Before smartphones and the internet, window shopping was a great way to spend an afternoon. Walking around a shopping center and looking at displays inspired fashion choices and gift wishlists. And every once in a while, it was enticing enough to make you go inside and learn more about what you saw. If the price was right, you walked out with a new item or two. If not, it was something to save up for or reconsider in the future.
Now that same process happens somewhere nearly every second of every day. However, the decision to purchase or leave items behind is done whenever, wherever. That translates to a lot of opportunities to expand a brand. Considering the stiff competition in the digital marketplace, though, it’s difficult to provide an e-commerce experience that stands out. Here are a few ways to improve yours and convert people from digital window shoppers to paying customers.
Don’t Forget About Existing Customers
Acquiring new business is an exciting challenge for any entrepreneur. You’re determining whom to target, where to reach them online, and what offers will entice them the most. It’s a great goal to have. Yet if it comes at the cost of disappointing your existing customers, you may be doing more harm than good.
Your tried-and-true customers love your product or service. They visit your site on a semi-regular or regular basis. They’re advocates of your brand because of their experiences. As such, they deserve some special treatment. That’s where retention marketing efforts come into the picture.
Maybe you explore a rewards program to acknowledge your most loyal customers. Perhaps they earn points for each purchase and can move up to tiers with even more benefits. Or you simply further customize your site with special offers unique to them. All of these approaches can make customers feel valued by your company and further strengthen their affinity with your brand. In a world as competitive as e-commerce, that kind of loyalty and advocacy is nearly priceless.
Review Your Customer Journey
Whenever a person goes on an e-commerce site or downloads an app, they’re beginning a customer journey. They’ll land on the homepage and likely be encouraged to create an account or sign up for notifications. They’ll have access to deals and be able to browse. Each step of their digital shopping journey is — or should be — carefully crafted to encourage the intended business outcome.
That flow can then be tailored by audience segment, targeting new or existing customers, to improve their shopping experience. Some companies then leave it at that. They set and forget the experience their customers have on their site or app and fail to revisit it. That likely means they’re leaving money on the table.
Don’t make that mistake. Use a tool like Google Analytics to discover what search terms customers used to find you or the blog or review that sent them. This information will allow you to tweak your first touchpoint to focus on their specific interests and search intent. By making your initial appeal more relevant to them, you’ll have a better chance of drawing them deeper into your sales funnel. Reviewing the pages they visited will let you further customize their experience, rather than treating them like indistinguishable members of the same segment.
Prioritize Site Speed
Who hasn’t gone to a website looking for information, only to be met with a seemingly never-ending loading screen? Maybe you refresh the page or disconnect from a potentially slow Wi-Fi connection to resolve the issue. Most people won’t. They’ll simply go back to their search results and find a site that delivers what they’re expecting.
Roughly 50% of e-commerce shoppers will abandon a site that takes more than six seconds to load in search of something else. That means half of your site traffic could be gone in half a dozen seconds or less. For a digital-first retailer, that kind of loss isn’t sustainable and can dramatically hurt business.
Given this strong tendency to abandon slow sites, site speed should be a top priority for your company. Good content, relevant information, and a cool aesthetic are all great things to have. But if you’re deciding between intricate, video-heavy web designs and site speed, the choice is clear. Site speed has to come first, as few things will help or hurt your business more.
Optimize for Website and App Functionality
When online shopping, you have a variety of options available from many stores. You can shop on a laptop or tablet from a traditional web browser. You can explore the website using a browser app on your phone. Or you can download a store’s app and shop from there. They’ll typically all provide the same information and allow you to make purchases; it’s just the layouts that differ.
In some cases, though, stores fail to have a responsive web design that creates a cohesive experience in every instance. Or their app will be glitchy and won’t load. The result? Abandoned sites and deleted apps. To avoid this fate, your e-commerce company should invest time and money in optimizing every shopping capability you offer.
Create a dynamic website that automatically adjusts to fit the size of the screen your users have. Highlight the most essential information on your homepage and have a reliable search function to streamline navigation. Continually test functionality and fix bugs as they come up. These practices will ensure your company has a universal shopping experience that encourages repeat business.
Competing in the digital marketplace is no easy feat. Numerous teams with different skills are needed to keep your online business up and running and enable it to thrive. By incorporating one or all of the strategies above, your teams can make a noticeable difference in your company’s performance. That alone makes them well worth the extra effort.