The customer is king: 4 tips for more customer centricity in e-commerce

The customer is king: 4 tips for more customer centricity in e-commerce
Published on: Dec 14, 2018
Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Customers are buying more and more online. However, they want to receive the service and treatment they also expect from bricks-and-mortar retail. This presents online retailers with the challenge of strategically repositioning themselves to keep up with the competition. Customer centricity in e-commerce is becoming increasingly important and every online retailer is confronted with it sooner or later.

What is Customer Centricity anyway?

[tooltip title="Customer Centricity" color="blue"]Customer Centricity means "customer orientation" or "customer centricity". Here, the customer is at the center of the company and not the product. Customer Centricity is becoming increasingly important, especially in online retailing, in order to keep up with the competition.[/tooltip]

The term is not a novelty, but already goes back to the 70s of the last century. In the context of the oil crisis, the stagnating economic growth had to be counteracted. Companies therefore had to reorient themselves on the market and thus automatically shaped their relationship with their customers.

Many experts see the e-commerce market leader Amazon as the role model for the term. Through customer centricity in e-commerce, the company increases both customer loyalty and satisfaction. Ordering products is simple and convenient, yet personal - exactly what customers expect from a good online retailer. Customer Centricity looks first and foremost at the customer problems at the center and strives to find solutions to each one.

According to a survey by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 80 percent of companies credit themselves with an excellent customer experience. In contrast, however, only 8 percent of customers think that companies provide them with an excellent customer experience. So opinions on the subject drift far apart here, creating what is known as a "delivery gap."
[tooltip title="Delivery Gap" color="blue"]The delivery gap arises from the difference between customer expectation and customer perception. If the customer does not perceive the company's product or service as he or she expected, a Delivery Gap is created.[/tooltip].

The enormous influence of customers


Customers have an ever-increasing influence in the marketplace. Potential buyers today are more informed and influential than ever before. That's why they want the phrase "the customer is king" uttered by the online retailer to finally be put into practice. Customers choose the online store where they are treated best, most professionally and most personally. If this doesn't happen, they simply go over to the competition and the retailer loses enormous potential as a result. For this reason, it is all the more important for online retailers to deliver on their promises to customers. Does the retailer promise more personalization? Then that's what they should offer the customer. After all, anyone who praises customer centricity in the company, but then fails to implement it, looks untrustworthy.

###Performance of the 100 largest German online stores

Advantages of Customer Centricity

If the online retailer now focuses on Customer Centricity and offers the customer a personal and customer-oriented shopping experience, there are many advantages for him:

  • Satisfied customers buy more often
  • .
  • A reduction in price sensitivity occurs
  • .
  • Cross- and upselling potentials arise
  • .
  • Better ratings and more purchase recommendations
  • .
  • New customer acquisition through referrals
  • Retention of existing customers through customer satisfaction
  • .

It is definitely useful to deal with the topic of "Customer Centricity" as an online retailer. Because satisfied existing customers cost the online retailer many times less than the acquisition of new customers. For this reason, existing customers in particular should be looked after individually and personally. And what else is important: A good shopping experience is no longer enough to retain customers these days. Customers want added value - in the form of promotions, discounts or personalized product suggestions.

4 tips for more customer centricity in e-commerce

Customer Centricity should not remain simply a phrase. There are various ways to integrate the term into the everyday life of online retailers in order to achieve an increase in customer loyalty and to be able to offer customers an optimal shopping experience and much more.

1. Ensure personal and individual treatment of the customer


Online retailers can especially score points with customers if they feel they are treated personally and individually. This includes, for example, product suggestions tailored to the customer or individually designed newsletters. The customer knows best what he wants and communicates this to the online retailer, thanks to digital technologies and social networks, also bluntly. Whether in the form of a review or via a post on one of the retailer's social media channels - nowadays the retailer is easily and conveniently informed about the customer's ideas and wishes - and he should definitely make use of this information.

Prime examples of personal treatment of the customer is, for example, the personal shopping service for men Outfittery or Zalando's style and shopping advisor Zalon. At Outfittery, men who don't have time or feel like shopping can have stylists put together a box of different outfits for them. To make the whole thing even more personal, the package includes a postcard with an individual message from the respective stylist.

Image At Outfittery, customers can have their personal box put together. (Source: Outfittery)

But that's not all the online retailer can do. Personal customer communication makes the customer feel cared for in all phases of his or her purchase. For this reason, customer communication should not end when the order is sent. The shipping phase is one of the most emotional parts of the customer journey. Online retailers should take shipping communication into their own hands and not hand it over to the shipping service provider.

###See shipping messages in action!

2. Optimize Mobile Commerce

More and more orders are being placed via smartphone. Users look at their smartphones an average of 150 times a day, according to a study by pwc. The share of purchases completed via smartphone has increased from 7 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in 2018. So you can see that mobile commerce is growing more and more and that even more orders will be placed via smartphone in the future.

Image Mobile commerce is getting stronger and stronger every year. (Source: intelliAd)

Whether on the train, in their favorite café or in the park - customers want to have easy access to the online store anytime and anywhere due to time pressure. Almost all online retailers have already optimized their store for viewing on a smartphone or tablet. So here it is important to stand out from the competition and anchor customer centricity in mobile commerce as well.

Essentially, customers are concerned with two important aspects when shopping via smartphone - simplicity and service. Therefore, mobile websites should not be a slimmed-down desktop version, but tailored to the needs of mobile users. A good overview and menu navigation are the be-all and end-all. In addition, visitors want to use filter functions and be informed about availability and delivery times. Furthermore, mobile users would like to have inspiration options, such as clearly designed product pages and relevant customer reviews, also displayed from the smartphone.

Retailer apps are even better suited for online shopping. Customers can place their order quickly and easily via the app, as their customer data is already stored. Thus, the order can be completed with a few clicks. Simple and fast - that's what customers increasingly want. The British online mail order company ASOS already demonstrates this very well. Thanks to matching and special filter options, customers can quickly find the product they are looking for - even from their smartphone.

3. Define customer service as the primary goal

"The customer is king" and he should feel that. Customers expect top-notch customer service and want quick answers to their questions. How can online retailers ensure this at best? Through additional services, such as a wide selection of shipping service providers or by taking over the shipping communication. Customers should be able to contact the online retailer at any time. Problems with shipping or returning products frustrate the customer and cast a bad light on the online retailer.

###Higher ROI through fewer customer service requests

Who doesn't know Marcell D'Avis, the head of customer satisfaction at 1&1. The personable customer service representative makes users feel like he's interested in their questions and problems and eager to find a solution.

Every customer should get the feeling that he has his very own and personal contact person whom he can contact at any time in case of questions or problems. Long-term customer loyalty through personal contact pays off for online retailers and strengthens the bond with its customers in the long term.

4. Stage products and services in a high-quality manner


At best, customers want to experience products in the same way as they can in bricks-and-mortar retail. That this is not possible is clear. However, there are some technologies that offer customers a similar experience. Virtual reality and augmented reality are opening new doors for online retailers. Artificial intelligence is gaining ground in e-commerce. Another option is product videos and high-quality product images as well as descriptions.

Through 360-degree views or user-generated content, online retailers can score points with customers. Especially for product categories such as clothing, shoes and accessories, 360 degree product animations are suitable. They are often the decisive detail when it comes to deciding for or against a product. The customer can get a realistic impression of the product. User-generated content is the supreme discipline in e-commerce. Satisfied customers act But here, too, it is mainly products from the fashion and lifestyle categories that are on offer.

Image adidas also relies on user-generated content. (Source: adidas)


If you have not yet dealt with the term "Customer Centricity", you should definitely do so. The focus should be on the customer and their problems, not the product that the online retailer wants to market. The customer should always be the online retailer's first priority, as this is the only way to stand out from the competition. Through personalization and excellent customer service, Customer Centricity can also help online retailers achieve greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

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