Due to stay-at-home orders and other regulations, online shopping has become the preferred way to make purchases for many consumers, which has had a major impact on ecommerce sales across industries. The quick shift from a mix of on and offline shopping to primarily online shopping means that retailers will need to be prepared to serve new customers and support more ecommerce transactions in the coming months. As the demand for ecommerce services continues to rise, so does the need for retailers to pay close attention to how they are providing digital customer experiences.

To deliver exceptional customer experiences at scale, retailers need to have their finger on the pulse of changing consumer expectations. Simply having the right product available through the right channels is no longer enough for retailers to remain competitive and attract customers online. Consumers today demand real-time transparency, accuracy, and reliability throughout the entire digital commerce journey from browsing to delivery. That”;s why the leading retailers and marketplaces are turning to a new class of automated platforms and intelligent software to ensure that every transaction is personalized, convenient, and secure for customers.

In the age of COVID-19, retailers must be on top of the trends that are influencing and driving purchasing habits if they want to deliver positive customer experiences in 2020 and beyond. According to Avalara and PSFK”;s Digital Commerce Playbook, the following trends are shaping the modern customer experience online:

Frictionless expectations

Consumers expect each digital touchpoint–mobile, ecommerce, social media–to offer most of the same benefits as a store experience. This means that every interaction should be consistent for the shopper across every channel. For example, if a customer starts browsing on their mobile device, they expect to be able to step right back into their search when they open up their laptop at home. However, this type of frictionless experience cannot be achieved unless a retailer integrates its customer-facing interfaces with its backend operations, like supply chain management and enterprise resource planning. Retailers must ensure that all products are available through every channel and that their supply chain is equipped to make products available when customers are ready to complete a purchase. When customer-facing features are combined with intelligent solutions and automation on the backend, retailers can ensure that customers receive the same positive experience through any channel, on any device.

Similar to frictionless buying and fulfillment experiences, consumers also expect to have personalized digital shopping experiences. In fact, a study showed that 63% of online shoppers are more open to sharing personal information if it means brands and retailers can better anticipate their needs. Retailers should enable customers to customize everything from product design to packaging, delivery, and customer support to best fit their wants and needs. Implementing emerging technology, like artificial intelligence, can help boost the personalization of the digital customer experience. For example, apparel brand Espirit worked with Salesforce to create an AI-powered ecommerce experience that predicts product recommendations based on recent searches and purchases. At the end of the day, in an increasingly crowded retail landscape, personalization is ultimately a competitive advantage for retailers.

Convenience culture

Consumers today are constantly bombarded with advertisements attempting to attract their attention in a variety of directions. With so much clutter for the buyer to push through, it”;s important for ecommerce sellers to be able to quickly attract the attention of consumers and ensure the shopping experience is pleasant and easy from the very beginning until delivery.

According to an Acquia report on customer experience, 90% of consumers say when they interact with a brand online, they want a convenient experience. A truly convenient experience begins before a customer even makes it to your website by making it as easy as possible for customers to find your online store and understand what you are selling. From there, your website must be easy to navigate and provide the support the customer needs throughout their time on your site. But convenience shouldn”;t stop with the website functionality. Retailers must prioritize convenience–without compromising security–throughout the checkout process, which means providing multiple payment options and clear tax calculations. Lastly, shoppers want convenient options for delivery, which means retailers should prioritize quick shipping, easy subscription services, and other options to enable customers to receive purchases on their schedule.

Beyond convenience at every step of the web-based shopping experience, retailers should make shopping convenient across any channel or device. In addition to laptops and mobile devices, online retailers should also leverage social media to create a more convenient shopping experience for those browsing on their social platforms. Social and digital platforms are blurring the line between retail and media channels by integrating commerce capabilities into their user content. By blending powerful content with shopping access, retailers can simultaneously encourage customers to browse and discover products, and then seamlessly and conveniently purchase.

Value in transparency

Transparency, privacy, and security have become top concerns for customers and businesses alike. To reduce the risk of unpleasant customer experiences, delivery and order fulfillment delays should always be disclosed upfront. In addition to service interruptions, customers also want to know how their data is being used in each retail transaction and they want to have control over its storage and application. Further, they expect their data to add value to their experience, whether through personalized recommendations or estimating taxes and fees for their purchase in real-time.

Prioritizing the checkout experience

Creating a simple, smooth checkout process is critical to delivering a positive digital experience. Customers expect their payment information to be automatically provided across all channels, and they trust that their private data is being tokenized or stored on secure systems. Aspects of the checkout experience like accurate sales tax calculation, diverse payment methods, and shipping options should be top of mind when choosing the right technology for your business.

Online retailers should ensure that their checkout process has the right technology in place to make it easy for customers to complete their purchase, while also reducing the number of abandoned carts. To guarantee a positive checkout experience, online retailers should be updating their point of sale (POS) systems to provide a consistent, accurate experience across all sales channels, and have the flexibility to offer alternate payment plans such as a micro-credit and layaway. By innovating at the POS, brands build trust and loyalty with today”;s online shoppers.

To create exceptional customer experiences, it is critical that businesses take a close look at the functionality of their online stores to ensure that they are aligning with the expectations of consumers. In an omnichannel digital selling environment, paying close attention to the nuances of customer experience across channels and devices is key to ensuring that retailers are not turning away any potential customers due to subpar shopping experiences. Fortunately, automation and technologies exist today that can easily integrate into an online retailers”; existing business systems to help foster a seamless, personalized, and convenient shopping experience that keeps customers coming back again and again.

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