The highly competitive landscape of eCommerce keeps business owners on their toes. Striving to generate more revenue, businesses focus on marketing campaigns, fine-tune their SEO strategies, and engage influencers to promote their brand. But these efforts will produce little to no effect if your best salesperson — your eCommerce platform — fails to deliver.
Today, customers expect nothing less but a frictionless, personalized shopping experience. From AI-powered virtual assistants to voice search to the first VR department store, tech advancements are transforming eCommerce to make purchasing easier, faster and more pleasant for end users. And if your online store was designed a while ago, you might be losing your competitive edge to more forward-thinking retailers.
Here are some practical tips on how you can stop bleeding customers and see a boost in sales.
Keep your branding fresh
A well-known saying warns us to never judge a book by its cover. But the conventional wisdom aside, your website is exactly the cover that will give your customers a first impression about your business. If it looks and feels a few decades old, users will waste no time and go back to the search results page to pick another contractor.
While you don’t have to jump on every single web design trend, a website redesign every 3-4 years will keep your branding from going stale and outdated. By maintaining a fresh look of your eCommerce store, you are sending a strong signal of a business that is continuously developing.
Prioritize the mobile experience
In a mobile-first world, customers are increasingly choosing to interact with brands via their smartphones and tablets. According to a Statista report, as of April 2018 the share of global mobile internet traffic amounts to 51.2%, and the number will only continue to grow.
That being said, the share of mCommerce is also booming. Last year, mobile commerce sales made 58.9% of online sales, bringing in $1.357 trillion. The trend is very promising, but to have a piece of the pie, you need to make sure that your store provides an equally great user experience on any platform your customers may prefer.
A responsive web design will adapt to the device your prospect is using, saving them the pain of endlessly zooming in and out. In fact, a non-responsive website is a deal breaker for 61% of users who are “unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone”.
Personalize the customer journey
Touted as the future of eCommerce, personalization brings tangible benefits to those who fully embrace the trend. A Demandware report suggests that “purchases where a recommendation was clicked saw a 10% higher average order value”. Amazon, a retail powerhouse, estimates that 35% of its revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.
Learning from its rival, Walmart is adapting and redesigning its website to incorporate new personalized elements. In addition to personalization on a regional and individual basis, Walmart starts treating its customers to specialty shopping experiences. The biggest retailer in the world knows that shopping for food to restock the fridge is different from shopping for furniture to refurbish your living room.
Your online store can also win by putting personalization at the heart of your customers’ experience, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help you with that. AI-powered algorithms analyze buyers’ shopping behavior, browsing history and other factors to come up with intelligent product suggestions. As a result, customers are able to find products easier and faster.
Merchandise your products intelligently
In a brick-and-mortar store, a visually appealing display of products that highlights trending items or goods on sale can inspire customers to purchase. In eCommerce, digital merchandising is an equally powerful tool as your online inventory can have thousands of items that a customer would never see unless you show them.
Computer vision (CV) takes product discovery to a new level. Underpinned by machine learning, the system uses image-based tags to surface visually similar products. What one calls “shoes”, may easily be “sneakers” for another. Relying on a more informative source for product recommendations allows you to merchandise with greater confidence.
Speaking of smart merchandising, make sure you leverage every upselling and cross-selling opportunity. Upsells bring in 70-95% of revenue — not something you can disregard. The key to success here is to show your customers they are still winning even when paying more. Offering a discount or free shipping for an upsell product is one of the ways to get your customers interested.
Let your customers try it first
Some purchase decisions, like a new pair of earrings, are easy to make, while others require a lot more consideration. Would this couch fit the color scheme of your living room or should you keep looking? IKEA, for one, takes the guesswork out of furniture shopping and saves you from poor design choices. Its IKEA Place app allows users to put any piece of furniture practically anywhere to visualize the end result.
The underlying technology is called augmented reality, or AR, and many retailers are starting to successfully leverage it too. Sephora Virtual Artist lets you experiment with makeup and instantly buy the products you like. In the world of eCommerce, this “try before you buy” experience becomes a major selling point with 61% of customers preferring stores with augmented reality feature.
Engage your customers wisely
Investments in customer engagement go a long way towards your business growth. Highly engaged customers are loyal and motivated, delivering 23% more revenue than average. Also, they can easily become your brand ambassadors and bring in new clients.
From a customer’s point of view, it’s all about being heard and knowing that their opinions matter. Only then customers will eagerly engage with your brand, share their insights and give feedback. Product reviews, social media posts, testimonials, and other user-generated content (UGC) is an asset that can drive your eCommerce growth. A Business Insider report suggests that consumers interacting with UGC are 97% more likely to purchase than those who do not.
Essentially, UGC works as social proof, which explains its success in boosting sales. Shoppers trust peer opinions over brand recommendations and advertising. By simply adding a testimonial page to your eCommerce website, you will foster customer engagement and build trust in your brand.
Technological advances change the rules of the game for all eCommerce players, and your online store is no exception. Failure to adapt and innovate will hurt your bottom line. On the bright side, you can revamp your eCommerce store by starting with simple tweaks like a social proof page. Other innovations like AI-powered personalization algorithms might call for a professional web development services provider to help you tap into the advantages of a superior customer experience.
Your competition is already implementing these innovations to boost their sales. Are you?