Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach nearly $2.5 trillion by 2018, but the consumer expectations that will fuel those sales are shifting daily. Whether customers are clicking “Buy” from their phones or opting for curbside pickup, they’re looking for convenient, seamless experiences. For brands, yesterday’s innovation is today’s expectation.
Retailers are in a great position to reap the benefits of the growing e-commerce market. Those that succeed in this competitive landscape will do so by evolving rather than falling into the comfort trap. If customers and their expectations are continuously changing, so too should brands’ e-commerce strategies.
Three strategies, in particular, will put you ahead of the curve in winning the online shopper’s heart in 2016:
1. Take delivery beyond fast and free.
Retailers can’t afford to lose even one opportunity to delight customers. With the “fast and free” shipping model pioneered by Amazon.com now mainstream, the winners this year will need a strategic approach for using delivery as an engagement channel. Since the launch of Amazon Prime, we’ve seen retailers in an arms race to exceed one another’s shipping offers.
It’s time to ask: Is my approach really moving the needle? Customers, not competition, need to be the driving force. According to Deloitte, 87 percent of consumers say free shipping outweighs fast shipping. Perhaps your customers don’t need a package right away. Instead, consider ways to add to a customer’s experience throughout the delivery process, such as proactive notifications or personalized messages.
2. Measure success by retention.
More often than not, marketing departments measure their activity — and success — with acquisition metrics. This is true even though it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one happy. Even more shocking is that a mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent, according to Bain and Co. If revenue is the end game, then retention is the right play to make. What have you done today to make a current customer happy?
A mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent, according to Bain and Co.
3. Give customers a reason to stay — even after they buy.
People remember the experience, not the product. Consumers today become loyal advocates because they recall how they felt, not just what they bought. It’s critical that retailers remember the experience doesn’t end the moment a customer completes an online transaction. The premium, personalized experience should extend beyond purchase through the anticipation of tracking the package in real time, engaging with personalized messages about its arrival, and then unwrapping that branded box. Retailers must stitch together the moments from browsing to purchase to delivery and whatever comes next.
E-commerce is radically changing the retail landscape and the way consumers interact with their favorite brands, and that pace of change has only just begun. If retailers work to embrace the change to create exceptional experiences throughout the customer journey, they’ll inspire long-lasting loyalty in their customers.
We’d love to hear about your approach to building loyalty, or if you’ve been inspired by great examples out in the wild – hit us on Twitter @narvarinc.
This article originally appeared in TotalRetail