Customer engagement — not just experience — is the key to eCommerce Growth

There was a time when creating a positive customer experience was as simple as providing a good selection, competitive prices, and friendly, knowledgeable service. In today’s digital sphere, however, consumers are much more demanding and discerning. When customers visit an eCommerce website, the internet is their oyster, so to speak; price comparisons can be achieved with a few clicks and the diversity of products to buy is endless. In our warp-speed world, eCommerce businesses must constantly adapt and evolve to remain competitive, and to grow, they must convince customers that among a sea of choices, only their brand has precisely what they want.

Today’s consumers prefer quick, elegant, and intuitive online shopping experiences. Technology that gives customers ease of use in terms of speedy and convenient transactions—like easy searching, cart filling, and payment—have become standard, and that is important for creating positive customer experiences. Increasingly, however, for an eCommerce business to realize its full potential requires something more than just a quick and pleasant customer experience. The X-factor that allows businesses to meet customers’ highest expectations—which is necessary for growth—is customer engagement. To truly scale, eCommerce retailers must understand the difference between customer experience and customer engagement—and how AI can bridge the gap.

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience is the aggregate level of satisfaction a customer has when buying with an eCommerce business. The psychological impression a brand makes with its customers, the reaction they have to its marketing, and the quality of the service they receive all contribute an overall feeling about the company. This impression can be measured on an emotional positive-to-negative scale, where a positive experience means that a brand has exceeded the customer’s expectations and a negative one means it has woefully disappointed them. If a customer were surveyed after having had a good experience, he or she would give the company a solid thumbs-up rather than a thumbs-down; a happy face rather than a sad face. 

Positive customer experiences are a good thing and it is important to foster them. Customer experience is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a loyal customer base and repeat customers. But to exponentially decrease churn rate and increase average order size on an eCommerce site, experience must translate into engagement.

What is Customer Engagement?

While customer experience is the emotional reaction a customer has to a brand, customer engagement requires action on the part of the customer. Ideally, those actions will include buying from a business. After all, conversion is king in eCommerce. But a customer can also express engagement when they click through further to access more content on a brand’s site, or by promoting it to others. Engaged customers review, post, Tweet, and follow to express their loyalty to brands that surprise them with an unexpected degree of value. Good customer engagement and good customer experience go hand in hand, with one contributing to the other. It is customer engagement, however, that earns actual revenue, and it is the strongest driver of customer retention. Engaged customers happily convert and come back for more. 

How eCommerce Personalization Affects Customer Engagement

As customer preferences continue to shift and evolve at light speed, eCommerce personalization solutions have become the go-to engagement solution that brands are using to take their business to the next level. Shoppers are looking for personalization, as is evinced by a recent survey of U.S. and U.K. consumers, which showed that 56% of consumers want online retailers to make it easier to categorize and organize products according to their preferences. 

Segmentation technology has been helping to organize products on eCommerce sites for years, dividing shoppers into demographic categories based on broad factors such as age, geographical location, marital status, and income. That method, however, has become outdated. Advancements in AI and deep machine learning has made it possible to tailor the customer journey on a much more individualized level than ever before, sustaining customers’ attention and reducing bounce rates. This is known as 1:1 personalization or individualization. 

Increasingly, 1:1 personalization is becoming the new norm. By placing highly targeted products in customers’ paths early in their eCommerce experience, curating their journey through moment-to-moment learnings about their preferences, visitors are converted into buyers at much higher rates. In the fiercely competitive online environment, 1:1 personalization is helping companies build stronger long-term customer relationships and reducing churn rates dramatically.

When customers interact with an eCommerce brand in a 1:1 personalized environment, they participate in creating a new level of value with the company. It makes the customer feel, “This company understands me.” That kind of engagement fosters customer retention and repeat purchases, and as studies suggest, it makes them buy up to 24% more during each visit. That’s a serious competitive edge.

The Characteristics of a Great eCommerce Personalization Solution

A modern personalization solution that fully engages today’s consumer must offer more than simple segmentation. Cutting-edge personalization technology should have native personalization modules powering different parts of the site that learn (and react) on the fly as the customer reveals his or her preferences and interests. Powerful algorithms should analyze the attributes of the choices shoppers make and present them with a tailored array of suggestions and recommendations from a potential catalog of hundreds of thousands of items. The technology powering this experience may be complicated, but from the customer’s perspective, it should come across as simple and smooth. The customer journey should be connected and consistent, rather than schizophrenic, as they find exactly what they need with ease. They should think, “This brand has just what I want.

An effective personalization cannot be not simply a “point product”—a small-data solution that hails from 2005, focusing on search, recommendations, or email. A modern personalization solution should use the latest technologies and have a scalable architecture. Cutting-edge technologies should allow for comprehensive, end-to-end personalization across the customer journey, with AI, machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) applying their learnings through each unique customer’s first-party cookie, device, location, shopping history, and clickstream. Each time the customer makes a choice, the AI should be able to pivot and re-curate for the customer intuitively.

A robust 1:1 personalization solution should be capable of enabling new business use cases, such as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and support store-level inventory availability and pricing. Additionally, the solution should include first-rate, easy-to-monitor eCommerce analytics to ensure return on investment. Lastly, despite its complexity, it should be up and running on an eCommerce site quite quickly. 

Reflektion’s 1:1 Personalization Scales eCommerce Business

Reflektion’s real-time, intelligent customer engagement platform has all the attributes of a modern, sophisticated personalization solution. It has an “always-on” AI engine that is continually learning behind the scenes and making associations between customer actions and product attributes. Without ever knowing these computational maneuvers are occurring, customers can seamlessly discover their perfect products in seconds, avoiding irrelevant results. Because each Reflektion module is continually learning from customer interactions in all its other modules, each customer’s journey is elegantly connected across all digital touchpoints and marketing channels: web, mobile, email, search, and in-store.

In addition to AI/ML algorithms and NLP, Reflektion’s state-of-the-art customer engagement platform leverages microservices architecture, streaming, auto-scaling, data warehousing, auto-feed tagging, and provides advanced merchandising tools for eRetailers. Unlike the old monolithic, labor-intensive point products, Reflektion’s platform is enterprise-ready and secure, operating at scale and in real time across multiple channels.

Brands using Reflektion’s 1:1 customer engagement platform appreciate the comprehensive analytics it offers, assuring decision-makers that their investment has been well placed. The value delivered every day can be measured through calculations of direct revenue attribution, orders, and conversions. 

Reflektion’s Stellar eCommerce Scaling Stats

Reflektion’s 1:1 personalization platform has generated double-to triple-digit KPI growth for its customers in the past year across the board. In fact, Reflektion’s metrics for the most recent peak holiday shopping period are even more astounding. Understandably, adopters of the customer engagement platform earned millions more in revenue during the busy season.

customer engagement journey

Try a Personalized Demo Today

But don’t just take our word for it. Reflektion invites eCommerce business decision-makers to try a personalized demo and discover the magic of our innovative AI-enabled customer engagement platform.

 

 

Amede Hungerford
Amede Hungerford

Amede brings to Reflektion more than two decades of experience in driving growth and innovation strategies across the enterprise software and technology market. As CMO, Amede leads the global marketing efforts and is responsible for driving market leadership, global awareness, demand generation, product marketing, strategic events and communications for Reflektion.