Contextually relevant features and content can make ecommerce customer experiences more memorable – helping you stand out from the competition. To help you put together a strategy that leverages user data to deliver dynamic product recommendations, user-centric messaging, and convenient shopping and purchasing processes, consider these tips and examples for making your ecommerce site more unique and personalized.
Add search customization options
The search bar on your ecommerce site is supposed to help your customers find products. But for some customers, a basic list of products doesn't provide enough information to make a purchasing decision. Personalization features like detailed search parameters (e.g. category inclusion/exclusion, price ranges, SKU variant inclusion/exclusion, etc.) and result-sorting options (e.g. by price, by review score, by popularity, etc.) lessens the burden of research for your customers and improves your site's user experience.
Enhancing product discoverability
To increase the effectiveness of product suggestions across the site (i.e. search results, "you may also like" recommendations, etc.), make sure that you are tracking how customers browse products and use the search bar on your site. For example, by mining your site’s search data, you can learn more about what your customers are interested in and the language they use to find it. This can be very helpful in merchandising, discovering changes in customer priorities, or simply improving onsite search functionality.
Personalize for users' preferred device
Does your website provide shopping experiences that are tailored to different screen sizes, user inputs, and browsers? Consider how you can design elements or consolidate navigation to make them fast loading and tap-friendly for smartphone and tablet users.
Typically, credit card chargebacks are so few and far between that most ecommerce merchants feel they aren't worth the hassle of disputing. Unfortunately, when that mindset persists, it exposes the business to continuous losses via chargeback fraud (i.e. when consumers initiate unwarranted credit card chargebacks for items they knowingly purchased in an attempt to avoid paying for them.)
While it’s true that the work involved is time consuming, disputing chargebacks with consistency is important limiting financial losses over time. Establishing step-by-step guidelines can greatly reduce the burden of disputing chargebacks. But, creating these procedures requires some due diligence on your end. To start, you should understand what merchants’ rights are extended to you by each of the credit issuers you work with. Visa, Mastercard, et. al., have rules in place that, when adhered to, grant rights and protections to merchants in chargeback disputes.
The rules and regulations from credit card issuers often place a burden of proof on either the merchant, the customer, or both. For example, let's say Visa has a rule in place that a customer cannot file a chargeback unless they have attempted to return the item. The customer would need to provide proof of return. Merchants should make sure that each transaction is thoroughly documented (ID verification during checkout, delivery confirmation, etc.) so they can easily provide supporting evidence when filing a dispute.
Essentially, by thoroughly understanding your merchants’ rights and meticulously recording all the relevant transaction information, you’ll have the foundation necessary to streamline chargeback disputes so they take up less of your time – and money – over the long run.
Information security is an ever-evolving issue for ecommerce sites. Even though technology has done a lot to stop them, fraud tactics are always changing in response to those countermeasures. In some cases, there's just not much technology can do. Take social engineering – when a fraudster posing as their target manipulates customer service representatives into granting access to the target's account or private information – for instance.
Also known as voice-phishing, or “vishing,” the practice is less common than email-based phishing but every bit as dangerous to ecommerce. According to the education and awareness website, social-engineer.org, the average cost of a successful vishing attack against a business is $43,000 per account compromised.
Most companies require customer service representatives to follow a multi-step process for authenticating callers before proceeding with service on an account. However, CSRs are also trained to keep customers happy. Whether it's because caller sounds irate or threatening, or the caller sounds authentic because they passed some parts of the authentication process (usually with information trawled from other areas of the internet), CSRs may share information that risks security with the intent of providing a good customer experience.
Unfortunately, calls to a live person don’t undergo the same digital fraud checks that online transactions do. To prevent scenarios where a CSR feels bullied or lulled into complying with an insecure request, companies need 1) a comprehensive flowchart of authentication steps with clear explanations of what to do when the caller can’t provide the required information 2) strict requirements for following protocols, and 3) assurance that managers trained for those scenarios will provide necessary support.
By training customer service teams to recognize social engineering and giving them the resources to stop fraudsters from stealing account data, ecommerce companies can protect their customers while still providing great service.
According to research from the National Retail Federation, 73% of consumers ranked “sales and price discounts” as top factors for deciding where to shop. In the heyday of brick-and-mortar retail, it was common for stores to attract these prudent shoppers with highly-publicized mega-sales (typically held on a “Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAYYY!”). With the instantaneous nature of internet shopping, today’s ecommerce equivalent would probably be “flash sales.”
Like their predecessors, flash sales are great for attracting consumers’ attention, driving brand awareness, and boosting sales. However, the surges in traffic to your site and order volume can strain your internal resources and hamper customers’ experience. To ensure a successful flash sale that satisfies your customers, use the following tips to prepare.
Get the word out
Besides good deals, flash sales are known for their hype! Take the time to analyze your target audiences and develop a marketing strategy to stoke those fires so your flash sale is truly effective at engaging consumers and driving business.
A good flash sale quickly cycles through lots of different discounts, which engages shoppers who stick around to see what deals come next. Your assortment should be large enough to entice the widest variety of customers.
Flash sales foster a sense of competition to seek and find deals faster than other consumers. If your site search bar is ineffective at finding products, you stand to lose the many mobile users who are accessing your flash sale throughout the day. Make sure your ecommerce site's search functionality has mobile-friendly features, such as autocomplete and search refinements (e.g. brand, color, size, price, etc.) with tap-friendly dropdown lists.
Ease of Transaction
The checkout process should just as speedy as your flash sale. Make sure to eliminate as much checkout friction as possible. The longer it takes to checkout, the more likely that shoppers' excitement from scoring a deal will wear off and they'll abandon their carts.
From the perspective of customers, the checkout process is the most tedious part of shopping online. With that mindset, it's no wonder that many ecommerce sites struggle with cart abandonment.
The less time and actions your checkout requires, the more likely users will be to complete their orders. While looking for ways to streamline the design of your cart and checkout pages can be very effective in this regard, there are other strategies you can deploy to improve your checkout process to make it more convenient for customers, such as:
Alternatives to account creation
If your ecommerce site requires account creation to complete a purchase, you may want to consider alternatives like Guest Checkout and/or social media login functionality. While account creation helps you collect information about your customer base, the process adds more steps to what should be the simplest part of your ecommerce site.
More convenient payment options
Alternative payment options are designed to shorten the checkout process by eliminating the multiple form fields required for credit card payments. Additionally, the more payment options you can accept, the more customers you can serve. However, there are many systems to choose from – so consider surveying your customers to find out which alternative payment options are most popular for your target audience.
Autofill form fields (even for coupons)
By streamlining the process of inputting information, you can speed up your checkout while demanding less effort from your customers. Incorporating autofill features into your forms accomplishes this while also reducing the amount of errors that come from manual user input. By autofilling the coupon field with your latest promotion, you instantly show customers your best deal so they don't have to shop around – perhaps the most common motivation for abandoning the cart.