Delivering consumer delight (and revenue) with digital experience intelligence
Of all of the customers who abandon your ecommerce site for any reason, only 12% are very likely to share feedback on why they left. That is a lot of valuable data slipping through the cracks. Leading retailers are harnessing that information—often through digital experience intelligence solutions—and using it to create better site experiences.
I recently hosted a panel with CommerceNext, and asked three ecommerce experts to share their best practices for making data-driven decisions to improve the ecommerce site experience. I was so pleased to have a panel of smart, opinionated leaders to guide our conversation, including:
Sarah Schultz, AVP - Ecommerce Product Management & Web Operations, Ann Taylor
Matt Powell, Chief Technology Officer, FTD
Stephanie Urban, VP Ecommerce, Urban Digital
Allan Dick, Co-Founder, CommerceNext (Moderator)
I’ve compiled the most critical insights and data points from our conversation into this quick read, but if you want to see the full webinar, you can access it here.
Even post-pandemic, digital isn’t going anywhere
Before we get started, here’s why it’s never been more important to provide a great ecommerce experience:
FullStory recently conducted a consumer survey, in which we found that 81% of consumers plan to maintain or increase their online usage even after in-person activities fully resume. Consumers have come to expect a certain level of digital service over the past year, and meeting those expectations will only become more important.
And 64% of consumers say they’ve been frustrated or struggled online in the last six months, citing page glitches as the most frustrating issue they encounter.
So, if we know all of this, what’s stopping retailers from acting? Many brands simply don’t have access to the data necessary to understand their complete customer experience. Which is detrimental to revenue, as one in three customers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.
Here are the panel’s insights on how to overcome these challenges and improve site experience.
1. Democratize your data
Democratized data—which allows your teams direct access to the data they need to do their jobs—is key to accelerating your digital transformation. Without clarity and unified access, digital teams can’t understand the customer journey (and its problems) at scale.
For example, Matt Powell’s team at FTD thinks of their data in two buckets: success metrics and diagnostic metrics. Success metrics include big picture data like LTV and NPS, which layer with granular diagnostic metrics associated with day to day operations. Making these two types of data readily accessible to the appropriate teams is key to driving results aligned with the full customer lifecycle.
Capturing data through privacy-focused methods empowers retailers to make the most of first-party data insights while protecting consumers.
2. Think about the customer journey from all angles
The moment a customer converts is, of course, a focal point for ecommerce pros—but it’s equally important to pay close attention to the pre- and post-sale experience. In an age when customer loyalty is difficult to earn, ensuring that the customer journey is seamless from homepage to delivery is table stakes for ecommerce brands.
As Ann Taylor’s Sarah Schults points out, while digital pros think of the customer journey in terms of buckets like pre-sale and post-sale, the customer doesn’t make these distinctions. Shoppers think about their experience with your company as a whole—and one bad piece cancels out all of the good.
3. Let creativity and data work together
Many businesses struggle with the concept of art versus science—or creativity/branding versus data—where the two are seen as adverse elements in a company. Our panel contends that, in reality, this tension doesn’t need to exist.
The Ann Taylor team tackled this challenge by making organizational changes that allow for more balance between merchandising and brand to ensure both short and long term business goals are met. According to Sarah Schultz, a successful site combines transactional elements with branding to create a balanced experience—but that mix should be supported by data.
In the same ways data and testing can inform how transactional elements should appear on a page, different types of data can help you understand how to best use creative elements on a page.
4. In the checkout flow, keep things simple
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when putting all available options on a checkout page was a best practice, because it gave the customer a sense of power. Today, consumers are constantly bombarded by choices, and more options aren’t always better in the ecommerce checkout flow.
In fact, in our recent consumer survey, 83% of shoppers say that a “good” site experience simply means being able to quickly accomplish what they came to do—not fancy bells and whistles.
For example, all of our panelists agreed that a checkout page should offer no more than three payment options (such as credit card, PayPal, and Klarna)—but that ultimately, these decisions should be driven by your ecommerce store’s unique DX data.
By keeping your checkout process streamlined, you can reduce decision fatigue and save customers’ click energy—making them more likely to get across the checkout finish line.
5. Find the “unknown unknowns”
The first rule of site experience is that you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. We often hear from our customers that FullStory answers questions they didn’t know to ask—and therefore reveals issues they didn’t know existed.
But how do you uncover that data? While traditional site experimentation should begin with a hypothesis, our panel recommends that looking at your DX data without a question or assumption can reveal hidden truths that you might otherwise have been blind to. Do you see any anomalies in your data? Does anything surprise you? Those are your unknown unknowns.