When was the last time you did something innovative with your online store? Innovation involves taking a risk. It is more than changing a button color or adding a hero image or promotion.
Done right, innovation can result in a big reward. If not, you’ve invested poorly, but haven’t ruined your company. In this post, I’ll offer ideas that have the potential to reinvent your business. Most involve investing in design, development, tools, or support services — therein lies the risks.
17 Ideas to Reinvent Your Ecommerce Business
Add new product categories. Consider adjacent product categories that could attract new customers or entice existing ones.
Experiment with pricing. Consider marking product prices up and down to test the impact on sales. Low pricing makes sense for commodity products. For unique products, increasing the price sometimes makes them more attractive to buyers — especially for in-house brands. Test price breaks for volume or categories, and time-of-day or day-of-week promotions for slow periods.
Create a new brand. When I operated my online jewelry-supply business, we launched new ecommerce sites to facilitate experimenting with pricing, product catalog, and design.
Add a new payment method. Are you offering only standard credit card payment options? Consider adding hosted payment platforms, such as Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal, as well as financing options.
Offer customized products. An increasing number of retailers sell customizable products. Offering products that are configurable can add a touch of personalization. Consumers will often pay a premium for unique items.
Implement guided selling. In my experience, most consumers do not know what they want when they visit an online store. A recent study by Episerver found that only one-in-five shoppers know what they want beforehand. An expert or guided-selling experience can help them find the right items.
Improve site search. Product search is weak in many online stores. Look at alternatives to improve search results and offer better filtering options. Look at your navigation and ensure it is structured as shoppers are likely to browse — not the way you set it up. This may involve a new search engine that is optimized for products
Upgrade merchandising. Launch a new search-results or category-list page that offers multiple sorting filters. Then place an “add to cart” button beside items on those pages. Adopt artificial intelligence to power cross-sells and upsells — humans cannot curate and predict behaviors. Use machine learning from all data sources to predict the next best product to present to a customer. This may involve adding a merchandising or product recommendation tool. Many tools also have search. Examples include BloomReach and Coveo.
Simplify. Improving merchandising does not mean confusing consumers. The same Episerver study found that 46 percent of consumers don’t buy because they have too many choices. Keep it simple. Offer two or three relevant products rather than dozens. Many merchandisers believe Amazon now offers too many product alternatives, for example.
Offer expert advice. Add a question-and-answer section to your online store to list common shopper queries with answers. This will drive conversions, boost organic search traffic, and help customers make informed choices, which lowers returns.
Build a community. Leverage social media and physical and virtual events to connect shoppers and products. Generation Z (birth years 1990s to mid-2000s) is leading the way as those shoppers rely on social and community influence to make buying decisions
Product visualization. Augmented reality is becoming a requirement in home furnishing, clothing, and beauty products. Help your shoppers visualize what a product will look like in context.
Post-purchase services. It’s common for merchants to send a thank-you email, a coupon for a discount, and a request for a review. Find new ways to connect with your customers post-purchase. The more you inquire of your customers, the more they will share. Consider a concierge-level service for your best buyers. Offer personalized status updates (rather than a generic email notice) if something goes amiss.
Improve the customer experience. Are you still using a four-step checkout, or showing the same hero image to all visitors? It’s time to invest in research to better understand your shoppers. Use personalization to deliver content that is relevant to their buying journey. And by all means, streamline your checkout, removing speed bumps such as upsell offers once a customer is committed to completing the transaction.
Implement mobile-first design. Design your ecommerce site for smartphone users. Then, adapt it for desktops. Small screens require reconsidering everything — navigation, product pages, checkout. A responsive site is only a start. Invest in designers that know mobile. If 50 percent or more of your traffic is not coming from mobile, it may be because the experience is lacking. Adding payment options that do not require entering payment information is a necessity.
Launch a native app(s). This could be a shopping app, a loyalty app, or an app to engage your customers and create a community. For most online retailers, roughly 60 percent of mobile traffic is from iOS devices. Often those visitors are also the highest-value customers.
Offer subscriptions. A few years ago, subscriptions for tangible goods mostly focused on consumable items. We now see clothing, food, maintenance items, music, art — you name it — sold on subscription. Consider how subscriptions could fit your business to lock-in future orders.