10 Ecommerce Brands Nailing Amazing Customer Experiences in 2023
Drop everything and read this: Our guide to 12 essential elements every customer experience strategy needs, plus 10 retailers that are killing it when it comes to the online CX.
Seeing is believing and all that, right? Customer experience (CX) is one of the big ecommerce buzzwords du jour, but the big question is what does an excellent customer experience actually look like?
That’s exactly what we’re digging into - breaking down the tenets of an ideal ecommerce customer experience, and highlighting 10 examples of brands that are seriously bringing it when it comes to an excellent online CX.
Oh wait. You want to know why you should care?
Obviously, good CX = happier loyal customers and motivated potential customers = more sales.
But more importantly, one study has found that an exceptional customer experience is set to be the primary differentiator, over price and promotions, amongst ecommerce brands.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way - customer experience and ecommerce customer service aren’t necessarily the same thing.
We would argue that e commerce customer service, as it’s traditionally defined, is a function of the customer experience. Customer service then, refers to any type of personal interaction a customer has with a brand - for example, being serviced by an in-store or virtual sales associate, or reaching out to a customer support email address.
The customer experience, in contrast, is about every touchpoint a customer has with a brand that enhances (or detracts from!) their shopping experience.
Examples of retail customer experience touchpoints include:
Although a number of these touchpoints relate to physical spaces, recognize that customer experience is just as important for ecommerce brands, or omnichannel retailers with an ecommerce store.
Moving onto the ecommerce experience, let’s talk about 12 key elements to an amazing online shopping experience.
In summary, an ideal ecommerce customer experience is easy to use, personalized, fast and reliable, with transparent and flexible policies. It is also important to build trust with the customer through transparent communication, helpful support, and a reputation for quality and / or standing behind your company’s beliefs.
The list above is what we’d consider the new standards of an ideal online customer experience. Many of the world’s top ecommerce brands are already offering - or improving upon - the tenets we just walked through.
So how does one create a differentiated customer experience? Simple: By perfecting the basics of an ideal CX, and finding new ways to improve gaps in the typical online shopping experience. The brands featured here are bringing next level innovation and experiences to their customers, and driving amazing results because of it.
Here are the 10 best ecommerce customer experience examples we found for 2023.
Simply put, Prose is personalization at a massive scale. They use a combination of technology and data-driven insights to create customized hair care regimens tailored to each customer's unique hair type and goals. The brand's website features a detailed questionnaire that helps customers identify their hair type, concerns and goals. This information is then used to generate personalized product recommendations, tailored to each individual customer's needs. Customers that subscribe to Prose unlock additional benefits like a sitewide discount, free products, limited-edition gifts, a guided audio series, print magazine, and the ability to test products before they’re launched.
Additionally, Prose also has a team of hair care experts who provide customized advice and support to customers. As a B Corporation / Climate Neutral Certified business, Prose also proves time and again they stand for something beyond just custom hair care products.
Fact: The biggest of the big ecommerce giants (Walmart, Amazon) have yet to crack online fashion shopping. The good news is that with a seemingly limitless budget for innovation, Walmart has the ability to invest in new technologies that seriously amp up the customer experience. Walmart's "Choose My Model" program is an ecommerce personalization feature that allows customers to select a model that looks like them - whether skin tone, proportions, or some other factor - to get a better idea of how a garment might fit. Using advanced 3D modeling technology from the startup Zeekit which Walmart acquired in 2022, shoppers get a pretty realistic idea of how fabric will drape on their body type.
Customers looking to get really personalized fit recommendations can also take advantage of Walmart’s ‘Be My Own Model’ feature, which allows shoppers to upload a photo of themselves to see items on their exact person. This program is designed to create a more personalized and efficient shopping experience for customers, by helping them find the right product for their needs. Shoppers can filter Walmart's fashion collections to see which products are available for a virtual try-on, making navigating by your unique size and shape that much easier.
A bonus for Walmart: They can leverage customer data about which model shoppers lean toward to better understand what products are being sold through for which body types, and what the bulk of their audience is interested in by body type, making future merchandising decisions that much easier.
Moissanite, a lab-created type of crystal made from silicon carbide, is becoming an increasingly popular option to those looking for an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional diamond engagement rings. Yet there’s still plenty of education to be had. Ring Come True is one of the strictly-moissanite brands leading the charge with a massive range of engagement rings, wedding bands, bracelets, necklaces, and more.
To help shoppers navigate their extensive product catalog, walk through custom orders, and provide education on moissanite products, Ring Come True offers on-demand or by appointment live video shopping. Customers are connected with a live shopping associate who can provide recommendations, show products up close on camera, and answer any questions a shopper has along their customer journey. The result is more sales, more often as Ring Come True continues to grow in both the U.S. and Canada.
DTC paint brand Clare is disrupting the art of picking a paint swatch for your home by, well, making it possible to do online. First, they offer shoppers the ability to take an online quiz to help hone in on their ideal color from the brand’s line of designer-curated palettes. Shoppers still on the fence can try peel and stick color swatches at home to land on the ideal hue, and once they’ve landed on one, can calculate exactly how much they’ll need for their space. Finally, they can send away for their paint and equipment to be delivered right to their door - no back and forth trips to the paint store.
Bonuses: Clare’s paint is Zero VOC and GREENGUARD Gold Certified, offering a healthier, greener paint alternative that aligns with Millennial and Gen Z values. Second, the company also offers a ‘100% Happiness Guarantee’, meaning customers can send back unopened paint for a nominal restocking fee. They also offer cash rewards and a referral program to boost loyalty and keep customers engaged in this new way to outfit your walls. Notably, social proof is part of Clare's strategy: Reviews is literally one of the main navigation items, and callout boxes throughout the site further spotlight social proof in the form of star ratings and reviews.
Let’s talk phygital for a second - the merger of physical and digital retail experiences. Polish footwear brand Eobuwie set out to create a retail experience that was in line with changing consumer behaviors. The old model of having a set number of shoes on display felt dated. So Eobuwie created something entirely new: A comfortable, lounge-like atmosphere with tablets and seating areas. Customers can browse Eobuwie’s entire catalog and request shoes on demand, which are promptly brought to them.
The primary benefit of this arrangement is Eobuwie was able to offer a significantly larger cross-section of their shoe collection (some 110,000 pairs) that is stashed in a warehouse behind the storefront, compared to a traditional shoe store. By offering a digital user experience right in store, they were also able to showcase their entire shoe line (consisting of about 450 brands and 40,000 styles) while providing personalized support, helping customers navigate through the brand’s massive catalog in real time. Talk about an on-trend, elevated, ultra good customer experience.
Interested in a better night’s sleep? Brooklinen aims to soothe your mind (and body) at night with their high-quality products and excellent customer service. Shoppers can rest easy knowing that they have 365 days to return most products purchased from Brooklinen - so if that robe, towels, or bedding doesn’t work out, they can always try something else. Talk about a dreamy user experience.
On top of that, Brooklinen offers shoppers a helpful quiz to narrow down what products from the brand’s ever-expanding line are worth adding to their collection. A solid rewards program, easy-to-navigate site organized by collections, and an interactive blog and social media feed add to the feeling you’re not just buying sheets, but buying into a lifestyle. Not to mention, a huge focus on social proof. Linens are a tactile purchase; Brooklinen uses new and loyal customer reviews and testimonials to help online shoppers get a feel for what exactly they're in for when buying a product.
Credit where it's due: Beauty giant Sephora is no slouch when it comes to an amazing customer experience. This isn't exactly anything new; Sephora has long been revered for their generous return policy (if it doesn't work, it doesn't work!), incredible rewards program, and in-store customer service (including free makeovers and sending shoppers home with a la carte free samples). But their website is really primed for an ideal shopping experience as well, including multiple quizzes to help shoppers narrow in on specific products, the ability to create a beauty profile to find products matched to a customer's skin or hair type, or coloring, tailored product recommendations, and a heavy emphasis on UGC. Still need help? They also offer live chat during extended hours throughout the day.
But perhaps one of the most interesting parts of Sephora's strategy is their online community, which boasts tens of millions of members, tens of thousands of which are online every day. It's a savvy move on the brand's part. Instead of disparate conversations happening across social media posts or subreddits, by centralizing the communications, Sephora has a wealth of consumer data to draw from. Not to mention, a way for their customers (and official ambassadors) to sell to other customers based on reviews, tutorials, or simply asking for advice or recommendations. More time on site with Sephora also, logically, leads to more sales.
French sunglasses brand Bollé is hardly the first ecommerce business to offer augmented reality (AR) try-ons. But there are a few unique ways to do how they do it. First, the digital commerce brand actually partnered with Instagram to let shoppers try out their shades right in the app, similar to experiences users may have experienced in platforms like Snapchat.
While the Instagram experience was a temporary campaign, Bollé also offers both 3D models and virtual try-ons for all of their glasses on their site. Still not sure? Several buying guides are available on the site, including right on the product page, that walk customers through what lens to choose and meet customer expectations with ease.
RH gets that certain customers have certain styles they stick to. Rather than just offer specific collections for those styles, they've taken things further by offering up entire microsites for specific aesthetics, like 'Beach House' or 'Contemporary'. Shoppers can browse both in-stock and custom items within each microsite, learn about the designers behind their products, and...something. Want a more stylish browsing experience? Check out the online 'Source Book' catalogs which offer a magazine-style layout, pricing, and the ability to click to be taken right to a specific product.
Customers looking for a helping hand beyond the impressive online experience can also connect with RH for a design consultation (including 24/7 live chat support), or visit one of their 'galleries'. Did we mention they also offer a members program that serves up a 25% discount on everything for just $175 a year? With additional perks like 20% off sale items, free interior design support, and financing, RH has truly elevated their customer experience to separate themselves from the pack of luxury home furnishing brands.
Even food and beverage ecommerce retailers can offer an incredibly bespoke experience on par with a fine jeweler or luxury goods brand. Nespresso has taken coffee pods - a commodity - and elevated them into immersive concept stores and a highly engaging website. Customers new to the Nespresso brand can go through a detailed walkthrough to find their ideal machine. Once they’re ready to commit, they also offer an enticing subscription program, by offering cash back credits to spend on future purchases. If a shopper didn’t buy their Nespresso machine direct from the manufacturer - no problem. The site does a great job of welcoming customers to their e commerce site with open arms.
Finally, Nespresso doesn’t dodge the question of sustainability - a major sticking point for customers that are hesitant to buy disposable pod coffee. It’s front and center on their main navigation, and further backed up by a recent B Corp certification.
Now that you're feeling all nice and inspired, let's talk about one super simple strategy to bringing more interactivy and engagement to any commerce channel: Video. We use and consume video almost everywhere else in our lives; whether it's attending meetings or conferences over video, watching social media reels and shorts on Instagram, or browsing video reviews and tutorials on platforms like TikTok or YouTube.
Yet when you browse around, it's rare to find an ecommerce experience that leverages video much at all. The logic here is simple: Many brands are worried about load times of video in tandem with load times of extensive product catalogs.
The idea isn’t to place bandwidth-heavy video on every product page. Instead, it might mean rethinking how customers discover products through an ecommerce website - adopting social-style feeds of products or shoppable video to point shoppers in the right direction and catch their attention in an immersive, machine learning-driven way.
Video commerce can take many different forms, for example, with a livestreaming event to introduce shoppers to new products in an impactful, engaging way. Or you could offer a better customer experience by providing shoppers the option to connect one-on-one with a live shopping associate that’s available to answer questions or show products up close. Finally, adding in shoppable video to a site is a surefire way to make video content marketing a valuable part of your overall commerce experience. It doesn't matter whether you're just getting started on Shopify Plus or have a well-established enterprise commerce business - video deserves a place on your site.
If nothing else, remember this: Having a happy customer doesn’t come down to one cool widget or campaign or offer. It’s about a well thought out, end to end user experience.
Every customer interaction with your brand is an opportunity to generate a favorable impression. Think beyond table stakes and find ways to offer something new that your competitors aren’t already offering.