In the last couple of years, internet has become an integral part of our lifestyles. Likewise, with the availability of cheap computing technology, the popularity of e-shopping and e-commerce websites has also risen. Thousands of B2C and B2B e-commerce websites have spurred up, with a global market of millions to target. ‘Statista’ reveals that Amazon is the most popular website in the US in terms of visitors, followed by eBay. In 2013, total revenue generated by B2C e-commerce websites exceeded 1.2 trillion US dollars.
Although most e-commerce websites offer shopping convenience with a multitude of products and services which are delivered to customers at their doorstep, the importance of improving the overall customer experience remains pivotal. The staggering success of Amazon and eBay is the provision of premium customer experience, which not only offer speedy hassle-free services, but also surpasses customer expectations by going an extra mile. Some of the essentials that all e-commerce websites need to consider in order to provide a seamless shopping experience are as follow:
E-commerce businesses need to understand the importance of reliable, efficient and customer-centric multi-channel support. Customers today expect a consistent customer experience over multiple communication channels. E-commerce websites should not only maintain and provide service through multiple channels, but also enable seamless integration through database management and real-time synchronization.
In order to provide seamless customer support, e-commerce websites should ideally develop a support center for central communication from where all interactions are carried out. This will ensure that all channels are well-integrated and all the relevant information is synced and up-to-date in the database.
Email and voice are popular channels, which cannot be ignored since most customers would like to talk to a customer representative for their queries or complaints. Additionally, Live Chat is one of the essentials for e-commerce websites for the provision of effective customer support, since it allows customers to chat in real time with a representative on the website. This means any questions, complaints or problems are handled right away.
The popularity of smartphones and other portable devices has grown exponentially. In order to provide efficient customer support, ecommerce websites need to be responsive and mobile friendly. Many e-commerce websites have developed mobile phone apps for their services so that customers can have easy and simple access. These apps also simplify the process of authentication and verification, since many phones now have finger print readers which can be used for purchase authentication purposes. Other benefits of mobile apps also include pop-up notifications which can help an e-retailer advertise and promote latest offers and discounts to their customers.
Social networking websites have billions of users, who are actively participating in discussions, conversations, and transactions. E-commerce websites need to understand the importance of human interactions since they positively impact the purchasing decisions of customers. It is a lot easier and convenient for customers to interact in an informal environment such as Twitter or Facebook. This encourages communication and relationship building with customers, which in turn helps boost sales and profits for the company.
Alternatively, many e-commerce websites have an official forum where customers can interact with each other in a user-based community to talk about various products/services. This will help start a dialogue and boost interest among customers about latest products, sales, and promotions.
Ecommerce websites have several advantages over conventional store retailers. These websites should capitalize on their strengths and pass on some of the benefits to the customers which will also help them remain competitive in the long-run. Since e-commerce websites don’t operate a physical store, they don’t have to pay overheads like, rent etc. This allows e-commerce websites to save on costs, hence, enabling them to offer competitive pricing to the customers. Lower price is also one of the most appealing aspects of shopping online for customers.
Customer service is a process which requires constant improvement and correction. In order to understand the market trends and decipher new and emerging needs of the customers, it is important to develop an effective feedback mechanism. This will allow businesses to collect invaluable information about the customer and issues they may be facing during or after their transactions. Some of the ways through which companies can gather feedback include, calling back after transactions, live chat portal for feedback and complaints, surveys and questionnaires.
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