The rising role of customer experience on shopping behavior

Online shopping experiences are rapidly changing, and they can have a significant impact on buying behavior. That’s why a strong understanding of today's customer journey – including insight into its challenges and pain points – is key to businesses of all sizes.

The result? You’ll be better equipped to build a more seamless checkout experiences and potentially increase sales.

Here, we’ll share some of the biggest changes in buyer expectations and how businesses can keep up. Plus, we’ll explore leading solutions that can help improve your e-commerce experience.

What consumers are looking for during their online shopping experiences

For large enterprises, online shopping experiences encompass any interactions customers may have with your brand — from the moment they learn about your products to their comparisons with competitors to their checkout and post-purchase processes.

These e-commerce customer experiences can have a major impact on if, how, and when people buy. So, it’s increasingly important for businesses to understand and optimize customer experiences across platforms. Doing so can help improve key metrics like conversion rates, brand loyalty, and sales. 58% of global digital shoppers in one survey indicated that they won't shop with a merchant that doesn't meet their expectations,1 and more than 90% say a satisfying checkout experience impacts their decision to return to a retailer.2

But what do customers actually want and expect? And how can enterprises meet those expectations to help drive revenue? The answer has shifted dramatically over the past few years.

In today's digital landscape, customers are looking for more-convenient and accessible payment methods. According to a survey by Forbes, more than 50% of shoppers surveyed use digital wallets over traditional payments, and 50% say tap to pay is important for in-person purchases.3 Customers may spend more in-store or online when they have a cohesive multi-platform experience – for instance, one study found that omnichannel customers spend 10% more when online and 4% more in-store4 – and customers are more likely to become a repeat buyer when personalized experiences are tailored to their needs.5

Optimize the customer journey to help enable a seamless shopping experience

Merchants can use customer journey mapping and analytics to better identify and address shoppers’ pain points. User journey maps should outline how certain customer personas interact with a brand across touchpoints, such as social media pages, email, call centers, websites, and mobile apps. What percentage of shoppers, for instance, come to your website from a social media platform, Google search page or review site, compared with typing in your URL directly? Merchants can then track customer experience metrics from each of these channels to see how shoppers engage and progress through the funnel.

With these customer journey analytics at their fingertips, businesses can start to pinpoint obstacles in the path to purchase. For example, the data might indicate that many customers are abandoning their carts at checkout. As Baymard Institute reported, average cart abandonment rates have climbed to 70%.6

Merchants can then take actionable steps to help streamline the checkout process, such as:

  • Provide alternative payment methods. Along with credit and debit cards, offer customers flexible, digital-forward payment methods such as digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, and tap to pay.
  • Clearly convey shipping and return policies. Avoid confusion and frustration by prominently displaying your shipping and return procedures before customers check out.
  • Securely store customer information. Use a secure payment gateway to help safely store customer data, making it easy for shoppers to set up recurring payments or subscriptions. Also, explicitly communicate your data privacy policies to help build trust.

Customer relationships don’t end after checkout, either. Businesses should consider optimizing post-purchase experiences by offering order tracking, providing real-time delivery updates, and relevant product recommendations.

Technology and data considerations to help meet evolving customer expectations

But merchants can automate many of these solutions and take their personalization to the next level with advanced technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

AI chat bots, for example, can provide personalized product recommendations, rapid customer service, and automated order updates, saving valuable time and resources. One study found that more than 42% of customers are comfortable leveraging AI tools like ChatGPT to receive product recommendations.7

Merchants can also use an AI-powered, unified payments system to collect data from across customer touchpoints and build a comprehensive view of the buyer journey. AI algorithms can then use these insights to meet customers with their preferred payment methods, multi-platform shopping and shipping options, and AI-driven security processes to protect their information.

PayPal provides solutions to help businesses meet changing customer expectations. With PayPal Checkout, enterprises can help tailor their checkout flow to fit their brand and buyer journey, delivering personalized customer experiences. PayPal’s integrated payment platform also supports more than 10 local payment methods — including cards, digital wallets, and cryptocurrencies — across more than 200 countries.

By helping enable more-convenient and seamless experiences, PayPal Checkout may help to increase conversion rates, average order value, and customer retention for large enterprises. Learn more about how PayPal uses customer data and AI personalization tools to help improve the checkout process.

A frictionless customer experience can help boost the bottom line

PayPal’s integrated payments platform provides the tools enterprises need to help prepare for the future of customer experiences. Integrate our end-to-end solution with your existing apps and service providers to help boost your bottom line. Tap into AI-driven insights from our two-sided network of shoppers and merchants to help inform your digital business strategies. And scale your solution as you grow to continue meeting customer expectations.

Learn more about how PayPal can help businesses drive conversions and enable seamless shopping experiences.

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