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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : January 12, 2009

Ecommerce challenge: make online shopping an experience

As many etailers found over the Christmas holidays, consumers shopped more online but spent less money. As the economy around the globe continues to be tight, many etailers wonder what they can do to keep consumers returning.

by Kristina Knight

A recent report from Forrester Research shows that customer experience is the key in business and the case can also be made for etailing.

High dollar retailers in the brick-and-mortar world have made shopping an experience for years, but in the online world it is more difficult because there is no personal contact. A consumer logs on, chooses the items they want to buy and checks out. A few days later packages arrive on their doorstep. How can you make that an experience?

First, know your consumer and cater to them. If your best shoppers all log on for the days of the big sales, offer a rewards system or give these special shoppers their own day in-store. On that day, ensure that very special deals are given so that these consumers feel catered to and feel they are getting the best deal.

Second, don't skimp on the backend. Rather than cutting back on the extras, increase them. Provide product specifications, consumer reviews and offer up to the minute in-stock information so that consumers know what can be automatically shipped and what may need to be back-ordered.

Finally, consider some form of real-time customer service. Whether this is an automated response for the most frequently asked questions or a dedicated email address (ensure these emails can be answered within a short amount of time), give customers the ability to ask questions or offer feedback.

Tags: ecommerce, Forrester Research, online experience, online shopping

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