In a competitive ecommerce landscape, is it still possible to truly differentiate your online store? How can you entice customers to shop with you over the many other retailers out there? In a word: experience. Functional transactions no longer cut it in the world of ecommerce. Retailers must create a captivating online shopping experience that connects with customers and draws them back again and again.
From your social media ads and email communications, to your customer service and order fulfilment, the online shopping experience is influenced by a multitude of factors. While every step of this end-to-end journey is crucial, this article takes a deep dive into how you can specifically optimize the on-site shopping experience to drive conversions. Keep reading for five key features of a successful store.
How to improve the online shopping experience
1. Merchandise for your customer base
Every merchandiser knows that how you sell is just as important as what you sell, particularly when it comes to the online shopping experience. Presenting your products in an aesthetically-pleasing way can catch a shopper’s eye and prompt them to consider items that weren’t previously on their radar. When fine-tuning your merchandising strategy, remember to keep your customer base in mind. Do you get a lot of returning site visitors? Boost new arrivals so they are instantly greeted with your freshest stock. Maybe you’re attracting a lot of new customers lately? Display your best sellers front and center to pique their interest.
2. Make your online shopping experience easy to navigate
Clear, well-structured site navigation is an essential component of the online shopping experience. If shoppers can’t quickly locate the category they’re interested in – and sort and filter their way to the specific products that meet their needs – they’re not going to convert. Ensure your site menu is easy to scan, allowing customers to delve into subcategories when they need to, and collapse them when they don’t. When it comes to filters, check for consistency in sizing and color naming conventions and update your back-end product data where necessary. A good rule of thumb is that shoppers should be able to find relevant results in three clicks or less – carry out user testing on your site to see if your navigation stacks up against this benchmark.
3. Cater to conversion-ready shoppers with site search
Site visitors who engage with the search bar are typically looking for a specific product that they’re actively interested in buying. These shoppers convert at much higher rates than passive browsers, but that doesn’t mean you can simply add site search to your store and wait for the sales to roll in. Your search experience needs to support filtering and search refinements, account for typos and spelling errors, and produce hyper-relevant results for a variety of different search query types (to name just a few critical features). Read more on ecommerce search essentials here.
4. Enhance product discovery with recommendations
Let’s say a customer lands on a product page, but decides it’s not the right result for them. Why force them to click back and resume scrolling when you could make intelligent recommendations for similar alternatives right there on the product page? Your online shopping experience should be effortless, which makes cross and upselling a no-brainer. By displaying more of the products that shoppers have demonstrated an affinity for, you increase the likelihood of conversion. Even better, try suggesting matching items or compatible accessories to enhance product discovery, while boosting your average order value.
5. Make data-backed decisions
Whether it’s in relation to your search, merchandising, or product recommendations, any strategic changes or optimizations you make should be informed by customer behavior. Your ecommerce site reporting and insights are a goldmine of information about your shoppers. Delve into the top search queries, trends in search terms, individual product performance, and demographic data to shape and refine your online shopping experience. You might discover a merchandising opportunity or product development idea that would never have otherwise cropped up.
Deliver an exceptional online shopping experience
Simply listing products for sale may have been sufficient in the early days of ecommerce, but today’s shopper expects much more. Consumers have endless choices right at their fingertips, and they’re more fickle than ever. Online retailers must invest in a buying journey that connects with the shopper and immerses them in your brand. Remember, the objective of your online shopping experience isn’t just to “make the sale.” Your goal is to acquire a repeat customer that becomes a lifelong fan. Ready to learn more? Check out our blog and in-depth guides for more tips on how to improve the online shopping experience.