Retail is a $20 trillion industry at the global level, while online retail makes up only about 20% of sales. We’d like to believe that e-commerce is the future, but these statistics show that people still prefer to do their shopping in physical stores. As a customer, when you step into one of these stores, it’s like stepping into a different world. You forget your worries while you’re surrounded by branded displays and trained staff ready to assist and answer all your questions. There’s a reason they call in retail therapy.
With that being said, having a strong online presence has become a must for any retailer. Most customers, even if they like to take trips to physical stores for shopping sprees with their friends, they still want to first look up products and special offers online. To get them to make purchases, you’ll need to translate what they like most about their shopping experience into digital format. So what’s the solution to stagnating online visits or high rates of shopping cart abandonment? Let’s take a look.
Website Appearance and Functionality
First impressions matter. With so many e-commerce competitors, no one will want to spend their time trying to navigate a terrible looking website. To make a good impression, you need to increase the aesthetic appeal of your homepage by finding the right balance of visuals and content for your target audience. If right now, your website looks like an underdeveloped mash of pages in clashing colors, you’re hurting your bottom line.
You’ll first want to direct your attention to how your brand is presented as a whole – the logo, tag lines, and voice. Next, we recommend that instead of trying to create an original design that no one will understand, you opt for simplicity – neutral backgrounds that let the products take center-stage with few intrusive elements like pop-ups or excessive customizations for holidays or sales. If you use e-commerce platforms such as Magento or popular Magento alternatives like Shopify, you’ll notice that the emphasis is placed on intuitive design that makes it easy for customers to navigate your website and find the information they need to make a purchase.
A beautiful website that takes a long time to load will not get the appreciation you’re hoping for. Visitors will simply not stick around long enough to become customers. Your biggest threat won’t be your competitors; it will be the back button. As a general rule, you should try to keep the load time under three seconds. That’s what people are used to and what they’re come to expect. Anything more than that and they grow impatient.
This means that you need to be careful when incorporating third-party applications as they may slow your site down. Even if the features they provide give your site some benefits, these benefits may be outweighed by the customers you lose when your load time increases.
Search, Add to Cart and Pay
Nothing is worse than trying to buy something online and ending up on a website where you can’t figure out what to do. No matter how beautiful the design, keep in mind that your customers need to go through the purchasing process seamlessly, or they will abandon their online shopping cart. The most important three phases are: search products, add them to the cart and pay.
The buttons for these three phases should be immediately visible to make the process fast and easy. For example, you also don’t want to force registration in order to complete a purchase. The fewer steps your visitors need to go through, the better. Offer all the relevant information in as few pages as possible. Avoid redirecting them to endless FAQ pages. Many potential customers abandon their shopping cart because of high or unexpected shipping costs, so make sure they know what lies ahead early in the process.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is convenience, so although you will have some customers that like to spend hours browsing through hundreds of products, most will be looking for the “search” bar. They already know what they want. Now they just want to go through the three phases we mentioned above. What they’ll hate the most is searching for the search bar, so make sure it’s visible on your landing page.
You’ll also want to invest in good search technology, so you don’t risk having customers leave your site because they think you don’t have the product they’re looking for, or they’ve grown impatient because the search function is too slow or shows irrelevant results. Site search is often a neglected aspect of the online shopping experience, although it’s the best tool you have to connect the user’s intent to the right content. It will not only improve customer experience, but it also provides you with valuable feedback. You’ll know what your customers want and can tailor your future marketing strategies accordingly.
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
Now that we have smartphones, shopping via desktop or laptop is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Most people think of something they’d like to buy, do a quick search on google, browse through a few online stores until they find a good offer, and then finish the process. They’re usually doing on their lunch break or when they have a few minutes to kill. It’s very uncommon for someone to sit down and dedicate an hour to shopping online.
This means that online retailers need to provide mobile-friendly versions of their websites. Have you ever tried to browse through a website that isn’t mobile-friendly from your phone? It’s almost impossible. You keep having to zoom in and zoom out, and it doesn’t take long to lose all patience and motivation. And why would customers struggle on such a website when they hundreds of alternatives? Make sure your online store works on as many devices as possible and consider how the layout of your content will transfer into smaller screens. This means you have to be careful with what images you use, pop-ups, and menus.