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How to optimistise your retail site

How to optimistise your retail site

By Matthew Tod, CEO of Logan Tod & Co
Online retailers are always updating their sites to generate the most profit by maximising sales opportunities. While many feel they have achieved this and others struggle to do so, it is imperative that e-tailers consider all avenues when looking to adapt their websites.
Looking back over Christmas, the busiest shopping period of the year, the annual Logan Tod Shopping Index has revealed exactly what shoppers are looking for and where e-tailers are missing out on opportunities to optimise their sites in the best way possible. 
What are the basic targets e-tailers should consider to optimise their sites? It is important to note that all shoppers, male, female, young and old, want the ecommerce basics done well, regardless of the type of shopper they are.
The Logan Tod Shopping Index has found the following top four features to be most valued by shoppers:
1. Good site search

Almost 60% of shoppers questioned said that it was most essential that e-tailing sites have a good search facility that helps them find what they are looking for. Try a simple test, search for “Fred” on your site and see what happens.

If your search engine says “We don’t sell Fred” and gives a blank set of results you have a problem. A good search engine would say “Fred is a word I do not recognise, did you mean Red?” and return a list of products which match “Red”.
2. Delivery information

Over half of shoppers felt that it was crucial that e-tailers provide adequate delivery information.  “I want it now!” is the mind set you have to deal with. As a consumer I’ve found the product I want but gratification will be delayed by delivery, and that makes me think of going to a shop instead.

So ask yourself: Do you show delivery costs as soon as I add to basket? Do you show time to deliver? Do you say “if you order now your goods will be despatched today”? Do you have options for next day, fast and slow delivery? What about gift wrapping?
3. Product availability

Some 55% of shoppers felt that e-tailers should keep them updated on product availability. It is an issue of trust- a consumer has to make a leap of faith when ordering that the merchant has the stock. If you do then show it! If it is not in stock, tell them when you think it might be – but always make sure you offer good alternatives as the “I want it now!” mentality still applies here.

Keeping information on product availability can also be a useful selling tool as if something is selling fast, and you will sell out it can be used to your advantage to close the sale e.g. “This product is selling fast, order today to guarantee delivery”.
4. High quality text and images

Over 40% of shoppers referenced the importance of good copy and images. This often sounds like an obvious point, but how many sites fail this? It is the most basic requirement of any merchant– provide enough information to sell your product! 

A good example of a company that does this well is Amazon. They use lengthy product descriptions, images and user reviews.  Well written product information drives interest, especially if it adds something more than the usual manufacturing descriptions.
So, having reassessed the above points you need to think about who you are targeting- the people who shop a lot online.

We call them heavy shoppers and the Logan Tod Shopping Index revealed that this group of shoppers did 75% or more of their Christmas shopping online. They made up 25% of all Christmas online shoppers, but account for more than half of the money spent.
This type of shopper has requirements beyond the basics and, over the two annual surveys, we can see the growing importance of two areas in particular.

1. Persistent shopping baskets

Some 18% of heavy shoppers felt that it is beneficial to have persistent shopping baskets- these do not lose all the products consumers have put in them when they leave the site.

This is very useful for heavy shoppers who will move from site to site looking at products and information before returning to a store to buy. If you do not keep the products in the basket for at least 30 days you run the risk of losing sales.

2. Reviews
Some 17% of heavy shoppers noted that reviews of products and services from other customers help them make decisions about purchasing. These provide consumers with honest opinions on products and often answer questions relating to the products which are often not mentioned in the descriptions.

Including customer reviews also provides consumers with confidence about the products they are purchasing ensuring the rates of refunds stay lower.

Many of the above points seem logical, but with so many e-tailers not getting the basics right there is a lot of room for improvement.  Tailoring your website to cater to heavy shoppers needs means you can ensure a bigger slice of the pie and make sure rates of purchases increase.

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