For a long time, ecommerce was more of an art than a science. You’d set up your website, fill it with products, buy a few banner ads, and hope. Within the space of a few years, however, a relative dearth of information turned into the opposite—a flood. Websites have become larger and more complex—the size of the average site has jumped from 702 KB to over two megabytes over the last six years. There are now plenty of unforeseen curveballs that can disrupt the seemingly simple customer journey of “see item you like, add it to the cart, pay.”

Sites Need to Become More Customer Focused, Instead of Simply Adding New Features

First, one site discovers that after adding a new feature, their conversions improve by a certain small percent. Then, another group of sites incorporates the same feature, and then the next wave, and then it becomes background noise. At no point does this innovation truly benefit the customer.


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Customer expectations, however, have risen greatly in the nearly two decades since ecommerce rose to prominence. For example, there’s the functionality of mobile sites. Ecommerce on mobile devices was barely a small piece of the overall retail revenue pie not too long ago, but Gartner reports that by next year, 50% of ecommerce dollars will come from people shopping on their phones. Having a mobile site that functions as well as it does in your browser is now crucial.

Harness the Next Digital Disruption

Ecommerce is also driving in-store sales. According to research from Deloitte , 36% of all retail revenue is driven in some way by a digital channel. For companies that operate ecommerce sites alongside traditional brick-and-mortar stores, their challenge is how to adapt this data to a hybrid approach. How can you tweak your ecommerce site to cater to your customers at physical locations?

Lastly, there are global markets to consider. In much of the United States, Amazon has swallowed up the ecommerce market share for entire industries. For books to kitchenware to groceries, as well as in many other segments, Amazon is many customers’ first choice when buying online. In order to compete, companies such as eBay have chosen to focus instead on emerging markets. If you choose to follow suit, will your site work as well for customers in Turkey as well as it does for customers in the US? These are just some of the considerations ecommerce sites must make if they wish to survive in the age of digital disruption.

Answering these questions requires you to look at granular customer data. By using the power of machine learning to identify areas where the customer falls out of the buying process, ecommerce businesses can point out and close revenue gaps.

The Power of UserReplay Machine Learning

UserReplay has long offered its clients the ability to understand how and where unforeseen struggle or friction in the customer journey might cause customers to drop out of the sales process. We have added the additional capability to discover revenue that might be in our customers’ pipeline but still unrealized, by using the speed and power of machine learning.

We recently worked with an organization targeting international customers. Many of these customers weren’t being properly directed to the international site—and so were blocked from putting in their payment information. By using machine learning to identify the customer journeys’ affected by this problem alone, the potential revenue fallout from this error, estimated at nearly $450K annually, was avoided.

In another case, ecommerce customers were getting notified that some of the items in their basket were out of stock at time of purchase. However, there was no specific indication of which items were out of stock, and individual examination of the product pages produced no clues. UserReplay was able to identify the root of this problem using its machine learning algorithm, and found potential revenue opportunities already in the pipeline, equal to $1.478 million per year.

It can be difficult to put forward an ecommerce strategy that puts customers first, but UserReplay helps make that process much easier. For more on how our technology can help your business, check out our resource center or book a demo today.

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Cartoon frustated business man in front of his computer

We’re all used to completing forms online – sometimes they work well, other times they can be confusing and frustrating. Consequently, this can be an area where customers drop out of key processes on a website such as checkout, insurance quoting, registration and many more.

In an increasingly global eCommerce environment, consumers need to be able to easily complete online forms for any brand, anytime, anywhere. We have outlined below some of the common issues that cause customers to struggle when completing online forms:

1. Fields that do not accept special characters

It’s a challenge for brands to cover all the bases here but there are some common errors we see arising again and again. For example, town fields that do not accept certain types of punctuation such as a hyphen. The people of Weston-Super-Mare struggle a lot!

Similarly, this applies to name fields where apostrophes and hyphens are not accepted. For example, names such as O’Neill would not be accepted as valid. Rather ironically, the founder of the worldwide web, Tim Berners-Lee probably has more than his fair share of frustrations trying to enter his surname as well!

2. Postcode vs. ZIP code

For non-US consumers, the dreaded ZIP code field often appears on forms. Most people try to enter their postcode but often the form field does not allow for enough characters or the right format. For example, UK consumers are typically used to writing their postcode with spaces.

3. Mandatory fields that are not applicable

Address fields are a minefield internationally. One of the most common issues is that the ‘state’ field often requires an entry but none of the selectable values are relevant outside of the US. Form fields need to be flexible depending on the country origin of the customer and need to ensure there is always a relevant option that can be selected – even if it is something like “outside US”.

4. Phone number formatting and validation

As with the punctuation limitations in names and addresses, the problems don’t stop with phone numbers. Entering international phone numbers often causes problems because of brackets and plus signs in front of the country code. Many forms are designed not to accept these characters which can be frustrating for users if they are used to writing their phone number in this way. Also, the field may be designed to accept numbers in a very specific format. We saw an issue at one of our customers where they were validating Republic of Ireland phone numbers against the Northern Ireland phone number format. Users in the Republic of Ireland could not progress through the form on this basis and sales were being lost.

5. Usability issues on mobile devices

As more and more of us use mobile devices to access websites, we are seeing frustrations with the ability of forms to work correctly on these devices. Elements that work perfectly well on desktop may not have been adapted to work correctly with touch screens. For example, have you ever been annoyed when trying to use a selector button that does not react correctly to touch control?

Whilst these issues seem straightforward and are often relatively easy to fix, many organisations just do not know their customers are experiencing them and, crucially, how much impact they are having on conversion. This is why UserReplay has introduced a new, fully automated Form Analytics capability to enhance our already powerful CEM solution.

The UserReplay form analytics capability is a “fire and forget” solution that automatically identifies forms and form fields in the page and captures key data about their usage. This data is then used to automatically populate form analytics within the UserReplay portal. These analytics include overall form completion and engagement overviews, actionable form conversion funnels and field drop-off analysis. The analytics can also be sliced by segments such as time and browser/OS platform. Of course, the usual benefits of UserReplay apply such that when form field issues are discovered you can use event based analytics to monetize the impact of these issues on conversion.

Form field fails could be costing your business significantly in terms of lost conversions. With UserReplay you can make form field fails a thing of the past! Find out more here.

How well do you really understand your customers’ experiences on your website? Can you measure the quality of experience at any particular point in time? Can you measure the impact of change on your customer base as it happens?

As we mentioned in our Digital Customer Experience Predictions blog, 2016 will be the year data truly helps to drive decision-making in eCommerce. Data collection and data analysis will become more closely aligned and usable in real-time, making it easier to prove ROI of technology investments and identify areas of focus.

In recognition of this, UserReplay has launched Customer Experience Scoring, a ground-breaking new capability that enables eCommerce organizations to measure the quality of online customer experiences in real time. Numerical scores are generated to measure the ‘quality’ of a customer’s journey on a brand’s web properties – both from a positive and negative perspective. As well as providing a score for each individual customer journey, an aggregate score can also be collated across all customers to give a measurement of overall customer experience. This is significant because previously this type of measurement and trending was only available on individual aspects of customer experience.

Customer Experience Scoring is an extension of UserReplay’s flagged event technology. Flagged events enable analytics and monitoring into specific activity and behavior of visitors. Now scores can be assigned to flagged events that indicate their impact on the user experience. UserReplay has developed this capability based on specific market feedback. This feedback revealed that measuring the overall customer experience in this way would be valuable but has not been easily achievable to date.

The benefits for eCommerce brands are far reaching in terms of a deeper understanding of their customer base, identifying long and short term trends and reactions to specific events. For example, the ability to measure the impact of a new feature or a change to a website process. If the customer experience score changes, the brand can respond accordingly. This will significantly reduce the time spent on identifying issues that cause customer struggle.

There are also significant benefits in terms of enhancing the understanding of individual customers. Struggle and success scores can be integrated with the data companies already hold about individuals. This means you can have more informed, personalized interactions with the customer that take into account how good or bad their online experiences have been. This does not just impact on how you market to your customers but also extends to areas such as customer service, giving you the ability to proactively address issues customers are having.

With customer experience increasingly a major differentiator, Customer Experience Scoring will give you a competitive edge in the fight for customer satisfaction. For the first time you will have instant visibility of customer experience quality.

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!