This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.
Although last year’s cyber shopping season was record-setting, this year’s may be a little more challenging for eCommerce businesses.
Consumer confidence dropped in October, down almost five points, but rose again in November, to 93.8, beating a projection of 91.6. Even though customers are more confident now that the Presidential election is over, you’re still going to be competing for a finite amount of money in an increasingly crowded market.
Tips for Better eCommerce Impressions
You can make a huge impression and a scoop up more customers if you take some steps to improve your site’s shopping experience right now. We’ve got some tips for being a better eCommerce vendor this holiday season. They should keep your orders rolling in and the phone ringing right off the hook:
- Invest in tighter security. Sure, not all your shoppers will notice when you go the extra mile, but enough will that it’ll make a difference when it comes to logging into their customer accounts and entrusting you with their valuable credit card information. Unlike standard HTTP protocols, HTTPS creates a secure connection by sending a security key to the connecting system before any sort of delicate information is transmitted. You may have heard that HTTPS is both costly and slow, but both are only partial truths. The cost of an SSL certificate can be greatly reduced by only using HTTPS for parts of your website that deal in sensitive data, like your shopping cart, while speeding up the experience. Shoppers based in your server’s home country will probably not notice a performance difference, it’s the international customers who may suffer, if anyone does at all. However, eCommerce shoppers have come to expect a little bit of a delay when buying online during the holiday season, so the slightly slower speed of a secure site shouldn’t phase them at all.
- Focus on mobile users. You may not be really invested in mobile, but you should be. Increasingly, shoppers are buying online using omnichannel outlets or mobile devices, or both.First, ensure that your customers can move between their desktop to their devices without losing their shopping carts, then optimize a version of your website for mobile. You simply cannot rely on a customer wanting to use your full site on their mobile device, this is a clunky, outdated method of reaching this growing demographic. They need sites that are responsive to their devices and are designed with mobile eCommerce in mind.
- Take a long hard look at your returns policy. It’s never too late to update your returns policy, but considering how important these are to eCommerce shoppers, doing it today can make a huge difference to your holiday shopping season outcome. Really examine your returns policy, make sure it makes the most sense for your store and clarify anything that isn’t absolutely transparent.Shoppers want to know you have their back if they end up with the wrong color or the wrong size item during the stressful holiday season and a clear, easy to understand returns policy is a subtle way to reassure them.While you’re at it, you may want to investigate adding reverse logistics to your fulfillment services. Having a dedicated department for that task will speed up customer return handling so they can get their refunds faster and you can move merchandise back to your sales floor at a rapid pace. Planning for returns rather than making them an afterthought improves the shopping experience for everyone, including your staff.
- Continue to simplify your website design. It can be really tempting to nest menus inside of menus and create levels upon levels of sorting for your products, but this is really neither necessary nor is it desired by your customers. Remember: When shoppers approach a new-to-them website, they’re looking for two very basic things: easy navigation and faster loading speeds. Overly complicated websites aren’t easy to navigate, which is a huge turn-off for a number of online shoppers and the many small pages can really make loading the site slow to a crawl.
Keep it simple. As you’re working on site tweaks this holiday season, keep simplicity in mind. You may know just where to find all the knit gloves listed on your site, but approach it like you’ve never seen it before.
If your visitors can’t figure out the navigation in a few short seconds, they’ll find a site that makes more sense to them. Eliminating unpopular items from your catalog can also be a great way to speed it up. So if you know that a certain SKU hasn’t sold in a month, for example, discount it and get it off your server to help streamline your eCommerce operation.
In part one of this two-part series, we covered some basic ways to improve your website this holiday season. Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll find even more ways to give your customers the ultimate holiday season shopping experience.