This is Part 4 of the holiday blog series we kicked off a month ago by discussing the cart abandonment issues that plague eCommerce businesses of all sizes this time of year. While cart abandonment is often the result of poor customer experience, it’s important to understand the various points of friction that diminish the customer experience. This fourth post will focus on the importance of on-site search usability. See Part 2 on Online Fraud here, or Part 3 on Form Fields here.

Remember when Google didn’t exist and we didn’t have the full breadth of the internet at our fingertips? It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t too long ago that the internet wasn’t even a factor in our holiday shopping. Now, we take Google for granted and instant internet search is just a fact of life.

But this might be a problem for eCommerce companies. Customers are so used to Google functionality that they expect the same level of usability within your website. Unfortunately, so many eCommerce companies are failing to meet the call for powerful on-site search.

 

<< Book a Demo Now to See How You Can Increase Your Customer Experience ROI >>
 

If you want to take the pain out of holiday shopping for your customers (and increase revenue in the process), it’s time to start improving the on-site search experience.

Why Hasn’t On-Site eCommerce Search Been)a Pri/rity for Companies?

As an eCommerce company, you’re in the business of selling product. So it’s no surprise that you might think of search in terms of your own gains. The more you can optimize your search ranking, the more you can capitalize on valuable search-based intent data.

You know that customer experience is critical to improving conversion rates and selling more product—especially during the holiday shopping season. That being said, you need to look at eCommerce search functionality from your customer’s perspective in addition to your own SEO view.

According to Will Cook, former VP of Multichannel Marketing Optimization at HP, “Site search remains a neglected part of the customer journey. Yet search provides an easy way to connect the user’s intent with the right content…search queries and results clicks provide user feedback, which can be used to drive a more personalized experience in the future.”

In many cases, on-site search usability is low-hanging fruit for improving the customer experience. You just have to know what customers are looking for.

5 Tips for Improving Search Usability and the Customer Experience

It’s easy to say that your on-site eCommerce search functionality should be as seamless as Google. But it’s quite another thing to deliver such a great customer experience.

Keep these 5 tips in mind when evaluating if your own on-site search could be a bit more user friendly:

  1. Don’t Hide the Search Bar: Visitors will scan your home page for open areas and a clear, prominent search bar. Don’t cram the search functionality in a crowded navigation menu—give it its own space that people can easily identify. Best practices would say to place it in the top right or middle of the home screen.
  2. Include Post-Search Filtering: Some sites will let customers include endless parameters for their initial searches. This might seem like a good idea, but letting customers narrow down their searches so much might actually prevent them from finding what they want. Instead, let customers search initially and then filter various categories and subcategories from the results page.
  3. Autocomplete Is a Must: Search functionality and autocomplete are almost universally tied together today. People are used to this search box simplification. It may seem basic, but it can make an important difference for some customers.
  4. Give Leeway for Search Matches: Not everyone will search with words that are exact matches for your products. Maybe you call your men’s pants “slacks” and someone is using the term “khakis” in their search. Make your on-site search engine intelligent enough to identify synonyms to make sure customers are finding what they’re looking for.
  5. Offer Options for Search Results Views: List views on search engine results pages are fairly standard. We’re used to seeing results in this way on Google. But some customers might benefit from a grid view on your eCommerce site. It doesn’t take much to give customers multiple view options and it can make a big difference in the customer experience.

These are just a few things you can do to make sure you’re keeping busy holiday shoppers happy while they’re on your website. But it’s possible that you’re following all the best practices but your unique customers are still experiencing friction somewhere in the on-site search process.

The key to optimizing customer experience during the holiday season is the ability to identify points of friction in real time and prioritize which ones have the greatest potential to increase revenue when fixed. This is where a customer experience analytics solution like UserReplay steps in.

If you want to learn more about the customer experience issues you might face this holiday season and how a customer experience analytics solution can help, download this free ebook, Optimize the Customer Journey During the Holiday Season and Throughout the Year.



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%7a href=”http://cta-redirect.hubspot.com/cta/redirect/2410698/b53c045f-28ff-4800-9c9a-c450dd9af5a0″ target=”_blank”>Holiday Season Shopping eBook




 

Over the last five years ecommerce has been taking big bites out of the brick-and-mortar market, and the gap is more apparent this year than ever. Amazon—the biggest store in the world—recorded an e-commerce revenue of $82.7 billion. Walmart is Amazon’s nearest competitor in the ecommerce field, but its online earnings were a comparatively paltry $12.5 billion.

Retailers aren’t finding a whole lot of success when they foray into the ecommerce world—and their physical locations are losing money. Starting with the disappointing 2015 holiday season, traditional retailers have seen their revenue drop almost across the board. In order to defend their place in the market and keep pace with online-only sellers, retailers must closely examine these three indicators and react accordingly.

Does Your Advertising Work in the Digital Age?

Collectively, retail companies will spend $15.09 billion on digital advertising in the year 2016. A certain—large—percentage of this money will be wasted. A customer will see an online ad, and not only will they fail to go to a store and buy something, the ad will be completely inappropriate for their age, gender, and demographic.

 

<< Book a Demo Now to See How You Can Increase Your Customer Experience ROI >>
 

How can retailers minimize ad wastage? It is incumbent upon retailers to create attribution models that can determine which marketing channels are responsible for what amount of income.

Who’s Buying What Things?

“Customer journey,” is a term that Customer Experience firms use a great deal. Making sure that customers can navigate a website, enjoy an experience catered to their preferences, and complete their orders without any issues is a huge deal for ecommerce companies. Retailers who operate both ecommerce sites and physical locations have a two-fold customer journey challenge.

How can you figure out why a customer visited either an ecommerce site or a physical store? Was it because of an online ad, or the email with a 40% off coupon? Did they see a commercial on television, or a circular tucked inside their newspaper? Here’s a clue—over 50% of US customers visit an app or website before making a purchase in-store. 31% of UK shoppers did the same. According to data from the Centre for Retail Search, online sales in the United Kingdom accounted for 10.7% of total retail sales in 2014. According to data from the Ecommerce Foundation, ecommerce in the UK was worth 157 billion euros in 2015.

Are Those Things in Stock?

Inventory control is more of an art than a science. Retailers often stock items whose popularity waxes and wanes due to unpredictable tides. Here’s an example of one reason why retailers had a less-than excellent holiday season: El Niño. Warmer winter temperatures meant that stores overstocked coats and boots, which subsequently failed to sell.

Understock goes hand-in-glove with overstock—too much of one thing usually means too little of something else. Both problems amount to lost sales and lost money, so this is a hugely important KPI to keep track of for retailers.

Using a CXA Solution for Much Greater Success

Customer Experience Analytics (CXA) delivers the revenue you have already earned by bringing customers to your site that have the intention of purchasing, but have a suboptimal customer experience and abandon the purchasing process.  A CXA solution can uncover the segments of your customers who fail to convert and can then quantify and monetize these segments, and prioritize them for optimization.

CXA can be used to assist retailers who are trying to drive traffic to a brick and mortar stores.  For example, many customers are driven out of the sales process when they see an “out-of-stock” message. If they’re trying to find an item in a particular physical store, this can cause them to cancel their visit. UserReplay’s Customer Experience Analytics solutions can flag this kind of interaction in order to help stores understand how to re-engage customers after one of these events. UserReplay is helping to manage customer engagement for The Container Store to ensure that no issues are encountered when consumers attempt to claim their loyalty rewards.

For more on how UserReplay can help retailers looking to defend their share of the market, get a live demo today.



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We’ve hit the ground running in 2016, and as we get underway with new plans and projects we wanted to share with you our predictions for the major developments we anticipate in 2016. Here are some of the big trends we expect to see in customer experience, eCommerce and digital marketing.

 

  1. Data-driven decisions

We expect to see significant developments in the way data is used to formulate marketing and customer experience strategies. Quantitative data rather than qualitative insights and supposed ‘best practice’ will be used to validate decisions and provide valuable insight. Marketers will require a stronger proof of ROI for technology solutions that collate data; it will need to be easier to demonstrate the positive impact data-driven campaigns can have on the bottom line.

  1. Customer-centric roles

In 2015 we saw an announcement by HSBC’s global head of marketing anticipating the end of traditional marketing department roles as the organization becomes more customer-centric, and the need for ‘customer journey engineers’ increases. This trend will ramp up in 2016 for all brands impacting multiple departments across a business. User experience teams will become customer experience teams, and this new role will be key in utilizing quantitative data to improve and manage the customer experience.

  1. Global commerce calendar

With the success of Black Friday growing year-on-year globally, we anticipate other ‘local’ eCommerce days going global. China Singles Day, for example, is hugely successful in China and as UK and US retailers aim to crack this market in 2016, we could see it becoming a huge global event. Whilst such events can hamper the traditional local sales cycle, we can expect to see eCommerce moving to an international calendar of key dates changing the dynamic of previous purchasing trends.

  1. It’s getting personal

Brands will become savvier in the way they personalize the customer experience. Customers will receive offers intelligently tailored to them in real time. We can even expect to see personalized videos as brands develop more creative ways to use the data insight they have garnered, and bring to life in a dynamic way that truly engages the customer and improves their overall experience.

  1. M-commerce momentum

Browsing on a mobile device has become commonplace but purchases via a mobile have been slower to take off. We anticipate seeing an increase in mobile device purchases in 2016, specifically from mobile websites rather than apps. Brands need to ensure their mobile website offerings deliver the experience a customer expects, and provides the appropriate payment mechanisms that are attractive on a mobile device.  With the shipment of tablets on the decline and more people turning to hybrid devices, brands need to ensure they can identify and quantify struggles that customers are having on each device.

Ultimately customer insight will drive a number of key trends in 2016 further proving the value of real time insight of the customer journey. 2016 is set to be an exciting year not only for brands who will understand their customer better but the customer themselves. Here’s to a great year!

 

Whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas shopping or the January sales, this time of year is amongst the busiest for retailers.

The pressure is therefore on for eCommerce brands to provide a consistently excellent experience to their customers. Increased visitor traffic can put pressure on the ability to deliver this – so it is more important than ever to understand the customer experience and identify issues affecting your customer journeys before they have a major impact on revenue.

Session replay technologies can help brands uncover this information but, realistically, with the hundreds and thousands of journeys captured every day, it is pretty unachievable to replay a large volume of customer journeys to identity issues.

A more intelligent approach is needed. I’ve provided some top tips to stay on top of the customer experience during the busy periods:

  1. Implement Customer Experience Analytics with Flagged Events

When choosing a customer experience analytics solution, one key requirement is the ability to create flagged events that look for particular indications of struggle behavior (e.g. errors, repeated payment attempts, restarting checkout etc.). These events are counted, aggregated and reports can then show trends over time of these events.  Allied with email alerts, this provides early warning of customer experience issues and drills down to the customer sessions that matter.

  1. Score the Customer Experience

UserReplay has come up with a unique way to numerically score the quality of customer experience. Using the basis of the flagged events described above, UserReplay can score both individual customers and the site as a whole in terms of the quality of experience.  When these scores are measured over time, it is easier to spot sudden degradation in customer experience, and points you to the reasons for this – along with example journeys.

  1. Actionable conversion funnels

Drill down from the key abandonment points in the funnel and understand the issues, allowing for further analysis from here. This has considerably more value and actionability than the static funnels that are typically used in web analytics tools such as Google Analytics.

  1. Understand the Impact

Understanding customer issues is the first step but what eCommerce organizations really need to know is ‘How much will this cost my business?’. UserReplay provides a monetization summary that provides an ‘at-a-glance’ view of the revenue impact of the top customer experience issues. This will help prioritize which issues should be addressed first to minimize the impact of lost sales revenue.

If you are not currently taking a proactive approach to managing your online customer experience, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 71% of organizations believe lack of investment in this area is having an impact on their ability to grow, according to our recent research study, Counting the Cost of not Knowing. The good news is that the technology is available now to address this –  so it is a great time to start your planning for the holiday season in 2016!

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It would be fair to assume that the more complex an issue is to fix, the greater the impact on the bottom line. However, in the world of eCommerce, this is not necessarily true.  Quite often, issues that could be fixed relatively easily can have a negative impact on conversion rates and revenue.  More worryingly, many of these issues go undetected.

Finding, prioritising and fixing the issues that have the biggest business impact is key. However, for many organisations this is challenging because they don’t have the visibility to discover them or clearly understand if they are having a significant effect on revenue or conversion. I wanted to share some recent anecdotes from the work we have done with our customers – including some quantifiable results – to show why improving visibility of the customer experience is so significant:

  1. Postcode pitfalls

UserReplay identified a recurring problem affecting the customers of a leading food and beverage company. Users appeared to be entering their postcode on numerous occasions during the purchase process. Further investigation of the impacted journeys found once customers had selected their items and clicked ‘Pay Now’, they were being kicked back to the beginning of the purchase process due to a previously unknown technical issue. With an average basket value of £20, it was calculated this was costing £1.2million a year in potential lost revenue.

  1. Session timeout troubles

Direct Ferries is Europe’s largest ferry ticket retailer. UserReplay identified an issue with .net authentication: for around 20% of mobile devices, the authentication cookie would disappear from page-to-page (when it should actually be persistent for at least 20 mins). For other devices, such as those running Windows, this was only 4%.

Further analysis revealed that the type of cookie being used was not supported on mobile devices.  A simple fix was implemented, which significantly decreased the number of sessions timing out across all devices. Fixing this issue has seen an increase in booking revenue in excess of £1 million per annum!

  1. Voucher code challenges

Conversion rates for a high-end fashion brand dropped from 41% to 19% overnight. UserReplay discovered this was the result of an email being sent to customers including a voucher code that many people found they were unable to use. The qualifying criteria for the voucher was unclear, and in a single day the brand lost £54k of potential revenue, not to mention the damage to brand reputation.

These examples provide a very small glimpse into the vast number of issues that occur on websites every day.  However, they also give an idea of the variety of issues that can impact on conversion rate if left undetected. Complete visibility of the customer experience is the only way to ensure you can identify and quantify these issues accurately.

Recently the BBC website carried an article by the respected sports journalist (and former international Table Tennis player) Matthew Syed that discussed whether the concept of Marginal Gains that has revolutionised some sports could also be applied to other areas of life. This resonated with me because I have been using this concept for a while to explain the value our own company’s technology can deliver to digital businesses. My belief is that this Marginal Gains approach can be applied to improving customer experience on websites.

“Marginal Gains” is a term first coined by Sir Dave Brailsford when he became performance director of British Cycling. His approach was to break down every single element of winning races into it’s component parts. He believed if you could make 1% improvements across many of these areas, the cumulative effect would be much, much more.

He applied this in a whole host of areas – from ensuring riders use anti-bacterial hand gel to prevent illnesses through to removing dust and impurities from the mechanics area to improve the aerodynamic performance of the bikes themselves. The results have spoken for themselves – 16 Gold medals over the last 2 Olympics, 2 Tour De France wins in 3 years and many other successes.

It is not a massive leap to see how this idea can be applied to digital business. Customers experience a wide range of issues when trying to transact online. This can range from simple usability issues to gnarly technical obstacles. The problem for many organisations is that they have very little visibility of what these issues are and how much impact they have on their bottom line. This then makes it impossible to implement a marginal gains approach to e-business.

This is why we are seeing increasing adoption of our technology across digital-savvy businesses. With the UserReplay technology, they are able to discover the various obstacles that impact their customers through a combination of analytics and session replay. They can then use UserReplay’s unique monetization capability to quantify the monetary impact of these issues and prioritize them. Focusing on the issues that are having the biggest impact ensures they can make a range of improvements that can contribute to significant improvements in revenue and conversion.

Interestingly, although this is an example of applying the Marginal Gains doctrine in online business – some of the individual issues that companies are able to address could be seen as anything but marginal. As an example, one of our travel customers was able to demonstrate an increase of booking revenue of £1 million through identifying and addressing a conversion issue only experienced by iPad and iPhone users. I would say this is a pretty major gain!

It seems Marginal Gains is an approach that is now finding a home in many areas outside of sport. Maybe it is time to think about how you could apply it in your eBusiness??


Photo: Team GB by Matt Martin on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Licence.

Recently the BBC website carried an article by the respected sports journalist (and former international Table Tennis player) Matthew Syed that discussed whether the concept of Marginal Gains that has revolutionised some sports could also be applied to other areas of life. This resonated with me because I have been using this concept for a while to explain the value our own company’s technology can deliver to digital businesses. My belief is that this Marginal Gains approach can be applied to improving customer experience on websites.

“Marginal Gains” is a term first coined by Sir Dave Brailsford when he became performance director of British Cycling. His approach was to break down every single element of winning races into it’s component parts. He believed if you could make 1% improvements across many of these areas, the cumulative effect would be much, much more.

He applied this in a whole host of areas – from ensuring riders use anti-bacterial hand gel to prevent illnesses through to removing dust and impurities from the mechanics area to improve the aerodynamic performance of the bikes themselves. The results have spoken for themselves – 16 Gold medals over the last 2 Olympics, 2 Tour De France wins in 3 years and many other successes.

It is not a massive leap to see how this idea can be applied to digital business. Customers experience a wide range of issues when trying to transact online. This can range from simple usability issues to gnarly technical obstacles. The problem for many organisations is that they have very little visibility of what these issues are and how much impact they have on their bottom line. This then makes it impossible to implement a marginal gains approach to e-business.

This is why we are seeing increasing adoption of our technology across digital-savvy businesses. With the UserReplay technology, they are able to discover the various obstacles that impact their customers through a combination of analytics and session replay. They can then use UserReplay’s unique monetization capability to quantify the monetary impact of these issues and prioritize them. Focusing on the issues that are having the biggest impact ensures they can make a range of improvements that can contribute to significant improvements in revenue and conversion.

Interestingly, although this is an example of applying the Marginal Gains doctrine in online business – some of the individual issues that companies are able to address could be seen as anything but marginal. As an example, one of our travel customers was able to demonstrate an increase of booking revenue of £1 million through identifying and addressing a conversion issue only experienced by iPad and iPhone users. I would say this is a pretty major gain!

It seems Marginal Gains is an approach that is now finding a home in many areas outside of sport. Maybe it is time to think about how you could apply it in your eBusiness??


Photo: Team GB by Matt Martin on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Licence.

Customer change can take you by surprise. Witness the experience of the Tesco group. Having previously thrived on the expansion of its superstore network, the company was wrong-footed by a shift in customer preferences. Rather than driving out to a big supermarket to stock up on a week’s groceries, many Tesco customers were instead opting to shop locally two or three times a week.

If anything customer preferences have changed even more markedly when it comes to e-commerce. It wasn’t too long ago that the vast majority of online transactions were carried out by customers using desktop PCs and laptops. Today, the market looks very different. According to research company Statista, mobile devices will account for around 30% of digital transactions in 2015 and that percentage is set to grow.

A complex change

And increased usage of smartphones and tablets is not simply shifting a fixed number of online transactions from one device to another – the mobile revolution is creating more customer journeys. Today’s customer may begin researching a product online while sat at an office PC before venturing out to a high street store to try it out, and finally purchase it using a tablet or smartphone on the train home in the evening. Equally, of course, the customer may buy online and collect at a local depot. Continue reading “Online customer behaviour is changing rapidly, how can you track it?”