Three Golden Rules For Giving Your Web Store the Midas Touch
There’s no question that digital technology has opened doors of opportunity previously unheard of in business. But the world of eCommerce is not for the faint hearted.
The internet provides a ready-made platform for enterprises of all stripes to reach enormous audiences all over the world, stripping away geographical barriers and making engagement instant.
But these advantages are also precisely what makes online commerce so competitive. Whatever line of business you are in, exclusivity is a thing of the past. Businesses are no longer just battling it out for custom with perhaps a handful of similar outfits within a local area or region.
Whatever you sell, whatever your niche, there will be dozens of other companies with a similar offer looking to target a similar audience.
So how do you stand out from the crowd these days?
As an eCommerce business, your online store is your primary asset. It’s both a beacon to attract would-be customers in an ocean of options and your primary channel for making sales. If you want people to do more than just browse and then head elsewhere, if you want to convert more visitors into customers and then keep customers coming back again and again, there’s one area above all others that can differentiate your online business from the competition – the quality of the experience you provide.
When you run an eCommerce store, making your site visible and attracting a healthy amount of traffic is only half the battle. If you don’t then deliver against customer’s expectations, there is no shortage of choice for them to try elsewhere. This is why customer experience (CX) is so critical to gaining a competitive advantage.
Here are three golden rules for ensuring your web store is a hit with customers.
Dig deep into the data
Great website and CX design starts with data. Luckily, data is a commodity that no digital operation is ever short of. Everything that happens in a web store is recorded, every click, every purchase, every cart abandonment, every query, every search. In addition, there are various ways to gather data about your customers, to learn in great depth who they are, where they are, what their habits and preferences are etc.
This data is always there. But it remains dormant until you put the work in to gather it, sift through it, pick out what’s useful and analyse it. If you want to take your web store to the next level, it all starts with delving into your website analytics, your sales and marketing reports, customer behaviour tracking and more.
From this, you can start to pull out information like how your visitors/customers most commonly find their way to your site, which routes most often lead to conversions, how different customers behave on your site, what potential obstacles and pain points they experience in their shopping journey.
Without this level of insight, it’s difficult to know with any certainty whether you are creating an online shopping experience that a) fits with what customers want and b) stands out from what your competitors are offering.
Optimise the on-site shopping journey
Data gives you a clear picture of how customers find and navigate their way around your store, what the positives and negatives of the experience are. The natural next step is to make changes to eliminate as many negatives as possible and increase the number of positives. We call this optimisation.
When we talk about building a ‘great’ eCommerce store, it’s easy to frame it purely in terms of eye-catching design and fancy cutting-edge features. But the key to optimisation is all about functionality. At the end of the day, whether people shop online or head out to their local high street, they want similar things. For consumers, the non-negotiables in shopping are choice, simplicity, convenience and value. They want to be able to find items of interest quickly and efficiently, and buy them without being held up by long queues or clunky website performance.
Optimising the online shopping journey is all about making it as easy as possible for visitors to get from A to B. It’s about making sure your on-page and cross-site navigation is clear and intuitive. It’s about ensuring designs and layouts are as user-friendly as they are visually appealing. It’s about having fit-for-purpose search facilities.
One specific area of the customer journey that deserves particular attention is checkout. Cart abandonment is a big issue for online vendors. Research shows that a staggering 70% of items added to a digital shopping cart are then abandoned by customers.
Why is checkout such a sore point for online shoppers? Research tells us that people are put off by complex, multi-step transaction processes, and especially being asked to register an account before they can buy. A lack of payment options also rankles, as does hidden shipping charges that only appear late in the process.
The solution is to make shopping carts as streamlined and simple as possible. For example, as more and more people save payment details in digital wallets or use online payment platforms like PayPal, there are more and more opportunities to create ‘one click’ payment buttons that don’t require customers to enter any personal or log-in details.
Whatever area of the shopping journey you look to optimise, none of it happens by accident. Not to overstate the point, but it requires rigorous use of data. To do it properly, you also need to map out pathways and interactions in detail, really dig deep into how a proposed site architecture will look and feel to the customer, and then go through user experience prototyping and testing to make sure theory converts into practice.
Create content that makes the right impression
Finally, the importance and value of the content that populates your website cannot be overstated. People expect to be able to do what they came to your site to do quickly and conveniently. They expect slick navigation, simplicity, convenience etc.
But that’s not what attracts them to your site in the first place. They came for your content.
If you run a web store, then the primary content on your site will be your product listings. How you present these is important. There’s a need to balance providing enough detail with not making a page look too cluttered with information. There’s a science to how you present details in a hierarchical fashion, so the key points are easy to scan. Images and, increasingly, video offer valuable complements to text.
But if your web store was all product listings and nothing more, you’d probably struggle to build an engaged, loyal customer base. Consumers want so much more from the online brands they buy from these days. They want to be informed. They want to be reassured that they are buying from a reputable (and perhaps ethical) source. They want to be entertained. They want exciting content they can share on their social channels.
Content management strategy is a vital part of creating a high quality customer experience. It involves identifying the types of content that engage your visitors (back to data again…), the things that get them lingering on your site, sharing with friends and, ultimately, the content that influences them to buy. It’s then about putting processes in place to ensure there is a continuous drip of fresh, quality content for visitors to enjoy. Because after all, who likes reading and seeing the same old things every time they land on a website?
Interested in taking your web store to the next level? At Key Element, we specialise in unlocking digital potential through data, development and strategy. From analytics to CX optimisation to content management and much more, we can help you achieve your business goals through your eCommerce site, whatever platform you are using. Get in touch with us to find out more.