While the Internet may have started out as a fairly anonymous and impersonal place, it has quickly become much more intimate. From targeted ads based on your browsing history to recommended products on your social feeds, what you see every time you log on is increasingly tailored to your tastes and habits.
Personalization has now evolved to a point where we usually expect a more personalized experience from the online places where we spend our time. This is especially true of the sites where we are considering spending our money. This is why improving customer intimacy is becoming vital for ecommerce businesses.
Long-term ecommerce success is now about so much more than maximizing individual transactions. Customers have expanded their definition of value to include things like dependability, branding, security, convenience and after-sale service.
Therefore, all points of the ecommerce experience need to focus on establishing trust and fostering positive long-lasting relationships with customers who will hopefully buy from you again and recommend you to others. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a study from IT in Practice reports that 27% of companies focusing on growth rank customer intimacy as their main objective in order to achieve more revenue.
Simply put, customer intimacy is tailoring your offer and ecommerce touch points as much as possible to individual customers. But while many online merchants are striving to connect with customers on a deeper level, adapting all the different ecommerce touch points to create a holistic, intimate customer experience can be challenging. Every touch point could easily take an ebook to cover, but I think the most important part to optimize is ‘the last mile of customer intimacy’ – the checkout.
The checkout stage is a critical part of the buying process where up to 80% of shoppers routinely end up abandoning their purchase. This is all the more frustrating because much of this is avoidable by making sure your checkout is tailored to your customers, including those from overseas.
People are much more likely to abandon their purchase if they feel hesitation so your ecommerce checkout needs to be as simple and easy as possible. Besides clutter and unnecessary form fields, another major source of friction can be displaying a price in a foreign currency or language. However, this can be mitigated with a localized checkout process that automatically displays the cart in a shopper’s native language and currency. This will reduce anxiety and reinforce trust with customers.
In terms of design, cart pages need to be simple and optimized to the preferences of your unique online shoppers. Behavioral targeting and A/B testing are great ways to get a more intimate mobile and desktop experience. When you start out, you may not know what your customer expectations are, but continually testing can give you the answer. In addition, avoid forms which clash with website design and concentrate on ubiquitous branding across all payment forms, fields and pages.
Essentially, everything on your ecommerce site from the first click should aim to reinforce trust and reduce hesitation that your solution is uniquely right for them. At the final checkout step, make your form as simple as possible and back up your cart with your security and privacy certifications.
Post-transaction, there are still customer touch points which can be optimized to improve each user’s experience. Post-purchase emails recognizing each customer’s purchase and providing them with a timeline for receiving their product or service along with company contact information is just one example.
Many B2B and B2C businesses have recognized the advantage offered by providing a more personalized experience for customers. For example, Kraft has a centralized information system which collects and analyzes customer data. As a result, the company can project how buying behavior is affected by certain factors. By tracking and analyzing these data points, the company has divided its customers into six distinct groups, stressing flexibility and responsiveness for the needs of each.
This responsive customer intimacy strategy is now also employed by top crowdfunding website GoFundMe. It has developed an experience that is, importantly, easy for both of their major customer segments: fundraisers and donors. The company’s easy and secure transaction process enables people to seamlessly and quickly create crowdfunding campaigns. Onboarding is simple for fundraisers, currencies are automatically localized for each donor’s domain and all online transactions are handled by GoFundMe.
It’s important to stress that customer intimacy goes beyond just providing online shoppers with an easy payment process. Your entire ecommerce experience has to be tailored to your customer segments from design to payment methods to receipts.
While this task can be daunting, the effort will produce more customers and, ultimately, more revenue.