Optimize your e-commerce site to get more sales online by providing an excellent user experience.
E-commerce is thriving. The pandemic drove consumers online and digital sales in the United States hit US$791.70 billion in 2020, up nearly one-third over the year before. That momentum continues this year, with online sales up 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.
It’s not just the U.S. There are 2.14 billion online shoppers. That’s a quarter of the world’s population. Global e-commerce sales are expected to hit US$4.8 trillion this year.
It’s clear that online shopping is here to stay, but it will take much more than just putting up a site to get first-time visitors to buy. To be successful online, you have to optimize your e-commerce site for conversion.
That means every aspect of your site must be easy to use. From navigating to finding specific products to checking out, customers want a seamless, simple way to shop. But that’s just part of what will motivate online shoppers to make a purchase. Just like in the physical world, people shopping via their phones, tablets or desktops want a great customer experience. Anything less and you risk losing them to a competitor.
Fast fact: 89 per cent of consumers shop with a competitor after a poor user experience.
The good news: There are things you can do to deliver the experience online shoppers want to get them to buy.
Here Postmedia answers the top question from e-commerce businesses: How do I increase my online sales?
Prioritize customer service
The customer is king. It’s an old adage but one that is critical to embrace in today’s hyper-competitive online environment. Digital shoppers want to know that you understand their needs and that you can help them. To make this happen, your marketing, sales and customer support teams should work together to better understand your customers and how to support them throughout their buying journey with the right messaging at the right time.
A few effective tactics:
- Make customer service a key part of the buyer’s journey. This will help turn existing customers into brand ambassadors.
- Ensure salespeople deliver accurate, consistent and relevant information.
- Respond quickly to customer queries. Make this support available in the way your customers want it. For example, live chat is emerging as a preferred tool for online customers.
- Create loyalty programs and offer discounts to reward customers.
- Ask customers for feedback and use what you learn to inform your strategies.
Leverage customer reviews
One of the best ways to turn visitors to your e-commerce site into paying customers is through product reviews. Why? Because reading reviews is now part of the research phase of the buying journey. The overwhelming majority of online shoppers (93 per cent) read online reviews before making a purchase. Reviews help boost organic search rankings and positive reviews build consumer trust in a brand. Help prospective shoppers see what other shoppers think by asking for, collecting and showcasing customer reviews.
Fast facts: Seventy-nine per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. Ninety-four per cent of shoppers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
Engage customers with product demo videos
Customers want to have the experience of testing a product, even when they can’t touch it. Product demo videos are a powerful way to replicate that experience, bringing product descriptions to life and helping shoppers feel more confident about a product. Done well, product videos can inspire people to buy. Matt Bowman, owner of Thrive Internet Marketing, notes in a post for Forbes Agency Council that 90 per cent of customers say product videos help them make buying decisions. Video is an important research tool for shoppers and should be a key component of your marketing strategy. They can be used to introduce new products, demonstrate functionality and address any concerns a customer has about a product. But that’s just the beginning. Done well, product demo videos will also help you tell the story of your brand in a compelling and engaging way.
Run strategic promotions on your e-commerce site
Everyone likes a discount and offering them can help convince people to make a purchase. But you don’t want to use them too often or even regularly. If you do, you risk customers waiting for the sale they know is coming. Instead, create seasonal and holiday focused promotional events to attract new customers, build relationships with existing customers and encourage referrals.
A few effective tactics:
- Build anticipation for seasonal events on your site and across your social channels.
- Promote seasonal sales by adding a pop-up with a countdown timer. This will help drive return traffic and conversions.
- Conduct polls and start conversations with your followers in the lead-up to your seasonal launch.
- Develop posts and videos for your social channels to grab attention and increase engagement.
Use gamification to boost customer and brand loyalty
Simply put, gamification is applying game-playing elements to something that is not a game. In retail, companies can encourage people to collect points on loyalty cards as a way to build engagement and drive sales. It’s a way to motivate with the promise of rewards.
A few effective tactics:
- Set specific objectives for what you want to achieve by building a game-like experience into your e-commerce business. For example, do you want to get people to download an app to make it easier for them to make a purchase?
- Establish clear rules so users know what they need to do to achieve their goals or receive reward for playing.
- Implement a feedback system. This will help users and you track how close they are to “winning.”
- Make the rewards worth the effort. This is critical to creating a positive customer experience.
E-commerce is the future. It’s that clear-cut. Getting people to visit your site is the first step to getting them to make a purchase. Creating an excellent user experience is what will help you close the sale.