Over the last two years, as countries around the globe grappled with the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce grew substantially with 23.4 per cent online shopping growth in Australia for the 12 months to 31 August 2021. The world turned to remote purchasing to stay safe and still secure the things we want and need.

As retail and other industries lent on their online presence, ecommerce became the backbone that kept even resolutely offline stores in business. But with every brand more active online than ever, how are you supposed to stand out from the pack?

Elevating the customer experience

We’ve been beating the drum for brands to offer better customer experience (CX) for years now, and it can’t be said enough. Brands that focus on CX elevate themselves above the competition. But what does good CX look like now, with reliance on e-commerce at an all-time high?

From where we stand, it’s about being everywhere that your customers need you to be, and offering them an interaction that’s seamless, comfortable, and integrated across all your online channels.

When a potential customer is looking to make a purchase, are they likely to pick a brand that isn’t easy to communicate with, or worse, that doesn’t communicate at all? No, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Multi-channel communications

With customers more willing and able to choose the way they communicate with you, it’s imperative to speak with them on the channel that suits them the best. This could be through texts, chats, phone calls, or tweets – or a combination of all across the start of the purchase journey to the end. 

You want to be able to pick up a conversation started with a customer on WhatsApp and continue it on SMS without requiring customers to repeat information they’ve already shared.  It’s a holistic way of communicating that crosses the boundaries of platforms and apps and means that customers can easily get the information they need.

When they see the value of your comms, they’re more excited to interact with your brand, and therefore, more likely to see their experience with you as positive.

Messaging matters

The last two years have changed customer expectations dramatically, as we collectively came to expect curbside pickup, same day delivery and in-store pick up following an online purchase.

The growth of these buying experiences has driven a need to communicate effectively with shoppers through every stage of the purchase journey, from the initial clicks in your online store to the delivery of the goods to their doorstep.

With more parcels on the move around the country than at any point in Australia Post’s history, consumers are invested in knowing where everything they’ve bought is, while retailers and brands want to keep the online sales rolling in. Personalised messaging, SMS communications, and chatbots do the heavy lifting of keeping customers informed. And the best thing? They’re eager to get the updates, and therefore they won’t get annoyed by or ignore your outreach.

WhatsApp all about?

You need to be speaking to your customers on whatever channel they’re using the most. Which is where messaging platforms like WhatsApp become the new frontline of your customer communications.

WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messaging app in the world, with approximately two billion monthly active users in over 180 countries. Behind Facebook and YouTube, it’s the third most popular social network globally. More likely than not, your customers are already using it, making it ideal as a comms channel.

With branded business profiles serving as your face, you’re able to increase trust with your customers, while multimedia communications move comms beyond text and emails. And customers can easily perform a variety of functions and queries that help ease the path to an online purchase, such as checking stock levels on a particular item, seeking customer support for an issue, or engaging with brand experts to answer questions they may have about the suitability of a product.

The takeaway

The hard-earned lessons of the last two years should not be forgotten as we move forward. Thankfully, we’ve developed the thinking, processes and technology to respond to the new needs of customers with agility and surety.

Because even as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused incredible socio-economic disruption, customers have adapted.

Communicating in ways that inform, surprise and engage the customer will create better experiences for your audience, which in turn drives loyalty and positive word of mouth. And speaking to them on the channels they want to engage with you on is making your eCommerce offerings more attractive by offering high levels of quality and seamless interactions alongside your product. And most importantly, keeping your customer by your side every step of the journey.

Jonathan Ryan is regional manager of Infobip.