Easy Digital Downloads is nothing short of a complete eCommerce solution for WordPress. Everything you need to get your online business up and running is packed into the plugin right out of the box.
Because of this reality, we oftentimes view extensions, extended functionality wrapped in separate WordPress plugins, as only-if-needed tools for enhancing our systems. While that view may not drive a business into the ground, it is certainly a strategy based on reacting to problems as opposed to making proactive decisions.
In this article, I’ll share with you several ways to improve customer experience before the apparent need for improvement arises. I’ll do this with a collection of noteworthy extensions that otherwise may go unnoticed for many store owners.
Recently Viewed Items
Let’s start at the beginning of a potential customer’s experience on your site.
Before any sales are made or items are added to the cart, most visitors are going to look around your store to see what interests them.
From a visitor’s standpoint, adding an item to the shopping cart is a commitment. However, without doing so, there is virtually no other way to easily keep track of every product that has been viewed other than memory.
This creates a gap between the shopping cart commitment and the visitor’s willingness to backtrack and find previously viewed products. This gap could be the difference between a transaction and a failed conversion.
Recently Viewed Items aims to fill that gap by instantly collecting data about a visitor’s viewing behavior and presenting those products at the most opportune times as they continue to move around your site.
This clever extension not only improves customer experience by indirectly interacting with the visitor in a subtle, but focused manner, it also solves a problem for you, the store owner, that you may not have thought to address before.
Secure the first level of commitment from visitors by showing them which items they found interesting enough to view and encouraging them to add those items to the cart.
Now that we’ve made an enhancement to assist potential customers in getting items added to the cart, it’s time for checkout. Needless to say, this is an important part of the process as the conversion is not made until the transaction is completed.
For some visitors, this is the perfect time to second guess their decisions. Is this the right product for me? Will it actually meet my needs? Is it designed to work with my other tools?
All of these are valid questions. For many store owners, they are presented in support as pre-sale questions. What many store owners fail to realize is that a pre-sale question may have been just seconds away from being a completed transaction.
Checkout Message gives you the opportunity to answer important questions and provide notes to help potential customers feel more comfortable with the decision to purchase, which is a great way to improve customer experience.
The great thing about Checkout Message is that it takes an AND/OR approach to displaying messages. You can create an unlimited number of messages in your system and choose when to display specific messages based on things like cart total, cart quantity, and even which specific items are in the cart.
Use data you already have about your potential customers’ frequently asked pre-sale questions and allow Checkout Message to answer those questions without delaying or possibly preventing the transaction.
Congratulations! All doubt has been removed about your products and the potential customer is ready to make things official. The only thing that can get in the way now is your checkout form.
Is it too long? Is it confusing? Does it feel like more of a commitment than your product is worth? Of course this is all subjective. However, the truth is the more streamlined you can make the checkout process, the better.
At a minimum, Easy Digital Downloads will require an email address and first name to complete the checkout form. If you allow guest purchases, this may be enough and those two fields do not present much of a threat to the flow of the checkout process.
What happens when your system does not allow guest purchases and you need a potential customer to create an account at checkout, assuming he or she is not a return customer? This forces you to add a registration form to your checkout form!
Auto Register is designed to use as little information as possible about customers to create WordPress accounts, that way the customers do not have to go through the hassle of filling out additional fields themselves.
The customer email address, which is already required by the default checkout form, will be used as the username for the WordPress account. Likewise, a secure password will be automatically generated and emailed to the user upon purchase.
Avoid the need to sacrifice customer experience for store needs. Auto Register makes it easy for your system to collect the information it needs without complicating the checkout process for the customers.
Finally, you’ve converted a visitor into a customer with as little friction as possible. While this is an accomplishment, the important part is just getting started.
Customer experience extends well beyond the initial transaction. While your product itself will have a significant impact on the overall experience, secondary interactions like support and account management can be the difference between a one-time customer and a repeat customer.
Auto Register ensured that customers were able to log in at any time to view their account pages that you’ve set up using Easy Digital Downloads’ shortcodes. Most users will view the [purchase_history] shortcode’s output to see things like product information, purchase receipts, and even gain access to previously purchased products.
Invoices adds another element to this output that may prove handy for your customers by allowing them to help themselves instead of contacting your support.
The Invoices extension gives logged-in customers the ability to customize, generate, and even print purchase invoices whenever they please. These invoices can be used for tax purposes or even just maintaining personal records.
Empower your customers in more ways than just providing a product or service. Give them the ability to interact with your system in ways that create confidence and trust.
Running an online business is a dynamic task. There is no official blueprint that every store owner can follow and have guaranteed success. Tools like Easy Digital Downloads will certainly get you started, but how your business operates will determine how you grow.
Periodically analyze the information you have about your customers and how they interact with not only your products, but your business itself. Think of ways you can make proactive decisions that solve not-so-obvious problems for your customers.
Several of our handy extensions provide a great way to do just that and are specifically designed to improve customer experience.