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- To-dos for the sports and outdoor industry
"Our finding: those who can score points in today's market environment with a good product and an authentic story, and also use modern techniques to improve the customer experience, will own the future", says the current creativestyle-report. The eCommerce professionals have recently the top 20 German sports and outdoor stores under the microscope. taken.
The focus was on the user experience, usually referred to as customer experience in eCommerce. It describes the sum of all experiences of customers with a company or a brand over the entire duration of the relationship. If the customer experience is poor, customers will no longer order from this online store - worst case for online retailers!
The report concludes that although the industry is now well positioned in eCommerce and is growing steadily, there is still room for improvement. Smooth processes, technologically optimized stores and well thought-out additional services are not standard, but too often still the exception.
In an ideal world, the sports fan goes to a website, sees his new jacket, gets his questions about it answered in a live chat, puts the product in the shopping cart, settles the bill with the payment method of his choice, and a few days later takes delivery of his new jacket - packaged in an environmentally friendly way without any filling material. But the reality is (still) somewhat different.
In e-commerce, customers often swipe back and forth between stores faster than they do when matching on Tinder. And just as with dating portals, the same applies to online stores: If you're looking for something permanent, you need to create lasting memories. For stores, this means accompanying customers on their customer journey with good content, advice, and personalized service, offering multiple payment options, and shipping the goods in a climate-neutral and environmentally friendly manner as far as possible, thus making shopping and the after-sales process an all-around successful experience.
Slow webshop? An absolute no-go! Studies show that customers abandon their purchases and don't come back if the process takes too long. Good performance not only ensures fuller shopping carts and more loyal customers, but also has a positive influence on search engine rankings, according to the creativestyle report. In addition, more and more people are using mobile devices to store online.
Retailers and brands therefore need to ensure that their websites and apps are optimized for mobile devices to provide a seamless customer experience. Sport Bittl and Sport Scheck, among others, have done just that: they landed on the winners' podium in both mobile and desktop performance. Also in the top three: Bike24 (desktop performance) and Campz (mobile performance).
Each of the retailers surveyed has a blog with many exciting and useful articles and tips on sports and the outdoors. The informative content also provides motivation to engage in sports and equip oneself accordingly. The report concludes that the quality of the content within the top 20 is particularly impressive: "Many well-structured blogs with valuable tips and motivation that encourage people to engage in sports. Here is content is used and deployed sensibly." The retailers Bergzeit and Bergfreunde are really well positioned here.
Chat spontaneously with the service center, get product information on the go via app, and answer standard questions around the clock via intelligent FAQ centers and chatbots This is how customers want to be advised today. And they want to switch seamlessly between touchpoints. The importance of good customer service in e-commerce is often criminally underestimated, say the experts at creativestyle. The more communication channels there are to choose from, the better.
Blue Tomato does a really good job here with various communication channels, including a live chat. The mail-order company Sport Bittl came out on top in the stress test with two questions: 13 minutes response time and very good response quality.
Consumers have very different payment habits. All 20 online stores offer the option of credit card payment, for example. The range of options is smaller for instant bank transfer or purchase on account. However, with an average of five payment methods on offer, the sports and outdoor sector is well positioned, according to the creativestyle report.
The absolute frontrunners here are Blue Tomato and Camps with a whopping eight out of 15 different payment options, followed by 11Teamsports and Fahrrad XXL (seven out of 15).
Competition in online retail is fierce, so online stores and brands need to retain their customers and attract returning shoppers. This includes, for example, personalized offers, loyalty programs and newsletters.
Loyalty programs that offer real added value have been proven to strengthen customer relationships. Bergzeit, for example, has a clearly structured blog that shows all benefits at a glance: from exclusive deals and partner vouchers to events and regular customer days. As a club member at Intersport, customers can collect and redeem points with every purchase.
Sustainability is no longer just a trend, but a social requirement. The stores surveyed are adapting initial approaches to this, for example with repair services and recycling and upcycling. The retailers also have transparency, climate-friendly packaging and second use on their radar - although the differences are greater here.
Bergfreunde scores points for sustainability and transparency. The online retailer has anchored the issues in its corporate values and, in its own words, is the first 100 percent climate-neutral outdoor online retailer certified by ClimatePartner. Bergzeit and Decathlon, on the other hand, offer second-hand market and repair services - exemplary for the industry. Likewise, Globetrotter and Intersport offer a rental service.
More chatbots in customer service: Chatbots provide quick answers. Many customers nowadays even expect a chat as a communication channel, as it is easy and quick to use. Unfortunately, this is only used by six stores.
Simpler returns processes: "Although we only ordered small items, the returns process was not yet automated in many cases. Too little choice of shipping service providers or a lack of returns slips do not make for a good customer experience," concludes the report.
More loyalty and points programs: Loyalty programs are a simple and very efficient way of retaining customers in the long term. Only eight of the stores offer attractive loyalty or points programs. "This is where you can make the difference as a store and stand out from the competition," the report says.
Better mobile performance: Although there are some shining examples in the industry, the majority of retailers lag behind in mobile site performance, it said. Creativestyle also says the possibilities of progressive web apps are still barely being adapted.
More apps and special features: Even though the eCommerce professionals have already discovered a few useful and cool app features at the top 20 stores, this potential is generally still being underutilized. Only eight stores have an app. creativestyle commented: "In this day and age, where mobile traffic in particular is increasing more and more, we expected more here."
eCommerce Experience Report - the sports and outdoor industry in the spotlight by creativestyle:
Benedikt Merl, Senior Project Consultant, and Julia Heckl, Content Marketing Manager, will present further insights from the report at OutDoor by ISPO 2023.
Date: Monday, June 15, 4 to 4:45 p.m.
Location: ISPO Award Exhibition Area