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CX Evaluations Work for Online Shopping Too

If your business includes an element of online shopping—and you want to improve your customer experience—a CX evaluation can be a great way to get started. 

After all, you don’t need a brick-and-mortar store to do a mystery shop. All you need is a skilled, knowledgeable evaluator (like ours) and an online store. Then, you’ll be on your way to better, more profitable business! 

Let’s take a look at how CX evaluations can help you improve your business’s online experience. 

What Online Shoppers Expect from Your Business

In today’s world, everything happens online. In fact, according to recent trends, online sales are expected to soon account for 25% of global retail sales

Of course, many sales still happen as a result of blended digital and physical storefronts. And while brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going away, it’s important for many new and growing businesses to host at least some kind of online shopping experience. 

So what are your customers expecting to find from your business’s digital storefront? 

  • Ease and convenience. The online shopping experience is all about accessibility. Anyone, anywhere should be able to easily browse your offerings and make a purchase—or whatever is applicable to your business. 
  • Fast, reliable service. Not only should your online storefront be easy to navigate, but it should also be quick. The fewer obstacles between a potential customer and a sale, the better. That includes providing a platform that doesn’t present problems for the user. 
  • Free or competitive shipping. If your business includes physical products, your potential customers will want the best experience with regard to shipping. While you don’t always have to eat that cost, you should at least try to meet industry standards. 
  • User-generated content. Social proof is one of the strongest elements of an online shop. Highlight positive testimonials, glowing reviews, and great feedback you receive from happy customers. Just remember not to block every less-than-perfect response. 
  • Good customer service. Customer service is always the cornerstone of any great shop, whether physical or digital. To foster trust in your business, make sure every aspect of your experience is as satisfactory as possible and help is easily accessible. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Depending on your industry, customers may also expect things like secure payment options and loyalty programs. Mobile optimization is important too, as over 56% of online sales come from mobile devices. 

Ecommerce Platforms for Online Shopping

With all this in mind, creating a great online shopping experience from scratch might sound like an overwhelming task. And in all honesty, it’s pretty complicated. However, now that so much of the global marketplace takes place on the internet, there are plenty of tools to take on the bulk of that burden. There are many robust, customizable ecommerce platforms that can be tailored to your business’s needs. 

Here’s a list of some of the biggest names in ecommerce: 

  • Shopify—Arguably the biggest player in the game, Shopify has everything you need to set up and run an online store, no matter where you start. 
  • Squarespace—Although mainly advertised as a website builder, Squarespace is more than capable of backing you up with ecommerce. 
  • WooCommerce—This is a great open-source option that functions as an extension of your WordPress website, making it an industry standard. 
  • Wix—Originally designed for beginners to get any basic website up and running, Wix now has expanded its offerings to keep your online shop and site all in one place. 
  • Shift4Shop—Want something free and turnkey? If you’re based in the US and use their credit card processor, this might be your best bet. 

When you use a reputable ecommerce platform like these, you’ll be able to offload a lot of the everyday operations of your online shopping experience. That is, after you get everything set up. 

Furthermore, the transactional part of your online store is only one part of the puzzle. You’ll also want to take into consideration your email marketing, the design of your website, and your branding. Everything should be consistent and feel seamless for your potential customers, wherever they are in the sales journey. 

Your Business’s Online Shopping Policies

Now that you’ve got your platform sorted out, it’s time to make some decisions. While online shopping should be a matter of simply pointing and clicking for your potential customers, you’ll need to create clear and effective protocols on the back end to make the process truly seamless. Plus, these policies should be at least reasonably similar to a customer’s in-store experience for continuity. 

Here are some typical policies to consider:

1. Order Cancellations:

  • Define the conditions under which customers can cancel their orders.
  • Outline the process for requesting and confirming cancellations.
  • Ensure timely communication with customers regarding the status of their cancellation requests.

2. Returns and Exchanges:

  • Create a straightforward and customer-friendly return and exchange policy.
  • Specify the time frame during which returns and exchanges are accepted.
  • Detail the steps customers will follow to initiate a return or exchange, including any necessary documentation or packaging requirements.
  • Clearly state who bears the shipping costs for returns or exchanges.

3. Out-of-Stock Items:

  • Develop a system to manage and communicate inventory levels effectively. (Your ecommerce platform can help with this.)
  • Post notice promptly when an item is out of stock and, if you can, provide estimated restock dates.
  • Offer alternatives, such as backorders, waitlists, or similar products, to maintain customer satisfaction.

4. Shipping and Delivery:

  • Establish reliable shipping methods and delivery time frames.
  • Provide tracking information and regular updates on order status.
  • Address potential issues such as delayed or lost shipments with clear customer service protocols.

5. Refunds:

  • Clearly communicate your refund policy, including conditions and time frames.
  • Ensure that the refund process is straightforward and timely.
  • Provide transparency about how and when refunds will be issued.

By carefully defining and regularly reviewing these protocols, you can enhance your business’s online shopping experience, build customer trust, and foster long-term loyalty.

Combining In-Person and Online Experiences

If your business has a physical storefront as well as an online shop, your customers—and potential customers—will expect a similar experience at both. Integrating those experiences is an important element of brand continuity. 

First, you’ll want to ensure unified branding, messaging, and tone throughout your CX. This includes your website, social media, physical store, and any other touchpoints. Obviously, you’ll also want to maintain a cohesive visual identity—using consistent logos, color schemes, and marketing materials. 

Next, create a customer support system that spans both in-person and online shopping channels. Offer options such as live chat, email, and phone support, as well as in-store assistance, to cater to customer preferences.

You can also blend shopping experiences at various points. For example, encourage in-store customers to join your online loyalty programs. Plus, where applicable, provide a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) policy to provide convenience and flexibility. If you do provide incentives and deals, be clear about which promotions apply only to in-store or online shopping. Depending on your strategy, you can do one or the other—or apply them universally. Just make sure potential customers understand how they apply. 

By blending in-person and online shopping experiences, you can create a more cohesive and satisfying customer journey, ultimately driving loyalty and increasing sales.

The Benefits of Online Shopping CX Evaluations

All of the elements described above can be assessed using different types of CX evaluations. Although most people might think that “mystery shopping” only involves a physical storefront, a personalized shop could very well include visiting your online portal. In fact, for the most helpful data to improve CX, it’s best to perform multiple mystery shops. 

Professionally-trained CX evaluators can provide valuable insights on multiple channels and answer questions like these: 

  • How does my business’s online shopping experience perform for potential customers? 
  • Is our return process reasonable, understandable, and clear to the user? 
  • Will customers have a similar experience in the store and online? 
  • Is my online shop user-friendly on a mobile device? 
  • Overall, how effective is our sales channel and CX? 

Additionally, an experienced CX evaluator will be able to give you insights into how your competitors do business. This can help you find solutions to problems that are common in your business. Plus, your evaluator might even often offer suggestions on how to outsell those competitors. 

Overall, conducting a targeted CX evaluation gives you an objective perspective on how your online shopping experience performs with your customers. And multiple CX evaluations can show you how consistent your branding and policies are across channels. 

CX Evaluations of Your Online Shop Boosts Overall Sales

In conclusion, CX evaluations are crucial for enhancing your business's online shopping experience. Online shoppers have high expectations—so meeting those expectations requires a well-thought-out approach to your setup and policies. Engaging skilled CX evaluators can help identify areas for improvement and ensure your online store meets customer expectations for ease of use, reliable service, competitive shipping, and customer support. Plus, integrating in-person and online experiences ensures consistency and boosts loyalty.

Regular CX evaluations provide valuable insights, helping you address pain points and stay ahead of market trends. By prioritizing the customer experience, your business can build trust, foster loyalty, and achieve sustainable growth in the digital marketplace.