frictionless support. Over the last decade, customer willingness to wait for a response has shrunk from hours and days to minutes and seconds.

Make sure your web store provides a speedy way for customers to get in touch with you and ask questions without interrupting the purchase. Ideally, with one click – through a good live chat widget

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However, if you opt for the older method of the phone support, make sure your toll-free number is visible on every page without having to search for it. Or better install a callback widget with the date/time picker so that your customer doesn’t wait in a queue and listen to tra-la-la when you’re the 10th in the queue.

Nearly half of consumers will dump their online cart if they can’t find a quick answer to their questions.

More on perfect customer service for modern consumers in this article

5. Free shipping

At the dawn of the e-commerce, shipment fees were standard. Now, things are different – big players like Amazon, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, and Zappos have set a new trend of free shipment changing what consumers perceive as a norm.

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A recent report by Forrester on shipping policies found that 92% of the top 50 retailers analyzed had free delivery.

If you can’t offer free delivery regardless of the size of the order, have a small free-shipping threshold or at least flat shipping rates. A common thing is to include the shipping cost in the price of the item and write in capital letters FREE SHIPPING!

More tips are waiting for you in the second part of our article on customer expectations from online shopping. Stay tuned and sell smart!

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