I’ll never forget the joy and relief the first time I did all my holiday shopping online. No lines at the mall, no parking, no lugging boxes to and from the car. It took all the stress – and friction – out of the shopping process.
As the e-commerce industry has matured, innovation has focused on eliminating friction points for busy, stressed customers:
- One-Click Shopping reduces the number of steps to put something in your shopping cart and check out
- Same Day and Next Day Delivery satisfies immediate needs and saves time from running to the store or mall
- Improved product search makes it easier to find items in a large ecommerce catalog and get just what you need (or want)
- Improved site performance so online shoppers don’t waste time or deal with poor page performance
- Mobile friendly sites engage shoppers on the go and to satisfy their micro-moment needs (which are typically driven by mobile interactions)
The net result is that e-commerce now totals $340 billion in spending and counts for more than 10% of total retail sales.
This is great for shoppers. For back-end business users? Not so much…
This innovation has been great for shoppers and consumers, but has also created a vegetable soup of technologies for business’s to manage – CMS, PIM, ERP, OMS, VM, AVS, POS and more!
It also means businesses have had to invest in staff and resources to become “technology shops” rather than focusing on their product category core competency or customer segment they serve. This technology fueled innovation has also come at a high cost thanks to traditional on-premise software with hefty licensing and implementation costs (not to mention hosting and ongoing support).
That’s why the cloud is the next revolution – to reduce friction on the backend
Over the past few years we have seen solutions come to market with platforms designed for smaller online retailers. But recently we have also seen the industry’s largest players “go all in” on cloud – including Oracle’s 2015 launch of the Oracle Commerce Cloud and Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Demandware.
Cloud based e-commerce is going upmarket and is about to become the most disruptive force since the first virtual shopping cart came online.
One of the key factors driving this transition is that the market has matured and the processes and software that enable companies to get online quickly and generate revenue have become standard best practices. This has enabled e-commerce software providers to take proven models and processes and leverage economies of scale to build solutions that help online retailers get to market quickly without the traditional headaches.
Some benefits of this new paradigm include:
- Faster time to market thanks to a proven, scalable implementation processes
- Common functionality and skill sets across platforms that enable rapid business user adoption
- Standardized technology reduces the need for complex integrations or customizations
- Configurations instead of coding make implementations faster and less dependent on technical resources
- Robust functionality delivers traditional enterprise level features to a broader customer base
All of this means reduced friction for businesses that need to reinvigorate their e-commerce programs and compete in an ever increasing busy marketplace.
Reduced friction means a new focus on experience instead of tools
In the long run, this cloud driven e-commerce revolution is going to go full circle and come back to the customer by reducing friction for them too. In a future where back-end users and business managers have access to flexible, scalable e-commerce technology, it means they can return to their core focus and brand value promise – their customers.
It’s a premise that once the tools are easy to implement and use, you can focus on your core purpose and differentiating your products and content in the market rather than trying to figure out how to use the technology.
An e-commerce revolution is coming. While technology is the driver, it will change how online retailers run their e-commerce businesses and will drive new skill sets. Early adopters will ramp up quickly to compete with established market players.
And thanks to this revolution that will reduce back-end friction, we will see continued growth throughout the entire e-commerce marketplace.
Conversion rate optimization for e-commerce sites is the art and science of getting more web visitors to take action and becoming a customer or a lead. It includes getting web visitors to register, opt-in, download, refer a friend, and click to chat or making a purchase.
To ramp up your conversion rate, it’s not a matter of guessing and hoping. Specific tactics need to be implemented to reach the goal of conversion rate optimization. Here’s a list of five tactics to take your conversion rate to the next level.
Home Page Optimization
Using analytical tools like Google Analytics, you can determine which categories and products are performing best. Once these are identified, the top-selling products should be on the home page in recommended products or banner sliders.
Also, consider adding a professional video of one of the products. Videos command attention and help the user make a connection and draw a conclusion about the product. For example, if you’re selling handmade artwork, show a video of an artist crafting his work. Clearly showing prospective customers different ways they can place an order will also cater to those who have buying preferences, such as ordering by phone, online or by fax.
The navigation menu should make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. The category structure should be specific and include links to information that users would actively search for. The number of categories should correspond with the size of your inventory. If you create too many categories, it will only frustrate the user.
In addition, categories should be created based upon what people are searching for. You can find out what visitors are searching for by using Google Analytics product search box. Using categories based on popularity of products and users’ preferences instead of traditional categorization can have a positive effect on the conversion rate.
Product Page Optimization
Today, online consumers want to experience a website and not just browse it. Good product images add life to the product and capture attention. The default image should be high quality. Instead of using generic pictures, opt for images of real people using the product. Don’t settle for just one image either. Show multiple images and from different angles. The product’s description is another important element in improving the conversion rate. Here’s some tips to make product descriptions more compelling:
- Highlight important features at the beginning of the product description.
- Avoid hype.
- Offer both a detailed and summary description. The detailed description will help those on the fence come to a buying decision, and the summary description will satisfy those who are in a hurry.
- Use bullet points to make the information easier and quicker to read.
- Link out to information on return policy, shipping and FAQs.
The effective use of symbols, icons and text will help avoid users abandoning the purchase during the checkout process. Using these elements on the checkout page will help overcome objections and buyer apprehensions.
The checkout page should reflect site security, transparency, payment methods and FAQs. Letting your customers know that your site is secure enhances buyer confidence, and showing all payment methods will cast a wider net. Be sure to have a persistent shopping cart on your site. If the user goes to the checkout page and finds the cart is empty, they are likely to abandon the shopping cart instead of going through the buying process again.
Be sure not to make users enter the same information twice. For example, it’s just plain frustrating for buyers to have to enter their shipping address in two information fields. Avoid this step by offering a checkbox for those who want to use a different billing address. Streamlining the buying process will have an impact on positive conversion rates.
All of the above methods should be tested regularly to ensure that your pages and overall store is converting optimally. Testing can be done in various ways.
The most common testing method that you will encounter is A/B split testing. A/B split testing is exactly what it sounds like, you’re taking two variations and then testing them with your audience. The idea is to have a key metric in mind to help measure success, this could be the number of signups, for example.
If you want to dig deeper into more advanced conversion rate optimization methods, using multivariate data analysis is a smart way for e-commerce owners to identify buying trends and analyse specific data for market research.
Businesses can make intelligent decisions on consumer buying patterns, target groups and what products to offer. The data displayed in columns and rows makes it easy to analyse the information in a meaningful manner. It’s just another way to get the information needed to take your conversion rate optimization to the next level.
This is a Guest Post by Owen Sondergaard, who is an avid writer and blogger. Writing for CAMO Software, Owen has over 8 years experience in the data industry.