Despite the huge investment made in online stores by high street retailers, ecommerce shopping remains a marginal activity. February’s ONS statistics indicated only 16.7 per cent of retail sales in the UK were conducted online. From concerns over data security to a lack of product information, many people are still reticent about ecommerce shopping.
If your business relies on internet purchases, that represents a problem. A website has to be a shop window, till point and customer service desk all in one, providing key information in a way that successfully conveys your firm’s ethos. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to improve a customer’s ecommerce shopping experience.
Below are five recommended techniques to improve your online store:
- Learn from the market leaders. Research rival sites to see what they do well (or badly). Amazon is an obvious point of comparison, but study other firms’ ecommerce shopping experiences as a whole. Does each site suggest alternative goods, or save the contents of your basket for a future visit? Is there a prominent Search bar with predictive text? How many data fields are required to complete a purchase?
- Boost stock levels throughout the autumn. Online sales in November and December almost double compared to the other ten months of the year, so prepare in advance. Employ drop-shipping, which ensures multiple stockists for key product lines. Consider increasing warehouse space to boost stock levels so you don’t run out of key lines. Customers may never return if you don’t have the items they want in stock.
- Ensure your site is equally easy to use on mobile or desktop. In 2010, mobile devices accounted for one per cent of online retail sales in the UK. Last year, most online orders were made using a smartphone or tablet. Yet it’s easy to prioritise the desktop experience over mobile. Factors to consider and compare include ease of navigation around the site, whether the same product details are displayed, and how payment gateways work.
- Provide a wealth of information. In the absence of store assistants, a website should pre-emptively answer every question. A single photograph above a generic text description won’t encourage people to click Add to Basket. Instead, upload multiple images, perhaps in a slideshow, with every nugget of product data you can find. List customer reviews, suggest alternative items and put an enquiry form on every page.
- Develop an algorithm to encourage additional or complementary purchases. A recent report suggested almost 80 per cent of British adults have succumbed to impulsive online shopping, and this isn’t necessarily standalone purchases. Someone buying a birthday cake may appreciate an invitation to add sparklers or a card to their order. Upselling profitable items adds value to the user experience – and your balance sheet.
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