The Reality Of The Online Customer Journey

The Reality Of The Online Customer Journey

By Tom Mucklow, Addressy



For e-Commerce businesses across the globe, having a streamlined online shopping experience is essential for success. Though many retailers strive to create a positive online experience for their customers, the reality is often much different. The online checkout process can be long and unnecessarily complicated, jeopardizing the success of the last and arguably most important step to any online customer journey.

Here are four common misconceptions that retailers have about their online checkout process — and why businesses should care.

1. It’s fast:

The online shopping community prides itself on providing customers with a quick shopping experience. Yet, a recent study from Baymard found the average checkout contained 14.88 form fields — twice as many as is necessary.

Why businesses should care: These unnecessary forms prolong the online shopping experience and create frustrations that can lead to customers exiting their online shopping carts before placing their orders. The Baymard study cited a “too long/complicated checkout process” as the number two reason respondents abandon their cart. By not evaluating the true speed of their checkout process, online retailers risk maintaining a site with more abandoned carts than successful orders.

2. It’s foolproof:

Since online platforms remove a major human element from the shopping equation, retailers often assume they have successfully erased human error from their site. However, according to data from the United States Postal Service, 6.4 billion USPS mail items were undeliverable as addressed in 2015. Long and complicated checkout processes present ample opportunity for human error, with users entering misspellings and incorrect address information. These typos can lead to failed deliveries and packages getting lost in the postal system.

Why businesses should care: High volumes of delivery errors are bad for customer satisfaction — a Voxware study found 69% of consumers were less likely to shop with a retailer again if a purchased item was not delivered within two days of the date promised. Additionally, these errors can be very costly to address. Resending packages and issuing refunds impact online retailers’ bottom line while also jeopardizing return business from customers.

3. It’s internationally accessible:

Having an online retail store opens the door to international shoppers. Yet many retailers create barriers for customers living abroad, without even realizing it. Forms that require users to choose a state from a dropdown menu or manually insert a ZIP code with no form of address verification are serious roadblocks to ordering from abroad or using a non-U.S. credit card. Additionally, postal codes vary by country and street names are often identical in multiple locations — contributing to customer confusion and an online experience that is prohibitive to international shoppers.

Why businesses should care: Failure to accommodate international shoppers will ultimately limit your customer base and is the online equivalent of closing the door on customers in a physical store. This creates negative experiences for shoppers and can minimize overall revenue potential.

4. It’s tech-forward:

Too often, online retailers are ignoring technological capabilities that directly enhance user experience. A strong example lies in the rise of mobile shopping. Most online retailers have yet to take full advantage of the tech opportunities of mobile shopping — such as launching an app or developing a mobile version of their site that simplifies the checkout process on mobile devices.

Why businesses should care: According to Adobe’s 2016 online shopping data for Cyber Monday, mobile shopping accounted for 47% of visits to retail web sites. Mobile shopping is the future — to accommodate today’s shoppers, the online checkout process must be user-friendly. Cart abandonment rates will soar on mobile devices if forms require excessive typing or are unnecessarily long.

What Businesses Can Do

For online retailers, address verification is a crucial feature for creating the best possible customer experience — it provides a simple solution to all the above problems. Additionally, it creates tangible benefits for both businesses and their customers.

Benefits for businesses

• Enhances user experience and positions businesses as leaders in online customer service

• Increases sales by reducing cart abandonment and increasing conversion rates

• Helps expand customer base by removing roadblocks for international shoppers

• Identifies typos and verifies addresses to decrease the volume of undeliverable packages, and ultimately save businesses money

Benefits for customers

• Saves users time during checkout by auto-populating addresses

• Tailors search results through location biasing, speeding up the checkout process

• Identifies typos using fuzzy error correction, decreasing issues with deliveries

• Verifies international addresses

At the end of the day, when customers experience issues while shopping online, it seriously impacts their trust in the company. To prevent this, along with the associated losses in revenue, businesses must accept the reality that the online customer journey needs improvement and take concrete steps to streamline their checkout process.



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