Our playbooks were created by bringing together 12 of the industry’s most successful ecommerce agencies and getting their insights on growth strategies they use with their top clients. Topics range from marketing (social media and advertising), growing brand loyalty, cross-selling and upselling, building a brand community, and more.
Now, let’s talk about some of the strategies covered in this subscriptions playbook to optimize the customer experience for your consumers.
As the calendar flipped to 2020, the roaring 20s of ecommerce began. This was due in no small part to lockdowns across the world that triggered a wave of customers to shift to online shopping, many for the first time. Understanding how customers previously shopped in store at brick-and-mortar retail stores, what they now expect from their interactions with brands, and ways you can customize their shopping experience are all paramount to running a successful online business.
For example, while shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, customers who are unfamiliar with a brand are able to ask a retail sales associate more about their products. Walking around the store and being educated about the benefits of various products and the differences among them can result in a great retail experience for the customer.
Now, let’s switch that shopping experience to purchasing online. How can you replicate that interaction with real people in physical stores to provide the same deep understanding and positive shopper experience through your website?
In this one example, we can create that same in-store experience with retailers through conversational commerce tools like chatbots, live representatives, and quizzes. An ecommerce quiz in particular can replicate the concierge in brick-and-mortar stores’ shopping experience.
For brands where the sale in a brick-and-mortar environment is more consultative (beauty, bikes, suits, furniture) using a quiz can help fulfill this need for guidance. By ensuring that quiz functionality is also supported by a strong helpdesk solution like Gorgias, Shopify brands can make sure potential and current customers are taken care of.
Adam Pearce, CEO at Blend Commerce
Online Shopping: From a Brick-and-Mortar Store to Click-and-Mortar
Let’s talk more about specific strategies from our playbook that you can use to improve the shopper experience. When we’re talking about subscriptions in particular, it’s important to give customers the ability to manage their subscriptions or accounts with you. Deploying a custom checkout flow or customer portal is crucial for providing them with an exceptional experience to keep them coming back.
Personalization is the key here. Let’s look at the typical shopper journey when customers buy online, as well as the opportunities to customize that journey.
Say you’re a café that roasts your own beans and sells them online with an option for subscription. Your customer typically lands on your website, chooses the coffee beans subscription they want from your product page, heads to checkout, inputs their delivery and payment information, and with a final click you’ve got a sale.
Getting that final click and avoiding abandonment at checkout can make or break you as a brand. So, how can you customize that customer experience to feel safe, secure, and personalized, and show off your brand in the best light?
To reduce abandonment at checkout, the customer needs to feel confident they’re subscribing to the right products at the right amount and at the right cadence. An effective way to guide customer selections is to ask questions that are intuitive to how they use the product. For example, ask how many cups of coffee they drink per day versus how many bags of coffee they need per month. Or how many loads of laundry they do per week instead of how many detergent pods they use.
Aaron Quinn, Founder & CEO at eHouse Studio
Guiding your customer through their shopper journey is essential. You give customers the confidence that they’re finding the right product that will give them the most value. And, if they’re on subscription, you’re showing them the perfect replenishment cadence they’d need.
It’s a fine balance, providing your customers with the insights and information they need to make an informed purchase without overwhelming them through their shopper experience.
When experiences are simplified and you remove part of the decision making process it will generally result in stronger results. Guiding a prospect through the buying journey can improve conversion rates, assist a brand in collecting more data, and deepen the consumer’s initial connection with the brand. The caveat is that a poorly executed quiz or guided shopping experience can lead to more friction. So these need to be implemented carefully.
Pierson Krass, Founder & Managing Partner at Lunar Solar
You don’t have to provide all the information upfront. You can use the various touchpoints with your customers to provide them with educational content later on about how to use the product they purchased, or give more information on your brand or other products they might like.
For example, in the order confirmation email, you can tell them about how other shoppers also bought Product X, or how they can interact with other consumers of your brand on your store’s social media accounts. Creating a brand community where your consumers can discover and interact with each other is a great way to deepen brand loyalty and provide more value to their shopper experience.
Other ideas to consider: leveraging social proof with consumer reviews on your website. Share those reviews in your marketing or social media when trying to incentivize shoppers to try a product. Research the data on how your shoppers are coming to your website, whether through search engines, a social media mobile app, or a desktop, so you can focus on creating the best possible customer experience for them regardless of the platform they use.
Customer Portal Considerations
With subscriptions, the customer portal is where your customers end up interacting with your brand the most. This is where they check on their subscription schedule, look to skip or swap products, or add one-time products.
It’s important to remember the purpose of the customer portal and how it differs from the rest of your online store. Your customers are using their portal because you’ve already earned their trust to purchase from your brand, so you don’t need to overly convince them to browse your products. Their online portal itself should give your shoppers the ability to make quick updates to their upcoming order with a few simple clicks.
An easy to use and on brand customer portal is critical to the success of a subscription program. The customer portal should not be an afterthought. It should be an extension of the brand… For many subscribers, the customer may spend 90% of their lifetime interacting with the brand from inside the customer portal. It should be incredibly intuitive, easy to use and add value to the overall subscription experience.
Thomas McCutchen, Founder & CEO at Scoutside
Optimize Your Customer Experience With The Playbook
Whether you’re a purely DTC business or a retail store looking to start selling online, our DTC Handbooks are filled with valuable and actionable information for any stage of the journey. Our Powerful and Profitable Playbooks are free to download and have everything you need to know on how to establish and scale a subscription business from 12 experts in commerce.
For the last word on how to improve the shopper experience, let’s head back to the playbook:
Elements like custom checkout flows and customer portals are key to your success in working with a wide variety of customers. Giving them the flexibility and autonomy to work with you in the ways they want to allow for a sense of partnership and ownership, rather than just a one-off transaction. Pair that with building a strong community and providing them with options, and your store is set up for long-term, loyal customers.