People buy things with… their emotions, trying to make their life a little better and more accessible.
Therefore, online shopping is hunting for dopamine that kicks that makes modern people feel good.
Ok, but the website and buying experience is just the beginning of your relationship with your new clients and just a tiny part of your existing client’s journey. So, if you want to keep them close in the long run, you need to keep the “feel good” experiences coming.
The bad news is that customers expect from you, online stores, big or small, just to be perfect.
The good news is that there’s still low competition in the companies that genuinely care.
Valentin Radu emphasizes very well how we can show customers that we care and how we should act in this experience economy:
“At the beginning, we used to extract commodities and sell them as they were. Then, we produced goods that got commoditized. Then, services, thanks to customization, are now being transformed into experiences that should be staged accordingly.
So, as CXO, CVO strategist, entrepreneur, eCommerce manager, marketing manager, or decision-maker responsible for how your company treats the customers, you have to start acting more like a movie director.
Owning the eCommerce game is not about the best prices or the best ad campaigns anymore. Instead, it’s about changing your company’s mindset and becoming the director who stages experiences at every touchpoint with the customers.
Stay aware of the emotions associated with the products that you sell.
Monitoring customer experience is becoming the next arena in the eCommerce competition.”
Jeff Bezos said we should obsess over customer experiences. Ok, he also talked about his goal of Amazon becoming the earth’s most customer-centric company, but that doesn’t stop us from creating our most customer-centric version so far. And, who knows, we could even get there, on top of the eCommerce world, before Bezos.
Apart from the obsession with the quality of experience, we’ve noticed some common characteristics in the examples received from our fellow eCommerce experts:
- Personalized content and adding the human feel in every interaction makes your customers fall in love with your store;
- Keeping predictability in the shipping process and adding surprise in the unboxing experiences is a winning mix;
- Constantly testing and learning from experiments helps you fine-tune the experiences you craft for your customers.
Read this Customer Experience roundup and get inspired by how other eCommerce brands are answering one burning question:
“What happens after a customer bought from your store?”
Sephora and Nespresso!
Nespresso does a great job with the onsite, offline, and post-purchase experience.
From using personalization to bucket people towards the right path on the site based on what job they are trying to get done.
To the great onboarding experience when registering your coffee machine if you bought it from their 3rd party resellers.
To their app, which makes it super easy to manage the capsules subscription program.
Sephora nails it in 3 different ways:
- Their engaged onsite community section with almost 5 million people, which is great for both retention and product development;
- Their virtual skincare consultation and services, which increase trust in their brand and give people a personal touch;
- Their onsite quizzes (they have 9!!) give people a personalized recommendation of products based on their needs and skin type.
Snug – The Sofa in a Box Company has absolutely nailed the customer experience. Every aspect of buying from Snug, from initial interaction on their site to warming you up to receive the product is exceptional and well thought out.
After purchasing the product, you receive frequent text/email updates on the status of the delivery in a quirky, playful way. Upon receiving the product, it’s packaged beautifully and contains several funny notes inside the boxes once you unpack them, including notes from the cushions telling you how relieved they are to find a loving home having been locked up in the dark of the cardboard box. It really is an epic unboxing experience that revolutionizes the experience of buying a sofa, which is traditionally a nightmare.
Combined with their aftercare approach from their Customer Experience team of thoughtful follow-ups/asking for feedback on how they did, it’s just a very holistic, customer-focused journey mapped out from start to finish.
Having had the opportunity to work directly with Snug, I’d say this trickles down from the culture prevalent within the company and an obsession with the quality of the experience for the customer beyond profits. It’s certainly paid off.
2 brands recently stood out to me on CX: Hapa Kristin & AllPlants
Hapa Kristin. This one’s under the radar (for some reason) – They sell colored eye lenses. And the CX is phenomenal because of the photography and the videography. Having extremely high-quality photography assets doesn’t always make sense – but in certain categories such as something so personal as contact lenses – having it is absolutely crucial. It brings a sense of confidence and trust that the product will be safe to use. Plus it showcases the nuances of the product in an unparalleled way.
AllPlants also stood out to me from a CX perspective. It’s a subscription-based vegan meal delivery service. I can’t imagine they make a ton of money on first-order, so pushing LTV is absolutely crucial for that business. And their experience of modifying a subscription is exemplary.
A consumer receives a simple text a few days before delivery, prompting them to modify/pause or skip their order. No extra spam – just that one informational text. That text comes with a simple link that takes you to a clean, simple, on-brand page that allows you to make easy modifications. The flow is so seamless and removes all friction in making amendments to a subscription, which yields higher retention and LTV.
Director of Marketing Client Services @ Happy Cog
I’m not sure if this counts as e-commerce, but I’d have to say Netflix. They are constantly testing and iterating to improve their system. Because their viewership depends so heavily on the personalized recommendations they make for users, it’s in their best interest to personalize the experience as much as possible.
No one’s user login screen is the same – down to the cover art used to promote a specific show or film.
What can other brands learn from this? Test all the things! You won’t necessarily hit it out of the park with a fantastic experience right away. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. But test and learn from your experience.
Secondly, as much as it pains me to say this, I’d also say Amazon, for the same reasons. They consistently test and learn what drives the right customer behaviors. Then they double down on that to create massive growth.
Extraordinary experiences are not born; they’re made. And they are only a result of a willingness to try and fail, then fail and learn.
First on my list is Tracksmith. I’ve been a Tracksmith customer since they launched by giving runners credit based on the number of miles they were logging on Strava. Everything about their experience is excellent… the product, the storytelling, the shipping, the returns.
The second brand is Trade Coffee. More of a retailer/drop shipper, I’m a huge fan of Trade. I like to support craft coffee roasters. While they produce great coffee, very few are large enough to effectively handle logistics and get me that coffee in a fast, predictable fashion. Trade does that. They curate great coffees and handle the shipping so that I get my coffee when they see it’s going to arrive. Predictability is underrated.
Founder @ The Good
Jon MacDonald is the founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, The Economist, and more. He regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.
Blume and Glossier both are great examples of a customer experience that can be replicated with some effort.
Blume does an amazing job of offering up-sells in the conversion path, by making it easy to increase the order value. Going to purchase a gift? How about these gift packs (+$30)? Added it to the cart, and want gift wrapping and a sticker (+$5)? Then they have a simple one-click checkout to capture the conversion. This all takes a typical AOV from $28 to $63.
Glossier provides a customer experience that resonates with their fans because it is informed by their feedback from a wide variety of channels. Founder Emily Weiss declared for re/code: “The way we look at it is that we’re building this people-powered ecosystem… We have a direct relationship with every single person who buys something from us, unlike all of the incumbent companies that have built through retail channels.” This optimized customer experience works: Glossier attributes 90% of revenue growth to word-of-mouth marketing!
Many brands offer what could, at first glance, be a great “customer experience” in some aspect of the journey. However, brands that really nail it focus on improving whole journeys and measure their impact in terms of retention and customer lifetime value (CLTV.)
Here’s the first example. A lot of motorcycle gear is a commodity, and there’s a ton of competition and overlapping product selections. This is why Revzilla (a US-based online motorcycle-gear retailer) differentiated itself from the pack by offering a better customer experience.
They understand their customers’ needs
If you have ever purchased auto parts online, you will be familiar with the uncertainties around whether what you are buying is compatible with your specific make and model. Yet, most ecommerce sites just list the basic manufacture product info, putting the onus on the customer to go and find out if the part will work with their bike.
What Revzilla did was work out which products were compatible with which bikes. So when a customer searches for any part, Revzilla will give them results that will fit their bike. Customers can also save their bike(s) to a virtual “Garage”– this information is used to send targeted emails specific to the bike brands in the users’ garage.
What can you learn from this brand:
Conduct user research to understand your specific user problems/needs and wants. You can’t improve the customer experience without knowing what the issues are first.
They offer an experience that customers can control
When setting up an account Revzilla asks the user to select the content that is relevant to them. Once users have submitted their details, they are presented with a modal saying “Customize Your Revzilla Experience!” The modal features eight options based on the type of bike/riding style and adjusts the experience accordingly.
What can brands learn/do?
Think about where and how you can give power to the customer to control parts of the customer experience.
They do things that don’t scale as easily but add immense value
Their customer service team is made up of people whose personal lives revolve around motorbikes. Meaning they are able to provide off-script advice based on deep personal product knowledge that truly helps customers. And looking at their customer reviews, it seems like one of the main reasons customers choose them over competitors.
What can brands learn/do?
Discover where you can delight your customers by going beyond their expectations. Most people don’t expect to speak to a passionate subject matter expert when they call a contact center.
The second brand is AO.com and their core product is household appliances, products that are considered purchases that are bought infrequently.
They give customers a choice on how to shop
AO presents the user with several options depending on the mindset of the user:
- I’m in the initial research stage: AO offers a “Find the perfect washing machine for you” banner that links to a buying guide. This helps mitigate any user uncertainty around if they are selecting the best product for them. It also increases trust in the brand and reduces the possibility of buyer remorse by helping users make an informed decision.
- I’m in comparison mode: The PLP includes all the key information for each product, presented as bullet points. This enables the user to compare products directly on the PLP, without the need to go through a traditional “add to comparison list” from the PDP.” However, this option is still available should the user wish to use it.
- I’m ready to make a decision: Carefully selected questions/choices that filter out anything that is not relevant. For example: If purchasing a washing machine and starting the journey from the homepage, they ask the user to select three things: “product type”, “product fit type”, and “wash load.” Making these three choices filters out about 97% of the onsite products that are not relevant and helps to reduce the paradox of choice on the PLP.
What can brands learn/do?
How can you provide the best experience for users/buyers in different stages of their journey? It empowers users to make an informed and educated decision to allow users to shop in a way that works best for them without trapping them in any particular process.
This is an example I saw on a LinkedIn post. Chewy has a subscribe and save, where you save 5% off your order if you subscribe for food, medicine, etc. The poster mentioned that the dog had JUST passed away when a subscription got delivered, which obviously means the poster didn’t need the food. They contacted customer support to cancel their subscription and save, mentioning that their dog had just passed away. What did Chewy do? They canceled the subscription. They refunded the person back for the order, telling them they can donate the food to a local shelter if they’d like. Then… they sent the person flowers! Chewy set the standard high for ‘being human’ in an industry centered around furry animals.
Wanted to go a little “out of the box” on this one. A year-ish ago (what is time anymore?!), my Google Pixel phone was being very buggy. The front-facing camera was only working half the time (which was frustrating for face unlock). So I sent in an RMA to get it fixed.
This is where I think the ‘Thinking of the Customer’ piece came in. In our world, using our phones is EVER important. Small things like checking your email, calling mom to check in on her, getting multi-factor authentication for using your bank… not having access to your phone can REALLY remove you from important things in your life.
What Google (among others) has done is they priority ship you a replacement phone BEFORE you send off your ‘broken’ phone. However, they just put an authorization charge for the replacement phone in case you break that new phone. This way, you get to have the replacement phone before you ship off your non-working phone. This to me is thinking of the customer experience – users generally can’t be without a phone, so getting them a phone before they ship off theirs is a good experience for those users!
Co-founder @ Cartloop
Lisa is the co-founder at Cartloop, a conversational SMS marketing app for Shopify brands. She’s a Med School graduate turned to tech, an entrepreneur with over 6 years of eCommerce experience, now bringing the in-store experience online, one text message at a time.
The first brand on my list is ShineOn. They’re a really fantastic US-based brand that crowdsources unique and creative products led by the guiding principles of sustainability and social impact. They’re really focused on community building and it shows— they have 18k over members now.
What they do really well is how they continuously engage their community to build their trust. If you visit their website, ShineOn creates a lot of social proof content by letting their customers in on their process.
They know the values they stand for and are proud of their processes, and love to show them how their values embody every step if you visit their website from Made By Moms videos, events, and testimonials.
They also understand firsthand that a conversational approach really works! They chose an instant, two-way communication channel like SMS to talk to their customers and build better relationships. And lastly, they continuously learn more about their customers by diving into their conversational SMS marketing data insights and rigorous A/B testing to find out what their customers want and enhance their CX.
Another really great brand that puts its customers first is Oner Active, and activewear women’s brand founded by fitness trainer and influencer Krissy Cela. They are determined to make fitness and well-being accessible, powerful, and sustainable for all women.
They really focus on providing value to their audience that reflects their goal and values. They do offer a lot of free and valuable content to their community. Their social media profiles are 80% user-generated content from happy customers. Their success was really built on top of community and influencer marketing.
They also cared about what their customers were saying with an active feedback loop across multiple marketing channels. For example, they leverage social media and email to conduct surveys. And SMS marketing to provide their customers with instant updates on shipping and delivery information.
Lastly, they don’t lose their personal note. While Krissy hosts these free Zoom workouts herself, they make sure their customers understand their brand personality, how they started and are still improving. Keeping your customers close also means you get to show them you’re a person too behind the brand— and her customers love it!
Wrapping up, these brands have 3 pillars in common that are key to nailing the customer experience: community, transparency, and data.
Founder @ Tailor Framed
I’m the founder of Tailor Framed, a Web Development company that relies on user research to make informed web design and copywriting decisions. My goal with every project is to make the most of the traffic you already have and make a great first impression on every visitor.
What makes Glossier’s brand strategy and CX so amazing is the fact that it revolves around a simple message. “Skin First. Makeup Second.” Choosing makeup is so hard without trying it on first, especially from a new brand. But Glossier specifically creates products that blend well and can work on a broad range of skin tones.
The website is easy to navigate. The social proof is easy to find. The product descriptions are well thought out. And you can add free samples to your order when you checkout.
Boxed goes the extra mile in so many ways. (Boxed is basically the eCommerce version of Costco). There are multiple ways to navigate (Category, diet, organic, sale). They send you a picture of your box once it’s packed (With an email subject line “Your box just took a selfie” and each box has a handwritten note inside.
I’d say the main takeaways here are:
- have a website that’s easy to navigate
- helpful product descriptions
- social proof
- send shipping updates
Bonus points if you can personalize the package in some way. Either with a note, candy, or branded packaging.
Two eCommerce companies really stick out in my mind for customer experience: Purple Mattresses and REI.
If you haven’t heard of them, Purple sells mattresses, pillows, sheets, etc. REI sells camping, hiking, and outdoor adventure gear.
In my opinion, a great customer experience starts with this question…
“What happens after I’ve bought your product?”
This can mean a lot of things. An 11-star experience might be showing up to your customer’s house with Elon Musk and a parade in their honor. A 1-star experience might be dropping off their order in a limp cardboard box that’s been sitting out in the rain. The idea is to start with extreme experiences, then work your way to something “awesome but attainable.”
I’m borrowing this from a Masters of Scale podcast episode on how AirBNB imagines “an 11-star check-in experience.” It’s pretty wild and I would recommend every eCommerce owner give it a listen here.
After you go through this “thought experiment”, you can turn these into practical deliverables for your eCommerce store. I start by looking at packaging and onboarding for the customer experience.
Purple nails packaging really well. REI nails onboarding. Purple’s boxes are super consistent with their branding and they use “wasted space” inside their packages to answer FAQs and add user instructions. It’s pretty neat:
This may seem really boring to most store owners. But your customers are anything BUT bored when they’re trying to use your product!
Purple does a great job of giving you clear instructions right off the bat on how to get a firmer pillow and how to keep it clean. As a person who likes firm, clean pillows, knowing how to do these things puts my mind at ease.
Other pillow companies literally give me the “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW” tags to follow. Purple builds a better experience right into their shipping boxes.
If you nerd out about product packaging and inserts like I do, check out this swipe file I’ve built up over the last few years.
For onboarding, you want to show your customers how to actually USE your product and get the most out of it. You build loyalty, set up the second sale, and get them to fall in love with your company.
Borrowing from REI, I recently bought a new pair of snowshoes and they followed up with this email:
It’s brilliant. One link took me to a blog post that walked me through what to expect while snowshoeing (including avalanche classes they offer).
I didn’t even think about avalanches or cornices as possible dangers while snowshoeing. I thought you’d only worry about the avalanche forecast with backcountry skiing. This email set me up with more realistic expectations and got me to wait for a day with lower avalanche danger.
Then the second blog post in the email gave me a handy checklist of what to bring on my next snowshoeing trip. This is huge! As someone who goes backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, nothing is worse than getting out on the trail and realizing you forgot something major.
So those are two brands that I think are really doing an awesome job of building a great experience and relationship with their customers from the get-go.
As eCommerce is a game built around human emotions, keep in mind the wise words said by Maya Angelou: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel”.
But how do you measure human emotions and then transform them into actionable data?
Well, by evaluating their customer experience based on some KPIs: Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES), Time to First Response (TTFR), Time to Resolution (TTR).
“Oh, great, more KPIs…”
Don’t worry. Monitoring those metrics won’t put more burden on your teams’ shoulders. On the contrary, once you set them up, they work on auto-pilot while you get more and more connected to how your customers feel about your store.
Having all this first-hand feedback from your clients will help you optimize customer experience based on real data, not on assumptions.
Is it worth it? Well, companies that nail customer experience, a.k.a. CX Leaders, outperform the market, generating three times greater ROI than CX Laggards.
We know how important it is to make decisions based on expert advice, so to support you in this matter, we highly recommend you to grab our 100% free (no need to fill in a form) ebook on Customer Experience in eCommerce. You’ll find everything you need to know about CX in eCommerce: how to create the best experiences, how to measure them, and what factors influence the CX.
PS: The ebook is not gated so we do not collect your data 😉