Steps to Improving the Online Shopping Experience

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Online spending in Britain has jumped by more than one quarter in the past two years, according to new research from the UK Cards Association. UK households spend on average $5,900 (£4,611) online, which is more than individuals in any other country, including Norway ($5,400) and the US ($4,500). So how can you make sure that consumers find shopping on your website as convenient and enjoyable as possible? Here are three tips on how to stay ahead in the competitive British retail landscape.

1. Bridge the Gap Between Mobile and Desktop Spending

The user experience across digital devices is a decisive success factor. Whether shoppers are interacting with your brand via smartphone, tablet, desktop or a combination of them, the shopping experience needs to be frictionless and convenient or customers will take their business to a competitor that can readily deliver the unified experience they are expecting.

Ecommerce success is largely about implementing strategies to keep customers engaged by utilising the strengths of the different platforms. While people are buying on mobile websites and apps a lot more (up 47% from last year), consumers are three times more likely to complete a purchase on a PC than a phone. Mobile devices are still more commonly used to research products on the go and to make smaller purchases. Big ticket transactions are more likely carried out at home on a desktop computer.

Shoppers often create wish lists or use the online shopping cart to store items as they transition between devices, with the final purchase completed on a different device at a later time. Sending emails reminding them of the favourited items or what was left behind in the shopping basket can be an extremely efficient way to convert a shopper to a customer.

Going one step further, you can even tie in bricks-and-mortar operations to deliver a true omnichannel experience. Equip your sales assistants with information on a customer’s purchase and browsing history combined with in-stock items and trending products. This enables them to deliver a highly personalised in-store shopping experience and successfully guide the customer to make a purchase.

2. Market to a Segment of One

Personalisation has evolved far beyond addressing customers by name. The appeal of providing experiences that are more specific to an individual’s needs are pretty obvious – what is less clear is where to start. As with anything, it is important to learn to crawl before you can run with personalisation. Where should you begin? Email is one of the most effective tools to communicate with your customers and to drive traffic to your website. To achieve more personal, higher performing email campaigns, you should start by segmenting your database.

Segmentation allows you to deliver the most relevant content to each customer and use every touch point as an opportunity to offer additional value. The deeper the segmentation, the better the increase in performance. But even simple segmentation (like sending different offers to male and female customers) will lead to an uptick in email performance. For more sophisticated personalisation, you will need a marketing automation platform which enables you to efficiently segment your database based on any criteria you like. You can then create emails for each individual segment with subject lines, content and calls-to-action that speak directly to those in the segment.

3. Keep Things Simple

Two of the three biggest reasons for abandoned purchases is frustration with payment options and payment processes. This is why a simple checkout process is key. Try to remove as many hurdles as possible, such as offering a guest check out instead of requiring shoppers to create an account. Third party services such as PayPal One Touch and Apple Pay make it easy to spend online quickly by eliminating the need for shoppers to enter payment and shipping information.

Try to replicate the in-store experience online. While functionalities such as product videos or 360-degree image rotation have been around for a while, new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality make it even easier for shoppers to get a feeling for the product online, allowing them to try the product on or out as if they were in a physical store.

Furniture retailer Made.com is trialing a conversational rather than sales-led approach so customers can get the immersive experience of the showrooms online. It enables customers who are browsing to click on an icon on the website to chat with an in-store assistant via text or a live stream to clarify specific questions, such as if the selected sofa would fit through their door. The live shop feature increased conversion to 15.9%, compared to an industry average online conversion rate of 0.95%.

Finding ways to differentiate yourself and enhance the online shopping experience is critical in terms of keeping customers engaged. By staying close to your customers and offering them a memorable online shopping experience you will successfully secure sales.

About Saima Alibhai

About Saima Alibhai

Saima Alibhai has over 10 years of experience in the marketing technology industry, working alongside clients internationally in the UK, Europe and Latin America.

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