Shopping is a social experience, even online. Buyers rely on collective social opinions when researching products; 81% of Facebook and Instagram users check comments and reviews on those sites before making a purchase and 70% of buyers research products on Amazon to see customer reviews.
Providing a good customer experience isn’t just about customer retention. Your buyer experience improves marketing, ongoing sales, and reviews — which then prompt even more sales.
In this article, we’ll talk about the key aspects that go into your buyer experience, how to improve it, and how to get reviews that reflect it.
Why is your buyer's experience so important?
Delivering a good buyer experience is essential to eCommerce growth. A good experience will set your brand apart from the crowd, drive repeat sales, and encourage new customers. It is even more crucial in competitive markets such as home and kitchen.
That’s all great for business, considering repeat purchases cost less per sale than new acquisitions, and a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by as much as 25%. This is especially true when customers who have had a good experience sign up for subscriptions and upsells.
Essentially, delivering a better buyer experience benefits everyone involved. eCommerce relationships go beyond single transactions, and prioritizing customer experience will boost growth.
How to improve your buyer experience
Your buyer experience spans from the first touchpoint (the very first time they hear about your brand or see your product) all the way through delivery, and even through post-purchase marketing and communications.
Here’s how to get all those moving pieces in sync to provide an amazing experience that delights your customers.
1) Align your communications with your product
A quality buyer experience starts with aligning your communications with your product. Buyers should know what to expect in order to be happy with the item they get. Keep in mind not all shoppers do their research, so you should set expectations from the onset and maintain a clear message.
Don’t Over Promise
Overpromising is the Catch-22 of marketing. You could make big promises to get a conversion, but the customer then ends up disappointed when their item arrives thanks to overselling. They end up being a single-purchase buyer, instead of a repeat customer. Even worse, you risk getting a bad review that’ll affect your future sales.
Match Marketing to Demographics
Advertising can help you target customers who need and benefit from your products. Properly matching problems to solutions can help you deliver a better buyer experience by ensuring the right buyers make the purchase.
If you try to sell or market to buyers who don’t need your product, you’ll end up with unhappy customers, bad reviews, and wasted product that doesn’t get its full use.
Create Quality Product Listings
Marketplaces are full of reviews complaining a product doesn’t match the description, it’s smaller or larger than expected, not the same color, or doesn’t fit.
In most cases, these complaints are caused by incomplete or unclear product listings. In other cases, the information is there but overlooked by buyers who don’t bother reading them. There are hundreds of seller complaints across Amazon Seller forums sharing negative reviews left by customers who simply didn’t read the description.
Either way, the buyer experience is the seller’s responsibility — and it’s in your best interest to get your product information across. Put key details into your photos, including product images from different angles, have measurement lines that show scale, and use text overlays to call out important features.
If customers have to scroll down through the product description to see information, many of them will miss it. Of course, keep in mind sometimes there’s just nothing more you can do, considering drunk shopping is a $48 billion industry.
2) Make it easy to purchase
If the first step of buyer experience management is setting expectations, the second is facilitating the purchase. That normally means removing the technical obstacles to checking out.
If you’re solely relying on marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart, you can skip this step. If you have your own webshop, loading and checkout speed are important.
Issues with popular checkout applications like Magento can greatly increase abandoned shopping carts. One study by Baynard shows that slow websites and checkout processes are responsible for 28% of abandoned shopping carts.
Plus, if slow websites are enough to cause 28% of shoppers to abandon the digital ship, slow speeds are detracting from the buying experience of those that power through.
28% of abandoned shopping carts happen because websites force users to register an account before they can make a purchase.
Customers increasingly buy on their phones, on tablets, and on other devices that haven’t saved their data. Forcing someone to input more data only reduces their chances of checking out.
Instead, consider opting for quick checkout options with guest registration. Google Shopping, Apple Pay, PayPal Express, and the like can greatly improve conversion rates. These tools allow buyers to quickly check out and provide payment and delivery details from accounts they’ve already set up.
In fact, one study shows that shops with express payment options have a 44% higher conversion rate than those without.
3) Manage inventory across channels
Multi-channel selling protects your business and provides multiple revenue streams. Diversification, both of your sales channels and fulfillment options, have proven vital to maintaining a healthy eCommerce business.
At the same time, multi-channel selling introduces complexities that can hurt the buyer experience. For example, dividing inventory between channels can mean selling out on one, while you still have inventory on another, or overselling because inventory isn’t available. Customers have to backorder or skip buying – both of which harm the buyer experience.
Getting a multi-channel listing tool to synchronize your orders across channels, and an outsourced fulfillment partner that can support deliveries anywhere you sell will go a long way to harmonizing your operations. This can also reduce costs because all inventory management is aggregated in one place. That means you save time with more efficient operations.
4) Perfect your delivery
Speaking of fulfillment, free, fast, and reliable delivery is a primary driver of both sales and good buyer experiences. Shipping costs and speed are one of your largest non-product influencers on your buyer experience. This is especially true as the consumer attention span gets shorter and your competitors start shipping faster.
75% of customers expect free shipping on orders $35 and up. These opinions are undoubtedly spurred by Amazon and Walmart but affect small eCommerce sellers who have to keep on par to compete. If you don’t offer free shipping, you risk losing the customer and degrading your buyer experience.
Of course, it’s important to be careful with thresholds and how you combine them with free returns. For example, if you set a high minimum order, you risk consumers ordering more than they need and then returning items.
Tip: Use an outsourced fulfillment partner to reduce warehouse and shipping costs, which can take some of the stings out of free shipping. You can calculate your all-inclusive fulfillment fees with Deliverr here.
Big marketplaces haven’t just influenced shipping cost, it’s also influenced shipping speed. 20% of consumers expect to see 2-day shipping options on all orders, with 31% of online shoppers expecting the same. 52% of shoppers say they look for fast shipping (2 days or less) and will prioritize marketplaces offering these solutions.
So, how do you keep up?
You can go in-house, building warehouses and amassing a fulfillment team to achieve fast shipping. Or, you could outsource your fulfillment. Take a look at one Shopify store below and how they feature fast shipping on their homepage.
A partner like Deliverr can offer nationwide 2-day delivery, with a network of warehouses so we can strategically place your items as close to your buyers as possible, based on historic demand.
Customers actively look for shipping estimates before making a purchase. In fact, Baynard calculates that 18% of shopping cart abandonment relates to lack of or slow delivery estimates.
Tracking numbers with live updates also greatly contribute to the customer experience, with 93% of respondents to a Convey survey stating that package tracking was extremely important to them.
5) Stay in touch
The buyer experience doesn’t end with receiving a package. Once the customer has their goods in hand, it’s your turn to follow up with strong communication, customer support, and incentives to remain a customer.
Every marketplace allows you to message buyers after a sale. You should take advantage of this. It’s important to start off by ensuring the customer is satisfied with their order. A good follow-up invites the buyer to request customer support and helps resolve any issues before making any other ask. Some platforms also allow you to invite the buyer to social media or an email list.
Leverage In-Package “Real Estate”
One of the only times you can send a request for a review is when selling on your own platform. You should do so when possible. In all other cases, you should leverage the “in-package real estate” to deliver invites to social media, requests for reviews, and incentives to shop again.
One great way to get early descriptive reviews for your product is using third-party companies like Revioly. Adding inserts, printing on the inside of your packaging, and adding free samples to encourage good feedback are also effective ways to increase your chance to get reviews for your products. If you can get a buyer to connect on social media, leave a good review, or sign up for your email list, you’re working toward future sales.
Some things you can try:
- Use discounts as incentives
- Offer discounts on the customer’s next purchase order
- Offer a free shipping coupon for their next order
- Use Revioly to encourage authentic and descriptive reviews
Note: Some marketplaces don’t allow incentives for reviews, or seller outreach to their buyers. Check with your platform rules before launching a plan.
In a world where buyers broadcast their opinions and experience, creating an A+ buyer experience is critical. It becomes even more relevant when that experience turns into repeat purchases, long-term loyalty, and better reviews.
Over time, a quality buyer experience becomes one of your most powerful marketing tools as your brand reputation, reviews, and customer base go up.
About the Author
This is a guest post from Rachel Go, senior content marketing manager at Deliverr. Deliverr provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your Shopify, Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Wish, and BigCommerce stores, helping to boost sales through programs like 2-day delivery for Shopify, Walmart 2-day delivery, eBay Fast ‘N Free, and Wish 2-day.
Deliverr’s FBA-like multi-channel fulfillment comes with clear pricing, easy onboarding, and a hassle-free experience so you can focus on growing your eCommerce business.