Competition in eCommerce has been heating up in 2018. New equations in logistics and pricing are being formed and tested. eCommerce companies are fighting one other using every possible tactic in the book – and outside. While this mostly benefits customers in terms of wider choices and better prices, many online companies are also struggling to stay afloat.
And that’s not surprising too. On the face of it, the business model is quite transparent and there doesn’t seem to be much scope for your brand to stand out. Since almost eCommerce companies follow similar strategies, from sourcing to selling, the big riddle the companies are trying to solve is: how to remain sustainable and competitive in this world?
The answer lies in one phrase: end user experience. One thing can be said with absolute certainty. Whether you’ve built your site with the help of Magento, whether you’ve built it on Shopify or whether you’re using Laravel, at the end of the day, competition boils down to creating a better online shopping experience.
If you can provide the online consumer experience that is superior to what your competitors offer, you will excel and remain profitable, no matter what. A skilled eCommerce solution company can help you survive and thrive even when Amazon, Baidu or Tencent appear to conquer the online world. Since the entire eCommerce industry is built around convenience improving the customer experience will likely impact your business more than any other factor will.
Here’s a list of creative ways in which you can improve eCommerce user experience that will not only improve loyalty but also boost sales.
1. Provide an Excellent, a High-Quality End-User Experience
Cool designs are only the starting point of a high-quality end-user experience. Remember, the key word is convenience. It all begins with the layout.
Three factors drive a great layout: clear categories, consistent designs, and clickable links. If you have a number of products – which most likely you do – it’s important you classify them in clear, logical categories. That makes searching for products a great deal easier.
The categorization at Amazon is easy and intuitive.
Next, make sure all your pages carry a consistent look. For instance, if you use the left side-bar for placing various filters (prices, size, brands etc.), make sure each page carries the same style. Using a uniform, consistent layout across all pages keeps things simple for customers.
Finally, don’t forget to make links clickable. It’s a habit customer have developed over time: if she likes a product, she’ll click on the image or the description. If the image isn’t clickable, it can quickly frustrate the customer.
That’s not all. Your site, no matter how well-designed, can always benefit from things that reassure the customer it is trustworthy. For instance, you can use a badge that tells the customer what trusted anti-virus system your site employs or what universal security measures make all payments safe. Customers stay loyal to sites that are clearly trustworthy.
Important tip: Make sure your clickable images carry the ALT tag – that descriptive piece of information about the image that helps search engines and visually challenged customers.
Don’t forget: Make sure your search feature works on all pages!
2. Build the Best Shopping Cart
There’s something all eCommerce companies need to understand: your eCommerce is only as valuable as your shopping cart. No matter how much your customer browses, your revenue is not going to exceed the total value of goods she’s put in the shopping cart. Pay great attention to that tiny little shopping cart. Magento has some really wonderful tools to build a better shopping cart.
Make sure your shopping cart is visible on all pages. Your customer should be able to peep into the cart and easily see anytime what’s inside – just like a real-life shopping cart. Another reason the cart should be visible is that a customer may have come looking for a Tee, but if she finds a Deo is great, there’s no reason she’d need to waste time looking for the shopping cart. Help the customer buy more!
The shopping cart of Allen Solly is distinctly visible on all pages and is always placed at the same location.
Many customers, at the last moment, decide they don’t want to buy and proceed to make payment. They abandon their cart, never to return. You need to have a strong cart abandonment policy that follows with the customer to learn why the sale never happened. It should make the best effort in convincing the customer in finishing the purchase and making the payment.
Important tip: If a customer has abandoned one or more products before making the payment, you’ll want to gently remind the customer by email whenever the product goes on sale and there’s a great bargain.
Don’t forget: Apart from the shopping cart, you should have provision for Wish List – an inventory of items the customer would like to purchase in future.
3. Design From the Point of View of the Customer
Start by asking yourself this question: if you were a customer, is there a strong, compelling reason you’d want to buy from your site? How friendly have you made the site? Are any of basic features absent?
If you’re a new buyer, for instance, one of the first things you’ll see is the kind of reviews previous customers have left behind. Are they happy with the product quality? What has been their online shopping experience in terms of shipping? Did they feel the price was justified? Highlight clearly the reviews or testimonials customers have left behind, As they provide a great push to the product without you spending a single penny on that!
A simple, star rating method tells customers about the product quality at a glance.
Next, make all processes easy for customers, both new and returning. For instance, a customer who’s returning after a considerable time is almost sure to have forgotten the password. Make it easy to retrieve passwords. If you’re building with Magento, make sure you hire Magento developer who fully understands how important this seemingly small matter is.
Let customers buy without registering; don’t make it compulsory. Instead, you can gently remind them the benefits of registering so that they can receive notifications of special offers, discounts and so on in the various products they are interested in.
Important tip: Gently persuade your customers to leave behind reviews or testimonials. Thank them once they do so!
Don’t forget: It’s important your site carries the contact details of your support team on all pages. This strengthens the trust customers put in you.
4. Provide support that is unobtrusive
Support doesn’t mean having to be present all the time; support means helping the customer solve a particular problem. At the stage when eCommerce is fast maturing as a business, customers often prefer self-help support. If there’s something not ok with the product, customers are comfortable reading up stuff and fixing that small bug themselves.
That’s not to say you can ask all your customer service executives to leave. It just means that you need to invest better resources in creating better assets for customer support. Write better product descriptions so customers know what exactly to look forward to. Create better videos that show how the product connects or operates. Come up with better knowledge base articles that your customers can easily understand and follow directions from.
Instead of writing ‘Male’ and ‘Female’, Timex chose to write ‘Shop Gifts for Him’ and ‘Shop Gifts for Her’. This keeps the customer emotionally invested in Product Classification / Description. Notice the word ‘Gifts’ is used in plural!
Important tip: Your customer support team should be ready to step in when required. You can’t leave everything to product descriptions and videos.
Don’t forget: Use every single interaction with the customer to learn. Build a bank of experiences to train your team better and ultimately serve your customers faster and better in future.
5. The actual shopping can be a lot better
The actual shopping is the stage when the customer has her wallet out to make the payment. In an eCommerce transaction, there’s a series of small decisions that the customer makes. The real challenge for an expert eCommerce website development agency is to ensure, right from the design stage, that each of these stages are smooth, almost imperceptible.
Make sure you offer the alternate payment options that are fast becoming popular. The reason is quite simple: your customers have been using these options, say PayPal, elsewhere so paying through PayPal comes naturally and easily for them. When, on the other hand, they don’t see a PayPal option on your site, they need to spend the time to decide which other option they use. And this becomes one of the most common causes of shopping cart abandonment.
Amazon offers a wide number of payment options.
The customer will be taking one last look at the shopping cart before punching in the PayPal code or the credit card details. This is a stage where you can provide additional reassurance. Remind the customer you have a friendly return-policy (this is quite important for the products purchased online). Repeat the approximate date the product will reach the customer. Display the shipping option the customer has chosen.
Important tip: Choose your shipping partners wisely. Don’t let a third-party goof up or delay deliveries and ruin your image.
Many sites are making timely, hassle-free delivery their USP.
Don’t forget: Make sure your checkouts are super-easy. Don’t load the customer for unnecessary things to do.
6. Post-purchase experience counts a lot too
Ok, I’m a customer; I’ve chosen the product and made the payment. How are you going to treat me now?
To begin with, you should be able to generate a detailed receipt of the payment the customer has made. Make sure you spell out the actual product details, like “White Sony headphones, Model AV29, Noise-cancelling technology…” Don’t use short forms or only product codes like, “WSF, MAV29-#6521451”. That only increases the post-purchase anxiety.
Here’s how you can turn the transactional emails into a powerful source of great customer loyalty. Amazon, for instance, has a wonderful system. It will send you an email when the product is ready for shipping, it will send you another email when the product is shipped, send you yet another email when the product is ready for delivery… The way in which Amazon constantly stays in touch the customer feels both valued and cared for. No wonder it’s difficult to snatch even one customer from Amazon!
Reward your repeat customers or customers making high-volume purchases with well-designed royalty programs. And when customers refer other their friends or relatives to your site, don’t forget to thank them! If there’s a referral program in place, great but otherwise, the least you can do is thank them! A sincere thank you message can advance your relationship with the customer a great deal.
Amazon is both quick and generous in rewarding returning customers.
Important tip: If you’re maintaining blogs or are creating content, make sure the content is valuable and worthy of sharing. And don’t forget to invest in distribution as much as you invest in creating valuable content.
Don’t forget: Be honest and transparent in all your communications and advertisements. And, above everything else, trust customers when it comes to accepting products for replacements.
Easy navigation, the right pricing (not necessarily the cheapest), proper packing and shipping options, secured payment gateways and great customer service all it takes to build an eCommerce website. If you build your eCommerce site with the objective of winning customer loyalty you’ll never go wrong.
We’re most excited when we help people with their eCommerce website and build them eCommerce solutions of all sizes and varieties! Get in touch with us and find out how we can work together to help you make it big!