August 05, 2014

Ecommerce Research Chart: Customer feedback and ecommerce success

SUMMARY: Customer centricity.

Is it just a buzzword, or does it have a real impact on ecommerce success?

In this week's MarketingSherpa Research Chart of the Week, we'll share what we learned from 1,755 marketers about their ecommerce success and how it relates to the customer experience.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study, 1,755 marketers answered this question:

Q. How often do you make changes to the following based on customer feedback?

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Customer-centric organizations are more successful

We then correlated the frequency of making changes based on customer feedback with the responding organization's median weighted success score.

Ed. Note: The weighted success score was created by Diana Sindicich, Senior Manager, Data Sciences, MECLABS (parent company of MarketingSherpa). It includes factors like financial metrics (e.g., year-over-year difference in annual and ecommerce revenue), and you can read more about it on page 9 of the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study.

As you can see in the chart above, the more frequently companies took customer feedback into account, the more likely they were to be successful.

For example, companies that frequently made changes to their website based on customer feedback had a success score of almost 8, while companies that never made changes to their website based on customer feedback had a roughly 25% lower success score of 6.

The customer experience can be a key differentiator for ecommerce companies

While at a gut level, we all might assume that more customer-focused organizations would be more successful, let's take a quick look at the reason why.

Many ecommerce sites are resellers of one kind of another, so they rarely can compete on product differentiation. Customers can easily find the exact same, or at least similar enough, products on many different websites.

That leaves only two ways for ecommerce companies to compete:
  1. Price

  2. Experience

If you're not the low-cost leader (goodbye, margins), you must create and message a better experience to customers. This can happen in many ways (often combined), for example:
  • Customer service

  • Content marketing that tells your company's unique story

  • Product and service guarantees

  • Speed of delivery

  • Brand affinity and strength

  • Community building

It can't happen if you ignore potential and current customers

All of these improvements to the customer experience are predicating on understanding customer motivations, listening to customers, and constantly improving the experience to better serve customers.

Customer centricity is easier said than done

Of course, it's one thing to know what practices will be effective, it's quite another to actually be able to execute on them. If this wasn't true, every ecommerce site would be doing it, right?

As one Benchmark Study survey respondent remarked, "The challenge I'm facing right now is integration with social media to get a rich awareness and feedback loop."

From learning what your customers really want through tactics like listening to social media and A/B testing, to actually being able to deliver an improved experience with a more responsive website or products that better serve customers, an exceptional customer experience doesn't happen by accident.

So hopefully, this week's chart can serve as a key data point to get the budget, resources and buy-in you need to respond to customer needs, better serve the customer and achieve successful results for your company.

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study — Made possible by a research grant from Magento, an eBay company

Ecommerce Research Chart: Acquisition cost per customer

Ecommerce Research Chart: Does customer responsiveness correlate with success?

Ecommerce Research Chart: How can companies increase conversion rates? [Video]

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