Hidden Customer Experience Opportunities for Online Retailers

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Digital Engagement
Customer Experience
Don Draper scolded Dow Corning executives in last night's "Mad Men" episode for being satisfied with 50 percent market share. He pushed them to shoot for 100 percent. That same urgency can be applied to online retailers' focus on the customer experience.

Don Draper scolded Dow Corning executives in last night's Mad Men episode for being satisfied with 50 percent market share. He pushed them to shoot for 100 percent. Antitrust issues aside, that same urgency can be applied to online retailers' focus on the customer experience.The competition for online shopping dollars is great, and many companies have put in a lot of effort to make sure customers have the best possible shopping experience. Individual recommendations, one-click purchase options, expedited delivery, and other features help online retailers compete for the consumer dollar. But a new study shows that many fail to see the entire customer experience process through, often falling behind in a key area - returns.

ComScore's Online Shopping Customer Experience Study surveyed more than 3,100 online shoppers, 86 percent of whom are satisfied with their overall online shopping experience. Satisfaction with ease-of-checkout ranked highest at 83 percent, followed by variety of products at 82 percent, and online tracking ability at 79 percent. Meanwhile, 65 percent are satisfied with the ease of making returns, and 58 percent are satisfied with the flexibility to choose a delivery date. While the numbers aren't bad, they do show opportunity for improvement.

The report found that 62 percent have returned something purchased online, and 63 percent of online shoppers look at a retailer's return policy before making a purchase. In addition, "nearly half said that they would shop more often and recommend a retailer with a lenient returns policy, indicating its value in driving customer loyalty," the report says. In addition, 58 percent of those surveyed said they would like to see improvements in free or discounted shipping among online retailers. And 42 percent would like to see the ease of returns and exchanges improved.

The customer experience isn't over when the sale is made, or even when the item is delivered. The entire customer lifecycle must be considered to keep overall satisfaction high. Just look at companies like Zappos as a best practice. It is one of the most admired online shopping brands, and one of the driving forces behind that is the company's free shipping both ways and no-questions-asked return policy.

The report's findings show areas of opportunity in the online shopping world. And with competition so high, any differentiation your company can offer will be a bonus. So heed Don Draper's advice and seize the chance to improve the customer experience. Just try not to smoke and drink as much as he does while doing it.

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EXPERT OPINION