To stay competitive in ecommerce, you should always be searching for opportunities to improve your website and the experience it offers your customers. Over the course of helping several clients bolster their ecommerce businesses this year, we noticed a few common tactics that were effective at improving sites in a variety of areas:
Your product pages should provide shoppers with as much detail as possible so customers can comfortably "add to cart" without needing to leave your site to do additional research... and potentially find the information through a competitor. Think about ways you can enhance manufacturer-provided content to make it more robust and preemptively answer customer questions.
Call monitoring tools (if your customer service department uses them) can be a great resource for pinpointing areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Reviewing customer service calls can reveal patterns or errors you may not find otherwise, such as missing information (see above), frequently asked questions, or areas where CSRs need more training.
Cart & checkout
Upgrading the functionality of your site's cart and checkout process can be the most effective tactic for turning abandoned carts into completed purchases. Of all the strategies for improving ecommerce performance, this may be the one that most e-tailers struggle with. It's also perhaps the subject we've covered the most extensively on our blog. Click here to browse our collection of ideas for making better checkout pages.
In order to please your ecommerce customers and maintain a competitive edge, it's important to have features on your website that make it easy to shop. To improve your ecommerce site’s user experience on mobile and desktop devices, here are four features you should have:
Robust search functionality
Site search is one of the main tools customers use to navigate your site and products. If your site search bar is hard to find, hard to use, or ineffective at finding products, they’re more likely to leave without buying. First, make sure your site's search tool is prominent within your site's navigation. Then, enhance its usefulness by adding features like autocomplete, category filters, and click/tap-friendly dropdown lists. In addition, make sure all searches return results. If you don’t have an item a user is searching for, let the user know and show results for “similar products” or “other products you might like” – which are much more useful than an “item not found” message.
Write useful product descriptions
Written descriptions educate shoppers about the product's functions and features, specs and measurements, and advantages over similar products. However, you don’t want to frustrate your users with a wall of text – so keep your product descriptions short and to the point. When possible, summarize the key selling points in a bulleted list and let your images and/or videos do the rest.
Curate user reviews
While product descriptions give shoppers essential information, user reviews give a better (and sometimes more convincing) picture what it’s like to actually own and use a product. By supporting product reviews on your site, you can appeal to the growing audience of consumers who make purchasing decisions based on reviews. To get more reviews for your site, send follow-up emails or push notifications to customers after they complete a purchase.
One-click buying & single-page checkouts
A multi-step checkout process can cause shoppers to abandon their carts, so providing a speedy and simple checkout process is necessary. Make sure your site supports convenient features like guest checkout, mobile-friendly payments, and one-click payments technology.
The holiday season is right around the corner, and when it comes, thousands of e-tailers will be clamoring for the orders of millions upon millions of consumers. Consider these tips to help your ecommerce site stand out from competitors and grab the attention (and the repeat business of) customers.
With so many ecommerce sites selling similar products, the way you handle the customer experience can be a key differentiator. Even though the holidays are high-volume, there are still easy ways to ensure that you’re providing customers with a good experience the first time (and every time) they purchase from you.
Coupons and contests are good ways to get attention – but during the holidays, every site is offering them. Think about ways a customer can find added value from choosing you over another ecommerce site. Some examples include membership or subscription programs, alternative payment options, customer-friendly returns, and other ideas.
Demonstrate your expertise
Customers that are interested in a particular category of products (e.g. tools, clothes, or nutritional supplements) seek sellers who are perceived as experts in the area. If your ecommerce site specializes in certain products, showcasing your passion and expertise via blog posts, newsletters, and social media posts demonstrates thought-leadership and trustworthiness – which can drive sales and enhance brand reputation.
Just because the majority of ecommerce orders are completed without customers interacting with salespeople, doesn’t mean that there aren’t multiple types of selling strategies at your disposal. As long as have a good understanding of your audience and their shopping behaviors, you can use the following tactics to show off products and make sales that you may have otherwise missed.
You can upsell to customers by recommending products that are higher in price, but more enticing (i.e. better quality, more features, etc.). Upsells should be based on items that a customer has already shown an interest in – otherwise, they're just untargeted ads. Read our previous blog post to learn tips and tricks for more effective upselling.
Instead of offering a discount on a premium product to secure a sale, you can down-sell by suggesting a cheaper alternative product. This can be a great way to retain customers and keep inventory moving.
Cross-selling is when you suggest a product that complements another item a customer has shown an interest in, such as accessories. Cross-sales can increase customer satisfaction with their order, while increasing your revenue.
Bundling products together at a cost lower than their individual combined prices can motivate customers to spend more to take advantage of the offer. Because of its similarity to cross-selling, you may want to try some A/B testing to figure out which tactic works best with your audience.
Every order placed on an ecommerce site generates expenses for order processing, packaging, and shipping. But when an order consists of multiple units, those expenses make less of an impact on the seller because the added price margin of those additional units increases overall profit. Use these ideas to entice sellers into buying additional units – allowing you to offset shipping and fulfillment expenses and maintain competitive pricing.
Minimum Order Discounts
You can use other coupons or discounts in place of free shipping, but according to a survey from UPSPulse of the Online Shopper, 93% of online shoppers are willing to take action in order to qualify for free shipping – so it’s perhaps the most effective incentive (it’s also more directly related to the costs you’re trying to offset). Amazon.com’s famously successful “free shipping on orders more than $35” is a great example. If your ecommerce site sells lots of low-margin items, this type of strategy may work especially well because customers will have an easier time adding units without overshooting the minimum order requirement too much.
Add-ons & Upsells
Use personalization algorithms to offer additional units based on items that customers have just purchased, or purchased over time. If customer data is unavailable, the next best thing is to offer upsells based on seasonality, since seasonal items are more likely to have universal appeal. This strategy also works very well with minimum orders – adding a “suggested items” section to your shopping cart page can help customers find products they can add to reach the minimum order size.
Instead of asking your customers to add extra items to their carts, do it for them by bundling units together. Your ability to assemble product kits that appeal to customers will depend on the products you have to work with, but this is a common strategy for boosting multi-unit sales of nutritional supplements or other consumable type products.