It’s 2020, the beginning of a new year, and more notably, a new decade. With our environment shifting constantly around us, and both our physical and digital worlds increasingly blending together, it can be difficult to imagine what lies ahead.
Here are a few trends we observed in 2019 that we believe will gain even more momentum as digital CX surges ahead in the new decade.
Are Bottom Navigations Making a Comeback?
As mobile traffic continues to grow, so does the size of our smartphone screens. Screen sizes have almost doubled since the first iPhone release, with market share shifting drastically to larger screens as sales increase. In 2019, 43.4% of the market share was dominated by screens sizes 6” and above. Reaching the top of mobile screens remains difficult, which is why smartphone manufacturers have adapted thumb zones for larger mobile devices.
To adjust to changing device designs, we are slowly seeing the navigation shift back down to the bottom of the mobile screen. More recently seen at the top of the screen, top-level functions on some apps and mobile sites are coming back down to the bottom of the display, where they are easier for users to access quickly, no matter the device size. Take a look at Uber and Lyft:
Most of the key and primary functions are at the bottom of the screen, with an additional tab bar. Secondary functions that are not associated with the current and most primary tasks are still findable behind the hamburger menu, which remains at the top of the screen.
From Work to Home, Across all Devices
Given the surge of mobile use in the past decade, syncing across different devices in different environments is now a far from a perk, but is now a must. User experience (UX) continues on even after users interact with their first device. For example, users may start watching their downloaded Netflix shows on a plane, but finish them on their phone or tablet, or even on the less mobile, but highly relevant, smart TVs at home.
Because our physical and digital devices are continuously blending together — at least as far as usage is concerned — it is imperative for companies to store specific user data in order for the experience to continue smoothly. From saving items in your shopping wishlist to pausing past streamed or downloaded shows, users want to be able to log into their accounts from any device, and pick up exactly where they left off.
Augmented Reality, from Your Makeup to Your Shoes
Yet another sign of the physical and digital worlds coming together, augmented reality integrations are ramping up across channels. Retailers are attempting to bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and digital experience (DX) by creating immersive environments to create added value for customers.
According to Gartner, 100 million consumers are projected to shop in AR online and in-store in 2020, with 46% of retailers planning to deploy AR or VR solutions.
Although 69% of the nation shops online, 56% of those who shop online say they would prefer to shop in-store. So in-store environments continue to matter, despite speed and convenience winning when it comes to digital experiences. As networks and connections increasingly improve with the advent of 5G, AR technology is helping brands to bridge the gap between users’ in-store and digital experience.
Check out this immersive experience with Sephora’s Virtual Artist:
It is the perfect marriage between customization and virtual reality. Users can upload an image of themselves (or use a model) and see the results of multiple product lines and a variety of styles. What the user is “wearing” is listed below the image, and can be removed or clicked on to go directly to the relevant product page.
The Future of CX is Already Here
Technology that might have seemed impossible a decade ago is today a reality. The devices we use are now deeply connected to our lives, creating a closer connection than we have ever had with our consumers. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in the last decade, it’s to embrace the new, and expect our consumers will do the same.
Hero image: Adobe Stock, Via rcfotostockWhat We Learned from 110 Million Visitor Sessions During Black Friday & Cyber Monday
We’re entering the most hectic time of the year again — and it’s not even (officially) the holiday season. That’s because the holiday season doesn’t formally start until the holy grail of retail events. We’re of course alluding to Black Friday, the crème de la crème for boosting revenue.
Our globally-extracted data attests to the weight this pre-holiday season event holds. (Have you seen the stampedes and clashes over commonplace items on this day?) With strong expectations of drawing in higher volumes of customers who purchase, now is the time to make sure your digital CX is spot on.
We analyzed 110 million visitor sessions and inspected the performance of 600 million pages during the 2018 Black Friday season, stretching from November 11th to November 27th.
Our data validates the expectations of higher sales and shopping carts surrounding these retail affairs (in most cases). There was also less site abandonment — in some countries. Let’s look at some of the key insights we gleaned from those numbers.
Big Wins in the USA — Cyber Monday Rules
Black Friday — historically a brick-and-mortar affair — is today a major digital sales event. In 2018, Black Friday digital sales reached record highs, generating $6.22 billion in revenue. Cyber Monday, as its name suggests, has always been about promotions in the digital space, i.e, eCommerce.
The United States followed this rationale, as its largest sales were chalked up to Cyber Monday last year. Black Friday sales saw a 17% hike in conversions, but Cyber Monday sales trounced these, with conversion increases of 60%.
And conversions weren’t the only thing on the rise — in the US, average carts increased during Black Friday by 12%.
These heightened conversions were made possible owing to the checkout in particular. This was the case for not solely the US, but also in the UK. Let’s look at the stats we crunched on the checkout portion of the customer journey.
The Checkout: Higher Conversions, Lower Bounce Rates & Less Logins
The conversion rate among visitors who reached the checkout funnel was 25% higher during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Pre-holiday shoppers who reached the checkout appeared to be more inclined to go through all the steps necessary to complete their purchase, from selecting a product to entering their shipping address.
The checkout page spurred lower bounce rates in both the US and UK. In the US, the checkout bounce rate went down by 28.3%, and in the UK, it decreased by 32%.
In the US, the checkout bounce rate went slightly up again on Cyber Monday, but was still lower than the bounce rate in the lead-up to the holiday shopping weekend.
Despite the good performance of the checkout page, it also incurred some engagement issues. Retailers in the UK saw half the checkout logins during Black Friday, and in the US, the logging in rate was 61% lower.
It could be that Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are in a rush to complete their purchase, or that they are already logged into their account.
In any case, optimizing the checkout step with a quick and easy login process (think one-click, social login, etc) will only encourage more sign-ins. Encouraging guest users to create an account after they convert is another long term marketing opportunity.
The Search Bar & Category Pages: Higher Global Usage, Yet Higher Frustration
In all the countries we analyzed, search bar usage saw a stark increase on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. US shoppers browsing retail tech sites drove a 31% increase to the click rate on the search bar.
In the UK, specifically in the retail apparel sector, the search bar garnered a 3.16% click rate increase on Black Friday alone. The click rate rose to 10.01% on Cyber Monday.
Visitors also browsed fewer category pages in general — 5% fewer in the US and 27% fewer in the UK — confirming the theory that, by the time Black Friday rolls around, shoppers have a good idea of what they’re looking for.
The kickoff to holiday shopping season isn’t a time for idle window shopping, so brands should put their best offers on display well in advance of the big day.
Despite the seemingly good engagement coming from the click rate of the search bar, it can also be a source of frustration, as it drew in higher click recurrences across the board.
With an average of 2 clicks on the homepage search bar during Black Friday, the US felt the most acute wrath in high click recurrence. The UK followed suit, particularly in the fashion sector, where the search bar sustained a monumental 2,000% rise in click recurrence, from 0.08 to 1.78 clicks.
So while the search bar is a necessary element for possible conversions, it may not be very intuitive. It could be drawing up the wrong results or not pulling in products close to what users are typing in automatically.
Bad UX on the Add to Cart Button Globally
The search bar wasn’t the only element to incur a high click recurrence, as the add to cart button was racked by a similar fate.
In France, particularly in the apparel sector, the add to cart button suffered a click recurrence increase of 5.85%.
It was slightly bigger in the UK apparel sector, having risen by 8%. Most notably, in the UK tech sector, it shot up by 62%.
The US was dealt the biggest blow on add to cart buttons, as they racked up a heaping 50% in click recurrence increases.
The root of this international UX trouble-maker could be error messages springing up when users clicked on the button, either due to a technical error or issues with inventory.
The lessons to glean from this is to optimize the add to cart button and make sure you don’t run out of products. Pay special attention to best sellers and other popular items.
An Eclectic Set of Acquisition Sources
Traffic from emails was higher by a hulking 79% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, compared with the prior period.
Contrary to the US, UK brands received a higher-than-average visitor flow during this season. On Black Friday, organic traffic, or traffic from SEO, was 33% higher, and direct traffic also increased by 24%.
Cyber Monday did not follow suit in the UK. Instead, brands piqued the interest of incoming visitors through paid sources and CRM. Email-based traffic was 160% higher, while social media garnered a king-size 310% increase in traffic.
Whether your brand uses paid sources or goes the organic route, make sure your copy is compelling. Add your best deals to captivate more interest.
And when creating SEA or paid social ads, make sure your landing pages are consistent with the messaging and offers mentioned in your ads.
Capitalizing on Black Friday & Cyber Monday in 2019 & Beyond
As the drivers of major retail events, it is incumbent upon brands to create good experiences — digital and otherwise — to attract customers’ attention and most importantly, retain them. As our data shows, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key forces for higher revenue streams and fewer bounces. However, there is plenty brands can do to improve the UX, reduce frustration, and engage higher add to carts.
For example, product and CTA findability carries a great deal of weight in user experience. As do elements that appear to be clickable, but turn out not to be.
Read more about how The North Face leveraged granular customer data to optimize their gift guide.
Luckily, you can refer to a slew of hard data, including industry benchmarks and see how to improve your digital experience for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But it doesn’t end here.
You’ll need a continuous stream of data to refer to — and we’re not only referencing industry criteria. You’ll need to have a sturdy set of data on your customers’ behavior. That way, you can determine where customers are struggling and where they’re having a good UX. Once you’re equipped with this data, you can proactively make optimizations so that for your customers, Black Friday and the holiday season will truly be times of giving, i.e., buying.How To Satisfy Modern Online Shoppers’ Needs Without Losing Your Mind
Customers are demanding. Like that Queen song goes: “I want it all, and I want it now.”
Modern shoppers, especially Millennial and Gen Z, have set the stage for today’s shopping because they’re the largest demographics for most sales and are seeing gains in their income. While their needs originally were different than older consumers, their demands have become standard requests even for Boomers.
Chief among the current trends that the modern shopper wants are a social media presence, a smart web design, quality goods, quick shipping, sticking to your promises, and making the whole purchase process simpler.
These are a lot of needs to meet, but your eCommerce store can definitely do it when you take direct, deliberate steps. Let’s explore some of those steps you can start taking right now.
Social Media Activity
You’ve long heard your marketing team tell you to get on Twitter or other social media platforms. You might have heard about the surveys saying social media can generate sales and increases engagement. There are a lot of smart reasons to join social.
What we want to focus on right now is how to act on social in order to make a strong connection with your customers. At the heart of it, it all comes down to transparency. Customers want you to be open and honest, and to use social to do that.
Transparency matters more than ever. Millennials rank social as the top channel for you to be transparent and say that on social they want honesty from you more than they want it from politicians.
Here are the things they believe matter most:
- Admitting a mistake (61%)
- Answering customer questions honestly (58%)
- Accurate pricing for your products (45%)
- Manufacturing practices (49%)
- And tied for fifth were marketing practices and employee diversity (39% each)
Those are an amazing guide for your social activity and ads. Focus on customer service and responding to questions above all else. When things go wrong, follow the proven practice of admitting it and then fixing it. Ads can contain pricing as well as language on your manufacturing processes when applicable, which can also help engender trust with the customer.
Customers expect you to be more transparent, and some 58% believe it is a moral obligation for you to be honest.
Smart Web Design
Why does almost every article on modern web design focus on minimalism in some form? Because we’re all overloaded from the 20,000 different things vying for our attention. When you’re nothing but noise, people will head for the hills. Millennials are the worst at this with 41% struggling with information overload, while only 31% of Boomers say this.
So, how do you design in a way that promotes sales for your products while also not causing migraines? Start with the smartphone. Design for this real estate and you’ll naturally slim down and focus on what’s important. Mobile-first is a terrific way to ensure that you’re minimalist too.
Next, move to what we were just talking about: transparency around your brand.
For web design, transparency and honesty aren’t about showing the underwork but more about telling your story. Humans have been telling stories since time immemorial; it’s how we connect with each other.
Tell your story clearly and consistently on every page. For example, you’re not a clothing retailer; you help people find their style to feel good about themselves and express their individuality.
Once you have that theme, focus on the elements that relate to the customer and your interactions. The theme should be reflected in the photos you choose, the colors and font on your site, the extra information you provide, and the transparency you give around size charts, shipping costs, and more.
Skip out on the stock images and crowded ads or pop-ups. Clear away the clutter to get to a clean visual that’s visually appealing and shares your story while providing customers the details they need to make a decision.
The final piece of the puzzle is two types of recommendations: products and people. Follow Amazon’s example of showing products that are similar or ones that people who viewed product A also purchased. Second, bring in your social posts from followers and customer review to lend authenticity to the claims you make about the products.
You want to show people how these goods achieve that theme above, and then provide examples of real people who say that too.
It’s not surprising that people want quality products. No customers want to get ripped off, so every business focuses on some level of quality. Your business needs to define that quality level and then stick to it. Customers are more loyal when product quality stays consistent over time. You don’t have to be Apple, but you do need to meet the initial expectations that your customers expect.
One note here is that money is tight for many of your customers, though overall wages in the U.S. are starting to rise. So, you might be competing to get users from your competitors as people move away from their preferred brands.
Quality in the Millennial and Gen Z focus also means a product worth sharing. Make it something they enjoy using or wearing and would be willing to put on social media. Achieving that means you get great word-of-mouth marketing, a chance at influencer tactics, and plenty of quality reviews to add to your site.
Shipping is a major pain point for many etailers, since your customers demand it to happen quickly and they don’t really care about logistics variables that may be beyond your control. As of 2019, Amazon Prime has roughly 100 million subscribers. They spent more than $1,500 on Amazon each year, and the shipping is a major point of interest for them.
A recent study also notes that twice as many customers took advantage of same-day shipping options in 2018 compared to 2017. And the kicker: 99% of U.S. consumers believe “fast delivery” is important.
That means you need to provide this yourself or work with an order fulfillment company that promises these delivery speeds, and you should make these promises clear. You could easily lose a sale by having slow shipping options or overly unaffordable prices.
Also, in the shipping column is the ability to track a purchase. People are willing to pay for faster shipping, so they want to know if you’re delivering on your end. About half of online shoppers in the U.S. have canceled an online order because the delivery was too slow.
A Simple Purchase Process
Along the same lines of the shipping being high-quality, customers want the purchase experience to be that way too. They don’t want huge forms or complex options, hidden costs, or even to be forced into creating an account when they’re not interested.
If someone wants to buy as a “guest,” you might lose their dollars if you don’t allow that option.
Simple shopping includes a clean and clear cart that is transparent around product costs, added fees for shipping or taxes, and shipping times. Keep this visible at all times to build more trust.
Unfortunately, most eCommerce customers in any demographic will consider or completely abandon a shopping cart at some point this year. What you can do to fight against this is to use retargeting advertising mechanisms. Cart abandonment is also the reason for one of the 17 must-send emails for your company.
Nearly 70% of carts are abandoned but sending that email can get people to come back, especially if you offer something like free shipping.
What’s important for that retargeting is it will only be successful if the purchase process they return to is simple and effective.
One of the biggest tactics for reaching Gen Z is to publish and perform corporate responsibility.
This demographic, as well as Millennials, wants a company to be authentic and share their altruistic beliefs. You need to genuinely believe in something and promote it. Do this, and you can grow your bottom line.
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, puts a human face on any brand. It allows customers to see that you care about a cause and are actively putting money toward it. They then get the benefit of saying the products they use also do good in the world — you’re giving them bragging rights too. Lego provides a great example of this.
Another important aspect of this is the media environment that Gen Z is immersed within has a confusing mix of real and false stories of all kinds. We’re not just talking about traditional media, but also memes that accuse brands of false harm, bullying, planetary harm, and much more.
Bring in the transparency and honesty mentioned above to your work in the local community, and you can invite a new line of customers in regularly.
Onesixtyfourth has created an interesting five-step Brand Citizenship model that discusses CSR in a broader sense, noting that today’s customers want to buy from you if you improve their lives, community, and the world while taking responsibility for what you do.
Treat Them Like People, Not Buyers
The heart of every item above is treating the customer like a person. Follow the rules of a first date when you want a second one: be honest, interesting, and highlight areas where you both care about the same thing.
You don’t have to always be selling, but you do need to always be interacting.