E-Commerce Tips & Tricks

Retain Customers with Personalized Experiences — A #GSTech2018 Panel Recap

Wed 21 Feb 2018
By Michelle McNamara

Retain Customers with Personalized Experiences - E-commerce Expert Panel

Last week, our co-founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu sat on the dotCommerce panel at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference alongside Poshmark founder and CEO Manish Chandra, Letgo co-founder and CEO Alec Oxenford, and Packagd co-founder and CEO Eric Feng.

Although the panelists hail from different corners of the ecommerce industry, they did agree: personalizing the ecommerce experience and developing shopping communities can help retain customers.

Buyers and sellers alike can benefit from developing deeper relationships. For the buyer, investing in customers sparks loyalty and, in turn, more sales and revenue. For the customer, ecommerce communities help them find the perfect product that fits what they’re looking for.

Exploring Different Ways to Engage and Retain Customers

Each company on the panel takes a unique approach to customer engagement and personalization, providing many options for sellers.

At Poshmark, a fashion marketplace, users spend an average of 20 to 25 minutes on the site per day — a result of having an engaged, high-touch community that participates throughout the buying process.

Letgo allows people to post anything they own online for others to buy. The platform has a face-to-face element that encourages deeper relationships.

Packagd is partnering with YouTube influencers to bring commerce to video, allowing influencers to monetize an already social experience.

Here at Shippo, our software makes the entire shipping process easy for retailers. Since Amazon has conditioned the world to expect free and fast shipping, it’s mission critical that retailers provide customer-friendly options. Now, businesses can personalize the user experience through packaging, tracking pages, and labels to bring life to these critical customer touchpoints.

Offering an Experience That Amazon Won't

Personalizing and deepening the customer experience is a great way for businesses to set themselves apart from the everpresent elephant in the room.

For companies like Amazon, “Their core DNA is not around experience and discovery-based ecommerce. At Amazon they religiously measure the time it takes to complete a purchase and the number of pages you see on a website before you complete a purchase. They’re trying to drive those numbers down. So, for them, something like 20 to 25 minute session times before you get a purchase, that’s a bug, not a feature,” shared Eric.

“We’re flipping that model around. We believe that it’s a feature, not a bug. Not to say that what Amazon does is bad...but [it’s ideal for] when I know what I want. When I know that I want Huggies diapers, Amazon is the greatest thing ever. When I know that I want a shirt, Amazon is not designed for that...That’s the type of experience we’re focusing on.”

Laura added, “That’s where SMBs are able to compete against Amazon: building that emotional connection with the end customer. I follow a bunch of SMB brands on Instagram, but I don’t follow Amazon on Instagram.”

“In my Instagram feed, brands are able to serve me their ads through content among friends and family-related posts. It’s a different experience because I believe these brands will help add to my identity, [since] they’re unique and stand out.”

“Owning the customer experience end-to-end — you can’t do that if you put your stuff in a Fulfilled By Amazon warehouse, since the packaging comes from Amazon. It’s not the engaging unboxing experience the ecommerce brand wants to offer their customer.”

Yet, Not all Situations Call for a Deeper Experience

There are so many opportunities to engage and retain customers, but that doesn’t mean consumers always want that extra attention.

Alec shared an alternative use case,“There are obvious upsides in using social to enhance a transaction, but what we’ve seen is that often users actually don’t want people they know involved in their transactions.”

“I think they might feel that selling something to someone they know is indirectly offering a lifetime warranty for that person, and they don’t feel comfortable with that. So, it’s not obvious that there’s an advantage to social [in every instance].”

Here’s our advice: look for ways to test personalizing the customer experience and creating a community for loyal consumers. Especially for niche businesses, where products are hand-curated or specialized in some way, customers likely want a personal experience. Also make sure to get feedback from users, so that you’re able to understand and exceed their expectations.

For more ecommerce business tips and advice on how to retain customers, check out our post on how fast, low-cost shipping and easy returns improves your bottom line.

And, stay in touch on social! Say “hi” to Laura and Shippo on Twitter.

Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping.
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