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10 Ecommerce Brands Nailing Amazing Customer Experiences in 2023
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.
What is customer experience?
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:
- Store location, hours, accessibility, and parking
- Store atmosphere, fitting rooms
- Staff interactions and service
- Payment, checkout, and returns
- Promotions or gifts with purchase
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.
What does an ideal online customer experience look like?
Moving onto the ecommerce experience, let’s talk about 12 key elements to an amazing online shopping experience.
- Ease of Navigation: Simply put, customer should be able to easily find the products they are looking for, with clear and intuitive navigation menus, search functionality, and filtering options. Better yet, consider offering shoppers personalized live video commerce support on-demand or via appointment to save them from clicking and searching on loop. Hint: Check Google Analytics to identify potential stumbling blocks for shoppers.
- Mobile Optimization: More than 290 million people own a smartphone, and as many as 79% of them have bought something online using their mobile device. It’s pretty much table stakes at this point that ecommerce sites need to be fully optimized for mobile, with responsive design and fast load times.
To take things a step further, consider that the ‘online catalog’ model of ecommerce sites was built before smartphones and mobile browsing even existed. Think about how shoppers are spending the bulk of their time on their phones - messaging, social media, and video. Ecommerce can and should be adapted to offer a similar experience.
- Fast and Secure Checkout: Customers should be able to complete their purchases quickly and securely, without having to jump through hoops or provide unnecessary personal information. Remember, many shoppers don’t love the idea of having to set up an account to checkout. Also, consider different payment methods - from virtual wallets to ‘buy now pay later’ products like Affirm.
- Comprehensive Product Information: Drive customer satisfaction by providing detailed product information, including images, descriptions, and customer reviews, to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Keep in mind the drawbacks of user-generated content and think of strategies to overcome them (like offering on-demand support or producing associate-led content).
- Personalization: Customized recommendations and tailored offers help create a more personalized shopping experience. Segmenting customers based on their browsing or purchasing behavior is a smart way to make shoppers feel recognized and boost customer retention, but keep in mind that AI-driven personalization is basing content on patterns, not preferences. True 1:1 personalization in the form of live associate support or clienteling is a smart complement to any great customer experience strategy.
- Fast and Reliable Shipping: Customers should be able to select from a variety of shipping options, and should be provided with accurate and up-to-date information on shipping times and costs. Be especially mindful of shipping policies when it comes to sensitive time periods or events, such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or graduations. Consider offering alternative shipping options such as buy online, pick up in store, or ship-to-store for free shipping.
- Flexible Payment Options: Customers should be able to use any payment option they wish, including credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and other digital payment methods. Make sure gift card and promotional code redemption is easy or risk losing customers right when they’re primed to check out.
- Transparent and Easy Returns: Customers should be provided with clear and easy-to-understand information on the returns process, and should be able to request a return or exchange without any hassle. Pro tip: Free returns can help shoppers feel confident in checking out, driving more conversions and higher AOV. But if free returns are adding up, consider offering subsidized returns instead, with a nominal cost for shoppers to ship something back (or free returns if an item is brought back to a store). Another great customer service returns option is return consolidators like Happy Returns and Loop, which offer package-free, label-free returns that are as easy as going to the store.
- Proactive Customer Support: Unless it’s a REALLY basic question, most shoppers don’t love chatbots (and should be able to figure out the issue they’re grappling with on their own). In an ideal online shopping experience, customers should be able to easily get accessible, great customer support in case of any issues or queries, with responses being prompt and helpful. Consider offering live customer service chat over video, phone, or text to give customers an instant connection to an actual living, breathing human.
- Grow Trust: A reputation for providing a high-quality customer experience can help build trust and loyalty among customers, leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth promotion. Remember that trust extends to what your brand stands for and being able to actively demonstrate it through every part of the ecommerce cx. Call yourself eco-friendly? Demonstrate how through accountability reports, offer carbon offset credits at checkout, and use recyclable or compostable packaging. Don't forget about factors like a Net Promoter Score or reviews on sites like Trustpilot. New brands or businesses with high value products are wise to leverage tools that clearly demonstrate customer satisfaction.
- Reward Customer Loyalty: There's a reason why so many brands offer customer loyalty incentives - because they work. Whether you offer rewards points, a pay-for-discount program, subscriber perks, or promotions for completing tasks like referring friends or leaving a review, there are a million ways to take a transactional relationship and convert it into a customer loyalty-generating machine.
- Post-Purchase Perfection: Don't forget about the post-purchase ecommerce experience as a key part of delivering customer satisfaction. This includes managing customer expectations about when their package should arrive, present products in an attractive (but economical) way, following up with customer to see if they're enjoying their products, re-engaging them with recommendations or offers, and encourage customer feedback with reviews or other UGC. Of course, you'll also want to keep them in the loop on what's happening with your brand - encourage customers to follow social media accounts or receive promotional emails.
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 10 best ecommerce customer experience examples
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.
- Go the extra mile to make your subscription offering truly enticing (not just a small recurring discount!)
- A 1:1 personalized experience and associated products at scale are possible
- Balance corporate citizenship with products to create a winning formula
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.
- Give shoppers ways to picture themselves in garments; show products on multiple models or consider a full-site browsing experience based on a specific size preference
- Personalization on a 1:1 basis is possible with the right technologies
Ring Come True
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.
- High consideration items deserve high levels of support
- Consider appointment bookings to control the intake of shoppers
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.
- Find ways to overcome every objection possible
- Think of the entire customer journey from discovery through to consideration and purchasing
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.
- The retail space is primed for digital-driven CX disruption
- Don’t think of a phygital space as a ‘less convenient’ online store, but a better version of traditional retail
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.
- Stand behind quality guarantees with generous policies
- Make navigating complex product catalogs digestible
- Create a ‘lifestyle’ feeling to commoditized products to buoy loyalty
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.
- Find ways to keep customers engaged and conversing on your site to drive more sales
- Treat customers the way you'd like to be treated; freebies, gifts, promotions, and generous policies all inspire loyalty
- Interactive content and opportunities to connect with actual customers / users helps boost trust and interest
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.
- Aid shoppers beyond a basic point & click e commerce catalog
- Provide different ways to experience a product; AR, 3D graphics, photos, and buying guides are all part of the e commerce buying process
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.
- Don't be afraid to let customers segment themselves; create tailored experiences that let them only see what they're actually interested in
- Match the price point to the experience: Luxury goods at any price point deserve a bespoke experience
- Make membership as enticing as possible; RH spotlights member pricing on every single product
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.
- Foster brand loyalty even if your channel strategy relies on third-party vendors
- Don’t shy away from the objections to buying your product
The easiest way to take your e commerce customer experience to the next level
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.
Want to talk video commerce? We’re experts in that area. Book a meeting with us to learn about Ghost’s video commerce platform and how it can bring your customer experience to the next level and then some.