According to Fit for Commerce’s annual eCommerce report titled “From Idea to Doorstep”, succeeding in today’s ever-changing digital commerce world requires mastering a complex mix of people, process, and technology innovations that must all work seamlessly together. Online retailers face a myriad of choices — from developing the right strategy to building a high-performing team and laying a solid foundation of the right technologies. Today’s blog takes a look at the first step of the “Idea to Doorstep” continuum – shopper experience.
A great shopper experience can win a customer forever, but a lackluster experience can have a detrimental impact on your business. A minor mishap or poor experience can result in a lost sale and the possibility that the shopper will never return to your site. An experience that exceeds expectation, on the other hand, can result in a satisfied and loyal customer who will not only come back, but will also send new shoppers your way.
There are two major aspects to shopper experience – the design, features, and tools that create the experience, and the tools to measure and optimize performance to drive more engaging shopper experiences.
The shopper experience includes every interaction a shopper has with your digital interfaces – including eCommerce sites, mobile apps and even in-store kiosks. But, in today’s omnichannel world, you cannot simply think of user experience in terms of the online experience. As shoppers’ cross channels, hopping from online to mobile and mobile to the store interchangeably, the user experience becomes much broader and more critical than ever before.
The most critical element of a good shopper experience is to meet the needs of the customers within a reasonable set of time, with no confusion, frustration or errors – essentially providing a “frictionless” experience, regardless of which retailer touchpoint they are using.
Slow Performance: The Experience Killer
Retailers have invested heavily in delivering great online experiences. In the process, eCommerce sites have become increasingly complex. The average retail website today uses high resolution images, over 25 third-party technologies, and makes 220 calls to 80 servers to load every page. And as complexity increases, the conversion gains realized from these investments are often reversed by a reduction in speed and performance.
A Fast Experience is a Great Experience
Website performance needs to be a foundational element of any great customer experience. A retailer can build the most creative and intuitive website imaginable, but if it doesn’t load quickly, customers will never stay long enough to see it. Industry studies show that more than 50% of shoppers will leave a site if it doesn’t load with in three seconds. What’s the monetary impact of slow performance? Leading retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBags cite significant conversion loss when pages take more than 3 seconds to load. For example, eBags has found that every second of web performance latency after the three second loading mark results in a 7% loss in conversion on mobile devices.
Speed needs to be managed in all areas of shopper experience investment:
- Usability – Move shoppers through quickly: The most usable sites make it fast and easy to purchase products. However, the introduction of 3rd party technologies and responsively designed sites has increased the size and complexity of pages. This increases the occurrence of page load delays and page blocking violations that impede a customer’s progress. Any usability initiative should balance the bene t of new features against complexity that interferes with speed and performance.
- Creative Design – Remove restrictions: Retailers are always pushing to improve time to market and the success of product launches. However, many withhold the best creative elements and digital assets (high resolution images, videos, etc.) over concerns about page load times once customers progress past the home page. The best performance strategies allow these creative assets to be presented without slowing page load times and losing the attention of your customer.
- Personalization and User Reviews – Don’t let 3rd parties slow you down: Advanced UX features such as personalization and user reviews are proven to increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction. A more personalized experience draws customers to the best products, while ratings and reviews build confidence to make a purchase. But these features rely on communicating with 3rd parties that retailers do not control, and are common sources of delays and errors in delivering the web page.
Experiences can be Great and Fast
Building the best experience is a balancing act between offering features and design that customers love, limiting back-end complexity, and maximizing performance. Fortunately, next generation eCommerce acceleration technologies such as Yottaa now allow online retail sites to prioritize and optimally sequence the delivery of content, rather than just stripping it off the site. When done effectively, retailers can experience up to 60% performance improvements and as much as a 20% lift in conversion rates. But this requires viewing performance as a fundamental element of good design rather than a constraint.
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