By the year 2021, worldwide retail ecommerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion. (Shopify)
What does it take to run a highly successful ecommerce business?
Every ecommerce business owner is asking this question. Unfortunately, there is no fixed answer to it. But, there is a solution. The ecommerce industry is highly competitive today, and there is one key differentiator that separates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones – customer experience.
In this blog, we will explore several ecommerce best practices that will help you keep you deliver customer experiences that maximize conversions and boost sales.
Customer journey mapping
Customers buy experiences, not products. A customer journey is a complete experience a customer goes through while interacting with a brand.
Brands must map customers at every step in their engagement. Mapping a customer journey includes tracking and understanding customer behavior at every single touchpoint. Here’s how you can create a customer journey map:
Step 1: Find out customer goals and expectations
Brands must identify and narrow down the goals of every customer. They must also ensure that their customers’ goals align with the goals of their business. Once they do this, they can create experiences that enable customers to cruise through their website effortlessly, and along the way, make interactions that are relevant and tailored to their needs.
Step 2: Identify their touchpoints and channels
Whenever your customers visit your website, you must identify which pages they visit and spend the most time on. Find out which channels different personas use, what their preferences are, and deliver the same experience across all channels.
Step 3: Monitor customer behavior
You need to monitor the behavior of your customers on your website and find out the channels they come from.
Step 4: Inspect the process
You must frequently test and check what your process looks like for the prospects and customers.
Step 5: Identify the pain points
At times, customers come across specific difficulties while making a purchase on your site. Find out the pain points like low-resolution images, complex site structure, slow page loading speed, lengthy checkout process, lack of customer support, and others. And find out the solutions to these problems.
Slow-loading sites increase the abandonment rate by 75% (Baymard Institute)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Customer journey mapping
What does a customer journey mean?
A customer journey is defined as the total number of experiences that customers come across while engaging with your brand.
eCommerce best practices for homepage
The first thing users do when they land on your site is to explore the homepage. It is imperative to have a user-friendly interface for giving the users an engaging and immersive experience on your site. According to a report, 45.68% is the average ecommerce bounce rate. UX is critical as it improves the conversion rate, builds trust with the users, and increases organic ranking. Therefore, it is essential for you to create an eye-catching homepage. Here are the best practices for ecommerce website homepages:
1. Exhibit your unique value proposition
Displaying the UVP makes you stand out of the competition. UVP is essential as it informs the customers about the reason they must make a purchase from you, which subsequently increases their chances of conversion.
2. Create a special offers section
Promoting special offers can generate a lot of revenue. It attracts customers who look out for deals, and brands must create an easily accessible section to highlight offers and deals.
3. Ensure site security
Many customers are worried that their details will be extracted and exploited. Therefore, you need to ensure your customers that your brand is secure by inserting a renowned trust seal on your homepage.
4. Display the important information upfront
Before making a purchase, 67% of customers check the return policy. They need to have certain information right at the start, as it influences their purchase decisions. Therefore, it is essential to display your shipping, return policies, and other critical information above the fold on the homepage.
If you require account creation during the checkout process, 23% of people will abandon carts immediately. (Baymard Institute)
5. Personalize the homepage
It is imperative to provide personalized recommendations to your website visitors. Brands can use visitors’ browsing and purchase history and provide recommendations based on previous actions. Personalized customer experience can increase customer lifetime value.
6. Have a clear and simple design
Customers dislike web designs with too many images, products, and CTAs. They don’t like being bombarded with surplus information that complicates the decision-making process. Remove images that are not needed and have a clear and simple homepage design. It makes it convenient for the customer to find the product they want.
7. Create a mobile design
Mobile commerce can boost sales; therefore, brands need to design their homepage keeping mobile in mind. Most people shop on their mobile devices, and it is imperative to make mobile UX a priority.
8. Ensure the homepage loads quickly
Customers dislike sites where the pages take a long time to load. They expect everything instantly, especially on a mobile site. A delay of just a few milliseconds can reduce conversions by 7%. Therefore, find out what is affecting your speed, by running a speed test and resolve the issues to boost the speed of your site.
9. Display testimonials
While visiting a website, customers like to read the reviews and testimonials of other customers, as they get to know the quality of the product, services, and brand.
10. Have a live chat option
With AI and ML, it is easier for ecommerce sites to have a live chat option for the customers. A live chat option helps resolve customer queries immediately, leaving an overall positive impact on the customer.
Almost 61% of shoppers don’t finish their purchase when trust logos are missing. (Shopify)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): eCommerce best practices for homepage
How can I make my ecommerce website more attractive?
It is critical to make your site appealing to customers. You must have a well-designed layout and high-resolution product images. In your ecommerce layout, you must have a design that is simple, eye-catching, and easy to navigate. The size of the pictures should be good enough for the customers to view what they are purchasing. Dynamic content can be used for product photos. Lastly, while creating your site, you must keep in mind the mobile design.
How can I improve my ecommerce website?
Here’s how you can improve your ecommerce website:
Site navigation is very important, as customers can instantly find what they are looking for and are more likely to make the purchase. Test the navigation flow and enhance your site navigation.
40% of customers abandon sites that take more than 3 seconds to load. Therefore, you must ensure that your site is fast.
3. Product images and product description/copy
People will not make purchases if the quality of product images and descriptions are poor. It is very important for ecommerce businesses to produce images that customers are able to view on their mobile or laptop.
Around 84% of customers trust online reviews. Therefore, you must ask previous customers for giving feedback and reviews of your products or services.
5. Paid or free shipping
Not many customers like shipping charges, this mostly prevents them from making a purchase. Most ecommerce retailers cite ‘free shipping with conditions’, as it can factor into the cost of the products.
It takes a lot of hard work to convince someone to visit your site. To increase your sales, you must suggest products that complement the product they have selected.
7. Security badges
Customers don’t trust online brands that easily, as they may have not physically seen or experienced the products. Therefore, it is crucial to display the security badge that is provided by your merchant to prove the authenticity of your brand.
8. Social proof
Nowadays, social proof is necessary if you have an ecommerce site. Customers make purchases and influence others also to do the same through social media. To increase your conversion rates, it is necessary to display your customer reviews, likes, recommendations, product alerts, and purchase counter.
By 2021, there will be 2.1 billion digital buyers worldwide. (SmallBizGenius)
9. Call to Actions (CTA)
Your main objective should be to make users add products to their cart. Therefore, create a clear CTA button (Add to cart). The size, color, location, and copy of the button all drive customers to make a purchase.
10. Cart abandonment software
You can integrate cart abandonment software, as it can help generate offers to lure the users when they leave your website. Free shipping and small discounts can encourage them to stay and buy something instantly.
11. FAQ page
Create an FAQ page for the customers, as they have so many questions regarding your products and services. If you can answer the queries on the spot, they are more likely to stay and make purchases.
12. Live chat
Live chat is even better than an FAQ page. Instantly helping the users can encourage them to make purchases.
To increase traffic and sales, you need to start blogging. Blogging can attract long keyword searches, and content used can help users convert. It also gets you social exposure, as it provides useful/valuable information.
How can eCommerce customer satisfaction be improved?
An ecommerce customer satisfaction can be improved by personalizing every customer experience, providing 24/7 live chat, establishing a user-friendly return policy, creating an FAQ section on your site, providing a billing history and analyzing, and measuring customer satisfaction.
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eCommerce best practices for category page
The most important area to concentrate on to increase the conversion rate on your ecommerce site is the category pages. To create a pleasant shopping experience for the users, you need to organize the category page design in a way that encourages them to make purchases. Here’s how you can optimize your category page:
1. Enhance the loading speed
Customers lose interest or exit ecommerce sites when the loading speed of pages is excruciatingly slow. Therefore, you must optimize your back-end configurations and use the speed optimization tactics to get the ideal loading time on your site.
2. Use consistent product images
Consistent, clear and high-quality product images are a must in an ecommerce site. Displaying uniform and consistent product images on a single page can enhance the look and feel of the category page.
3. Incorporate ‘Latest Arrivals’ to the category pages
Another way to engage users is by adding ‘Latest Arrivals’ or ‘New on Store’ to your category page. This will let your visitors know about the latest products available on your site.
4. Incorporate interactive filter
Adding interactive filters can help users narrow their choices and take them swiftly to the conversion funnel. The filters in the category pages should be used meticulously. You need to add filters according to the category type.
5. Use CTA buttons
There are two functions of CTA buttons in an ecommerce store, that is, to lead the customer to the conversion funnel and to guide them to take the next step. At times the CTA button is omitted on the product category listing. It is assumed that customers are already aware of how to get to the product page and will add the products to the cart themselves. But that is a common misconception, as they prefer to be directed to the checkout with a CTA button around the product. Single product shoppers find this process quite easy as it takes them directly to checkout.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): eCommerce best practices for category page
What is a category page?
A category page is defined as a webpage where similar subjects or themes of products are organized in such a way that makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for. It functions as an index of all the pages and posts pertaining to a specific subject.
What is a product listing page?
A product listing page (PLP) is a webpage where the results of an internal search or category pages are listed/displayed. It functions as a catalog for the eCommerce site. It displays all the products within a category or when a filter is applied or available for sale.
What is a category tree?
A category tree comprises one or more main/root categories which have multiple subcategories or nodes under them. For instance, in Amazon (US) ‘Baby’ is the main/root category, while ‘Activity & Entertainment,’ ‘Apparel & Accessories,’ ‘Baby & Toddler Toys’, and more are subcategories or nodes.
eCommerce best practices for product page
The main aim of ecommerce websites is to promote sales, and this can be achieved by creating an excellent product page. According to research, an average of 2.42% of ecommerce site visits converts into purchases. In order to increase sales, you need to implement one or a combination of multiple conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques to your product pages. Here’s how you can make stellar product pages:
1. High-quality images
Use high quality and relevant images on your product pages. It provides visitors with visual details of products. You must also see that the images download fast, and it must be mobile friendly too. Product videos can also be used to engage customers.
2. Multiple images
It is better to display multiple images of a single product as it increases the credibility of the site. Visitors prefer checking the product from all angles (a 360-view), as it gives them a glimpse of the complete product they are about to purchase.
3. Product features/ description/ information
It is important for ecommerce sites to provide a detailed description of the products. Visitors would like to know what exactly they are purchasing, especially the size, quality, quantity, material, ingredients, etc. of the product. It is also very important to provide customers with various information like the details of the manufacturer, price, shipping and return policies, ratings, estimated delivery, and more.
4. Cross-sell and upsell other products
You can help customers to purchase other related products along with the main product by providing them with various options on the product page itself. Suggesting similar products can enhance the browsing experience and increase sales.
5. Product reviews
Customers are more likely to make purchases after reading the reviews provided by other customers. The product page must contain product reviews and images to give prospects an insight into the product they are about to purchase.
6. Product FAQs
Adding product FAQs can clear various doubts and queries of customers. It also gives them an insight into the product/ service before they proceed to make the purchase.
It is imperative for ecommerce sites to have a CTA button on the product page. You must ensure the CTA button is visible and in contrast with the color scheme of the rest of the page. It should stand out and grab the attention of the visitor.
8. Compare functionality
In case you are offering discounts on products, you must display the original price as well as the discounted price. Display the percentage savings, as well as the actual savings, as this can entice the customers to make the purchase. Position the price details next to the CTA so that it can influence them to make a quick decision. You can also use the compare functionality between two or more products.
9. Add to wish list
One of the best practices is to include the CTA button Add to wish list for customers who would like to create personalized collections of products they may want to purchase. They can save these products in their user account. This gives them the opportunity to review and survey similar products and then make the best decision or simply purchase later.
10. Breadcrumbs to navigate back to the category page
Add a Back or Go Back button to your product page, so that customers can go directly to the category page to explore other categories and products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): eCommerce best practices for product page
What is a product page?
A product page, also known as a product detail page (PDP), is defined as a webpage of an ecommerce site that showcases a product’s description.
How do you write a good product page?
One can create a good product page by adding product images, product name, CTAs, search bar, product description, wish list, price, and more.
What makes a great product page?
Ecommerce businesses like to give customers the best information possible about their products to convince them to make the purchase. To make a great product page, you need to have a clear CTA, high-quality product images, right images of the product, variants of the images, right details of the product, right price of the product, well-branded product page, exclusive content, social proof, and a good understanding of their customers.
What makes a good product description?
The product description is one of the most important aspects of a product page. You need to write a good product description that can persuade the customers to make a purchase by understanding your target audience and relate to them, give them complete information about the product, describe the benefits of the product, use a natural or human tone, alluring vocabulary, make it comprehensible and add high-quality images to support the description.
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eCommerce best practices for cart functionality
A customer selects a product by clicking on the Add to the Cart CTA button on the product page. It is the last step in the purchasing process. Most customers abandon their shopping carts when they find their shopping cart page very complex, which can be very frustrating for ecommerce businesses. According to a report, ecommerce businesses lose 75% of their sales to cart abandonment, annually approximately $4.6 trillion worth of products are abandoned, and only 2.86% of ecommerce site visits convert into a purchase.
It is important for ecommerce sites to interact and present information to customers when they add products to their shopping cart. They need to know and understand what they are about to purchase; therefore, you need to implement these best practices for your cart functionality:
1. Product summary
Concise information of the product must be displayed in the cart page, especially the product name, brief summary of the product, price of the product, quantity, image of the product (high-quality thumbnail), order number, in stock, shipping details, progress indicator, option to remove the product, total price of the product and subtotal of products.
2. CTA buttons must stand out
The most important elements of the cart page are the call to action (CTA) buttons. Each time a customer clicks them, it brings them closer to the final purchase. You must ensure that the CTA is clear, comprehensible, and visually striking.
3. Display the total cost
You must be very clear about the total cost of the products as customers want to know how much they are paying. Most customers abandon their cart because additional costs like taxes and shipping charges are added later.
4. Check-out before Register/Sign-up/Create an account
Customers get irked and abandon their cart when they are made to register or sign-up right before checkout. You need to let them complete their checkout process as a guest, then later ask them if they want to create an account.
5. Exit intent
Many customers abandon the cart before completing checkout. Therefore, to convince them to stay and make the purchase, you need to add exit-intent pop-ups. You can provide them with offers or discount codes and lead them back to the checkout.
6. Upsell and Cross-sell
According to a research report, upselling is 20 times more effective than cross-selling. You must upsell or cross-sell products without cluttering the cart page.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): eCommerce best practices for cart functionality
What is a mini cart?
A mini cart is an icon that reveals the order summary (color, size, quantity, price) when one places the cursor on it.
What is an online checkout?
Making payments online for products and delivery through electronic devices on an eCommerce website is called an online checkout.
eCommerce best practices for payment and checkout
Many customers quit the website when they have difficulties during checkout. And if the problem persists more than three times, they consider it as a bad experience and stop shopping on that website.
Here’s what you can do to prevent checkout abandonment.
1. Guest check out option
Give the customer the option to checkout as a ‘Guest.’ Later you can recommend them to register with your brand. Making it compulsory for customers to register and log-in in order to make purchases can simply drive them away.
2. Social login option to register
Most consumers have social media accounts. Therefore it is easy for them to register, as all their details are automatically filled, and they don’t have to waste their time registering or repeating your details.
3. Provide multiple payment options including wallets
Most ecommerce businesses do not provide many payment options for customers or customers are unable to find the payment option they prefer. Few customers leave when their card gets declined. Therefore, offer multiple payment options like credit cards, debit cards, cash/cash on delivery (COD), Paypal, wallets, mobile payments, and others.
4. Pick-up from an offline store
For fast delivery, you can provide customers with the option of ‘pick-up’ from the store or outlet. Customers can physically go to the outlet and pick up what they have ordered. This gives them an omnichannel customer experience.
5. Single page checkout experience
Customers don’t like it when their check out process is complex and lengthy. They prefer instant check out. Therefore, you need to give them a single page checkout experience by putting their shipping details and summary of their products on the same page as the checkout page.
6. Confirmation after purchase
After giving their personal information, customers should know the status of their orders. It is a good practice to clearly inform them about the status of their order by writing a confirmation or thank you note/email summarizing their purchase to inform them that the order has been received.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): eCommerce best practices for payment and checkout
What is a checkout page?
A check out page is a website page where customers initiate their payment process for their orders.
How can I improve my checkout experience?
You can improve your checkout experience by providing customers the option to place the order as a guest, providing multiple payment options, providing pick-up options from offline stores, add social login to register, provide a single page checkout and confirmation note/email.
Purchase complete! Acquisition stage – what next?
Once the purchase is complete, the cycle does not end there. You need to retarget customers by sending them an email or message on their mobile devices thanking them for making the purchase, along with the order summary, shipping information (delivery and tracking)and then a personalized email recommending more personalized products based on their previous purchase/purchases. Here’s how you can encourage customers to return:
1. Effective email marketing
You can increase customer retention by post-purchase email automation. You need to segment your customer list based on their demographics and behavioral patterns and send them targeted, relevant, and personalized emails.
2. Create post-purchase campaigns
After segmenting your customers, create campaigns accordingly, and send them post-purchase emails. You can also create follow up campaigns and reactivation campaigns to keep them coming back for more.
3. Ask for reviews and feedbacks
You can also create a campaign asking customers to rate, review products, and give overall feedback.
4. Encourage referrals
You can encourage referrals to bring back customers. This way, they can be your brand ambassador and encourage their friends and relatives to also make purchases from your brand. Offering special discounts can encourage referrals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Purchase complete! Acquisition stage – what next?
What is a post-purchase experience?
Post-purchase experience is a strategy to always keep in touch with your customers even after making their purchase.
How can I improve the post-purchase experience?
You can improve the post-purchase experience by analyzing the customer behavior and demographics, responding to their reviews and feedback, instantly initiating their refunds and returns, providing them loyalty rewards, sending them reminders and product recommendations.
What is post-purchase dissonance?
A. Post-purchase dissonance is when a customer is dissatisfied with the product or brand and regrets making a purchase from that particular brand.
Top eCommerce trends to watch in 2020
1. Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics
The most exciting ecommerce trend is artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics. Predictive analytics aids in analyzing previous and current data, providing predictions for future events. It sends certain emails to customers by analyzing important data procured, for instance, open rates, conversion rates, and engagement rates. AI can learn the habits and demographics of a customer, thereby giving them a personalized experience. With the power of AI, automated emails and content can be sent to the customer.
2. Website voice search
Another upcoming trend is voice search, that too powered by AI. AI can provide a unique experience to the customers by providing them dynamic content. For instance, when a customer visits the site and searches for something, it provides them with tailored content about the product and other related products or categories like the latest in style, new releases, bestsellers, etc. The level of personalization is remarkable. It shows the users’ intent as soon as they visit the site. Such information has resulted in more accurate and effective retargeting.
3. Social selling/commerce
Social networking has become the most powerful tool for the ecommerce platform. Most brands use these social media sites to get a competitive edge over the rest. For instance, they use Facebook’s paid advertisements to generate high revenue. Brands see social media as the best place to engage and redirect potential customers to their sites.
4. Chatbots and private messaging
Consumers these days have moved to private messaging. With the rise of private messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and others, many brands are taking to private messaging with AI-powered Chatbots. Chatbots can answer queries, offer product recommendations, discounts, resolve customer’s issues, and complaints.
Conversion rates from mobile apps are 3x higher than mobile websites. (Marketing Land)
Re-commerce is also known as second-hand ecommerce, which is an online market for used products. This trend is going to boom because of the increased focus on sustainability, the ability to purchase second-hand products or sought-after products for less money and to keep ahead with the trending fashion.
6. Dynamic pricing
To stay ahead of the competition, ecommerce companies have to monitor the prices of their competitors and analyze the seasonal and previous demands to get an insight into how they can price their products. The main aim is to pin down the optimal price for any product and at any time. ecommerce companies will soon be competing for personalized pricing. Therefore they need to embrace dynamic pricing quickly.
7. Drone delivery
Major companies like Amazon, UPS, and Dominos have already started experimenting with the latest drone delivery technology. Soon more and more businesses will be adopting this technology for local delivery or short-distance deliveries. According to a study, this year, there will be 7million drones in the air, and sales will reach new heights.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Top eCommerce trends to watch in 2020
How successful is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a failure. Dropshipping merchants estimate that their success rate is only 10% in their initial months. Dropshippers fail as they are unaware of the risk factors involved, delay in shipping, bad customer support, and many other reasons.
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