One of the greatest things about eCommerce, or electronic commerce, is that anybody can go online and sell a product.
Voila, instant business!
The other side of this low barrier to entry is that someone with a similar idea can set up an online storefront just as easily.
This is a major reason why competition is so intense in the eCommerce space.
Additionally, if the online traffic that soared because of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates a permanent change in behavior, the opportunities for eCommerce will only continue to grow.
So, once you have an operational website or channel to sell your goods, how can you fuel its growth?
How can you leverage competitive advantages against other websites?
How can you optimize the shopper experience?
A tremendous way to answer these kinds of questions is through market research. As a business, there are few things more valuable than feedback from your target audience.
In this post, I will cover three excellent market research studies that any eCommerce business can employ in 2020.
eCommerce Market Research Option #1: Follow-up Satisfaction Surveys
We are all familiar with the survey links at the end of comically long receipts from a pharmacy or grocery store. In theory this is a good idea, except it is a serious challenge to motivate customers to type the link into their web browser.
Fortunately, eCommerce allows you to apply the same concept of a follow-up survey but keep it all in the digital space.
These are usually systems that automatically email an online survey to a customer after they complete an online purchase.
When is the best time to send a follow-up survey?
Some businesses send the survey immediately following the transaction if the objective of the research is to understand the buying experience.
Surveys that focus more on the experience with the product or its delivery may be sent a few days or weeks later to ensure the product is received first.
How long should my follow-up survey be?
These surveys are often most successful when they are kept short and sweet.
Asking too many questions that go beyond the customer’s purchase is likely to hurt your response rates.
As a rule of thumb, any survey that requires over five minutes to complete is probably too long for this type of engagement.
Reminder: Look at trends over time
Another benefit of eCommerce follow-up surveys is the ability to look for trends in the data over time.
If you administer the surveys every time a customer makes a purchase over a year, see how satisfaction correlates with specific events.
In summary, follow-up satisfaction surveys are a great option for an eCommerce business. This research is cost-effective, reliable, and actionable.
eCommerce Market Research Option #2: Online Mystery Shopping
Interested in assessing the customer experience for yourself on eCommerce storefronts?
Mystery shopping allows you to evaluate subtle details of the browsing, ordering, shipping, and delivery experience with the help of undercover researchers.
Traditionally, this research has been conducted in-person at retail businesses. Adapting the same practices for online shopping, however, has unquestionable value for eCommerce companies.
How does online mystery shopping work?
Mystery shoppers can complete test purchases at competitor websites and report back on every aspect of their experiences.
If you need an unbiased assessment of your own eCommerce store, you can include it with your competitors, as well!
An analysis of all the data will reveal who in the competitive set is best-in-class (and worst-in-class) for various steps in the purchasing process.
Consider throwing in some different scenarios to explore the customer experience from every angle. This may include:
- Contacting customer service
- Returning a product
- Attempting a price match adjustment
- Finding product details
- Other valuable customer touchpoints
eCommerce Market Research Option #3: User Experience Interviews for Your Website or App
Because most of the customer experience is directly influenced by your virtual storefront, you want to be sure the user interface is as good as it can be.
User experience (UX) interviews are the definitive approach for understanding and optimizing your eCommerce platform.
Websites or applications for online shopping are designed with the user in mind, but you will not know how well it functions until customers are actively shopping.
How do web interviews work for an eCommerce site?
The process of executing UX interviews record a participant via both their screen and camera as they complete a set of tasks on the platform.
Depending on your objectives, you may want to observe if it is easy to navigate, the right content is on the home page, or loading times are appropriate.
When should my eCommerce site conduct UX research?
Our eCommerce market research company finds this methodology especially useful if your brand or company is in the process of initially launching a digital platform or wondering if the existing design needs to be revamped.
Even if your product is perfect, you will fail to generate business when customers struggle to use your website or app.
Key steps in the buying process you may want to evaluate include:
- Browsing for a product
- Reading product description
- Adding products to the shopping cart
- Checking out
The results from the interviews will speak to what users find intuitive and where they see room for improvement.
Here is a case study that explains how our market research firm helped an eCommerce company improve its user experience, partner integrations, and online advertising.
Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY. Our experts have helped many clients from across the country take their eCommerce business to the next level. Check out our market research services.
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As a Research Analyst, Tim is involved in every stage of a market research project for our clients. He first developed an interest in market research while studying at Binghamton University based on its marriage of business, statistics, and psychology.
Learn more about Tim, here.