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12 Ways to Improve the Ecommerce Customer Experience

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12 Ways to Improve the Ecommerce Customer Experience

The rapid growth of online shopping has changed customer expectations and needs.

Ecommerce added a layer of convenience to the shopping process, which raised the bar on customer experience (CX). 

The question is: How can businesses improve the ecommerce customer experience to meet (and exceed) customer expectations and boost the bottom line? 

In this article, we talk about the importance of ecommerce customer experience, the difference between customer and user experience, and ways to take your customer experience to the next level. Let’s dive in. 

 

What is the ecommerce customer experience?

Ecommerce customer experience encompasses every touchpoint, engagement, and interaction, from the moment a customer hears of your brand all the way through the whole customer lifecycle. 

The ecommerce customer experience starts way before customers are ready to buy your products, and it covers all the touchpoints that move them toward a purchase. But the ecommerce customer experience doesn’t end when a customer clicks the add-to-cart button. On the contrary, your actions in the post-purchase period can have the strongest impact on your customer relationship, which will determine your customer’s loyalty. 

So, if we look at the ecommerce customer experience as a whole, we can divide it into three parts: pre-purchase ecommerce customer experience, ecommerce purchasing experience, and post-purchasing ecommerce customer experience.

 

Pre-purchase ecommerce customer experience

The pre-purchase ecommerce customer experience (ECX) is all about capturing attention and making sure your target audience remembers your brand and knows what you offer. 

Everything you do during this stage should help potential customers find the answers to these questions: 

  • What does your brand offer?
  • What makes it different from others?
  • What’s in it for the customer?

To understand the pre-purchase customer behavior and create a customer experience that will lead customers to make a purchase, you have to figure out how your potential customers learn about your brand, research products, compare them, read reviews, explore your ecommerce website, and engage with your brand on social media.

Once you understand their path to purchase, you’ll be able to optimize your pre-purchase customer experience and increase sales.


Purchasing ecommerce customer experience

The purchasing ecommerce customer experience is the core segment and the deciding factor in whether a customer will purchase from your brand. Creating a delightful purchasing ecommerce customer experience is the foundation of future customer relationships. 

If a customer is not satisfied with the CX during the purchase, all your efforts in the pre-purchase phase will go to waste. During this stage, customers are looking for details like product specifications, pricing, availability, returns policy, and shipping and delivery timelines.

Focus on creating straightforward website navigation, product feed filters, rich product pages with high-quality product visuals, zoom, product configuration, and lifestyle imagery. Keep customers engaged by offering additional value with upselling and cross-selling offers and product recommendations. The checkout process should be simple and straightforward while providing customers with all the information to reassure them that they are making the right decision.

Furniture product page experience with 360 views and zoom

Free report: The profile of a modern furniture shopper

 

Post-purchase ecommerce customer experience

The first purchase is just the beginning of the journey. If you want to increase customer lifetime value, you have to create an engaging post-purchase ecommerce customer experience that will keep customers coming back for more products. 

Here’s where you need to get creative with highly tailored product offers, discounts, events, promotions, and time-limited offers. Your goal is to keep customers in the loop, inform them about new collections, and gather their feedback through customer surveys. 

You can’t expect to get loyal customers if you treat them like first-time buyers. Understanding their previous purchases and creating a customized offer to meet their needs is the first step toward creating a long-term relationship.

 

Ecommerce customer experience vs. user experience

Even though we see the terms customer experience and user experience used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. Ecommerce customer experience refers to the interaction between the customer and your brand, and user experience refers to the functionality and digital touchpoints customers have in their buyer's journey. 

Customer experience is a more holistic concept that encompasses user experience as well. So, while website navigation and product feed filters are part of the user experience, they are essential in the overall purchasing experience and how a customer will perceive your brand. 

UX covers aspects such as usability, visual design, information architecture, and interaction design, while customer experience covers all the UX aspects, as well as brand reputation, customer service, product delivery, advertising, and much more. 

A good UX enables customers to perform the actions they intended in the most efficient and seamless way possible. A good CX turns one-time buyers into lifelong satisfied customers.

 

Why is the ecommerce customer experience important?

There’s fierce competition brewing in the ecommerce world. If you want to stand out, you have to create an exceptional  customer experience. Businesses that don’t understand the importance of customer experience will falter under unmet customer expectations. 

Companies that put customer experience at the heart of everything they do notice a positive effect on customer loyalty, retention, and overall brand reputation.

 

Customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is an ongoing positive relationship between a customer and a business that drives repeat purchases. Loyal customers choose your brand over competitors because of past positive customer experiences, which help them build trust in your brand. 

To further strengthen your customer loyalty, make sure to offer exceptional customer service, personalized experiences, and reliable products. 

Furniture lifestyle imagery

 

Customer retention

Customer retention is a company’s ability to keep its customers over time. It’s a metric that measures customer loyalty and indicates whether your products and services meet your customers’ needs. 

The post-purchase ecommerce customer experience is especially important in getting repeat purchases and preventing customers from switching to a competitor. Keeping customers engaged through ongoing communication and personalized offers is the key to customer retention. 

With customer acquisition costs constantly increasing, companies that focus on retaining customers get better returns on their investments (ROI) and create healthy ecommerce businesses. This is especially true for furniture businesses, where customer acquisition costs are higher than average. According to Shopify, the annual average customer acquisition cost in the home, furniture, and garden industry is $129. 

 

Revenue growth

Creating a positive customer experience has a direct impact on revenue growth. The math is simple: Customers who have positive experiences with your brand feel heard and understood, and as a result, they come back and even become brand ambassadors by spreading the word to their friends and family. 

 

Brand reputation

Online reviews are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing. Everyone goes online to check product reviews before making a purchase. This is especially true for high-ticket items such as furniture. And the reviews you receive depend on the customer experience. Customers who are satisfied with the purchasing experience will leave positive reviews. On the other hand, customers who are disappointed with the experience have the urge to share their negative feedback with others. In this case, your brand reputation is on the line. 

That’s why focusing on an engaging customer experience will not only boost your bottom line but will also have a positive impact on your overall brand reputation. To achieve this, you must align your customer experience and use consistent brand messaging across all customer touchpoints.

 

12 ways to improve your ecommerce customer experience

Creating a seamless customer experience doesn’t need to feel daunting. Here is a blueprint with 12 best practices and examples from leading furniture businesses to help you redefine your customer experience. 

 

1. Understand your customer

Start with the basics. If you want to transform your customer experience, start with your customer personas. What does your target customer look like? Define the lifestyle characteristics of your target audience — age, income, spending habits, likes, and dislikes. 

What are they looking to buy next? What products do they like? There are many ways to do market research and gather feedback.  Here are some of them: 

  • Go to your customer database and send them an email survey.
  • Go through your product reviews and analyze them. Discover your advantages from the positive reviews and weaknesses from the negative ones.
  • Engage with your social media followers. Use polls to measure customer sentiment.

Burrow extended its dining room furniture offerings with new designs for dining tables and benches, so they asked customers which styles they liked best. 

Burrow product quiz

 

2. Reexamine the customer journey

The customer journey refers to the series of steps a customer goes through, from the initial awareness of needing a product or a service to the post-purchase experience and beyond. Each touchpoint within this journey presents an opportunity for the business to engage with the customer and influence their decision-making process.

But how can a company reevaluate the customer journey to make it more engaging? The short answer is: step by step. Businesses have to map the customer journey stages and identify improvement opportunities. Here’s a glimpse of how that would look for furniture businesses: 

Awareness stage — This stage begins when a customer recognizes they have a need for furniture. Touchpoints during this stage include advertising (online ads, print media), social media posts, word of mouth, and search engine results. 

Here are some strategies to enhance awareness: 

  • Improve targeted advertising strategies to reach potential customers effectively.
  • Increase visibility on social media platforms where your target audience is active.
  • Utilize SEO techniques to ensure your products appear prominently in search engine results.

Example: According to Google’s Spring Try Guide, Loveseat was the top trending “cozy chair” from October 2023 to January 2024. Think about how you can optimize your product pages and marketing efforts based on what’s trending.

 

Loveseat Shop with Google

 

 

Consideration stage — During this stage, the customer actively researches options and evaluates alternatives. The touchpoints include visiting furniture stores, browsing ecommerce websites, reading reviews and testimonials, and comparing prices and features. 

Here are some strategies to streamline the consideration stage: 

  • Optimize your ecommerce store for ease of navigation and product search.
  • Provide detailed product information, high-quality images, and customer reviews.
  • Implement live chat or virtual assistant tools to assist customers in real time.

 

Decision stage — In the decision stage, the customer makes a purchase decision. The touchpoints during this stage include the checkout process (online or in-store), customer service interactions, and financing options. 

Here are some strategies to simplify the decision process: 

  • Ensure a seamless checkout process both online and in-store.
  • Offer transparent pricing and clear terms for financing or returns.
  • Train sales staff to be knowledgeable and helpful without being pushy.

 

Post-purchase stage — After buying furniture, customers evaluate their purchase and experience. The touchpoints include delivery and installation, product usage experience, customer support (for issues or questions), and post-purchase communications (feedback requests, loyalty programs). 

Here are some strategies to enhance the post-purchase experience: 

  • Improve delivery and installation processes to be prompt and professional.
  • Provide clear instructions for product assembly or use.
  • Offer proactive customer service to address any issues promptly.

 

3. Work on your website design and navigation

A user-centric design focuses on intuitive navigation, clear information hierarchy, and user-friendly interactions. Efficient navigation and user-centric design reduce bounce rates by keeping visitors engaged. Users who can quickly find what they are looking for are less likely to leave the site.

To create a user-centric web design, focus on the following principles:

  • Implement a clear and logical menu structure that categorizes furniture by type (e.g., sofas, tables, beds) and by style (e.g., modern, traditional, rustic).
  • Use familiar labels that users understand easily.
  • Include a robust search feature that allows users to quickly find specific products by name, category, or attributes (e.g., size, color).
  • Use visual cues such as color, size, and spacing to prioritize important content and guide users’ attention to key elements like promotions, new arrivals, or popular items.

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) furniture brand Loaf has intuitive navigation and a great visual hierarchy that helps visitors find what they are looking for. Moreover, the advanced filtering options, including types, styles, sizes, dimensions, and fabrics, allow visitors to narrow down the selection of items and find the right furniture for their needs. 

 

Loaf filtering options

 

4. Optimize for mobile devices

Mobile is fast becoming the most critical part of the omnichannel experience. The prevalence of mobile commerce made mobile optimization an imperative. 

According to Furniture News survey results, the mobile/smartphone is the online shopping platform of choice for every age group apart from those aged 65+, 39% of which said they preferred to use a laptop.

Best practices for mobile optimization encompass several key strategies that cater specifically to mobile users' needs, including touch-friendly interfaces that enhance usability on smaller screens, simplified and streamlined checkout processes, and optimized forms with fewer input fields and autofill features. 

The family-owned Canadian brand Monte Design discovered that 70% of its overall traffic was coming from mobile. Optimizing the site for smartphones became its top priority. By optimizing the site, Monte saw a 15% increase in web traffic and year-over-year revenue growth of 12%.

Monte Design has a clean, intuitive, and easy-to-use mobile site. The brand makes it easy for customers to navigate its mobile site and better understand its products. It has high-quality product visuals and detailed product descriptions, providing relevant information about dimensions, care and cleaning, and shipping.

Besides the well-optimized mobile experience, the brand goes a step further by allowing customers to visualize how the furniture item will look in their homes. Using augmented reality, buyers can see the selected product in full size and color with a click of a button — without even downloading an app.

Monte Design mobile product page design AR

 

5. Enhance product pages

Engaging product pages are crucial for online furniture shopping as they provide detailed visuals and comprehensive information that simulate the tactile experience of shopping in person.

High-quality product images are pivotal in captivating and engaging customers during their online shopping journey. Visual appeal is often the first impression a potential buyer has of a product, influencing their decision to explore further or make a purchase. 

Clear, detailed images that showcase the product from various angles and perspectives help customers visualize the item more accurately, instilling confidence in its quality and features. This is especially true for the furniture industry, which relies heavily on visuals. By investing in high-resolution images that accurately represent the product's color, texture, and dimensions, businesses can effectively differentiate themselves and create a memorable shopping experience that resonates with customers.

Incorporating features like multiple images, zoom capabilities, 360-degree views, and lifestyle imagery on a product page enhances the customer’s ability to thoroughly examine the product before making a purchasing decision. 

The renowned UK furniture business Heal’s was looking for a 3D product visualization partner to help it match the online experience to the one in-store. The team at Heal’s knew customers wanted to see high-definition configured products and inspect products and fabrics from all angles before placing an order.

 

Heals product page experience

 

To achieve this, they implemented multiple images to allow customers to view the product from different angles, providing a comprehensive understanding of its design and details. Additionally, with the zoom functionality, users can inspect fine details up close, replicating the in-store experience of physically examining an item. To offer a more immersive experience, they implemented 360-degree views, allowing customers to rotate the product and inspect it from every angle, which builds trust and transparency in online transactions. 

This resulted in declining returns and order cancellations on sofas and Designed by You tables. Additionally, Heal’s witnessed an increase in the add-to-cart rate.

 

6. Reassess your checkout process and payment options

The checkout process is the last step in the path to purchase and the moment when all the efforts pay off. However, it can often turn out to be a stumbling block. Data from Dynamic Yield shows that the shopping cart abandonment rate in the Home and Furniture industry is 78.87%. 

According to data from Baymard, two out of the top five reasons for cart abandonment are related to the checkout process. With this information in mind, it’s crucial for businesses to optimize the checkout process to increase sales. 

Simplifying checkout forms by reducing unnecessary fields and minimizing steps can significantly reduce friction and streamline the purchasing process, enhancing convenience for customers. Incorporating guest checkout options allows for quicker transactions without requiring users to create an account, which can expedite the process and reduce abandonment rates. Additionally, providing clear progress indicators and straightforward navigation ensures transparency and reassures customers about the simplicity of completing their purchases.

Besides this, if you want to improve your ecommerce customer experience, you have to consider payment options. Offering trusted payment gateways and displaying security badges can instill confidence in customers regarding the safety of their financial information. Moreover, providing a variety of payment methods, such as credit cards, PayPal, and installment options, accommodates different customer preferences and increases the likelihood of completing a sale.

 

7. Create personalized experiences

Customers are craving more personal experiences across channels and buying stages. In a world of look-alike shopping experiences, personalization can set you apart from your competition. Tailoring your shopping experience to individual preferences and behaviors makes customers feel valued and understood. 

To achieve this, you need customer data, such as past purchases, browsing history, and demographic information, to offer relevant product recommendations, promotional offers, and personalized communication.

Dynamic content customization further enhances the impact of ecommerce personalization by ensuring that every interaction with the brand feels relevant and timely. From personalized product recommendations on the homepage to tailored email campaigns based on customer behavior, dynamic content adapts to real-time data and customer actions. 

This flexibility allows you to deliver targeted messaging that is more likely to capture attention and drive engagement. Beyond increasing sales, dynamic content customization also strengthens brand perception by demonstrating a deep understanding of customer needs and delivering a cohesive experience across different touchpoints.

 

8. Integrate AR and VR for memorable experiences

Augmented reality (AR) overlays digitally created content into the real world. So when interacting with virtual content, users are not excluded from reality. The result is an interactive experience of a real-world environment enhanced by computer-generated content. Virtual reality (VR), on the other hand, is a 3D, computer-generated environment that people can explore. This technology creates an entirely artificial world where people can manipulate objects or perform a series of other actions.

Using these technologies, businesses can blur the lines between online and in-store shopping. Even though AR and VR first became popular among gamers and young social media users, they are slowly becoming mainstream — with AR outpacing VR.

These technologies enhance the customer experience by reducing uncertainty about product features, dimensions, and suitability, thereby boosting confidence and reducing returns. By leveraging AR and VR, businesses can differentiate themselves in a competitive market, drive higher engagement and conversion rates, and ultimately deliver more satisfying and memorable shopping experiences that align with the evolving expectations of digital-savvy consumers.

The Canadian furniture retailer EQ3 wanted to enrich the customer shopping experience while relying on the two most important pillars in the online world: convenience and speed. With web-native augmented reality, they empowered their mobile shoppers and simplified their decision-making process when buying furniture online.

EQ3 augmented reality

Once they discovered that AR users have a two-times higher average order value and three-times higher conversion rate compared with non-AR users, they decided to encourage more desktop shoppers to try web-AR.

EQ3 increased AR adoption among its online shoppers by updating the desktop product page experience, which features a QR code that pops up when customers click the “View in AR” button.

 

9. Offer self-service options

Customer service is the backbone of a positive experience. However, offering self-service options is crucial in empowering customers. By providing self-service portals and FAQs, businesses enable customers to find answers to their questions independently and efficiently. This not only saves customers time but also gives them a sense of control over their interactions with the company.

Implementing robust self-service options involves creating user-friendly interfaces that are intuitive and easily navigable. Additionally, self-service portals can allow customers to manage their accounts, track orders, or initiate returns independently. By investing in self-service capabilities, businesses not only reduce support costs and workload but also empower customers to resolve issues promptly, leading to higher satisfaction and brand loyalty.

 

10. Improve the supply chain

Efficient supply chain management reduces lead times and minimizes stockouts, which directly impact customer satisfaction by fulfilling orders promptly and reliably. 

Customers expect their purchases to arrive quickly and in good condition, and a well-optimized supply chain enables businesses to meet these expectations consistently. Moreover, streamlined operations allow businesses to offer accurate order tracking and delivery updates, providing transparency that builds trust and reassures customers about the status of their purchases. 

By optimizing inventory management and logistics, businesses can not only enhance customer satisfaction through timely deliveries but also reduce the likelihood of shipping delays or errors that can negatively impact the overall shopping experience.

 

11. Invest in your customer support team

Investing in a knowledgeable and well-trained customer support team is crucial in the furniture industry to ensure exceptional customer experiences. A well-trained team equipped with deep product knowledge can provide personalized assistance, helping customers make informed decisions about furniture purchases that suit their needs and preferences. 

Continuous training and development for customer support teams are vital to keep pace with industry trends and evolving customer expectations. Beyond product knowledge and communication skills, training should also focus on enhancing interpersonal skills and cultivating a customer-centric mindset. This ensures that support agents not only resolve issues effectively but also leave customers with a positive impression of the brand, reinforcing trust and loyalty. 

Investing in the ongoing improvement of the customer support team demonstrates a commitment to delivering high-quality service and reinforces the brand's reputation for reliability and customer care in the competitive furniture market.

 

12. Work on your omnichannel presence

The rise of omnichannel has brought new rules to retail. Customers want to be able to shop anywhere, anytime, and on any device with a consistent experience. It’s not a bricks-vs.-clicks world or one device versus another. Consumers are channel-agnostic — they just want a seamless shopping journey, bouncing between online and offline along the path to purchase.

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen pure play companies expanding to physical locations and traditional retailers expanding into ecommerce, often by acquiring pure plays (e.g., La-Z-Boy’s acquisition of Joybird). That’s strong evidence that even though ecommerce continues to grow, retail is not dead.

Retail channels and touchpoints have mushroomed, which makes it nearly impossible to predict where or how your shoppers will stumble upon your product. From an Instagram post, a recommendation from a friend, a Google search, or walking into a store — the modern buyer journey is complex and multifaceted.

In order to keep up, your job is to create consistent, engaging experiences across every touchpoint. There’s no way around it — even one bad customer experience can deteriorate everything you’ve built, ultimately resulting in lost sales and unsatisfied customers.

Seamless omnichannel furntiure shopping experience

Putting omnichannel at the heart of your business means creating a cohesive, seamless, personalized shopping experience by giving your customers multiple ways to interact with your brands. And looking at how retail is evolving — it’s the only way forward.

 

How to measure the customer experience

To gauge the effectiveness of your strategies and initiatives, you can use various methods and tools such as customer surveys, net promoter scores (NPS), customer feedback forms, and online reviews. 

These tools help gather quantitative and qualitative data on aspects like product satisfaction, service quality, and ease of purchase, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and prioritize actions that enhance the overall customer journey.

 

Utilize data analytics

Data is the core of every effective decision-making process that brings outstanding results. The same is true for furniture ecommerce. Data analytics can give you insights that you can use to double down on what performs well and ditch what’s not working for your business.

Customer information should not be a black box. Having a diverse product catalog with thousands of customization options adds to the complexity of the furniture industry. 

The good news is that advanced analytics can help you track your most popular products, analyze configurations, and discover bestsellers. This data is crucial for understanding and catering to your customers' preferences.

 

Product page analytics

 

Monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Selecting KPIs aligned with customer experience goals involves identifying metrics that directly reflect customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. These could include net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), and metrics related to customer retention rates and repeat purchase behavior.

It's crucial to benchmark these KPIs against industry standards to understand performance relative to competitors and identify areas for improvement to maintain or exceed customer expectations. Continuous monitoring of KPIs provides ongoing insights into customer sentiment and allows you to react promptly to changes in customer behavior or market dynamics, ensuring that strategies remain effective in enhancing overall customer experience and driving business growth.

 

Perform A/B testing

A/B testing is crucial for furniture businesses because it allows them to optimize their online presence and customer interactions effectively. By testing different aspects such as product images, descriptions, pricing strategies, and website layouts, furniture businesses can identify which variations resonate best with their target audience. 

This helps in understanding customer preferences and behaviors more accurately, leading to improved conversion rates and sales. Additionally, A/B testing enables furniture businesses to refine their marketing campaigns, promotional offers, and customer engagement strategies based on empirical data rather than assumptions, ensuring that their online presence and customer interactions are consistently optimized to maximize both customer satisfaction and business profitability in a competitive market.

 

Ensure a great ecommerce customer experience with Cylindo

In our impulse society, people are in constant pursuit of instant gratification. They get bored very easily, so you have to offer engaging experiences in order to grab their attention. When we’re talking about ecommerce customer experience and visitor engagement, 3D visualization is unbeatable.

Interactive 3D gives you the power to convert your audience from passive viewers to active participants, thus increasing the time spent on-site and ultimately boosting sales. Customers want to know what they are buying, and thanks to innovative visualization technologies, you can bridge the online-offline gap. Interactive technologies like the 360-spin feature, 4K zoom, and lifestyle imagery can significantly improve your web session duration and conversion rate. Moreover, there are many other ways to introduce engaging shopping experiences. Companies are adopting augmented reality with the mission to introduce a multidimensional customer journey.

Chaos Cylindo empowers some of the leading furniture businesses to create, manage, and deliver 3D assets and content. From cutting-edge 3D product visualization and self-service content creation to captivating commerce tools, Cylindo has everything you need to build an engaging and competitive digital experience on your terms.

Are you looking for ways to enhance your ecommerce customer experience? Let’s talk.

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About Author

Biljana Vidojevic
Biljana Vidojevic

Content creator. The person behind the Cylindo blog. Excited about the future of technology and retail.

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