Conversion rates at on-line retail stores – the rate at which visitors become buyers slipped last year from 2.6% to 2.4%, according to Forrester Research. There are many reasons for the slippage, and they can be reversed with some sound approaches to ecommerce website development.
1. Provide an online version of your print catalog/local flier
According to Forrester, 73% of online consumers have browsed online versions of print fliers and catalogs. Of those users, at least 30% say these tools are “very” or “extremely” useful. Such fliers are successful because they provide a familiar way to shop online to less sophisticated web users and retailers know how to design catalogs and fliers to sell.
2. Guide users towards what’s important – don’t overwhelm them with options
Customers still need a simple and clear mental image of the store. Too many options on a site can cause customers to feel confused and distracted.
3. Refresh, renew, and revise
Customers perceive the web as constantly changing, and they expect to see the latest content and information each time they visit a retailer’s website. Sites that rarely change give customers the impression that the inventory is stale and provide few incentives for customers to return to the site.
4. Test alternatives and measure results
Test alternative designs, layouts and feature sets online as well as offline – not just in usability labs and focus groups, but also live.
5. Ask customers what works and what doesn’t
The majority of customers are less likely to provide unsolicited feedback, thus having “Contact Us” on a web site isn’t enough. Don’t wait for feedback, solicit it.
6. Being channel agnostic is a path to mediocrity
Channel agnostic means ignoring the benefits of the various distribution channels, including the store, catalog, call centers and the web. Differentiate among channels by explaining to customers the benefits that each channel offers. But that does not mean retailers can’t guide customers to specific channels. Cost structures, copy placement and return instructions can all serve to direct customers toward preferred channels, but don’t penalize customers for using the “wrong” channels.
7. Encourage word-of-mouth
Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to distribute products and services on the Internet. According to Jupiter Research, 69% of consumers who receive a web site recommendation from a friend pass it along to at least two to six friends.
8. One size does not fit all – Ecommerce Custom Development
Shopping carts are technically infinite in size, but tend to behave the same whether customers choose to purchase one item or 20. If a customer has only one item, don’t ask whether multiple “ship to’s” are needed. The online shopping cart and checkout process should be adaptive.
9. Knowledge equals power (and profits)
Good retail salespeople are invaluable to a retailer because they develop a rapport with customers, make suggestions and notify them of sales and new merchandise. Retail web sites should act the same way by allowing customers to look back at all their previous orders, personalizing customers’ visits and offering suggestions based on previous purchases.
10. Bring the personalized offline experience to your online channel
Retailers should re-create the best parts of the store experience online, including the services of a great salesperson. Give your online customers the same personalized shopping experience as they would find in retail stores by delivering an experience tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
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