9 Musts for a Competitive Edge in 2016, for Ecommerce
It’s 2016. You can bet that hordes of new and existing online shoppers received a computer or smartphone for Christmas. New studies show that ecommerce will grow up to 20 percent this year.
While big brick-and-mortar retailers are embracing shoppers that scan in-store products by providing better pricing and more details, smaller ecommerce businesses can help online shoppers in unique ways.
Here are nine things ecommerce companies must implement this year to harness the power of selling online.
1. Better mobile optimization of the entire site. This includes the home page, category pages, product pages, supporting pages (about us, contact us) and checkout. Mobile optimizations serves two primary purposes: (a) an increased visibility across the web, especially in search engines and shopping directories; and (b) it provides an ideal user experience.
A recent study published by Elastic Path, the ecommerce platform, shows that people who shop in physical stores and on their smartphones – versus those who only shop physical stores – spend 66 percent more overall. The big chains have already put plans into action as a result. Online shopping, especially via a smartphone, is more popular than ever.
2. More focus on millennials. Within ten years, millennials — roughly, those born in the 1980s and 1990s — will make up about 75 percent of the global workforce. They grow (or have grown) up to become tech savvy and helped shape social media and mobile platforms as we know them today. That means site content needs to be up-to-date, quick to access, and easy to use. Don’t confuse “tech savvy” with the need to be overly flashy. While adopting popular technology can be helpful, speed and ease of use will close more sales across the widest demographic.
3. A loyalty program. You don’t have to go for broke, but offering some kind of reward to loyal customers pays off. While you may not be able to launch the next Amazon Prime, rewards that can result in “earned” future products prompt people to buy more.
4. More personalization. Online shoppers want to feel like people. If implementing high-end services that rely on sophisticated data and detailed browsing histories isn’t in your budget, some options are relatively simple and affordable. Logical related products (displaying truly related items, especially in the shopping cart) and smart search tools are key.
Relying on geographic information — geo-targeting — can help push the right products to the right people. After all, you don’t want to waste precious real estate promoting snowsuits to Florida shoppers. A similar tactic can be used for referring URLs.
Other inexpensive ways to personalize include displaying the shopper’s name when he’s logged in, and offering saved shopping carts. Use customer accounts? Exclusive landing pages after login or special coupons for returning customers (with their name on the page) can help boost conversions and order totals.
5. More engaging content. Boredom kills an online store. Shoppers need to stay engaged. From landing pages to product details, both textual and media content needs to compel shoppers to either buy or search the site for something they want. Find a healthy balance between sprucing up the content you already have and introducing new content, such as supporting videos and how-tos.
Need help? Writing compelling copy isn’t easy for everyone. If hiring an experienced writer is possible, do it. Otherwise, you can utilize online apps. Grammarly is a free grammar and spell checker that can help identify embarrassing errors. It includes tools to enhance clarity.
6. More payment options. It’s all about speed, organization, and security. Many shoppers have a payment method of choice, and if your store doesn’t accept it, you may lose the sale. While it’s not feasible to accept every possible method, go beyond just credit cards and PayPal. Loyal Amazon shoppers often prefer to pay via Checkout by Amazon across all sites. Mobile payments — methods exclusive to mobile use — are also growing in popularity.
7. Better choices in shipping methods. This past holiday season, USPS was heavily criticized on social media because of delivery issues. Many online shoppers were irritated with false claims that notices were left or addresses were undeliverable. UPS and FedEx have also had issues. It makes sense that some people have preferred carriers. If a customer wants delivery only to a P.O. box, he should have that option.
8. Multiple ways to communicate. Show that you’re approachable. You’ll not only build trust, but visitors will be more apt to report website glitches. Shoppers will be more forgiving if you make it easy for them to contact you and get answers. Provide several methods of contact, including a phone number, an email address (or easy-to-use contact form), and links to social media profiles.
9. Regular checkups. Study your site’s analytics every week. This is a key way to determine what’s working and to predict trends within the demographics you target. Ignore the data and you’ll have no way of knowing what to do next.