Creating a more attractive retail experience
While marketing is important for generating new customers and re-engaging existing ones, it isn't everything. This is especially the case for retailers – effective promotional efforts may get customers in the store or to the small business website, but it will take more than that to secure the sale.
This is why many retailers are looking to improve the shopping experience first and foremost. Marketing is a part of this, with many incorporating customer service into their social media strategy as an additional means to engage unhappy buyers. However, there are other aspects retail merchants can improve if they want to create a better experience.
For example, a recent report from comScore suggests 58 percent of customers would like to see ecommerce websites offer free or discounted shipping. Approximately half (42 percent) want better exchange or return policies. Merchants may also want to consider offering a broader inventory, as 38 percent want a better variety of products. Online tracking was another strongly desired perk at 38 percent.
Customer service, as mentioned, is another area retailers could improve. Live customer service – either on a small business website or via social media – is a feature 36 percent of customers would like retailers to investigate.
Other popular requests include: Easier checkouts (34 percent), more transparency with return policies (33 percent), flexible delivery options (29 percent), a broader number of shipping options (28 percent), the ability to create a persistent account (26 percent) and carbon neutral shipping options (23 percent).
"This is important intelligence that can be put to use immediately," said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS's chief sales and marketing officer, which assisted comScore with the report. "Online retailers of any size can win more business during this year's holiday season if they prepare now to offer a better shopping experience."
While these features can help retailers generate more sales, these are more advanced objectives that should be addressed after the basics. For example, free shipping won't help if a retailer's website is so poorly designed customers can't figure out how to get to the checkout in the first place. Similarly, customers won't be able to take advantage of broader product offerings if an online inventory is difficult to navigate.
Perhaps the best piece of advice to keep in mind when designing a internet retail website is the importance of keeping it simple. Some of the greatest and most profitable internet retailers had simple yet tremendously effective websites. Amazon, John Lewis, Lulu's – these sites can all be characterized by easy-to-understand navigation systems and designs.
"Your customers don't expect to be confused by a super innovative and inconvenient navigation or non-readable text," Onextra Pixel explains. "Inappropriate innovations are bad for the reputation of ecommerce websites. Your main goal is to help people to find what they are looking for but not to surprise them with mind-blowing design ideas."
"Don't overload your store’s home page with a complex navigation structure. People won’t spend precious minutes learning how to act on your web store even if you sell exclusive and rare things," the news source adds.
How have you traditionally encouraged people to come to your retail website? What service innovations have you implemented?This entry was posted in Advanced, Branding. Bookmark the permalink.