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How to Improve Your Online Store's Customer Experience

Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
President and CTO at OptinMonster

What kind of experiences do customers have when they visit your online store? If you're not sure, it might be time to think about how you can improve your site's CX.

When you think about an excellent online store, what traits come to mind? If you ask most people this question, they will say that customer experience (CX) is the most notable trait. It doesn't matter if your site has tons of great content and products, if there's no real connection between the customer and the brand, you're going to have a hard time keeping your retention rate up. 

Essentially, customer experiences boil down to the way brands send new content, engage on social media and interact with visitors on their website. Understanding how to build these experiences is important, but growing and learning from what you've learned is critical to your success. 

Today I will go over several tips you can use throughout your marketing campaigns and web design to improve the CX on your online store. My goal is to help you build rapport with more visitors, which you can use to grow your lead list, increase social proof and overall improve customer satisfaction.

Ask open-ended questions.

It's not easy to build a positive CX if you don't know what customers expect from your brand. The first step to improving consumer interactions is to ask them open-ended questions, so you learn about your audience and make improvements to your website. 

You can choose to ask these free form questions on your social media page, within your contact form, or on a review after a customer completes a purchase. It's best to start by identifying the needs of the people frequenting your website. 

Include questions that help you better understand your audience. Start with questions like: 

  • How can we improve your experience? 
  • What goals do you hope to achieve with our product? 
  • Which barriers are stopping you from reaching your goals?

Once you know the answers to these key questions, you can make smarter decisions about design, future blog content and more. For example, if you notice that many of your customers face the same issue, you can create a blog post to help them overcome this specific problem. 

Including posts like this will help improve CX by giving users more tools to decide whether your product or service will help achieve a specific outcome. 

Add artificial intelligence for new CX opportunities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has opened the door to building a top-notch CX, regardless of your industry. There are many practical uses for AI, including analyzing user behavior, improving customer support with chatbots and presenting personalized offers. 

Every e-commerce faces various struggles depending on size, products and content. But all online stores should have one common objective – nailing their customer support. If you're able to help customers from the moment they request assistance, you have a much better chance of keeping them satisfied with your brand. 

AI-powered chatbots can be used to initiate conversions before a user realizes they need help. A simple prompt that asks the visitor if you can help them find something can dramatically improve your sales, leads and engagement. 

The reason is relatively simple: You're building a better experience by helping customers before they get frustrated. We've all been on the other end of a customer support channel that was basically clueless. Needless to say, we didn't have a pleasant experience with that brand and considered going elsewhere. You don't want your customers to get this feeling about your company.

You can also use the power of AI to see how consumers engage with your brand. Analyzing information about your audience's behavior and buying habits can help you make better decisions and anticipate customer needs in advance. All of this leads to a streamlined experience and e happy customers. 

Leverage the power of personalizing.

Businesses personalize email, social media posts and product recommendations to meet the needs of their audience. When a customer or prospect sees content from your brand, it's crucial to appeal to their needs and show relatable posts and offers. 

Because e-commerce storefronts tend to have a variety of products, marketers and business owners make segments for their customers. These segments represent the different people that shop with their brand. Someone with an online clothing store might segment their audience based on male and female customers, or formal and informal wear. 

When they send out a promotion with men's formal wear to the correct audience, there's a better chance that the person on the other end of the message will take advantage of the offer. This tactic is particularly useful when working on your email marketing campaign. Email marketing has an ROI of 4,400%, so nailing personalization can help you exponentially increase sales and satisfaction. 

You can also show personalized product suggestions to users when they visit your website. Companies like Amazon have proven that this method is wildly successful and can yield significant results. When users can see more products directly from the homepage that they can use, there's a better chance that they will stay on your site and potentially make another purchase. 

Don't forget about mobile users.

Like it or not, mobile-friendly design is now necessary for e-commerce storefronts. Smartphone users spend about 3.3 hours a day on their devices, and they are using this time to surf the web, browse social media and make purchases. If you need more proof, consider this: On average, 58% of web traffic comes from mobile devices.

Providing a good experience for your mobile users directly correlates to your brand's CX. Websites that do not have a mobile-friendly design or functionality could be missing out on over half of their traffic. 

Start by introducing a mobile-friendly theme so users from every device can enjoy your content and product catalog. Once you have your theme set up, work on optimizing your site for speed. Users tend to lose their patience and bounce from a website that takes longer than 2 seconds to load. You can optimize onsite images or use a caching plugin if you want to speed up your site quickly. 

You should also make sure your forms and payment page are optimized for smartphone users. There's a good chance that a long and complicated checkout process will lose some potential customers. Work on ways to gather information as quickly and accurately as possible. A guest checkout option is something else you can consider if you want to streamline your experience for people who don't have time to make a full account. 

If there's one thing you should take away from CX is it's directly related to how easy and efficient it is for people to visit your site. Users should be able to find exactly what they are looking for fast. These small conveniences are what ultimately lead to more engagement and longer customer lifecycles., 

As you spend more time engaging with your audience by asking for their feedback, reviewing AI-powered consumer data, and building rapport with personalization, you'll gradually build stronger relationships with your customers. These connections will help you steadily improve your brand for both new and existing customers. 

The process of building a strong CX for your online store never truly ends. You can always learn more as your business evolves. Use this information to your advantage and create a customer experience that will keep people coming back to your online store for many years. 

Image Credit: ijeab/Getty Images
Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
business.com Member
See Thomas Griffin's Profile
I'm president and CTO of OptinMonster, a powerful lead generation tool that's installed in over 700,000 websites.