This is part two in a two-part series. You can read part one here.
As eCommerce continues to grow by double digits year over year, it’s becoming a far more competitive place than ever before.
If you want to corner a decent chunk of the over $100 billion this market segment is worth, you have to work harder to provide a better shopping experience online and off. Some things you absolutely have to do are customer-facing, others are invisible to shoppers, but allow you to make hugely intelligent decisions about how to move your business forward.
Even More Tips for Holiday Site Improvement
In this second part of our two-part series on improving your site performance, we’ve come up with even more ways to improve your eCommerce site’s perception and delivery, both in the virtual world and in the more physical one. Yours is a place where both intersect, so it’s vital to balance them.
Check out these tips for improving your customer experience this season:
- Stress test your servers. It doesn’t matter how good your site is if no one can access it during the yearly feeding frenzy we call the holiday shopping season. Retailers all know to expect a huge uptick in shoppers, that’s no different online than it is off and it pays to be ready. If you haven’t already done it, stress test your servers now and increase your server bandwidth or processing power if you’ve not planned for enough. Seasonal spikes in sales will more than offset the additional cost of renting this extra room from your provider for a few months.
- Be data-forward and watch your KPIs closely. It’s impossible to know how well or badly you’re performing if you don’t have any defined metrics. This is why defining your key performance indicators (KPIs) is so crucial, but it’s even more important that you track them with great care. KPIs can help you make all sorts of decisions about holiday sales on the fly, from whether or not it makes sense to run a flash sale to determining the right time to reorder a popular item to avoid backorders. This is the season that pushes eCommerce shops to their limits, but well-defined KPIs can make it so you’re able to predict vital trends.
- Simplify everything, especially contact. Although you’d think it would be second nature for an eCommerce site to make it easy to check-out and call for help, too many continue to hide important decision making information until the end or near the end of a transaction. This doesn’t save money, it only frustrates your customers and drives them into the arms of your competition. If they can’t determine shipping before the end of their check-out, visitors are forced to register with your site to complete a transaction or you hide the telephone number for customer support, you’re hurting yourself and wasting your customers’ time. Make it easy to shop with your site and you’ll see orders pouring in from the web and through your telephone customer service department.
- Be ready to help with live telephone operators. Believe it or not, a significant percentage of your online shoppers still need offline help to complete their orders. No matter how complete your website is, there will be someone who wants to confirm details with a human or is afraid to put their credit card information out there. For these folks, you need a team of helpers to make the process easier. If your in-house team can’t handle the holiday overflow, investing in an answering service contract can expand your team without forcing you to hire more in-house help that you may not have the physical space for.
- Don’t forget the suggestive sales. Even on websites that are self-service, you can employ a piece of software that can help predict what customers may want based on their current purchase or shopping history. Amazon.com does it every day and so can you. Instead of finding these tools annoying or boorish, eCommerce shoppers love them and spend more when this software is involved.
Getting started…It’s not uncommon for anyone to be shopping online and laser focused on one thing, only to discover they needed additional items to make it work (for example, someone buying a Blu-Ray player might not realize they also need an HDMI cable to connect it to their television). These customers will be grateful that your software was able to offer them items they hadn’t considered and will often make additional purchases thanks to your helpful site.
Even though the holiday shopping season is already underway, you still have plenty of time to make small changes that can add up to massive points from customers. Your goal should always be to make shopping easier and more complete for your visitors, no matter what they’re buying. There are so many ways to make positive eCommerce site changes, but these are a great place to start.