For almost two decades, Digital Customer Experience Retail reports have been providing vital best practice and guidance as retailers and brands navigate changing consumer expectations. Maru/edr’s latest report revealed that ease and functionality are still fundamental to a great digital customer experience. Here Associate Director for Retail, Kat Hughes, explores just what a functional site experience looks like and why online retailing giant Amazon continue to deliver when it comes to great experiences.
Online retailing is continuing to grow at a dizzying rate. Consumers are forecast to spend 30% more in 2017 than they did last year; that’s a 30% increase on an already staggering £1.9 trillion spent, just online, in 2016. So as people continue to part with more and more cash over their phones and tablets, it’s crucial that retailers get their digital customer experience right.
But what makes a great online experience?
The latest findings from Maru/edr suggest that ease and functionality continue to remain central to a great digital experience.
The results demonstrate that retailers must get the core fundamentals right before looking to add value through additional features or innovations.
Insight shows that shoppers much prefer sites that boast clear navigation from the off over sites that promote inspiration and content on their homepage.
It’s no trek through the retail jungle
Amazon might share its name but navigating the online retail giant is far easier than navigating its sprawling tropical namesake. Once again it has topped the Maru/edr retail benchmark report with a functional site that is simple and easy-to-use.
Amazon lead the way for their search functionality, produce pages, shopping basket and checkout.
Shoppers rated highly the accuracy of Amazon’s search function, including the elements needed to perform a successful search.
“The keyword search on Amazon is intuitive and exceptional. It seems to know just what I am looking for. Search results are extremely relevant and at minimum I can filter search results by review and brand. Predictive text in search is accurate, helpful and works.”
When it comes to product pages, no other retailer compares to Amazon’s quality and quantity of customer reviews. Amazon’s sheer depth of reviews, coupled with features such as customer Q&A means that Amazon score top marks for their product pages.
“Customer reviews are helpful. There is even an option to ask others questions about the product.”
However, it’s not just customer reviews that sees them claim top marks for product pages. Shoppers also rated Amazon’s quality of photos, alternative images and the zoom tool.
Nine in ten shoppers rated highly the number of clicks needed to add items to their Amazon shopping basket – the highest of any retailer in the benchmark. Shoppers also like how simple it was to add, change or delete items in their basket, as well as the in-stock communication clearly displayed before they’d even entered the checkout stage of their journey.
“I found adding items to the basket, removing them and carrying on shopping to be very easy, all just one click. The items are described well and the delivery timescale and charge is shown.”
“As a registered user of this site, I found the purchase experience very easy. I particularly like the one-click ordering facility whereby they use information they have of you”.
“Excellent for tracking your orders, very good for covering everything without having to speak to everyone”.
Self-service is the customer experience key
The question is, how do you provide service in the increasingly independent – and isolated – world of online retail? What has to change without the advantage of a well-placed, well-trained shop assistant to swing a sale or appease a disgruntled customer?
The answer is self-service. Brands must instead create a platform whereby the customer can complete the online journey without ever feeling that they need that human support.
In an analysis of over 144,000 individual responses to web exit surveys, results showed that excellent satisfaction ratings were coupled with factors that utilise clear product information, browsing trends, customer reviews, relevant media content, inspiring ideas and tailored guides; that is, elements of online retail that promote ease and functionality whilst also seeking to personalise the experience and make the customer feel that the brand is working with them to achieve their specific task.
In effect, the site’s navigability takes on the role of the shop assistant. Its quality is measurable on the investment made in it and is as important to the customer journey as any member of staff.