Guest Article by Victoria Greene, Victoria Ecommerce
As of January 2018, online sales make up to 16.5% of all retail sales in the UK. As high street chain after high street chain reports financial struggles, the eCommerce opportunity just seems to get better and better.
While this has created loads more potential customers for your online store, it’s also led to more brands on the market and greater competition for business. So, it’s more important than ever that you ensure your customers are having a first-class experience when visiting your online store.
This post outlines four eCommerce features you can implement that will help you to stay ahead of your online competitors.
1. Purchasing products in one click
More and more of your customers are using one-click purchasing to buy products. One-click purchasing allows customers to purchase a product without worrying about a lengthy checkout process – all that’s needed is name, address, and card information. In today’s frenetic mobile-first commercial landscape, speed is of the essence.
Amazon are the masters of one-click purchasing and have used the technique with enormous success. But their patent on one-click purchasing patent has now expired — and there are plenty of options out there for you to add it to your own online store in 2018.
Even if you don’t go the full hog and go for one-click purchasing, you will definitely want to revisit your checkout page to ensure you’re providing an easy shopping experience.
Here are some easy ways to speed up the payment process for your customers:
1. Bring the checkout process down to one page
2. Allow guest logins
3. Allow easy social media registration
4. Save customer details for next time (but make sure you’re storing all this data securely)
5. Allow customers to save multiple addresses and card details
6. Autofill everything possible
7. Integrate with common payment providers like PayPal
8. Use dynamic fields that are easy to edit
9. Allow customers to go back and forth in the checkout process
10. User test your current setup to pinpoint any key areas for improvement
When it comes to improving your checkout experience, look to high volume transactional websites for inspiration. They have had to perfect their user experience (UX) over thousands and thousands of transactions — and have often learned the hard way what not to do.
This checkout page below from GWR displays a lot of useful information and fields in a short and snappy format:
The user is even given information on the emission savings they make by choosing to journey by train. It’s a simple and efficient checkout workflow that keeps as much data as possible on one page.
2. Embrace social commerce
Social media and eCommerce can work together in order to boost your online sales. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are just a few of the core social media platforms that allow you to try out social commerce for your business.
Whether or not you have the technology to sell directly from Instagram or not, you can definitely use social media to serve your customer community, publish relevant content, and work with social influencers.
Men’s fashion store ZeusFactor curate their products around different trends and themes on Pinterest, giving their customers useful style tips. These kinds of trends posts make for the perfect inspirational lifestyle content that people are likely to share and link to.
Online stores such as ZeusFactor use social media to bring products to their customers on apps that they spend most of their time on already. After all, if you know your customers are going to be browsing through Facebook and Instagram, then why not be there with your products and content too? Whether you want to primarily curate, or are happy to become a publisher in your own right — social media gives you the perfect opportunity to engage with customers cheaply and efficiently.
Think about how you can make the most of social media marketing and advertising by investing in visual content that helps show off your products and brand. The whole idea is to create a visual moodboard and ‘teaser’ of what your store stocks — not just push for shares and sales.
Lifehouse Tonics do a great job of creating a visual journey that incorporates both their products and their brand:
Think about all the different ways in which you can present your products to your audience. Take them out of the showroom and show people how they might be used in real life.
On social media, a well-placed stock image with a good caption can also go a long way. Just make sure you choose relevant royalty-free photos and include a snappy caption like a quote or some funny hashtags.
3. Search with your own voice
Are you optimising your online store for voice search?
If you aren’t, then now is the perfect time to start, as voice search is becoming more and more popular thanks to the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. In fact, ComScore predicts that voice search will account for 50% of all searches by 2020.
So what can you do to prepare your store for the era of voice search?
1. Make sure your product pages and category pages have enough content
2. Use structured data to mark up your pages (not as hard as it sounds)
3. Make sure you are using natural language
4. Create in-depth guides and resources to target informational queries like “how do I” etc.
It’s a good idea to experiment with voice search yourself to get a feel for how it works in practice.
4. User-generated content
User-generated content is cost-effective and customer effective!
Instead of just stating what your products can do for people, UGC allows people to leave original feedback. With permission, you can share, curate, and collect images and content that has been created by your customers and fans.
One of the most common forms of UGC? Reviews.
Customer reviews are an extremely powerful tool and can have a significant impact on the value of your business. If you aren’t making the most of UGC in the form of reviews — start now.
Here are some ways to improve your review and UGC strategy:
1. Make reviews prominent on any sales pages
2. Include a customer image gallery
3. Collect UGC on social media
4. Create comparative content and guides
5. Recycle and reuse customer testimonials
In order to run a successful store in 2018, you need to be thinking ahead. Look at how new technology and social trends are shaping the eCommerce landscape, and muscle in to get a slice of the action for your store.