Is your e-commerce website everything it can be in the new year? Mark Troselj presents 10 must-have items to help fast track your thinking process.
Maintaining a fresh, innovative and engaging ecommerce presence is not just an annual project—it’s a daily challenge, especially in this highly competitive market.
Not only is ecommerce rapidly becoming a significant channel for revenue growth in Australia, there are plenty of retailers gaining the attention and spend of our consumers beyond our shores. Frost & Sullivan estimates that local and overseas online retail purchases by Australians alone will increase to $25 billion by next year. The unfortunate reality of such competition is that if your site doesn’t provide the seamless experience today’s tech savvy consumers’ demand, there are many others that will.
With that in mind, there are a number of ways that forward-thinking businesses should undertake to keep their e-commerce operations competitive.
- A mobile-enabled shopping experience: For years, many merchants have skated by with stripped-down mobile sites and an unsatisfying “View Full Site” escape hatch for advanced tasks. This must end in 2014. Mobile buyers won’t tolerate a dumbed-down experience any longer. It’s time to offer the mobile shopper the complete customer experience, from wish list management to returns.
- Product reviews: If you don’t have product reviews already, this is the year to overcome your resistance despite being very late. To build a reputation as a retailer dedicated to providing customer value, curating outside reviews and offering buyers a chance to sound off on their purchases is vitally important. Consumers are much more willing to purchase your products when accompanied by product reviews.
- Expert commentary and videos: Bringing the commentary of a known expert to your product pages can both bolster a shopper’s confidence in their purchase and raise the store profile. High-resolution video is also a great way to attract shoppers seeking product information. Videos of everything from unboxing to making the most of a new product can help customer envision owning your product.
- Faceted, typo-sensitive search: Modern search boxes need more power and flexibility. Faceted search brings more detail to the process, which in turn makes it easier for customers to identify the products they want. Effective faceted search demands cataloguing the product attributes most important to your customers. These may not necessarily be features of the product itself, but metadata surrounding it. For example, a powerful faceted search task would be “lawnmowers with an average rating of four out of five stars.” Meanwhile, make sure the search parser is forgiving of typos and selects the closest, most likely match rather than returning zero results.
- Curated bundles and collections: As choice continues to expand, the importance of providing appealing bundles and collections continues to grow. Powerful search should be paired with competent, customer-friendly merchandising. Skilled merchandisers are still the customer’s ally, as many shoppers want to know about what’s new, hot and different—not about every single product in the warehouse.
- Omnichannel visibility: No longer is ecommerce just about stock on hand in the “web inventory.” Customers demand real-time visibility into inventory levels online as well as in-store. They want to know how many units you have and the quickest way to obtain them. They want in-stock alerts for out-of-stock items (again, both online and in-store). Essentially, if you have the product anywhere at all, your customers want to know about it so they can make friction-free purchases through any channel.
These tips present just a few opportunities to help retailers adapt to the constantly evolving expectations of today’s online consumer. Some might be quick fixes, others longer-term projects. The most important thing is to identify which of these steps will make the most difference to your business this year and get started. The next year is only going to bring more change.