4 minute read 15 Jun 2021
Woman received online shopping parcel opening boxes

Why the future of e-commerce requires personalized customer experiences

By Rob Thomas

Principal, Technology Consulting, Ernst & Young LLP

Husband and father. Tech consulting professional. Home brew aficionado.

4 minute read 15 Jun 2021

Digital is here to stay. Does your business have what it takes to keep customers loyal for the long haul?

In brief:

  • E-commerce retailers must provide a frictionless customer experience with a high-performing search platform, accurate product descriptions and easy returns.
  • It’s imperative to have the technology and infrastructure that support a consumer-centric organization.

Today, more people than ever shop online for things they used to buy in stores, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you prepared to meet the e-commerce demands of your customer today, tomorrow and five years from now? 

One tiny hiccup in your order process could cause an abandoned cart and the loss of a customer for good. Because consumer expectations are higher than ever, a seamless online experience across the spectrum of digital touch points is critical. 

An innovative consumer experience starts with design and website management plus an aligned IT infrastructure that provides insights and analytics, e-commerce optimization and custom application development capabilities. The integration of back-end technology with customer-centric experiences is what drives sales, lowers costs and helps you win in your market.  

Create a frictionless consumer experience to drive brand loyalty

It’s not enough to have a great user experience, website design or marketing automation tools to support your e-commerce business. You also need the order management tools to provide an enticing digital experience in order to keep customers loyal. 

Order management includes the entire customer experience and how you treat customers from pre- to post-order. Can your customers find what they need through your search and is there user-generated content like ratings and reviews? Is your marketing effective and are your product descriptions accurate? Is it fast and easy to check out? Are your order management and logistics systems integrated so that you can get purchases to customers as fast as your competitors with easy tracking, delivery notifications and hassle-free returns? These all impact the consumer and, therefore, the consumer experience. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s the importance of flexibility. Order management makes this kind of agility possible so that you know your inventory and can offer customers the option of buying online to pick up in store, curbside, through an on-demand delivery service, or some combination of all three. 

Globally, 39% of consumers say they will shop more online for things they used to buy in stores. Not only are there more consumers online but those consumers are being conditioned to online experiences with high expectations. 

In order to stay competitive and not be just another e-commerce site, it’s critical to focus on the customer experience beyond just your website in order to drive the customer experience post-order. 

Frictionless online experiences are imperative. From a high-performing search platform to accurate product descriptions and easy returns, it all matters.

Your e-commerce strategy should be customer-centric and supported by data

Start by analyzing the complete view of the consumer experience and building solutions tailored to that experience — from design to business strategy to implementation, operations, fulfillment and measurement, maintenance and improvement. 

A robust digital marketing and analytics platform should include: 

  • Campaign design
  • Social media road map
  • Customer experience marketing strategy and journey planning
  • Customer experience analytics, training, assessments, KPI planning and data mapping
  • Integration execution through Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX)
  • Cognitive road mapping
  • Real-time personalization
  • Predictive customer insights

EY Future Consumer Index, October 2020


of global consumers will shop more online for products they previously bought in stores.

Planning for your operations

Digital content solutions and design are important, but they won’t matter much if the provider doesn’t understand your ecosystem or can’t integrate a cloud strategy or security into your plan. When it comes to implementation, make sure your team understands how to integrate into enterprise systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) or order management system (OMS) tools and can get data out of those systems.

In order to compete and serve clients better, it’s critical to have operational support along with long-term maintenance of your website, a cloud infrastructure and real-time data collection and analysis. Work with a technology partner who can implement a large variety of technologies and integrate experience management platforms with your e-commerce engine to cater to the user’s individual expectations. This attracts new customers and keeps existing ones loyal to your brand.

Evaluate and accelerate your e-commerce platform for the future

If your e-commerce website is struggling to keep up with demand, you want to create a better customer experience or just boost your sales and lower costs, it may be time to evaluate your platform. 

  1. Start by consolidating all of the requirements that are unique and differentiating to your organization (not every feature and function that all platforms have).
  2. Based on these requirements, look at the platforms that are a good fit for your business and compile a list of positives and negatives for each platform.
  3. Understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) and compare your list of platforms against your current environment. Look at third-party software, costs for development resources and infrastructure. The TCO typically covers five years.
  4. Based on the TCO, look at your objectives for your organization and make an informed decision.

E-commerce is a dynamic and rapidly evolving business segment with distinct needs. To make an impact with today’s consumer, businesses must emphasize and differentiate their brand, proactively innovate through customer-centric insights, reliably and consistently deliver value, and continually reinvest in their business.


Do you think your organization truly understands the new digital consumer? The role of brand is shifting and consumers expect consistent brand experiences across an ever-widening spectrum of digital touch points. With our recent acquisition of Zilker Technology, we are able to deliver capabilities beyond strategic and business consulting to align the user experience at every customer touch point and integrate technology with customer-centric experiences.

About this article

By Rob Thomas

Principal, Technology Consulting, Ernst & Young LLP

Husband and father. Tech consulting professional. Home brew aficionado.