December 01, 2015

Ecommerce Chart: How brands try to improve customers’ shopping experience

SUMMARY: In anticipation of the upcoming MarketingSherpa Summit where these popular topics will be explored, we continue to examine the results of the 2015 MarketingSherpa Marketing Practices Survey. Read on to discover which tactics are most popular with marketers looking to improve customers’ shopping experience, and what lessons marketers have learned along the way.
by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

As you may already know, we have conducted two surveys — a marketer survey and a consumer survey — looking to compare what consumers say they want and what marketers actually do, helping us to build content for the upcoming MarketingSherpa Summit.

In a previous Chart of the Week we looked at data from our marketer survey for ways marketers attract customers to follow brands on social media. This week we take a look at ways marketers can improve the shopping experiences of their brands' customers.


Through September 15-28, 2015, MarketingSherpa conducted an online survey with 455 marketers from its subscriber list.

We asked marketers, "Which of the following tactics do you use to improve your customers' shopping experiences? Please select all that apply."

The top five ways were:
  1. Providing high-quality customer service (52%)

  2. Not customizing customer experience; letting customers see the same products and services as everyone else on the website and in promotions (33%)

  3. Providing credible customer reviews of products (30%)

  4. Making it easier to buy products on a mobile phone — e.g., bigger buttons, easier checkout processes (25%)

  5. Asking for customers' product and buying preferences and tailoring email to them (25%)

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

We also asked marketers, "What have you learned about improving the shopping experience for customers?"

Some of them allowed us to quote them with their names and titles, but others will be unattributed.

The following answer themes emerged:

Learning what customers want

"Analytics tools only tell you the quantitative. You have to go one-on-one and solicit real feedback. This means picking up the phone and having a conversation, listening and iterating."

"Reviews and surveys, particularly phone surveys, are invaluable for customer research." (Claire Hawkes, Integrated Marketing Manager, Storymix Media)

"It's critical to evaluate and improve on an ongoing basis. Technology — and expectations — change over time."

Customer service

"Continue training the customer service team and implement customer feedback where possible to improve processes. Don't let a negative experience be the final connection with your business; follow up and try to turn around. [Have] knowledgeable staff on the customer service team who are also authorized to make decisions to keep customers happy."

"We recently integrated [a] chat feature on our website. Offering our customers a quick and convenient way to contact us, ask questions and get answers in 'real-time' has improved the customer experience."

Tailoring messages and offers

"Because we are a software-as-a-service company, our prime audience [is] B2B customers. We personalize the experience for them by finding out what they'd like to see on our website, and tailor our site based on their feedback." (Joanna Eliopoulos, Digital Marketing Manager, Clickback)

"I have learned that many clients say they want to [control] the shopping experience, but they have a full-time job already and do not have the time to do it, so they ask us to take on various roles. So, being proactive and [reaching out] to help them is a huge plus to their ongoing success." (Zachary Zeiler, CEO, IDM, LLC)

"We have to be equally prepared to serve one base that's familiar with our geography and conditions, and another that really is not."

"It's a fine line between using customer data for personalization that is helpful versus being creepy."

Streamlining the shopping process

"It's really important to make it easy for them. We improved the speed of our search, created narrower categories for products and introduced a 'browse by theme' category. We also streamlined our shopping cart. All of these items have seemed to help improve sales."

"Reducing friction for checkout, optimizing for mobile and customizing the shopping experience with recommendations all make critical impacts." (Larry Baird, Vice President of Marketing, Tiger Pistol)

"Always design for the job that the consumer is looking to accomplish. Any cross-selling should feel like a natural part of the selection/purchasing process and far from a disruptive service. Make the process as efficient and fluid and delightful as possible. Consumers aren't comparing their experience with the experience they've had with your competitors. They are also comparing with the experience they've had with other online purchases, including from Amazon."

Understanding the steps of the customer journey

"Transactions are often multi-step; many require specific information (or a quote) before they can place their order; offering online forms that align with those needs boosts efficiency and satisfaction."

"This is really all about making the discovery process enjoyable. Our value proposition is that we are an extension of their business (for B2B) and that we have knowledgeable associates to help in the buying process for B2C — which needs to shine through on our website. So making sure their [path] to purchase is one that will make them feel as comfortable with their purchase as they would with a step-by-step process in our brick-and-mortar stores. Even things as simple as having buying guides for product categories, chat features, spec guides and reviews."

Shopping cart management and checkout

"The checkout matters most! And then move out from there."

"We still need to invest more technology into ecommerce. We found follow-up emails for abandoned carts are very effective. Also, providing a discount when they've stalled too long on the page with a specific promo code that we can track is effective as well."

"We need to bring our shopping cart in-house in order to have full control over it. Third-party shopping carts cannot give us the flexibility we need to improve customer shopping experience."


Marketers are trying to improve customer experience by actively soliciting customer feedback, learning from analytics data, providing attentive customer service and streamlining the shopping process based on what the customer needs depending on their stage in the buying journey.

Next week, we will examine the results of our Consumer Purchase Preference Survey to find out what U.S. consumers say would improve their shopping experiences.

Related Resources

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week — Get data and discoveries delivered to your inbox

MarketingSherpa Marketing Practices Survey: How marketers entice customers to follow brands' social accounts

E-commerce: 3 test ideas to optimize the customer shopping experience (From the MarketingSherpa blog)

Mobile Marketing: 4 takeaways on how to improve your mobile shopping experience beyond just responsive design (From the MarketingExperiments blog)

Marketing Research Chart: Does a good customer experience really affect business success?

MarketingSherpa Consumer Purchase Preference Survey

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