When being asked how your business is doing, would you rather smile and say it’s prosperous, or can you already feel a bitter tear showing up in the corner of your eye?
Owning a webshop alone does not guarantee the success of your business unless your mind is wrapped around continuous improvement.
Before you start planning for major upgrades, make sure you’ve checked these five basic things your web store shouldn’t miss.
1. Website optimisation for mobile usage
This should not even be a subject for discussion, but just in case you crawled out of the cave recently, let us break it down for you: recent studies show that the number of users who shop through mobile devices has exceeded 52% of retail website visits worldwide (you can find one example here).
So yeah, instead of complaining about the poor performance of your desktop-versioned website, you’d better get your hands on one of those modern platforms that also ensure mobile responsiveness.
2. Mobile app
Speaking of mobile devices, have you considered developing an application for your webshop? In close connection to the statistics above, it is proven that users spend on average twice the time on mobile apps than on regular mobile-responsive websites.
You can find dozens of articles that list the advantages of having a mobile app for your e-business, but here’s something we can share from our experience as e-commerce consultants: don’t just build an app for the sake of having one. This will not bring you satisfying results unless you truly understand its value and you’re willing to invest in design and performance. Unlike traditional web surfers who will settle for an ordinary website (that looks and moves like it was built in the ‘90s), the mobile junkies have way higher expectations when it comes to the quality of the experience a mobile app should offer.
3. Advanced search options
Do you own an online store? Let’s take a test then. Randomly pick the first three webshops that pop up in your head. Maybe they’re on your “favourites” list or, better yet, maybe they’re your direct competitors. Now open their websites and observe how the search feature works.
Is it well placed and easy to spot? When you type in any key word, does it display multiple results (like products from several categories)? When you start typing in (say, the first 2 letters), is the search engine already recommending products that contain those letters? If you misspell a word (or use CAPS), can you still find what you were searching for? Does the search results page display relevant products? Or, if the product you searched for is not in their offer, can you still find similar products in the results page instead of a drily “we couldn’t find any matches” message?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, it means they nailed their search feature. And chances are they’re making more money than you if you weren’t able to get 6 YESes for you own search feature. Now you know what to do, so go upgrade your search module.
4. Recommendation tools
This became an edgy subject for two reasons: one — because some of the web platforms began developing some sort of recommendation modules for their default product. Then they trick you into believing that module is everything you could ever need, when in fact it covers about 20% tops of what a reliable recommendation module can actually provide (needless to say, the conversion rates reach a maximum of 20% of their true potential); and two — due to the lack of awareness among e-business owners, who seem to have no clue about how much they could improve their conversion rates if only they would choose to implement a performant recommendation engine into their webshop.
A high-standard recommendation tool is AI-based, is built on complex algorithms and should offer you advanced customization options that truly allow you to personalise the communication with your customers. It must contain:
widgets carrying dynamic content, that can be inserted in key points of your website (homepage, product page, footer, checkout). These widgets can be set to track the activity and preferences of your users down to an individual level, thus enabling you to only display content that is 100% relevant for each one of them;
e-mail marketing services, so that you can efficiently communicate with your customers all throughout their lifecycle. Use this solution to convert them when they register, when they abandon products in their cart, when you haven’t heard from them in a while, when you plan for special offer campaigns, on holiday seasons or other special occasions and the list could go on and on.
There are a few successful recommendation engines on the market and we strongly suggest you aim for those instead of deluding yourself with standard, not-even-half-way-there modules incorporated in web platforms.
5. Checkout 2.1.
Who would’ve thought that the checkout process deserves a second glance? After all, the users who make it this far are one click away from making a purchase, so there’s really no point into improving to this step, right?
You can work wonders with your checkout, for both your customers and your business. Here’s a few ideas on how you can enhance this gateway to successful purchases:
add payment info storage option — use one of those smart and secure systems that allow users to save most of the credit card data in their account so they don’t have to fill the payment form on every purchase. This will improve their experience with your webshop and decrease the cart abandonment rate;
enable guest checkout — don’t be one of those narrow-minded decision-makers who believe that forcing customers to create an account will boost their profit. The truth is, most users find this practice annoying and abusive and admit dropping out on certain purchases when they couldn’t check out as guests. Slamming the door on guest users will only make them slam the door on you;
add recommendation widgets in cart & checkout — we talked about this earlier. Inserting relevant up-sell/ cross-sell product recommendations (as well as product bundles and other special offers and discounts) in the cart and checkout is guaranteed to increase the average order value and also show your customers that you put some thought into tailoring your offer in accordance with their preferences;
fast checkout = return customers — the checkout process shouldn’t look like an inescapable labyrinth. If reaching the “Place order” button is an easy target, rest assured your customers will come back to you in no time. Bring as many necessary user data from their account into checkout, so that most of the required fields are pre-filled. We also recommend displaying all checkout information on one single page. We’re sure your users will appreciate this time-saving feature.
When scanning the market for these features you’ll notice that there are a bunch of solutions for each one of them, fit for all types of budget. But before you make any decision, be aware of the dangers that come with an “affordable” feature. They’re not cheap because someone out there really cares about your money, but because they’re either missing some important characteristics, or they’re of a really poor quality.
We hope you found this article useful and we recommend you always turn to professional advisory before making big calls for your business. There’s usually a fine line between success and disaster when it comes to important decisions and it is our role as consultants to make sure you don’t learn it the hard way. Good luck! 😃