Why User Profiles Are Essential To Your Ecommerce User Experience

By Cristina Ferrandez Aug 16, 2017

Having a top-notch user experience is paramount for both attracting and retaining customers. A poor user experience that is clunky, difficult to navigate, or uses a pointlessly difficult checkout process is going to result in higher rates of shopping cart abandonment. Your Ecommerce provider may offer several options for checkout and product management, and you want to opt for styles and functionality that make it easy to view products, add them to the cart, and have a seamless checkout.

One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of this experience is the ability to create a profile, yet also have the option to check out as a guest. 14% of shopping carts get abandoned because customers get frustrated with being forced to create an account for that website. Having customers create buyer profiles is mutually beneficial, but for users who value their privacy, and/or don't plan to make purchases on your site frequently, you want to give them the option to check out without creating a profile.

Just because a customer checks out as a guest right now that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll never create an account. They may want to make just one purchase to see what ordering from your company is like, or try a product you offer that no one else does. Offering immediate, tangible benefits for creating an account such as a single-use discount that can be used right away or a free gift can speed up this process. However, there are typically 39 different UX design elements when it comes to the checkout process that have room for improvement. This is even true of Fortune 500 retailers that garner steady amounts of online sales.

User profiles benefit you by giving you access to useful demographic data, as well as insights on customer behaviors, so that you can further target your inbound marketing efforts. For instance, sorting buyer profiles by ZIP code gives you a list of existing customers to market to if you open a retail store within 20 miles of that set of ZIP codes. Creating a profile also benefits the customer (your end user) by allowing them to store information like addresses and credit card numbers for future checkouts, to reorder and save items to shareable wishlists or to save time during future purchases.

So what are some of the other benefits of enabling Ecommerce user profiles?

1. Build Customer Loyalty and Encourage Them to Return

29% of customers shop around but ultimately buy from the same brand again. Why is this, and would why Ecommerce profiles factor into it?

Customer experience is the main driver for competition today. Making the purchasing process as convenient as possible is facilitated by enabling Ecommerce profiles, but also not punishing users who don't want to create an account. If the user does create a profile, the company benefits by having more information to market to customers with and keep them returning. The customer gets both the product and a seamless, convenient shopping experience through a saved user profile that will encourage more repeat purchases.

2. Provide A Central Hub for Customers to Check Their Orders

By being able to log into a profile, customers can have a centralized location to check on their purchase without having to take time searching emails for order confirmations, shipping notices, help desk tickets, and so on. This creates a superior user experience that fosters loyalty, because they can save time and minimize the hassles that rooting through emails would present.

The company then benefits because it also reduces the burden placed on customer service resources, so they can focus on problem-solving instead of sending out tracking numbers.

3. Increase Sales Through Personalization and Loyalty

There are many point-accumulation and other types of loyalty programs that can be synced through your Ecommerce platform. 76% of consumers say that the loyalty program is an integral aspect of their relationship with a brand. By enabling profile creation, it's easy to sync a loyalty program to the profile (including syncing with physical cards if you have brick-and-mortar locations). By utilizing loyalty programs that reward purchases with discounts and free merchandise, you can encourage future purchases as well as other actions such as saving items to wishlists, wanting to be informed when a product is back in stock, or even being engaged in product selection or development.

This is highly beneficial for you since personalized sales and discounts based on behaviors and past purchases are a major factor in increasing sales. 78% of customers will only take up personalized offers if they line up to previous engagements with a brand. Keeping tabs on these engagements by enabling profiles is an efficient way to do this that also offers benefits to the customer.

Wishlists and abandoned shopping carts that still have items in them are also ways that your Ecommerce platform can reach out to customers with personalized offers. Guest checkout won't enable these features, but being nudged by email with these offers makes it easier for the customer to resume shopping at any time.

4. Increases Sales Through Convenience

We live in an increasingly busier, noisier world so convenience matters. It's a dire aspect of user experience: saving payment and shipping information like addresses, credit card numbers and the like is very important for getting repeat sales if a customer creates a profile. Checkout is much faster and more efficient and enables the customer to make purchases on multiple devices without having to enter payment information every single time. Facilitating ordering and payment is what fosters sales.

However, communicating with customers using their preferred modes of contact is another form of offering them convenience. 51% of customers are more loyal to brands that use their preferred modes of communication, such as social media, email or texting. Make sure that preferred communication modes are customizable in profiles so that customers can choose the method most convenient to them. Offering convenience in every step of the customer journey will be rewarded.

5. Profiles Offer More Insights into Your Customers

You can customize user profiles to be as detailed or bare-bones as you'd like. The more details you have about your customers, the more insights you will have to better target your marketing. Details that customers can fill out at their own convenience, such as preferred product types and frequency of purchasing, will benefit both you and the customer for this reason. They can receive more targeted and personalized offers based on their responses, and you can create segments of customers based on voluntarily-offered demographic and psychographic data that doesn't entail expensive and time-consuming market research.

Additionally, customers can also create wishlists for items they are interested in buying but are either waiting for the price to fall or until they can save the money for that purchase. Demographic data is helpful but you can two have two customers with identical demographics, yet drastically different purchase habits and preferences. Wishlists can provide valuable insight for price points, personalized discounts and offers, and the types of products that customers want to see offered as well as variations like size and color.

By enabling user profiles with your Ecommerce solution, you can have immediate access to a great deal of valuable data for your inbound marketing needs. Retaining an existing customer is easier than attracting new ones: it's often been said that it costs five times as much to get a new customer than retain one who's already purchased from you. Despite this, only 18% of firms focus a significant amount of marketing resources on customer retention as opposed to 44% for customer acquisition. Many don't stop to think about how Ecommerce and user experience play a role in inbound strategy and getting customers to stay once the more difficult part has already been done of getting them on your site and making a purchase.

In offering a seamless user experience on a website that is easy to navigate, and with a checkout process that isn't unnecessarily complicated, you also need to leave the option open for customers not to create an account. Data like email and mailing addresses can still be used for marketing purposes, but forcing people to create a customer profile can result in losing sales.

Personalized content and offers alone aren't going to retain customers: a stellar user experience will.


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