March 13 2023
Many anticipate a potential recession within the next year. Since recessions can have an especially sobering impact on small and medium businesses, they’ll need to operate on smaller business margins and have less diversified reserves to rely on. Nearly two million small businesses closed their doors at the beginning of the 2008 recession. Today, many small businesses have already been stricken by the effects of the pandemic and supply chain stressors, making the prospect of another recession more daunting.
However, small and medium businesses also have notable advantages that the bigger names don’t. They bounce back faster and pivot more effectively when they identify new areas for growth and new ways to meet shifting customer demands.
Even in the face of economic uncertainty, e-commerce continues to grow, and people are spending more time online than ever. Many of the ways that customer behavior shifted online during the pandemic endure today. Once individuals got used to shopping online for groceries, for example, they didn’t stop, even after safety restrictions were lifted. Today, 58 percent of adult internet users make an online purchase every week, and the number continues to rise. Statista.com predicts that 20 percent of retail purchases will occur online by the end of this year.
There are numerous steps to take to prepare your e-commerce business for a recession, including streamlining your overhead costs and identifying creative new revenue potential. However, one of the most important steps is to optimize your customers' experience of your brand throughout their customer journey - from first exposure to purchasing to after sales customer loyalty and appreciation. Studies have shown that companies that prioritized CX significantly outperformed those that didn’t during the 2008 recession. In 2021 customer-experience-focused businesses grew revenue 1.7 times faster than their competitors, and increased customer lifetime value by 2.3 times.
Customers aren't afraid to shop around. Shopify's 2023 Commerce Trends report points out that over 70 percent are buying from a brand's top competitor. A better online experience could push your customers to choose your competitor for their next purchase. That experience may include their awareness of a deal, how well a certain ad matches their tastes, the number of clicks it takes to make a purchase, or the quality of communication as they wait for delivery. Tracking your customers' behavior and understanding their needs will help your business endure no matter the economic outlook.
To gain new customers and delight current ones, you’ll need to take advantage of new tech offerings and show an understanding of customer expectations. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
70 percent of shoppers say they look for deals now more than they used to. Your job is to communicate seasonal sales and promotional deals on every channel, and keep the steps it takes to reach your sale section down to as few as possible.
The right kind of interactive tool can create buzz and increase word of mouth. If it’s fun to use, it will also increase the amount of time spent on your app or store, increasing upsell opportunities. Interactive tools can optimize conversions and deliver a great experience. Consider a filter that helps shopper preview products at home; if you have an accessories or beauty line, let customers 'try on' the products with VR. Bare Minerals, for example, allows customers to try on blush and lip shades and recommends your perfect foundation color.
No matter how many self-audits you do, your customers will always see things you don’t. Popups or emails that encourage (and sometimes incentivize) feedback give you helpful data. They also show your customers that you’re listening and always working to improve their experience.
Accurate data allows you to do more targeted marketing, smarter budget planning, and wise inventory management, all of which will help your business ride out a recession more smoothly. Data from your website, app, email campaigns, and social media channels are getting more and more specific, allowing you to track micro-interactions as well as larger conversion signals. Make sure your team is well-versed in how to utilize this data, and they regularly check in with reports to adapt their strategy.
Sixty-six percent of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Your online store has many opportunities to highlight the sustainability of your products or services, showcasing specific numbers for each product as well as lifetime reductions in waste and emissions from your company, and even for each customer’s purchasing history. You might also incorporate innovative opportunities for circular economy sales within your business model.
Your load time is the single biggest reason that people bounce off of your page and one of the biggest detractors of a positive customer experience. An app or website audit can help you identify trouble spots and opportunities for improvement.
Information that helps you present more personalized recommendations, deals, and processes makes your customer’s life easier and improves your business's lifetime value. When customers have an intuitive experience on your e-commerce app or website, you solidify brand loyalty and ambassadorship.
Headless e-commerce is a more agile solution to optimize your CX. It makes your business more resilient and adaptable to changing technologies, newly developed tools, and shifting customer and market trends. While transitioning from a headed platform to a headless one may seem expensive at first, it actually proves to be more cost-efficient over time, as it saves you thousands of dollars year after year in maintenance and technical debt. Our client, UAG, decided to take their site headless as they had maxed out Shopify’s capabilities. They were Macgyvering their software to make certain functions work the way they wanted them to work. It was frustrating for the team to make changes and updates. Things would break. And, all the stacked plug-ins and band aid fixes were hurting their web performance. Headless solved their issues and increased their revenue.
90 percent of customers buy from brands they follow on social media, and social platforms are making the purchase experience easier than ever. Consider how you can create a savvy strategy on the social platform where your customers spend their time, and create a seamless buying experience by linking your e-commerce tool with your social accounts.
Customers want to feel connected and understood. Skip the cold corporate lingo and embrace communication techniques that feel friendly and sympathetic. Meet your customers where they are and offer solutions that truly add value to their lives.
Vincit helps companies every day discover new ways to improve customer experience and increase the value of their digital ecosystem. Whether you’d like a consultation to review your specific CX software needs and challenges, or you have a specific project in mind, get in touch with our subject matter experts today.
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