By Terry Hunter, Managing Director, CyberDMG.
With optimism returning back to the retail sector, marketing budgets are beginning to be upwardly revised this quarter. But how many retail marketers have given enough consideration to what this investment will mean for their eCommerce sites?
The investment may be driving traffic to an online store, but is the site ready and prepared to serve the customers it is attracting?
Let’s consider the figures: 43 percent of all retail sales are expected to be influenced by or made on the internet by 2012; 70 percent of online shoppers admit to making judgements about the credibility of an organisation based on its website
These statistics reinforce the major role an eCommerce site plays in attracting customers and ultimately securing sales for the parent brand. Yet many retailer sites under perform, because they tend to be ‘business’ rather than ‘consumer’ centric; in their information structure, visual design and language. Consequently very little thought is given to the shopper experience.
This may be a symptom of when eCommerce sites were first developed, as ill thought-through digital copies of high street stores. Many brands may still be using the same or markedly unchanged site structures. In a world where consumers are increasingly digitally aware and time starved, these eCommerce platforms tend to fail in delivering the expected shopping experience.
Thankfully online retailers are realising that simply pushing products onto consumers is not the right approach, and are instead placing customers’ needs at the centre of the online experience.
Why is best practice in eCommerce so important?
According to Marketing Sherpa eCommerce Benchmark Guide, the average online shopping basket abandonment rate is 59.8 percent. This equates to only four in 10 people who put something into their shopping basket actually end up completing their transaction. So there remains huge potential for increasing the level of completed transactions, if brands address the reasons why so many customers click away in the first place.
How can this situation be reversed?
The simple fact is that a large majority of brands with eCommerce sites don’t know what their abandonment rates are, or the steps they can take to reverse this issue. However, while focusing on what caused a customer to drop out of the transaction has considerable importance, it shouldn’t be viewed in isolation.
To achieve better insight into customer behaviour, and particularly for basket abandonment, brands must analyse and compare data and information on the site and its performance, and from multiple sources. General metrics such as the most frequent entry and exit pages, and the common paths taken within the site can be combined with insight from campaign management such as Adwords.
Personas can also be used; summarising the typical characteristics, needs, motivations, customer journeys and environment of different types of users, to give a clear indication of how the site needs to reflect different customer groups.
As the range of customers interacting with a retailer can be so wide, primary (or most profitable) personas can also be drawn up, whose needs need to be addressed as a priority over others. This approach is also vital in providing the brand with test cases that deliver a desired result for the complete breadth and depth of interaction contexts, without having to create an infinite amount of user journeys.
How does this benefit eCommerce websites?
Successful brands are already using all available data and information on the performance of their eCommerce sites, all of the time, ensuring the supporting back office processes such as logistics; fulfilment and IT infrastructure are accurately aligned, ultimately delivering an exceptional service and experience to the shopper.
The result can elevate a bog-standard eCommerce site into a dynamic decision engine, even adapting content, features and functions to a consumer’s specific shopping needs. In doing so, why would they ever abandon a transaction again?
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