With today's generation preferring to spend time only on meaningful pursuits, all kinds of shopping—from weekly grocery to clothes or even furniture—are now done online. With the demand for ecommerce stores across product categories, the market is also increasingly saturated with similar offerings. This means product availability, variety, quality, or price are not differentiating factors anymore. Ecommerce companies need to come up with new ways to stand out in the market and gain customer interest. This isn't an easy task as online shopping behavior and buying preferences constantly evolve.
Staying up-to-date on customer interests and requirements, giving customers the best experience possible, and improving ecommerce customer engagement are the only ways businesses can carve out a spot.
In this blog post, we'll be covering the basics of ecommerce customer engagement, effective customer engagement strategies ecommerce businesses can incorporate, and how an ecommerce engagement platform can help along the way:
Boost ecommerce engagement with these 16 effective strategies
What is customer engagement in ecommerce?
Ecommerce customer engagement is the emotional connection and enthusiasm about your brand in the minds of customers. It's built through proactive, valuable, and timely communication between the business and the customer, combined with exceptional customer experience.
Importance of customer engagement in ecommerce stores
Getting visitors to your site is only the first step for an ecommerce business. Maintaining a successful relationship with them depends on how you engage them, get them to buy from you, keep them coming back, and even get them to promote you in their circles. This isn't easy as customer expectations steadily rise with consumer reliance on online stores, making customer engagement critical in today's business scenario.
Here are some more reasons why ecommerce customer engagement is important:
Increased sales: Ensuring that customers can easily find products they need on your website/app, complete with product details, reviews, shipping, and return information, reduces your sales conversion time and increases sales.
Lower cart abandonment rate: Giving customers instant answers when they need more details or have concerns ensures that they go through with the purchase then and there.
Improved customer experience: Close to 80% of American consumers consider speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.1
Customer loyalty: When customers have an assurance that buying from your ecommerce store is the easiest online shopping gets and that you're there to assist them with their purchases and post-purchase issues, they'll most definitely return to you for future purchases.
Customer advocacy: Delighted customers are more likely to give you customer testimonials and even free advertising through word-of-mouth.
Boost ecommerce engagement with these 16 effective strategies
1. Craft a well-thought-out web and mobile user interface
Offering a top-notch shopping experience to your customers should be the first item on your list of ecommerce customer engagement strategies. For visitors to even give you a chance, they need to like the look and feel of your ecommerce site or app and find it easy to navigate, locate what they want, and make purchases. Only then would they even try. And only then would the ecommerce engagement strategies listed below be of any use.
Start by conducting user research to identify what your target audience wants in an ecommerce site/app and how they navigate web and mobile interfaces. Once you know what users want, sort these based on the most-demanded and important requirements—as well as ease of implementation—before you go ahead with it.
Once you've designed your ecommerce website or mobile app interface, test it with real users to identify gaps and keep iterating continuously based on customer feedback.
2. Create content around products that are most in demand
Come up with engaging content around products that are most searched for, visited, and bought. This content can be about product usage, hacks, celebrity endorsements, inside glimpses into how products are made and reach customers, stories on your CSR activities, or even DIYs.
Identifying which of your ecommerce site's products are visited most and which products customers would like to know more about is now easy with Zoho SalesIQ's website visitor tracking. It tells you the pages your visitors view, the time spent on each of these pages, the number of visits, where your visitors are from, and more.
3. Leverage your social media
4.76 billion people around the world now use social media2 and the typical internet user spends more than 40 percent of their waking life online.3 This means social media is the best platform for you to create visibility for your ecommerce store and even engage existing customers with useful and interesting social media content.
Social media is not only a great tool to engage prospects and customers, it can also be a great tool to increase your sales. More than 4 out of 10 working-age internet users and half of all internet users in the age range of 16 to 24 say that they visit social media to research brands and products that they’re thinking of buying.3
4. Curate influencer wishlists to increase sales
Popular influencers' endorsements definitely have more credibility these days than a brand's ad. Get influencers in your domain to try your products, post reviews, and even create public wishlists on your ecommerce site/app that your customers can clone and buy from.
5. Run campaigns around special occasions
With the popularity of ecommerce sales over the years, consumers will often wait and budget to make their purchases during special occasions. Tailor your campaign to an occasion and curate content around it ahead of the campaign to give your customers shopping ideas. For example, if it's a Valentine's Day campaign, publish and promote content centered around 'Gifting ideas for your loved one' a week before the sale goes live.
Sale days come with a sense of urgency, so giving your existing customers an insider look at all the products on offer and even giving regular customers early access would make them feel special.
6. Cross-sell based on customer interest
While shopping on Amazon or other ecommerce platforms, you may have noticed a 'Frequently bought together' or 'Customers who bought this also bought' section at the bottom of product pages. This isn't only a very effective cross-selling strategy—if done right, your customers will even find it more convenient shopping from you since they don't have to search for every item on their list.
7. Display customer reviews for social proof
With the number of options available in all product categories these days and the quality and value-consciousness of today's consumers, they often compare prices, details, and product reviews from different brands before settling on one. In fact, 99.9% of consumers look at reviews while shopping and 98% even consider reviews essential for purchasing something.4
Your customers' shopping experience will be a lot smoother and the probability of immediate purchase higher if they don't have to browse different sites for product reviews before making a purchase. So start collecting reviews and displaying them on your product pages.
Here's a tip to increase your chance of getting reviews from customers: ask them for the review a week after they've received their product, tell them how their review helps, and, if you can, offer a discount code or a gift in exchange.
8. Provide a virtual store experience with Augmented Reality
Even though shoppers prefer ecommerce stores to traveling to a physical one, they still crave the physical store experience from the convenience of their home. There's no better ecommerce customer engagement strategy than letting shoppers experience the products they're buying.
IKEA is the best example of this. With their AR app—IKEA Place—they let you plan out your home furniture by showing you an up-to-scale model of the furniture you choose in any corner of your home. This provides an even more immersive shopping experience than in-store shopping, where you can only see and try furniture but can't get an actual idea on how it goes with your room or other furniture.
Ecommerce stores that sell jewelry, clothing, and eye glasses also use AR to let you virtually try on any item you're considering by placing it on a 3D image of your face or body.
9. Deploy chatbots for shopping assistance
Another element from physical stores customers miss in online shopping are friendly, helpful store assistants who're there to help when a customer can't find a product they're looking for. You can push your ecommerce engagement up by a great deal by just bridging this gap.
SalesIQ lets you set up custom chatbots using our advanced chatbot builder—Zobot—to help your customers find products they're looking for, more product details, or shipping or payment information. You don't even need to be a coder to set up a fully-functional chatbot using Zobot's codeless bot builder. Check out our detailed article on chatbot use cases for ecommerce to learn how best you can leverage chatbots to boost your ecommerce customer engagement.
Here's a detailed blog post on how you can use chatbots to lessen the load on your support team during holiday shopping seasons.
10. Reduce customer risk perception
All the prospect and customer engagement strategies ecommerce companies incorporate would be of no use if customers aren't confident enough to buy from them.
The perceived risk associated with any online purchase is proportional to the extent of uncertainties or lack of information. Consumers are more confident to purchase when they have all the details they need about a product, its delivery, and replacements or refunds if the product doesn't match the description or doesn't meet their expectations.
Besides finding all the necessary product, shipping, and return details on the product page, customers should also be able to reach out to your with their questions and get answers in real time. This can be done using live chat software. Now, having a huge influx of chat requests every day can be a heavy load on your team, so lighten it by displaying an in-chat knowledge base of answers to FAQs or articles on your returns or shipping policy so customers can refer to these before reaching out.
11. Set up exit intent pop ups
Exit intent pop-ups are a great way to draw back the attention of visitors who are leaving your site without taking any action. An exit intent pop-up is displayed when a visitor decides to leave your site. This is determined by tracking mouse movement and scrolling behavior.
One reason prospects leave without making a purchase may be that they want to check other ecommerce sites and get the best deal. Displaying a time-bound, irresistible offer in this case could lead to immediate conversion.
Another reason for website bounce could be that visitors can't find what they're looking for. If this problem persists even after you fix your website layout, you can add a concise checkbox form to gauge visitor interests/requirements and show them relevant products.
12. Ensure hassle-free checkout
The most common reason for cart abandonment in ecommerce is friction during checkout, and this is mostly caused by one or more of the following:
Unexpected processing or shipping charges
Complicated checkout page navigation
Being forced to create an account
Lack of information
Reduce cart abandonment by minimizing checkout friction due to these. Additionally, setting up proactive live chat triggers on your checkout and payment pages using an ecommerce engagement platform will ensure customers have the help they need if they still have trouble.
13. Retarget cart abandoners with push notifications
Despite all your ecommerce engagement efforts, you may still face cart abandonment because not all customers are ready to commit to an immediate purchase. Be it the fear of finding a better deal after purchasing or a pressing real-life issue needing their immediate attention, it's worth your while to nudge them again to complete the purchase. With most ecommerce purchases happening on mobile, and mobiles being more like an extension of the human body these days, you're more likely to grab their attention through push notifications.
14. Provide multi-channel customer support
The idea of ecommerce originated to improve consumer convenience, so it only makes sense to extend that convenience to customer support as well. Let your customers connect with your business on their preferred instant messaging (IM) channels like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Telegram.
This doesn't mean you have to keep an eye on all your instant messaging accounts at all times. With Zoho SalesIQ, you can manage all this communication from a single interface; route incoming chats to live chat agents or departments based on the topic, business function, location, or channel; and even deploy chatbots to handle incoming chats.
15. Proactively reach out to unhappy customers
No matter what you do, the unpredictability of human nature makes unhappy customers inevitable. An unhappy customer contacting customer support is a chance for you to make things right. But not all unhappy customers contact the company. A silent unhappy customer on average tells 9-15 people in their circle, but that's not the worst case scenario. Social media offers these unhappy customers a loudspeaker, and that damage is harder to salvage.
Proactively reaching out to your customers to find out whether or not they're happy with their experience with your brand gives you an opportunity to identify issues before any of that happens. Proactively reaching out, identifying problems, and providing a quick resolution can even turn your unhappy customers into brand advocates.
Now what if things don't go as planned and a customer turns abusive? SalesIQ has you covered there too! With profanity management, SalesIQ identifies abusive terms and gives you an option to hide them, warn the customer about the use of profanity, and even end the chat or block the customer automatically.
16. Start a customer loyalty program
We all know that it's easier and more cost-effective to retain a customer than acquire a new one. With the intense competition in ecommerce, it's even more imperative to ensure customer retention. With customers always on the lookout for the best discounts, the best way to ensure they come back to you is by starting a customer loyalty program. You can choose from a subscription-based program like that of Amazon—which gives Prime customers discounts, free shipping, and other perks—or a point-based tiered program that gives customers different benefits based on their progress.
With market conditions and customer preferences evolving constantly, it's not an easy feat to get your ecommerce customer engagement right. There are a lot of stages where things can go wrong, so the idea is to have a flexible and comprehensive ecommerce engagement strategy and solutions ready for the most common missteps.
We hope you find the strategies we discussed in this blog post helpful. Let us know in the comments section below and also share any radical ideas that have worked for you.
 "Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right" pwc, https://www.pwc.com/us/en/advisory-services/publications/consumer-intelligence-series/pwc-consumer-intelligence-series-customer-experience.pdf
 "Global social media statistics research summary 2023" Smart Insights, Jan 30, 2023, https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
 "Digital 2022: Another year of bumper growth" we are social, Jan 26, 2022, https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2022/01/digital-2022-another-year-of-bumper-growth-2/
 "The Complete Guide to Ratings & Reviews (2023 Edition)" Power Reviews, Jan 13, 2023, https://www.powerreviews.com/insights/complete-guide-ratings-reviews-2023/