The year is 2018 and it’s fair to say the high street has been dying a slow and painful death for a few years now. Why? It’s simple – eCommerce has completely revolutionised the way we shop and is now the obvious choice for anyone looking to buy something quickly and easily.
In a world where we seem to continuously have less and less time on our hands, technology has grown into an all-powerful entity. Its impact on every aspect of our lives is huge, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. It has pushed us forward dramatically in the way we communicate with each other, and now shopping is firmly in its sights.
Consumers in 2018 don’t bat an eyelid when it comes to shopping online and everyday purchases can be completed in seconds. This is especially prevalent in the USA where, according to the US Commerce Department, online purchases increased by 16% in 2017 compared to 2016 – the highest rate of growth since 2011.
When you look at eCommerce businesses as a whole, it’s clear that certain organisations are absolutely thriving – think Amazon for example. That said, there are also a huge number of businesses that just aren’t hitting the heights they should be for organisations of their size. One of the most notable examples here is medicine, where changing consumer behaviour by converting them to online services is proving incredibly challenging.
With all this in mind, here are five key things your eCommerce store needs to increase customer retention and build a brand.
Experience Is Key
And I don’t mean your experience! If you can provide your customers with an exceptional and memorable experience when they buy from you, you’re much more likely to retain that customer over multiple purchases. An eCommerce site that pays close attention to user journey and site navigation is in a much better position commercially.
An eCommerce site that pays close attention to user journey and site navigation is in a much better position commercially.Tweet this now
You can take a lot of guidance from data tools like Google Analytics – this can help you map out an entire user journey from start to finish and identify areas that might need streamlining. If there are any elements that cause problems or could be considered a roadblock to sales, you should attempt to change them sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, you need to ensure your store offers a complete solution. What I mean by that is your site needs to actively discourage the customer from leaving midway through the checkout process. This could be as simple as ensuring all the information they need for the product they are buying is clearly displayed, or as complex as offering an extra piece of software (for example, the room planner provided by furniture retailer West Elm) that helps the customer at a key moment in the checkout process.
Pinpointing these barriers that customers have to break through to make a purchase can make a huge difference to your bottom line, so it’s well worth taking some time to analyse and improve.
We already know that customers absolutely love simplicity. Keeping your checkout process as clean and tidy as possible can directly impact the number of sales your store makes, regardless of the quality of your products. According to eCommerce website personalisation company Barilliance, average cart abandonment rates hit 78% in 2017 – that’s 3 out of every 4 customers leaving the site before completing their purchase.
Some easy wins in this area include offering transparent pricing, clear delivery options, saved payment options and an optimised mobile experience. All of these points have been identified and advertised by Magento themselves so you know it’s definitely something you need to take notice of on your store.
Having an eCommerce store that is enjoyable to use and fascinating to look at can only be a good thing for your audience.
A well-designed site goes hand-in-hand with delivering a fantastic user experience, which is why your brand and store design should have a cohesive feel. The general preference right now is for a clean, sleek look with a colour palette that isn’t too aggressive – avoid colours that are too bright or garish.
If your site offers a wide range of products, you need to ensure you offer a comprehensive category or filtering system to allow customers to isolate the products they want. Without this, it’ll be all too easy for your visitors to get lost and frustrating when looking around the store. Unfortunately, there’s not really one quick fix with this kind of thing but it’s crucial you understand the needs of your audience and address them accordingly.
Become A Resource
Establishing a loyal and committed audience base can take time, but you can go further than just sitting back and waiting for things to happen.
Brands that stand for more than just a product are often considered a more attractive proposition than those that don’t. The modern-day customer is looking to connect with brands on a deeper level than ever before thanks to the rise of social media and behind-the-scenes content. Growing your business with this in mind can establish your store as the go-to online resource for a particular industry or product, meaning you’ll see better engagement and ultimately more sales.
Keep A Human Element
Few things in the online space are more frustrating than as a customer than getting all the way to the end of the buying process only to hit a huge roadblock – particularly if it’s one that means you have little option but to abandon the transaction.
So how can you support the customer throughout this key process? Well, one of the best ways is to offer help – human help. Make sure your phone number, email address and live chat options are all clearly visible and available at all stages of the checkout process.
One of the best ways to support your customers when they’re checking out is to offer help – human help.Tweet this now
It’s fair to say that most customers want a similar online experience to the one they receive in store, so being able to ask for help when they need it is important. It’s the same as being able to ask a staff member for help, or trying a product out before taking it across to the checkout. 24/7 support is the ultimate game changer IF you can provide it.
Reviews Are Vital
Customers love reviews, it’s a fact. Take a moment to think about it – how many times have you yourself gone out of your way to read or watch a product review before buying it? Plenty I’m sure!
Successful eCommerce stores take advantage of this knowledge, making reviews and comments about their products easy to access at all times. You can go one step further and offer a rating system on your site, which you can then use to collect information and feedback about specific products – all very useful in understanding the needs of your audience.
So there you have it, five key features that you need to include on your own eCommerce store if you’re looking to increase sales and grow your customer base. Your strategy with these features needs to be supported by activity behind the scenes, however – the best advice I can give here is don’t neglect the data from tools like Google Analytics and, of course, always strive to keep improving.