European e-commerce is seen as a beneficiary of the pandemic: according to current surveys, since the Covid 19 outbreak, local consumers have increasingly made their purchases online. This also raises expectations. We show you how you can give your customers a positive shopping experience and differentiate yourself from the growing competition on online sales channels.
The fact that customer satisfaction is a variable critical for business success, is not a new finding for most international e-commerce providers. However, it is just now that the strategic examination of this issue is proving to be profitable, as Corona has permanently altered the purchasing and usage habits of European consumers. And not only young consumers, but also older customers, who previously showed little enthusiasm for online shopping, are increasingly shopping online.
In order to benefit from the accelerated trend towards e-commerce, it is more important than ever to put customers at the center of business activities – to offer them the best possible shopping experience.
One-click-buying – enabling quick purchases
Time-saving is becoming increasingly important in online shopping. This is confirmed by current studies, including those of the IT service providers Adesso and Arithnea in Germany. According to these studies, almost half of the consumers surveyed describe “one-click buying” as the perfect shopping experience – which basically means buying online with just one click. This represents a significant increase compared to the previous year, when only 26 percent wanted to shop online as quickly as possible.
International retailers are therefore well advised to check their websites for time-saving potential in order to optimize both, the technical performance at the checkout and search functions if necessary.
In addition, they should also offer customers who only want to shop once the opportunity to make a quick purchase. After all, this customer group perceives the mandatory set-up of a customer account, which is usually necessary for One-Click-Buy, as the most significant disruptive factor in online shopping. Nevertheless, these consumers also want to get through the checkout process as quickly as possible. It therefore makes sense for store operators to offer different ordering options such as “Create customer account” or “Shop as guest”.
Accompanying customers in their purchasing decision
Not only the actual purchase, but also the entire previous decision-making process has increasingly shifted to digital channelsin the light of the pandemic. It is advisable to respond to the growing need for digital information and to provide potential customers with detailed product information on a continuous basis and across all channels. In addition to a presence on marketplaces and an own webshop, social selling via social networks such as Instagram or Pinterest is a good way to do so. Here, providers and customers communicate personally and published content can link directly to the store.
The above-mentioned study suggests that many companies have already recognized the potential and invested in the quality of their product information: While in 2019, one in three consumers surveyed was still bothered by incomplete product details, this figure now accounts to only one in five.
Adapting payment methods to local needs
Although digital payment methods such as PayPal, Apple Pay or eCash have generally been promoted during the pandemic, payment preferences vary from one European country to another: French and British consumers still prefer to pay by credit or debit card. Among Germans, the payment methods invoice and direct debit are still popular.
The majority of local consumers will only make cross-border purchases if they can be processed quickly, securely and easily. If the accustomed payment method is missing, the purchasing process is quickly abandoned and the consumer switches to the competitor. Especially for internationally operating online merchants, it is worthwhile to take a close look at local payment preferences and include them in their own offer.
Simplifying online returns – with simultaneous sales optimization
Every sixth online buyer looks at the return policy of the retailer before placing an order. Just as fast shopping, exchange policies are expected to be as flexible as possible – in particular with orders from overseas. It is recommended to meet this requirement and to arrange return processes in a customer-oriented manner. At the same time, each returned product initially means lost sales: finding the right return policy for your own store and customers is therefore not easy. Pre-defined industry standards as well as best practice examples from competitors can provide orientation on how to optimize sales and satisfy customers.
The use of new technologies such as Augemented Reality can also be successful. Through virtual try-ons, the visualization of products in the customer’s environment or digital assembly instructions, return rates can be reduced, because purchasing decisions are better supported and uncertainties are eliminated.
Strategic planning of cross-border logistics
A particularly critical factor for customer satisfaction is logistics. If delivery times from abroad are too long, many customers prefer to choose a retailer with shorter delivery times. In order to be able to stand up to local competition, international online retailers should choose their logistics partners carefully and develop a strategy for accelerating delivery processes. A cost-minimized solution could be the decentralized storage of goods in various European fulfillment centers.
Ideally, the delivery of goods is accompanied by professional shipping communication. Many European customers expect to be informed about delivery status changes via e-mail, SMS or shopping app – preferably in real time.
If you communicate transparently, you not only ensure greater satisfaction, but you can also expect customers to be more understanding if pandemic-related delivery delays occur.
Intensive customer contact pays off far beyond logistics: According to the study by Adesso and Arithnea, customers speak of a perfect shopping experience when they feel completely well cared for and informed, from product presentation and ordering to payment and delivery. Retailers should have this goal in mind in order to keep their loyal customers in the long term.