By Katrina Gosek, Director, Product Marketing Manager of eBusiness Solutions at Endeca.
ECommerce teams today are faced with the difficult task of selling effectively in a rapidly changing environment. Consumers’ expectations are changing at a lightning pace and becoming increasingly sophisticated every day. It is therefore vital that eCommerce teams invest heavily in content and technology, to optimise their user’s experience.
As the series of Forrester Research reports entitled “The State of Online Retailing” illustrate, investments are commonly made in the following areas to convert more browsers to customers:
• Videos, reviews, articles, and in-depth product information that help customers identify the best product.
• Web CMS and PIM tools for consolidating, storing, and presenting content to customers.
• eCommerce Platforms that provide tools for merchandising and processing transactions online.
• Recommendation engines and services that present products and promotions based on historical customer behavior and other variables.
• Advanced search and navigation sort and refinement capabilities that help customers find the best match for their needs quickly and easily.
The Forrester Research demonstrates that companies who differentiate themselves with a superior online experience achieved revenue increases between $260 and $311 million in the first year . In contrast, online retailers who don’t make the customer experience a priority saw high session abandonment, low order values and low rates of repeat visits and purchases.
Developing a Dynamic Storefront
A new strategy is required to effectively incorporate rich content into the user experience. This should be presented in a contextual and dynamic manner so customers begin to realise the benefit. This new approach is called a dynamic storefront.
A dynamic storefront is a combination of best practices for improving the relevancy and the context around which customers make their purchasing decisions. To increase conversions, it leverages the principles of search and navigation technology, recommendation engines, and campaign-driven promotions.
The challenge of delivering a dynamic storefront is in determining the needs of each shopper, on each visit to the site, with every changing goal – and then only presenting the most relevant information given the particulars of that time, place, and person.
Retailers designing a dynamic storefront experience should first focus on sections of their Website where (1) they have received enough information about the customer to understand what is relevant and where (2) they have the biggest opportunity to influence the customer’s purchase decision.
This is revealed once you break down the customer’s shopping experience, by thinking of a commerce site as a collection of different types of page:
• Home Page - A common starting point. The page should profile well-known products and deliver time-based promotions based on past behavior and purchases
• Dynamic Pages - Here, shoppers share some indication of their needs by specifying categories, search terms and product attributes. At this stage a customer’s decision can still be influenced, so it is important to present relevant content that will guide customers quickly to the right type of product
• Product Detail Pages - Now the shopper indicates that this product might be a likely purchase and so the retailer should offer assurance of the right choice and similar alternatives
• Shopping Cart - The shopper’s decision is made and the retailer needs to encourage purchase with relevant offers that inspire immediate action, or promote additional related items
• Purchase Process - Interaction here should be all about speed and ease
• Static Pages - A shopper who might want to know more about you or contact you will look for pages that contain relatively current content
It is the dynamic pages that stand out – here is where the customer is still trying to make a decision, and where the retailer has enough information to deliver content that can influence that decision. This is where customers spend the bulk of their time, and where the critical evaluation process occurs.
The experience within these dynamic pages can make the difference between a sale and an abandoned session.
By delivering the most targeted and contextually relevant content to every potential customer throughout the dynamic pages, retailers can better learn what’s motivating each unique customer visit, turning every shopper interaction into a conversion opportunity.
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