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E-Commerce Optimization—How to nurture new digital users for growth

4-minute read

60% of the world’s population has an internet connection and 66% has a mobile phone according to research by Kepios. In the United States, 42% of senior citizens have smartphones, yet until recently, most only used their phones to make and receive calls. In 2020, as a result of the pandemic and stay at home orders, their utilization of smart devices started to change. Today a large volume of new users are having to navigate their way through online ordering. It has been a learning curve not only for these individuals, but also the companies taking their offerings for these customers online. 

As a result, the thinking that the majority of digital users tend to be young and tech savvy no longer holds true. If companies want to make the most of these new users and demographics, they need to  rethink their optimization efforts to incorporate a broader perspective. 

What assumptions are true?

Often there’s the idea that if you’re offering something new, and specifically technology related, it has to appear sophisticated. In an effort to deliver advanced capabilities, companies can sometimes lose sight of the value they need to deliver in favor of more functionality. As a result, benefits to users may get lost through an overcomplicated experience. Making assumptions highlights the unconscious biases that can sneak into efforts to optimize the digital customer experience. For example: The assumption that all users are familiar with modern technology, online shopping and multi-page checkouts. Or that they understand the e-commerce acronyms, the general process, and what they need in order to successfully complete a transaction. 

What are the firsts?

No matter how educated or tech-savvy a person is, there’s always a learning curve when faced with new technology. As an example: In many parts of Europe, self-service checkouts have become the norm in supermarkets. For locals familiar with the checkout booths, it's a quick and convenient way to shop. However, for tourists who have never experienced a self-checkout counter before, it can be a challenge. While the checkout machines may have different language options, just trying to navigate the process can be frustrating. People do what they think they need to, in order to buy their groceries, but when the machine starts giving out an error message, then users are stumped and frustrated. What now? Because it’s just them and the machine, there’s no one else to ask, and they have no idea what they’ve done wrong. It can be a similarly frustrating experience for online users who are trying to navigate an e-commerce website for the first time. 

What are the unique challenges people face?

One of the emerging trends in optimizing the customer experience is the use of voice recognition software. For people with learning disorders such as dyslexia, voice-based technology may be a better solution, helping them avoid the need to read or spell. Asking Alexa or Siri to find what you’re looking for is indeed convenient. But only if they understand what you’re asking. Anyone who speaks with an accent different from the voice assistant's or has any form of speech impediment usually won’t even consider using voice recognition technology, because it’s too frustrating. Repeating the same request over and over again without making any progress certainly defeats the purpose of it being more convenient. What this highlights is that users face unique challenges, and these cannot be ignored if companies want to achieve growth. Evolv’s experience with e-commerce optimizations has shown that sometimes it’s a small variable that can make a big impact. And having the ability to optimize for these variables can make a big difference in achieving growth targets.

Certain demographics and especially novices may face other challenges when using a digital channel. Simple things that may not even come into consideration. For some users, websites may be difficult to navigate because the font used is too small. Sure there’s the zoom feature, but this often takes the text off screen and requires endless scrolling to try read the content, especially if there is a large volume of it. And if you’re new to using a computer or tablet this could add to the frustration of the experience. 

Additionally, new users have anxieties. After all, everything is unfamiliar to them. How do they know that they trust the company they’re shopping online with? For companies it highlights the need to provide assurances at every step of the customer journey. This could be in the form of customer reviews, or warranties and return policies if they’re not happy with what they are about to purchase. For senior citizens especially, if they can’t figure out the e-commerce process, they may simply abandon the process rather than ask for help and feel some embarrassment. When that happens companies lose out on potential revenue gains - something that could be avoided. 

Achieving revenue gains

Optimizing the customer experience for new digital users requires a broader perspective. It needs to consider all of the challenges, friction points, and anxieties new potential customers may experience, if e-commerce retailers want to capitalize on the opportunity for growth. But is it even possible to optimize the experience for absolutely everyone, aren’t there just too many variables? That depends on how you’re optimizing and whether the complexities and variables are considered assets or obstacles. 

When you optimize at AI-scale, it becomes possible to experiment with many ideas and combinations of ideas, see how users respond, and determine what’s driving the most conversions and revenue growth. It enables you to tie together optimization strategies with key metrics and get the answers needed in a relatively short amount of time. Meaning you can implement the most successful optimization strategies sooner and continue to hone in on what’s working best to continue to drive growth. 

As technology continues to influence our lives, customer experience will continue to dominate how people respond to brands and companies. Nurturing new digital users to become loyal customers is likely to become a key differentiator in achieving growth. 


If you want to find out more about optimizing CX at AI-scale, and how some e-commerce retailers are finding success, watch a replay of our Think CX part 1 webinar and hear what market leaders are doing.

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