Now that mobile shopping has firmly secured its position in modern retail, the next step is for retailers to differentiate themselves online to capture those m-commerce dollars.
And customer service, it seems, will be the key way to do it.
In eDigital Research’s latest eRetail Benchmark, British fashion e-tailer ASOS topped the charts for best overall customer experience—mostly because it makes everything easy. British department store John Lewis ranked second, followed by London-based Notonthehighstreet.com, a site for original, handcrafted findings.
“Digital customer experiences are increasingly becoming on a par with one another,” the benchmark study noted. “It means that the entire end-to-end online journey all the way through to logistics and after sales care are becoming more important than ever before.”
Mobile sales are expected to overtake desktop sales as soon as this year, and that growth trend has forced brands to up their sites’ mobile shopping functionality.
At ASOS, consumers said, the desktop site has highly navigational filters and it’s accessible from search results pages, which means shoppers can use logical filters to sift through product and find what they’re looking for.
One consumer surveyed said of ASOS, “The information about each product is detailed and well organized. There are plenty of images of each item. The view catwalk feature is especially good which lets you watch a video of the item. It is a bit disappointing that there are no customer reviews.”
ASOS e-commerce keeps consistent across mobile and desktop, and shoppers ranked it No. 1 for navigation because of the comprehensive categories that help them search the site.
“When it comes to navigation, users expect to see the same navigational tools and features across all digital touch points,” according to the report. “Brands that didn’t perform well didn’t offer the ability to filter products or had poor filtering functionality particularly on mobile.” H&M ranked second for navigation, followed by New Look.
When ranking home page looks, New Look nabbed the top spot for its fast loading pages, simple navigation and clear offers and promotions next to their seasonal trends feature. ASOS and House of Fraser followed.
“With first impressions being vital to the digital experience, retailers need to ensure their homepage encourages customers to browse, offering clear navigational links and strong branding,” the report noted. “Homepages which are attention grabbing yet simplistic are more likely to trigger positive emotions making users more likely to continue browsing.”
Notonthehighstreet.com has the best search function, according to consumers, because it’s easy to use and has accurate predictive text suggestions.
“Searching by specific criteria reflecting what may be important to customers such as ‘can be personalized’ and ‘eco-friendly’ helps them narrow their search quickly and efficiently,” according to the report. ASOS ranked second for search and Amazon came in third.
Delivery, naturally, also plays a vital role in a consumer’s loyalty to an online brand, and in this category, Etsy took the cake.
The handmade and vintage site that hosts individual sellers helps them provide delivery tracking for customers and communication throughout the delivery process keeps shoppers happy. UK clothier Wallis and John Lewis followed Etsy for best delivery experience.
So what does all this mean?
It means without a stellar customer experience, traditional marketing and advertising are “virtually ineffective,” as eDigital Research puts it.
This year, five key trends will define the digital retail experience: 1) Retailers will need a single customer view to deliver the right experience to the right customers; 2) One day and flash sale events will cement the importance of delivery and logistics; 3) Use of social media—namely Instagram as the photo platform is becoming renowned for its discovery purposed—will increase; 4) Mobile sales will overtake desktop and; 5) Video and interactive content will be used to drive sales.
And according to eDigital analysts, 2016 will be the year of emotion.
“In 2016, we’ll see brands starting to deliver the right experiences to the right people at the right time,” the report noted. “Emotion is the biggest driver behind loyalty and repeat purchases. It means increasingly, brands need to create an emotional connection with their customers and treat them as if it’s just the two of them.”