Aug 8, 20195 min read

Why Return On Experience is The New ROI.

Louise Lindberg headshot

by Louise Lindberg

ROI are the three golden letters in the e-commerce industry. It should go without saying that you want to get back the money you’ve invested, but are your customers coming back to your brand? Maybe it’s time to turn your attention to something new: ROX.

Loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Keeping your customers loyal to your brand is no longer about offering a membership where they can collect points or bombarding them with discount codes. Today’s online shoppers want that little bit extra, and if you dig deeper into what that actually means, it all comes down to one thing.


Online shoppers state that shopping with a brand today isn’t as fun as it used to be*, and if they can’t see the joy in shopping, then online retailers have a problem. Consumers want to feel a deeper connection with the brand, the best-case scenario being that the brand understands how consumers want to shop.

How is it that shopping isn’t fun in times where we have more options than ever? It might be that with more options, customers’ demands get higher, and a “Thank you for ordering” email will no longer do the trick to satisfy shoppers.

Could it be that online retailers have been focusing so heavily on ROI that they have lost the personal touch?

This narrow-sighted approach might ultimately harm ROI, because retailers who are ahead of the game have shifted their focus to ROX – Return On Experience. This metric measures the consumer shopping experience, which seems to be lacking among shoppers these days. To measure a good shopping experience, there are many indicators to look at. You can keep an eye on growth in website traffic, increase in conversion rates, decrease in cart abandonment and higher average order values.

However, it’s important to know that your customers aren’t all the same. Their needs and desires differ according to age, gender, and preference. If we take a deeper look at the results, we can see that Millennial and Gen Z shoppers care less about value for money than 45-55 year olds – 76% compared to 87%. What the younger generations do value more, however, is brand image and flexible payments.

This highlights the importance of getting to know your customers better in order to give them a personalized shopping experience. It’s helpful to create customer profiles and use them to adapt the shopping journey.

How well do retailers know their customers?

To be fair, it’s hard to impress online shoppers in the oh-so competitive world of e-commerce. They get easily bored and need to feel “wow” when they shop with a brand. A survey of over 2,000 shoppers and 250 retail decision-makers in the US revealed that 49 percent think retailers need to retain the human element while 28 percent wouldn’t shop with a brand that didn’t share their values.

For more insights: Read the full report “Experience is the new loyalty” here.

The main focus of the survey is trying to figure out what makes customers loyal – and disloyal. It turns out that the shoppers’ answers weren’t quite what the retailers had expected:

As we can see, when it comes to the top drivers of loyalty, retailers seem to know their customers quite well. But looking at the top drivers of disloyalty, they seem a bit lost. Shoppers put poor-quality products (78%) on top of their disloyalty list, whereas retailers reckon that a poor overall experience (70%) is the biggest source of disloyalty among consumers.

For more insights: Read the full report “Experience is the new loyalty” here.

5 steps to loyalty

To sum it up: Experience is the new loyalty. But maybe it doesn’t have to be big and complex to be groundbreaking. Starbucks did it by simply writing customers’ names on cups – what’s the equivalent for your online store? Here’s a checklist for online retailers to follow to give customers the fun experience they’re missing, and turn them into loyal, repeat shoppers.

  1. Make it fun and inspirational.
    It sure is a problem that a third of people feel that shopping isn’t fun anymore. Have a look at your brand and shopping experience and ask yourself: Is it exciting? Maybe you can add some spice to it by giving your customer something fun and unexpected.
  2. Share your customers’ values.
    It’s a common misconception among retailers that shoppers don’t care much about a brand’s value; actually, they do. A quarter of shoppers say that they appreciate a brand showing what they stand for socially and ethically. As a brand, it’s profitable to be transparent and clear about your values.
  3. Listen to your customers’ needs.
    Do you know your customers well enough? If you can’t answer with a confident “yes”, you should get to know them better. They want an emotional connection to your brand and the feeling that you have listened to their needs.
  4. Be personal.
    But not too personal; shoppers don’t want to feel overwhelmed. 25% of shoppers value a personalized checkout – especially things like a brand knowing their previous payment methods – but 48% don’t want brands to bombard them at every stage of shopping. Try different solutions to find that golden mean for your customers.
  5. A flexible checkout experience.
    Last but not least, payments have to be flexible, fast and seamless. When customers have made their decision on what to buy, they just want to get it over with. 43% say that a long and cumbersome checkout process makes them disloyal.

*Experience is the new loyalty, Klarna Confidential 2019.