15 Ways to Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Experience
Once you’ve got your business up and running online, it’s time to start getting more people to your site. If you don’t have people visiting, after all, you won’t have sales. Usually, this is something people understand intuitively, however, there are some other factors that are equally important to your business success. Once you’ve got people coming to your store, you want to make sure they stay there and shop. You also want them to actually make purchases from your store. It’s important to make sure that your customer experience is smooth and seamless.
“But my business is different!”
It’s true that there is no one-size-fits-all secret to improving the customer experience for every type of online business, but if your business model is selling retail goods – or even selling wholesale – on your ecommerce site, here are a some points to consider to ensure your customers have a pleasant time on your online store.
1- Have Great Photography
When it comes to online shopping, photographs are at the heart of the process. Without the ability to see the product in a good quality photograph, your prospective customer may decide they’d rather buy from somewhere else – or even pick it up locally so they can hold it in their hands and examine it. Here is a good infographic that helps cover some of the basics.
If you don’t already have great product photographs, you might want to consider hiring a professional photographer. While it does cost more than taking the photographs yourself, the skill and training that they have will definitely make a difference in your final result. So now that you’ve got quality product photographs, what about the rest of the images on your site? Do you have banners, or promotions prominently featured? Does your homepage have a carousel or slider that displays selected products or specials? If you’re working with a design team, they can often help you clean up your product photos or select stock photography for these purposes. For example, adjusting the color balance, and removing the background from a photo can make the image really “pop”, and draw the emphasis to what you’re wanting the customer to see.
2 – Make Sure your Site has a Clear Interface
Does your page have a lot of visual clutter? When someone goes to your site, what catches their eye first? What about second? After that? People are going to look over a site fairly quickly when they come to it, to decide whether or not they want to continue to look over the site or move on. If you have an eye-catching graphic or image, it should be a call to action. “Shop Now” or “Learn More”, or even “Check Out” or “Add to Cart” are good examples.
The parts of the page you want your customers to interact with should be obvious and prominent. If you’ve got too many elements cluttering their at-a-glance view of the page, your design is competing with itself and working against your goals. This can be easy to do even without meaning to, so it never hurts to consult someone or get a fresh pair of eyes to look things over.
3 – Simple Category Structure
This is going to be easier for some businesses than others, of course. When someone comes to your store, there’s a good chance they’re looking for something. They may not be looking to make a purchase right this second, but if they can’t even find the item they’re looking for then the chances they’ll buy something are zero.
Making your categories easy to navigate helps your customers tremendously. Most online clothing stores, for example, tend to organize into a just a few top-level categories: Men’s, Women’s, Kids’, Accessories, etc. For most clothing stores, this is the best way to make sure people find what they’re looking for. That way your customers know which category is going to have the clothes they’re looking to find.
Another way to organize your categories would be by material or by brand. For example, if you were selling countertops you might choose “Marble”, “Granite”, “Stainless Steel”, and “Tile” as your top categories. If you were selling computer accessories the brand might be the obvious choice, “Samsung”, “Apple”, “Dell”, etc.
4 – User-generated Content
We’ve gone into user-generated content in depth here but it is important enough to give a brief refresher. Do your customers give you reviews? Feature them on the site. That’s additional information for future customers and extra content for your site that’s original and free. Do you have customer testimonials or tips? Find a way to feature those as well! The more content your site has, the more likely it will be considered a useful resource, both by search engines and by your site’s visitors.
5 – Showcase Positive Reviews
We’ve previously covered why it’s important to not delete all negative reviews. After all, you want customers to recognize that you’re honest! That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t feature the positive reviews. As long as they’re not the majority of reviews, it balances out in the favor of more free “user-generated content”.
Does your site have a carousel/slideshow on the home page? If so, you can use a positive review to promote one of your popular products. Alternatively, you could add a few stellar reviews to the bottom of the page, or your category pages. If you do email marketing you could even add them to your next round of emails. This can be just the thing to help someone who is on the fence about making a purchase decide to go ahead with their decision.
6 – Consistent Branding
Make sure your look is professional and consistent. Is your page’s color scheme compatible with your company’s logo? It needs to be the same on every page unless you’ve got a really specific reason why there needs to be an exception Make certain that you can easily determine what site you’re on no matter what page you’re viewing. Your text should be the same font across all pages or your site will look messy and unprofessional. What about sizes and colors, are they consistently the same? This reassures the customer that you’re a professional retailer who will reliably fill their orders and provide good customer service if needed.
7 – Live Chat
Many retailers will benefit from having this on their store, in fact many stores have found it invaluable. It can give you the ability to answer customer questions as soon as they have them. The personal touch this can provide makes a huge difference to your customers’ decision to purchase in your store instead of waiting.
If you’re using BigCommerce as your shopping cart platform, there are a number of chat apps you can integrate into your store, or include in your next site design request if you’re using a design and development service.
8 – Let Customers Know How to Reach You
It is surprising how many online stores still don’t have basic contact information available on their site. One can find sites that lack any sort of contact information, not even an email address or phone number! If your customer has a reason to reach out to you about a past or future order and they are unable to find a way to reach you, it’s a sure bet they won’t be making their next purchase through you.
Adding clickable phone numbers, full address, and email contact information in the footer is crucial to assisting customers to engage with you. Even if a customer doesn’t need to contact you, seeing that they can is a confidence booster in your brand.
9 – Keep Them Coming Back
Do you reach out to former customers with sales or specials? Maybe offer seasonal coupon codes, or tell them about upcoming specials on popular products? A good email marketing setup can help you with that.
Apart from getting your emails to be automatic and match your branding, you can also add the ability to save wishlists or loyalty programs where people can earn points with each purchase towards some sort of reward.
10 – Keep Them Updated
Make sure to let customers know when their package has shipped. Try to give tracking information, when available. If they email with a question about shipping, reply promptly. Sure, this is basic customer service advice – but we have all experienced what happens when something goes wrong and one of the links in this chain breaks. It can sour your relationship with a customer quickly.
11 – Feature Sales and Promotion Prominently
Are you having a sale, or just want to feature some of your products? Holiday special deals, new items, or having a clearance on backstocked items are all deals that customers love to shop for – but they’ve got to know about it! If you’ve got a homepage carousel or slideshow, that’s a great place to feature your deals and promotions. Or perhaps you’d rather have a banner across the top or bottom of a page, or all of your pages, to let people know about the deals they could be getting for a limited time only.
An eye-catching graphic to promote your specials will go a long way toward helping increase the average number of items per purchase. If you do email marketing, you can also include your specials in your targeted sales emails.
12 – Offer Targeted Upsells and Promotions
Have you ever added an item to your cart when shopping online only to have it provide you with a list of suggestions? “You may also like” or “People who bought this also bought” are a couple of examples of this. These are built-in features of BigCommerce.
Similarly, upsell suggestions are common with many online retailers. Buy an air freshener and get 10% off a pack of refills, or buy a coffee maker and get a free sample of a premium house blend of coffee, these are all targeted to the specific purchase or display of interest on the customer’s part. With the right platform, implementing something like this into your store can be easy and effective. oBundle can help with adding these types of customizations to your cart page.
13 – Establish Trust
Does your site have a dedicated SSL certificate or another form of secure checkout? Do you have a badge from your payment providers and security certificate issuers visible at the bottom of your page?
Websites that have these things tend to have a much higher conversion from visitors to actual sales than sites that do not have these displayed. In some cases up to 70% more! The more you can do to ease people’s fears of making purchases through your business online, the more likely they are to shop with you.
14 – Spellcheck and Grammer Check
Sure, this one seems like a really obvious one to most people, but there are still many ecommerce businesses out there with noticeable misspellings or errors that can really stand out to your customer. Even if you’ve gone over everything carefully and double-checked every bit of text on every part of your site, it’s a good idea to have a few other people look over it and point out any spelling or grammar mistakes you might have missed. It can take a little time and maybe even be a little embarrassing, but remember that this is your business – you can’t afford to have potential customers getting a negative impression right from the start! A simple wrong “your” can lead to a customer leaving the store.
15 – Content
One phrase you’ll often hear on the Internet when talking about marketing or having a successful website of any kind is “Content is King”. You might not think this matters as much for an online storefront as it would for, say, a popular gossip blog or news site, but make no mistake – content is important to any website that wants visitors to go to it!
The range of things you can do to increase your content is very wide. You can do something as simple as expanding your product descriptions and category or brand information. You can increase the related information about your business and what differentiates you from your competition using your “About Us” page or have a Frequently Asked Questions page for common questions that you receive about some of your products or services. You could even go the extra step of having a blog on your store for providing information, advice, and announcements about specials or new products.
This can be a lot of effort to go through if you’re doing it by yourself. If it seems too daunting, there are professionals out there who can find specialists in your industry to handle the tedious writing process. In addition, this means that you can also use that text in your email marketing mailers. Having content is a great way to attract people to your site who weren’t otherwise going to visit it.
An online business can be tough to manage sometimes, but you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself. If you’re like many small to medium businesses you are limited on time, money, or both. Many times, updating your website or improving the customer experience while shopping is something that you know is important, but you just don’t know where to get started with only a limited amount of time and money to spend on the project, for more of the latest tips on ecommerce, check out this guide to IRCE 2019.
Some of the points mentioned in this article are quick and easy enough that you can probably tackle them on your own without much fuss. Some tasks may be better to delegate or hire someone to take care of for you. Either way, streamlining your customer experience is always going to make a difference in your bottom line.
oBundle is a team founded by former-Bigcommerce support engineers with a passion for entrepreneurship & web development. Our specializations include custom front-end functionality and design, API application development, and data upload. A sample of our clients includes Harvard Kennedy School, Carrington Farms, and Discount Electronics. We love working with businesses who are serious about taking their success to the next level. For more information or a free 30-minute consultation, contact us here.