An Experience To Remember: Why eCommerce Depends on Customer Engagement

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

Customers have a lot of choices in an expanding eCommerce marketplace that's expected to reach nearly $500 billion in 2018, according to research site Internet Retailer. Online shoppers can't touch, feel, taste, smell, or try on products, so one of the best ways to get them to remember you is by providing a great customer engagement experience they'll never forget.

Customers now expect VIP treatment in both online and in-person shopping. Even the smallest details – from easy-to-read product descriptions to a simplified checkout process — can make a difference. Here are four tips to help you engage your online shoppers and keep them coming back time and again.

Make It Personal

Personalized incentives are a great way to welcome new customers and to lure back previous visitors. Consider using first-time shopper discounts, loyalty rewards, video chats to answer questions or sneak previews of new products. First impressions count, so take advantage of every opportunity to build customer loyalty by creating long-lasting relationships rather than simply winning sales.

Get Emotional

Tap into emotions by helping customers make connections between special events and their shopping experiences, recommends Entrepreneur. Let visitors share their shopping lists or potential purchase with friends. Or create wish lists for holidays or special events. These engagement strategies can expose your site to other prospective customers, and bring undecided shoppers back for a second look. If you also have a physical store, allow customers to scan bar codes and add them to a wish list as they shop.

Tell a Story

An important part of building a relationship is introducing your brand to visitors. Tell a story about your site or brand, why you exist, and how you stand out from the competition. Social media is an easy and cost-effective way to start the conversation and share your brand story. In fact, over 60 percent of millennials rely on social networks to stay updated on brands, and 46 percent rely on social media when making online purchases.

Continue The Conversation

To establish strong relationships with customers, it's important to keep the conversation going long after the initial sale is over. Asking customers for feedback on their new purchases can help you tailor future experiences or remind them of your exceptional customer care policies. Invite shoppers back with exclusive offers or provide incentives for them to share their experiences with friends. Give customers a voice by enabling them to provide comments, reviews and ratings.

​How important is customer engagement? Two out of three online shoppers say they would do more of their shopping online if brands and sites would proactively engage with them, according to a survey by Moxie Software, Inc. It's clear that there's never been a better time to focus on your customers' experiences and create long-lasting success for your online site or business.