By John Siebert
According to a December 2013 study by Baymard Institute, almost 67 percent of the customers leave your website without making a purchase.
Researches show that two out of every three online customers add items to their shopping carts but leave without making the actual purchase. In the traditional purchase journey, which is commonly referred to as a funnel, the chances of losing a customer increases as they come closer to the purchasing stage, the last stage of the funnel.
On the brighter side, retail sales worldwide (including both in-store and online sales), is set to reach a whopping $22 trillion mark. The retail sales will continue to grow for the coming few years and in 2018 it is expected to touch the $28.300 trillion mark, an increase of 5.5 percent.
Customers Don’t Just Pay for Items but for Their Experience Too
A 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report from Right Now says that ‘86 percent of the customers will pay more for a better customer experience’ and ‘89 percent of the consumers will begin doing business with a competitor if they experience a poor customer experience’.
So, if you want to retain your customers and improve sales for your online store you ought to focus on the customer experience and try building long-term relationships with them. Today’s customers have more choices than ever and they have smaller attention spans. So, in order to attract attention and retain them for longer, you must put in efforts to understand your customers before you push your products or services. Offering high quality products and services is a must, but most customers would remember their shopping experiences. So have solid marketing and sales strategies in place that will ensure the best online shopping experiences, when the customers visit your website.
In order to offer the best customer experience, you need to have a 360 degree approach; this means you need to pay attention to a large number of elements that include the user-friendliness of the ecommerce website, the usability, the check-out process, quality of products/ services, the product descriptions and the customer service.
So, if you have no idea where to start from, here are the top six ways in which you can give online shopping a revolutionary facelift:
- Optimize Website Loading Speed
Shopping cart abandonment is one problem that many ecommerce stores face and one of the main reasons is a slow loading website. Experts say that the website should load within a few seconds; if the website loads slowly, the customers won’t wait. They will switch over to some other website and make the purchase.
Also make sure your website is optimized for the mobile users. Studies reveal that two-thirds of the smartphone users in the U.S use their mobile phones to the main source to access the internet. Online retailers only have a few seconds to grab customer attention, so they must engage the customers in a way that they complete the transaction before leaving the website.
For Amazon, every 100 milliseconds of latency costs them 1 percent in sales; for Walmart their sales improved by 2 percent for every reduced load time.
- Step into the Customer’s Shoes
In order to offer the best customer experience, you need to step into the customer’s shoes to identify the issues that lead to shopping cart abandonment. Ask yourself some questions like:
- How easily can a customer navigate through the website?
- Is the check-out process too complicated?
- How clearly are the return policies outlined?
- Can the ‘Add to Cart’ button be easily found?
Ask a few of your colleagues or friends to go through the buying process and ask them to note down the difficulties that they face. Fix all the problem areas and you can ensure an amazing customer experience.
- Offer Real Life Images and Customization Options
Make sure each of the products on your online store has a high-quality and professional photo. This is one of the main factors of offering a great shopping experience, since it proves the credibility and quality of your store. Make sure the images are of the real products, never use fake ones. In order to improve the customer experience further, you can add some personalization. Indochino, a popular online store offering bespoke men’s suits allows the customers to choose their attire based on the style, color, size as well as fit.
For customers who are yet not ready to make a purchase, provide them with an option that allows them to save items for future reference. This will give them a reason to come back to your site when they are in need of that product.
- Focus on Security
Focusing on the security features is very important if you want to build a successful online store. Along with simplifying the check-out process, it is also necessary that you make the process secured. Your customers would be investing their money, so you need to win their trust.
Make sure you use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) authentication, to ensure the customer data are secured from online theft. Choose a secured and reliable payment gateway to improve the credibility of your website. Google Checkout, PayPal, authorize.net, etc. are very popular and reliable payment gateways, so you can choose one from them.
- Optimize for Mobile Users
According to Nielsen, 84 percent of mobile device owners use their devices for shopping online. Mobile traffic has already surpassed desktop traffic and it continues to grow, so you must also cater to the needs of the mobile users.
Bad mobile shopping experience can also lead to cart abandonment, so you must optimize your ecommerce website for the mobile users:
- Make sure the website is mobile responsive
- Use larger fonts and larger buttons
- Further simplify the check-out process
- Offer Live Support
44 percent of the consumers say having a question answered by a live person in the middle of a purchase cycle is one of the most important features – Forrester
So by implementing online chat functionality in your ecommerce website, you can help your customers get instant help. Your customers can stay connected to you all the time, which improves the customer bonding. For people who like to find answers to their questions themselves, which constitutes 73 percent of the consumers (according to Aspect research), provide a FAQ page where you address the common issues.
Once the customer reaches your site, the quality of shopping experience and usability of the website will determine whether or not they will complete the purchase cycle. So create an intuitive ecommerce website that offers the best customer experience and see the profit skyrocket.
John Siebert is the president and CEO of Tranquil Blue – Shopping Cart Design Tampa that focuses on all kinds of website design, mobile app development and search engine marketing.