E-Commerce Link: Boost Customer Experience
After a challenging holiday season, merchants face seemingly paradoxical imperatives in 2009: Continue e-commerce growth while holding the line on expenses. Now more than ever, merchants must invest wisely to stay competitive, and continue to improve and innovate online.
Some merchants will have to grit their teeth and invest in new technology platforms. But for those merchants whose e-commerce foundations are strong, there are gains to be made by tackling smaller projects that can make a difference in conversion and revenue. The overall focus must be improving the customer experience.
With an understanding of the site experience your customers expect, you’ll gain a clear vision of the priorities for 2009. Rather than focusing on “bells-and-whistles” functionality, focus on features that enhance relevancy and utility for your customers—and drive sales.
1. ‘Lite’ Redesign
Let user feedback and analytics data be your guide in deciding where to focus improvements, taking into consideration these potential projects:
• Realign your category navigation. Poor navigation is the most common complaint about merchant sites and the top reason consumers abandon sites, with 33 percent saying they’ll go elsewhere if a site’s navigation is too confusing, according to Internet Retailer. Merchants should monitor navigation performance on an ongoing basis.
First, analyze what’s working and what’s not. Identify top-selling product categories, and remove underperforming ones. Then prioritize category display order by revenue or popularity, and finish by heeding customer expectations.
• Redesign for today’s browsers. With more than 87 percent of Web browsers using screen resolutions of 1024 x 768 or higher, according to ScreenResolution.org, it’s time to move to a design that’s 960 pixels wide. Doing so gives you more merchandising space—a key advantage, given that shoppers are spending less time on sites, according to MarketLive Performance Index data. In Q4 2007, the average time per visit was 7.56 minutes—a year later in 2008 the average time per visit dropped 29.1 percent to 5.36 minutes. Shoppers instantly must register whether your site is relevant to them, and the more merchandising you can show them, the better your chances are they will connect.
Another important change to make to your site is to eliminate left justification. Designers recommend centering your site so it takes center stage, regardless of monitor screen size.
2. Beef Up Product Page Content
The product page is a crucial waypoint on the path to purchase; it’s where browsers become shoppers and commit to adding items to the cart. MarketLive Performance Index data shows that organizing extensive products into easily scanned, tabbed content boosts product page conversion—measured by dividing the number of cart additions by the number of product views—by more than 11 percent.