Superior Customer Experience Strategy: Examples from Target, Parachute, and more

Can you improve you onsite customer experience?


According to a McKinsey study, "customer experience leaders gain rapid insights to build customer loyalty, make employees happier, achieve revenue gains of 5 to 10 percent, and reduce costs by 15 to 25 percent within two or three years."


I want to explore how to create effective customer experience strategies. 


 The first section creates a basic framework to build better customer experiences. 


Then, we apply this framework to common customer experience touch points such as navigation bars, category pages, and product pages


To help illustrate, we pull examples from top DTC and international brands.


Skip to the eCommerce customer experience examples here, or read on for a detailed framework for improving customer experience strategy.

Why is digital customer experience important?

We've  highlighted some benefits of superior customer experience strategy.

  • Revenue gains between 5-10%
  • Builds customer loyalty  
  • Happier employees
  • Reduced costs between 15-25% 

The challenge is creating a simple framework to create superior customer experiences. 


Defining the problem is the first step. 


When we say customer experience, we mean how  a brand interacts with it's customers over the entire customer journey. 


This includes before, during, and after a sale. 


In 2020, the challenge for many eCommerce stores is a) how to provide a seamless customer experience across devices and b) how to create an omnichannel customer strategy to deliver superior experiences regardless of channel. 

“Customer experience leaders... achieve revenue gains of 5 to 10 percent, and reduce costs by 15 to 25 percent within two or three years.” - McKinsey and Company

For eCommerce brands, a customer's experience strategy revolves around a customer's digital customer journey. 

What is a digital customer journey?

Understanding your customer's digital journey is the first step to creating a customer experience strategy.


A customer journey is simply the series of touch points your customers have. Importantly, a journey is "end-to-end". It isn't one, siloed function within your company such as onboarding or support. 

How to improve customer experience?

Now that we've defined both customer experience and digital customer journeys, we can create a framework for building customer experience strategies.


There are three steps.

  • Define touch points in  your customer's digital journey - First, we want to identify the various touch points that comprise your customer's journey. This starts with how a customer first hears about your offer, to all the steps required to purchase the item, to any after sale and service interactions.
  • Remove friction-  Next,  question how you can remove friction in your current journey. Are there any steps that you can eliminate?  Can you remove any unnecessary screens or form fields? 
  • Optimize remaining touch points - Finally, we can optimize each remaining touch point. 

The touch point will determine what you want to optimize.


A customer who is on the checkout page is trying to complete their purchase as soon as possible. Compare that to a customer on a category page who is looking for the perfect product. 


By understanding customer's intention at each step of the process, we can anticipate needs and create a seamless customer experience. 


Below we break down a few common elements in eCommerce digital customer journeys. 

eCommerce customer experience examples: navigation bar

eCommerce navigation bars remain a staple UI element. 


Effective customer experience strategy requires addressing multiple buyer journeys at once.  Your navigation bar is the most important tool in allowing customer types to reveal themselves and dynamically address their particular needs.


The goal is to shorten the path to purchase. Here's some examples.

"Effective customer experience strategy requires addressing multiple buyer journeys at once."Barilliance Research

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Parachute's navigation bar customer experience strategy

Parachute uses a mega menu design.


The top level navigation features two types of categories.  The first are product based categories (bedding, bath, mattress and decor). 


The second type is behavior and merchandise based. They offer short cuts to the most popular items, new products, and products that are being rotated out. 

Once a category is selected, a drop down dynamically populates. Here we select the "Bedding" category.


The mega menu reveals four sub-categories. Again, there is a split between product defined categories and curated categories. In the most prominent spot are "Featured Bedding" which again offers new arrivals, popular selections, and bundled savings. 

Adjacent are two product based categories: sheetings + top of bed, as well as bedding inserts. Finally, there is an option to shop by material.

We can draw a number of lessons from the way Parachute approaches navigation.

  • Address various buyer personas -  Parachute uses social proof with "Most Popular", urgency with "Last Chance", promises of savings with "Bundle Savings", and the latest opportunities with "New Arrivals".  
  • Give deep navigation options - Create shortcuts for visitors. Don't force them to click through multiple layers of categories if they don't want to. Parachute lets customers land on a category page with a minimal number of products, all relevant to the search. 
  • Anticipate buyer shopping actions - Finally, consider what type of product attributes are important to your customers. For Parachute, the material is an important consideration. Therefore, they allow shoppers to filter results by material. 

eCommerce customer experience examples category pages

Similar to navigation bars, category pages are an essential step in a buyer's digital customer journey. 


On category pages, you should optimize your customer experience for quick product discovery. 

Provide deep product taxonomies and sub-categories like Target

When applicable, customers should be given the ability to navigate to sub-categories.


Above is a screenshot of Target's top level category of "Woman's Clothing". They quickly and visually allow buyers to navigate to the appropriate location. 

Create advanced filtering options like Target

Providing advanced filtering options creates convenience and lets customers find their ideal products soon as possible.  


Again, Target provides an excellent example. On their category page, there are 7 filtering options and mentions immediately available. 

1. "Filter Results" header

Target places front and center that you are able to Filter Results. 


This gives customers confidence they can interact with the page and get what they want if the initial options are not what they are looking for. 

2. Filter by delivery type

Your buyers have different expectations for delivery. Target understand that some digital shoppers are ok waiting for products to ship. 


But others are expecting to research online and pickup in store. Target gives buyers the option upfront. 


This prevents shoppers from being annoyed with items not available in their preferred delivery. 

3. More filters

Target is an excellent example of a company that understands the importance of filters. 


Each item is thoroughly scoped with meta data. In the dress examples, these include type, neckline, length and pattern. 


Customers can quickly select which attributes are important to them and see the product selection change in real time.  

Below you can see how helpful this is. 

I simply select that I am looking for an "a line" style of dress with polka dot patters. One second later Target presents the right selection.

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4. Filter by Occassion

Customers often shop with intention. In target's case, they "need something for work", or "a dress for a special occasion". 


Target does a beautiful job entering this conversion. Filtering by occasion is the most prominent option. Buyers can express their desire and be served with highly relevant items that fill their expressed need. 

5. Sort by common filters

Basic sorting functionality is expected.

Target incorporates common eCommerce filtering techniques in the far right drop down menu. 


The drop down includes sorting such as "Price- low to high", "Price - high to low", "Best sellers" and defaults to "Featured".

 

6. In widget similar items

On load Target takes a best guess at which products buyers are interested in. But for each product, they allow you to see "similar items". 


When a buyer interacts with the button, a side widget pulls up displaying similar items.

7. In widget item variations

Again, the main purpose of the category page is to facilitate shopping. 


In addition to similar items, buyers can also preview variations of the current item they are looking at without leaving the category page. 


This saves buyers from having to click into a product, click various colors, and then click back out to the category page to continue shopping. 

Parachute's category page customer experience strategy

Parachute has a much smaller product catalogue than Target. 


However they still incorporate advanced optimizations. One of the more clever was to show each product in a different color. 


In Parachute's case, most products are available in the same collection of base colors. By showing a variety of colors on the category page, customers are able to preview many colors at once. 

eCommerce customer experience examples: product pages

We've covered the importance of product page design in depth here


Effective product pages depend on optimizing

  • Product Page Images- How customers are able to see the product
  • Product page buy area - How customers are able to select particular product attributes and add to cart
  • Cross sales - And how upsales and cross sales are presented to the customer. 

When you are optimizing your product page's customer experience, I recommend our guides on product page conversion optimization and product page design


Below we quickly explore Parachute's product page customer experience strategy.

Parachute's product page customer experience strategy

The most common customer needs on product pages are a) item selection and b) item valuation. 


When a customer is ready to purchase, they need to be able to quickly select which product variation they want and proceed to the checkout. 


However, it is also common for customers to be in an evaluation stage on the product page. Here, they are trying to determine if this is the right product for them. 

Selecting product attributes

Parachute does a fantastic job at limiting the interactions needed by customers before they can checkout. 


All options are presented upfront in a clear, image oriented way. 


Contrast this to product pages that feature drop down menus, tabs, or other elements that require customer interaction to see what options are available.


Additionally, when a customer attempts to add the product to cart without selecting a product attribute, clear helper text is presented (highlighted above). 

Once a product is added to the cart, a side widget slides in. It shows confirmation that the product was successfully added, allows customers to update the quantity, and gives clear next step to checkout. 


When you go to update the quantity, a simple dropdown is presented. 

They also give a monthly payment option through Affirm. The text snippet is dynamically placed above the checkout button which lowers the perceived cost of the item. 


They address the most common cause for cart abandonment - shipping costs, by providing free shipping and returns.


Lastly, they reduce risk by giving a 60 day trial, no questions asked. 

Creating social proof with product page reviews

For customers in the evaluation stage, they also provide a review widget.  The widget is a carousel that gives customers the ability to scroll through and read reviews. 

 

Each individual review captures a number of important pieces of data for customers.

  • 1 - Standard 5 star rating system  - 5 star ratings are intuitive for users to immediately understand. 
  • 2 - Inline text reviews - Customers can easily read through reviews with both the title and more information through inline text. 
  • 3- Verified buyer - Verified buyer gives credibility to the review. With more and more companies gaming review systems, providing both the name, date, and a "Verified Buyer" label gives the review credibility.
  • 4 - Helpful meta-data - Lastly, Parachute allows shoppers to say if the more review is helpful or not. This allows them to then surface more helpful reviews and bury those that are not. 

Next Steps...

We covered some major eCommerce customer experience factors including navigation bars, category pages, and product pages. 


The next step is being able to recognize which customer type shoppers belong to through behavioral segmentation and personalize shoppers experience


If you'd like to see how Barilliance can help you create personalized experiences for your customers you can request a demo here