Benchmark eCommerce Experiences – Learning From The Best

It can be hard to picture your brand as being in the same market as a mega brand like Nike or Apple.

But the fact is that you are. It may also be likely that some customers might directly compare their digital experience of your brand with one of these gigantic companies. As unfair as that sounds, these companies provide a benchmark. 

Customers are not stupid, they know that not every brand they see online is a mega-corporation. They do have baseline expectations that are very much informed by these big eCommerce benchmark companies. Take something like site speed. If you asked a customer directly they would not expect a small upcoming brand to offer super fast speed. But in the competitive world of eCommerce, slow sites get abandoned.

Today we look at the biggest brands around to see what we can learn about how they approach eCommerce. More importantly, we look at what you can emulate and how you can begin to provide a digital experience to rival some of these established brands.

Image of an Apple iPhone
Photo by blocks on Unsplash

Benchmark eCommerce companies REALLY know their products

On many eCommerce sites and marketplaces, product pages can be a bit neglected. But bigger benchmark players use these pages to really show off their knowledge. 

Apple, for example, features a lot of high quality visuals with snappy descriptions. On this page for the upcoming iPhone 13, quality visuals are combined with optimized text that emphasizes key selling points for the new product. More technical data is also featured, but on a separate page so the user does not get overwhelmed by numbers that may not be important to the purchasing decision.

Pomelo marries their product knowledge with current awareness around trends. Fast fashion has been a big topic in relation to climate change recently. Pomelo is aware of this, as they collated a large category page of “sustainable” products for their users. Most of which would be in a demographic that are highly aware of this issue.

This IKEA page for a towel features 7 high resolution shots, a description, a full breakdown of materials, instructions on how to care for the product and details around sustainability. That’s for a towel! One towel!

It can be difficult for many smaller eCommerce players to compete with this level of depth for product pages, as they can feasibly number in the thousands. But this is the level of depth a lot of customers expect. If your site cannot provide in-depth details on the products you sell, users are almost certain to go elsewhere to research the product. They may not come back.

From an SEO standpoint, product pages for an eCommerce store are your best chance of ranking for higher volume queries in your local area. So do not neglect them!

Actions You Can Take:

  • Find the core selling “message” of your products and emphasize it
  • Invest time and resources into your product and category pages
  • Write descriptive and succinct copy for all product pages
  • If that is not possible, pick key products and expand to others later
  • Invest in high quality photography and video

Benchmark eCommerce - Picture of an abandoned trolley
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Benchmark eCommerce companies are obsessed with the customer

Being customer obsessed is more than providing good customer service. Providing the best customer service and support you possibly can is a given.

But being a customer-centric company, like Amazon, Zappos or Haier is different. It is about putting the customer at the heart of every aspect of your organization. Customer-centric businesses provide great customer experiences, amazing service and support both before and after the sale.

Being customer obsessed is also as much about organizational culture as it is an eCommerce operation. A commitment to deliver true customer value requires a lot of cultural buy-in. In fact, Zappos are pretty open about moving staff that are not the right fit for this kind of mindset.
But the rewards for getting customer obsession right are great. In fact, it’s estimated that customer-centric companies are on average 60% more profitable.

Actions You Can Take:

  • If you want customer success, hire accordingly
  • Treasure your relationships
  • Becoming customer-centric starts within your organization
  • Happy employees make happy customers

Benchmark eCommerce companies - Image of a laptop with revenue numbers on the screen.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Benchmark eCommerce companies are conversion focused

The big eCommerce players are not afraid of unleashing all of their at the end of the purchase funnel.

It can be hard to emulate this, but benchmark eCommerce companies will try every trick in the book to get that conversion. 

They offer free shipping, vouchers, offers…anything to get the customer to complete the sale. They will fully utilize “the power of free” to shift the customer from consideration to purchase.

Most businesses cannot offer free shipping, which is one of the biggest triggers to purchase for most users. But businesses can emulate the mindset of focusing on conversion. For example, offering a wide range of payment options can be of value to customers. As well as good loyalty incentives.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Being conversion focused is a mindset
  • While “free shipping” might be too costly; you may have alternatives
  • Audit your business to see where there is room for an incentive

Happy customer image
Photo from Unsplash

They hold the customer’s hand, when they have to

One aspect of being conversion focused is being there for the customer when they are still in the consideration phase. 

Apple does this very well; as you would expect. Their “switching” content for iPhones and Macs addresses a lot of the key concerns that a user in the consideration phase would have when they are making a big purchase. Their online, phone and in-person customer support also consistently top customer satisfaction charts

This also means that they often do not always need to have the most amazing support content. Their customer service agents can solve most problems and upsell at the same time…

Actions You Can Take:

  • Remember that good customer service means upsell opportunities
  • This can be replicated online and offline
  • For users who prefer to solve their own problems, offer some support content where applicable

Artwork showing Nike's slogan, "just do it".
Photo by Peter Aroner on Unsplash

They offer personalized experiences, with customizable products…

Nike’s customizable “Nike by you” online shopping experience is another good example of how being customer-centric can enable growth across many different aspects of a business. The “Nike by you” section of the Nike website allows users to customize Nike shoes in a style that best represents them. This is also great for the bottom line. In a recent earnings report, Nike stated that digital sales had gone up by a staggering 82%!

Nike by you also lets people share their shoe designs on social media. This creates brand buzz, social proof for the user and crucially for Nike, engages new potential customers for no extra marketing expense whatsoever.

While obviously not everyone can be Nike, their innovative approach to eCommerce should be applauded. Not many companies would have the grit to remove their products from Amazon to protect their brand. By doing that Nike can control every aspect of their customers’ digital experience. 
It’s worked, the Nike app is now one of the most downloaded shopping apps on Google Play and the App Store.

Actions You Can Take:

  • If you can, allow users to customize their products
  • Support them while they do this
  • Know your brand and know your market

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Talk to MAQE

Do you need some help to become more customer-centric? Do you want to offer unique, personalized commerce experiences to your customers? Talk to us via [email protected] and we can help you.