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4 Suggestions to Improve Convenience for Consumers When it comes to ecommerce, customers expect smooth experiences and convenience -- you need to meet those expectations.

By Kevin Xu Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Convenience is king when it comes to online shopping.

For proof, take a look at SAP's Influential Shopper report that found convenience is the number one reason more than 4,000 respondents shop from behind their tablets, phones or computers. The study also found that convenience will continue to influence online shopping in the long run — even more than safety.

Online shopping affords consumers to act on their own terms. Buyers can quite literally purchase a product whenever, wherever and however they choose.

Even if it would take less time to get a product by driving to a store, many consumers would rather just wait for delivery — which is why brands should give more attention to the overall ecommerce experience to meet, if not exceed, the convenience factor.

Related: How Convenience Is Making a New Wave in the Service Industry

Convenience is an experience

Brand loyalty took quite a hit for pandemic consumers who couldn't find their preferred products available in stores. That allowed convenience to take over via the mass adoption of online shopping. More than half of consumers now shop online more frequently than before the pandemic.

What this means for retailers is still up for some debate, but it will require some rethinking with regard to business operations. For one, more consumers than ever have tried curbside delivery, buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and other contactless shopping options. A failure to incorporate these services into the online shopping experience could cost companies plenty of business.

Related: Online Shopping: Evolving Consumer Behavior Amid the Pandemic

It's also become increasingly more important to rethink the customer radius of a business. Just because someone doesn't live in the area of your traditional shopper doesn't make them any less of a potential customer. Consumers interested in what you offer can live almost anywhere these days, and it's an aspect of online shopping to explore.

With so much data now available, you can more easily identify and target specific audiences. It's all about understanding their wants, needs and preferences — and then tailoring the experience to improve engagement. Consumers now expect this sort of personalization, knowing full well that all brands gather data on demographics, past purchases and online behavior to personalize every exchange. The practice just adds to the convenience.

Time to keep it simple

While the right customer experience will vary from one brand to the next, a few elements will almost always be the same.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Size up the landscape

Sometimes, all it takes is a review of other websites in your industry to get ideas for how you can improve customer experience. Focus on those sites with a modern feel in design, color scheme and layout. Consider how these elements enhance a customer's interaction with the brand.

Then, take yourself through the path to purchase to fully appreciate the overall shopping experience, paying special attention to load times. One survey found that a delay of a single second can result in 11 percent fewer page views and a 7 percent loss in conversions — with 40 percent of visitors abandoning a website if it takes three seconds or more to load.

See what others around you are doing to simplify the process for their customers. If it resonates with them, consider folding it into your own ecommerce workflow.

Related: Convenience vs Security in Online Shopping

2. Keep your ear to the pavement

Consumers want to know that your business is there for them. Without the luxury of face-to-face interactions, ecommerce sites need to provide them an alternative — in this case, a platform to provide their feedback.

But don't let complaints or concerns go unchecked. Reach out to resolve issues, and then use any learnings to improve the experience online.

JetBlue, like any company, responds to feedback when social media users tag them, but the airline takes it one step further: It manages to catch the comments that don't tag them by setting up notifications for certain keywords used in proximity to the company name. This allows social managers to cast a wider net and address indirect feedback to continue being of service to its audience.

Find ways to personalize interactions going forward. Such efforts can provide a measurable lift. Consider offering product recommendations based on past purchases or product page interactions.

3. Check your timelines

Consumers spend an average of 145 minutes on social media each day. When a business ignores this space, it's missing out on valuable discussions related to its products or services — and its customer experience.

Employ social listening to collect and analyze data, using this information to gain insights into what people might want from your brand. Beyond that, involve your brand in these conversations. Get active on social channels by offering up question-based content, surveys or polls. It can encourage engagement and help get direct answers to your own questions about an experience.

4. Enable mirror sites

While this should go without saying, not everyone speaks the same language. Even for a local retailer, you can improve the customer experience by allowing consumers to choose their preferred language upon entering your ecommerce site.

Make it as easy as possible for the selection, avoiding the same mistake as many big brands by asking consumers to change regions to access multilingual options. Just because someone speaks Italian, for example, doesn't mean that person lives in that region of the world.

Convenience is important to every consumer. If you take the time to assess the competition and monitor what consumers are saying about your products and services, you can put your brand in a much better position to give customers the experience they've come to expect from brands.

Kevin Xu

CEO of MEBO International and Skingenix

Kevin Xu is the CEO of MEBO International, a California- and Beijing-based intellectual-property management company specializing in applied health systems. He also leads Skingenix, which specializes in skin organ regeneration and the research and development of botanical drug products.

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