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Website optimisation: How can retailers beat the bounce and boost the basket?

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15th Apr 2015
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The latest data from the US shows that personalised customer experiences helped the retail industry to a record-breaking last quarter, with 7.7% year-on-year growth according to the National Retail Federation. By comparison, UK spending was up only 1.6% in January compared to a year ago.

In the UK, many retailers are proficient at optimising their website, but true personalisation means increasing the relevance of a customer experience, to give website visitors a more engaging service, tailored to their interests, needs and context.

Using a combination of historical and real-time data allows ecommerce marketers to glean meaningful insights that result in more relevant shopping experiences driving loyalty and encouraging customers to share their positive experiences with others.

There are four key areas that personalisation can impact online businesses, giving them the growth to outperform competitors:

Bounce rate

With the last quarter showing an industry average bounce rate of 30.2%, retail businesses need to prioritise how they can keep customers on their sites. Initial impressions are extremely important with a number of options available. The bounce rate is a metric that retailers not only need to know – they need to know how to improve.

To beat the bounce rate, retailers can personalise the experience using information gleaned from previous visits or by showing content relevant to the expressed interest of new visitors from search terms used or referring clicks. Understanding consumer engagement on social media can also improve bounce rates and lengthen the time spent on a site. For instance, if fans and followers of a particular site are adding images of products to their personal Pinterest pages, why not use this information to deliver relevant promotional offers solely for Pinterest visitors?

Add-to-basket rate

The average 'add-to-basket rates' are higher than they have ever been over the last year. The current average rate is 8.35%, but with top performers able to achieve a rate of over 20%, there is still plenty of room for improvement. These retailers are able to make the act of getting a customer to add an item to their basket look easy.

'Dormant' shoppers can be a particular challenge for online retailers, especially in the run up to important shipping deadlines, around Christmas for example. Pop-up lightboxes with free shipping codes can help boost conversions. These lightboxes can also be triggered using a time counter to measure a customer’s time spent on a site.

Running multiple promotional strategies based on different customer journeys is extremely effective when understanding how to increase add-to-basket rates. Rather than offering the same experience to all, testing a group of personalised promotions on the site can help to understand which strategies work best across different audiences.

Basket-abandonment rate

Even after a retailer has got a customer to stick around on the site and add something to their basket, marketers still need to crack the final code: the abandoned basket. The fact is, the majority of customers still don’t actually complete a purchase – the industry average basket abandonment rate currently sits at almost 70%.

Those brands that excel at getting customers to make their purchase instead of just dreaming about it, use a mix of on-page refinements, user experience improvements and device specific checkout pages.

Refining the checkout page with estimated delivery dates, free shipping messaging and one-page offerings for repeat customers is a great start. Basket abandonment rates can also be reduced by offering shipping discounts to customers who don’t live near a bricks-and-mortar store or for those who are outside the standard delivery deadline.

Do your tablet customers behave differently to desktop customers? To finalise tablet purchases, a less distracting checkout page without footers, online chat and social media links can streamline the process to increase conversions.

Conversion rate

The end game here, of course, is conversion. Rates are on the increase with an industry average of 2.84%, but top performers are able to reach heights of 6% by being tactically astute.

When creating promotion campaigns it’s important to be consistent across all customer touch points, including email, promotional banners and the landing page. If you send a 'VIP' message of promotions via email, the same messaging should be used throughout the recipient’s visit to the site to remind them of the offer.

To take the next step in offering an entirely personalised experience, retailers need to understand all the data they have available to them to tailor the experience. The danger of not doing this is that you will fall behind those that do have a deep understanding of their customers, who can offer more targeted, pertinent products. There are a number of tactics to boost key performance rates but it’s usually a joined-up combination that provides effective results.

Mike Harris is VP EMEA at Monetate.

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