5 reasons why CX is now the biggest differentiator in eCommerce


When was the last time you felt truly “wowed” by your experience with an ecommerce brand? Some surveys say this isn’t as common as we might think.

A study by Contentsquare found that just 15% of online shoppers are happy with their experience. Moreover, almost a third of respondents said they associate ecommerce with negative emotions, including boredom, frustration, and anxiety.

Despite the widespread belief that consumers cannot get enough of online shopping, surveys like this indicate that the truth is far more complex. Shoppers gravitate to ecommerce websites out of ease and convenience – but they aren’t necessarily enjoying the experience.

So, what does this mean for ecommerce brands? With so many consumers feeling dissatisfied with past shopping experiences, this presents a valuable opportunity for your brand to put its best foot forward with a seamless customer experience.

What is CX in ecommerce?

Customer experience (CX) refers to every touchpoint between your brand and your customer during the shopping journey. In ecommerce, CX starts from the moment a customer becomes aware of your brand to when a package lands on their doorstep – everything that takes place in between impacts the experience delivered to your customer. 

Customers reading FAQs, liking social posts, or checking their order status might not seem like significant interactions with your brand. But every touchpoint is an opportunity to improve the overall impression of your brand and increase your customer’s likelihood to purchase from you.

So, how important is CX in practice? According to customers, it plays a pivotal role in the brands they choose to support. PwC’s Future of CX study found that 65% of U.S. consumers find a positive customer experience more influential on their purchasing decisions than great advertising. 

But what do businesses think? Surveys show that most brands believe the balance of power is shifting away from product and price as the biggest brand differentiators. Statista recently reported that an incredible 93% of organizations saw CX as an important or the primary differentiator for their brand.

So why has CX become such a key differentiator in ecommerce, and what can brands do to create the best possible experience for their customers?  

5 reasons why your ecommerce brand should be paying attention to CX 

  1. Consumers have too many vendors to choose from

When ecommerce was a fledgling industry, it was relatively easy for a merchant to stand out from the crowd. Why? Because there weren’t as many competing vendors. This untapped environment allowed early adopters like Amazon to build a huge market share.

But the ecommerce landscape today couldn’t be more different.

Platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have dramatically lowered the barriers to entry into the marketplace. They’ve made it possible for digital-native brands and dropshippers to set up an online store and start selling within a matter of hours. Likewise, tools such as social media and email put powerful marketing capabilities at a team’s disposal, enabling even niche brands to build a loyal following.

The result? The sheer number of brands and vendors available makes it impossible to compete on price or product offerings alone. Because in such an over-saturated marketplace, there’s always someone willing to undercut you.

The marketplace leaves brands with one alternative; deliver a customer experience that’s memorable and unique enough to entice conversions and repeat purchasing behavior – even when customers can purchase your product elsewhere.

  1. Amazonization is widespread in ecommerce

Amazon might be the industry leader when it comes to CX initiatives like free shipping, but it’s also the reason why the post-purchase experience in ecommerce has become increasingly…forgettable. 

When was the last time you received a parcel on your doorstep that truly captured your attention? Your most recent order likely arrived in yet another generic cardboard box. Depending on how many online orders you’re waiting on, you might not even know who the package was from at first glance. 

Amazon sets the standard for what many consumers associate with ecommerce. This perception has led some brands to focus on streamlined ecommerce fulfilment at the expense of the customer experience.

Generic customer experiences that fail to develop recognition and equity for your brand are known as  ‘Amazonization.’ In sum, lacklustre fulfillment is a missed opportunity for a brand to prime their customers (no pun intended) for the most important touchpoint in the post-purchase experience: The moment of delivery.

Consumers don’t shop with Amazon for exclusivity and uniqueness; they want speed and convenience. As an ecommerce brand you can stand out by wowing customers with the quality of your unboxing experience. When it comes to speed and convenience, you can join brands like ANINE BING who partner with Simplr to achieve 24/7 coverage, to answer live chats in 90 seconds or less, and to decrease email response times by 86%. This allows brands that aren’t Amazon or Netflix to compete on the same level.  

FabFitFun’s colorful subscription boxes make a bold statement on their customer’s doorstep.

When so many merchants aren’t investing in CX at the point of delivery, fulfillment marketing — in the form of branded packaging, inserts, or free samples — is one of the best ways to enhance the customer experience and differentiate yourself from competitors. 

After all, a customer may be able to buy a boutique brand that you stock from several other wholesale partners. But, if no one else offers that memorable unboxing experience, they’re much more likely to stay loyal to you. 

  1. Customers expect self-service capabilities and human support when needed

Today’s customers want easy access to information, fast response times, and quick resolutions, whether they’re troubleshooting a product issue, completing a return, or tracking their order. Many customers also want the ability to solve problems for themselves with self-serve options.

According to Bizreport, 73% of consumers say they want to be able to solve product or service issues independently, while 65% say they have more positive feelings towards the brand they’re shopping with when they don’t need to contact a support agent straightaway.

While self-service has become an integral part of CX management in ecommerce, it’s still important to have attentive, empathetic customer care representatives available to escalate issues and deliver a personalized response. Advances in technology and automation have made tools like smart chatbots, human-supported live chat, rules-driven return portals, and real-time order tracking available to emerging as well as established brands.

Anthropologie’s return portal makes it easy for customers to kick-start the returns process at a time that suits them.

Empowering your customer to solve issues and navigate the shopping journey as they see fit is the definition of a customer-centered experience designed to meet today’s customer expectations. Every seamless interaction, from looking up a sizing guide to exchanging an item via a live chat conversation with customer service, helps to build a stronger relationship with your brand over successive sales cycles.

  1. Personalization is the name of the game

As customers grow accustomed to receiving targeted online recommendations and offers, the perception of what makes a customer experience exceptional has evolved. CX is no longer about creating a memorable experience for the customer; it also needs to be their experience.

For example, any loyalty program can offer members a $50 voucher once they reach a certain number of points. But, how many programs allow customers to choose when they redeem points or how they get to redeem them?

It’s subtle differences in the execution of loyalty initiatives that determine whether customers will enjoy their experience or not. According to Accenture, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide ‘relevant’ offers and recommendations. It’s clear that personalization has become inseparable from the customer experience as a whole.

Target’s Circle rewards program has gained a loyal following thanks to its fully personalized offers.

In an age where product catalogs are rarely unique, well-targeted CX in the form of personalization initiatives is what gives a brand its point of difference in the marketplace. 

  1. Social proof is the ultimate conversion tool

Increasingly, consumers care less about what a brand has to say about itself. In our current era of glossy social media feeds and slick influencer campaigns, it can be hard to know whether a business is everything it claims to be. 

Today, more shoppers rely on testimonies from existing customers to aid their purchasing decisions than on advertising. Qualtrics, an experience management company, recently reported that 93% of consumers read customer reviews when researching a product or a brand online. In sum, the quality of your past and present customer experience will make or break your future sales.

Sephora offers shoppers a comprehensive review section on every product page to build brand trust and remove friction from the shopping experience.

Not only that, customer reviews are one of your best tools for CX management. Engaging in social listening on your social media channels, tracking reviews, and looking for patterns that could indicate weak points in your CX strategy are all ways to ensure that your brand offers a consistent, high-quality experience.

Every touchpoint is an opportunity to build loyalty

The power of CX makes it clear that ecommerce is no longer a race to the bottom. In this climate, the success of ecommerce brands hinges not only on their ability to provide a frictionless experience but also one that provokes an emotional response from the customer. Anticipation, excitement, and genuine pleasure in the shopping and post-purchase experiences help to build a favorable impression that drives future purchases. Making sure that your sales, marketing, and fulfillment strategies are aligned is key to creating a customer experience that sets your brand apart from the rest.