Last modified: February 21, 2018
How evolving consumer habits have shaped digital sales channels.
The way consumers behave online has vastly changed in the last 10 years. Brands have to move quickly to keep up, particularly when it comes to their ecommerce channels. As consumers become more savvy, brands need to find innovative ways to enhance customer experience online. The result is an increasingly complex ecommerce destination that prioritizes customer experience.
Brands must design their online customer experiences to match modern consumer habits.
The days when customers trust salespeople for information about a product or service are over. Consumer reports, product descriptions and customer reviews all significantly impact buying behavior. Many consumers visit brand websites directly to obtain as much product information as possible prior to purchase. Overall, consumers want transparency in the form of accurate information and an assurance that the product is being sold for the lowest price.
- How brands are responding: Brands are increasingly transparent about their product offerings, listing detailed information – including customer reviews – on their ecommerce and digital retail sites. Including promotional offers in the D2C channel also ensures the customer doesn’t have to go elsewhere to receive the best price. Many brands also have integrated customer support functionality into their online channel to ensure no question goes unanswered.
Consumers are putting information to good use. Comparison shopping is an ecommerce mainstay, particularly in digital retail marketplaces.
With easy access to information, consumers are willing to spend significant time comparing options before initiating a purchase.
- How brands are responding: Transparency and personalisation strategies have helped consumers feel more comfortable with their purchases. Successful brands also have designed channels to give customers an indication of which products they’ve already browsed to make comparing products easier. Providing product reviews in the ecommerce space, enables brands to offer consumers a sense of transparency and community that can be major factors in driving conversions.
Speed of purchase
Modern consumers want their product quickly, and they don’t want to have to work to get it. They expect ecommerce channels to provide fast, easy and intuitive purchase options.
- How brands are responding: Successful brands understand that if consumers can’t buy products easily, they won’t buy them at all. Establishing direct ecommerce channels that are both intuitive and streamlined is critical for sustaining strong customer experiences. Designing systems that remove the need to re-enter account and delivery data with every purchase goes a long way toward ensuring customers don’t abandon purchases before payment.
Mobile now accounts for over 40 percent of all ecommerce sales, according to PCA Predict, and is quickly becoming the preferred means of purchase. Customers expect brands to have intuitive mobile platforms that make the purchase process easy no matter where they shop.
- How brands are responding: Every major company now has mobile capabilities that allow for smartphone purchases. But the most successful brands have designed their ecommerce sites to account for other modern consumer habits. Consistency across web, mobile, and in-store customer experience is critical for maintaining brand identity and driving conversions. Integrating preferred payment methods, including app-based systems like Venmo and PayPal, also remove barriers to purchase.
Customer experiences—and more importantly expectations—don’t end at the point of sale. Modern consumers value brand relationships and expect a high level of service following a purchase.
- How brands are responding: It’s crucial for brands to understand the value of end-to-end service. Successful brands establish consumer touch points well before the point of purchase to influence behaviour through personalised communications. And after purchase, they follow through with a high quality of service that ensures product delivery and support should customers need it.
Consumer buying habits are changing all the time. Brands that build customer experience strategies that incorporate transparency, personalisation, streamlined purchase processes, intuitive mobile sites, and end-to-end service are well positioned for today’s modern consumer.