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10 ways to provide a great customer experience online

Building a successful business is about more than just having a great product. When you’re selling online, reassure your customers by creating a great customer shopping experience that is simple and hassle-free.

Here are 10 ways to make your online store shopper-friendly, turning browsers into happy customers.

1. Make sure your website is easy to use

A good online shopping experience starts with a website that is simple to navigate and helps your visitors find what they’re looking for. Design your website with the user in mind. Use a consistent layout, remove clutter, provide clear navigational menus, and make your search box easily visible.

2. Have clear product images and descriptions

Use sharp, well-lit product images and give your visitors plenty of information about the product so they are clear about exactly what they are buying. To avoid disappointment after the order is placed, let customers know if an item is in stock right on the product page. If it’s out of stock, let them know the back-order date, or give them the option to receive an email from your business when the product is back in stock.

3. Make your website mobile-friendly

Mobile shopping is growing three times as fast as online retail as a whole. This means having a mobile-friendly website is essential when starting a small business in Australia. To create a mobile-friendly website, look for responsive website designs and shopping carts – this means the content will be reflowed for different screen sizes. It can be more expensive, but Google’s algorithm is increasingly rewarding mobile-friendly websites, so it’s likely to be a good long-term business investment.

Make sure your website displays well on different devices (mobile phones with different screen sizes, tablets, laptops and desktop computers). You can use online tools such as Screenfly to see what your website looks like on different devices. You should also check that all common functions are easy to use, especially on smaller mobile screens. For instance, check that it’s easy to search, scroll and click on buttons.

4. Offer cheap or free shipping

Free shipping gives you a real competitive advantage as price-savvy customers are increasingly seeking it out and even expecting it. Research shows 88 per cent of online shoppers would be more likely to purchase from a website if it offered free shipping. If you can’t absorb the costs of free shipping into your business plan, keep the charges as low as you can afford, and be upfront about what shoppers can expect to pay before they reach the checkout page. If you use Australia Post flat rate satchels, you’ll know your costs upfront. Alternatively, you could include the Australia Post postage calculator in your shopping cart.

5. Have a clear returns policy

Let shoppers know your returns policy and make it as easy and flexible as possible. This can reassure customers and give them the confidence to shop online. If you can, offer free returns – 87 per cent of customers are more likely to buy from you if returns are free. In the US, returns average just three per cent. Having a PO box for your business can help you manage deliveries and returns and gives a professional impression. You can also use Australia Post Returns to help you make the returns process more efficient.

6. Give your contact details

Making it easy for customers to get in touch with you is a cornerstone of providing a great customer experience online. Provide an email address and phone number and include links to your business social media accounts. Encourage online shoppers to engage with you and share their experiences on those platforms. Monitor social channels for new comments, compliments and complaints, so you can respond quickly.

7. Streamline the shopping cart

Reduce the number of steps in your online payment process by making it as simple as possible for shoppers to complete a purchase. Allow customers to save their shopping cart and return to it over multiple website visits. This gives your shoppers more flexibility and helps you reduce lost sales – around 75 per cent of shopping carts are abandoned at checkout, but three quarters of these shoppers say they are planning to return to it and shop online later.

8. Be transparent about your online payment options

According to the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), payment cards – debit cards and credit cards – are Australia’s most common non-cash payment method. Let customers know how you process transactions online, who your payment partners are, and which cards or payment types you accept. For example, you might include logos for your SSL certificate, your payment gateway such as SecurePay, PayPal, Visa and MasterCard to show that your website can be trusted.

9. Provide estimated delivery times

Give your customer an idea of when they can expect their online order to arrive and let them know their orders have been dispatched by sending them a tracking number. This will save you plenty of enquiries and let your shoppers relax with the knowledge that their order is on its way.

10. Encourage reviews and feedback

Send a friendly email after a customer’s online order should have arrived. Say thank you again, invite any feedback or questions, and encourage customers to leave a review on your business website, social media accounts or review sites such as Yelp and Google. This not only helps makes the customer feel valued, it will also help give future shoppers more confidence when shopping online with your small business.

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