E-commerce best practices change rapidly. In fact, thanks to advances in optimization and technology, many strategies we formerly used to optimize websites are obsolete today. A trove of e-commerce data has also enabled us to know much more about consumer experience and preferences. In 2020 and beyond, here’s some food for thought.
What Is E-Commerce Optimization?
E-commerce optimization is a website-wide approach to improving an e-commerce store. People often talk about conversion rate optimization as the ultimate goal.
To optimize effectively, you must assess your entire website in terms of how it contributes (or doesn’t) to a positive customer experience, leading users to make purchases or perform other desired actions. When considering conversion, think beyond the sale. For example:
- New email registrants.
- Wishlist and shopping cart product additions.
- Social media shares.
- Other company-specific actions of value.
When faced with increasing competition, making optimization a top priority can be particularly valuable. Don’t forget mobile. The latest data shows 53% of the world’s population is now connected to the internet, and 92.6% of connected individuals use mobile phones to go online. More people online equates to more e-commerce opportunities.
E-Commerce Optimization In 2020
Some e-commerce optimization tactics remain the same, like using high-quality images, having easy search and navigation, using cart abandonment software, and having trust signals that let your customers know your store is safe.
New trends in e-commerce optimization are heavy on technology. Here are a few of the strategies we’re seeing:
Chatbots: Chatbots aren’t new. However, within e-commerce stores, they’re increasingly popular. Data on chatbot use is significant and reveals a global compound annual growth rate of 24.3%. Why? Perhaps because a sizeable number of e-commerce customers state they prefer chatbots as a means for getting questions answered online. Another study puts the figure at 34%.
Optimization and chatbots go hand in hand in terms of customer experience. Initially, chatbots were unable to support complex questions and missed nuances of language, coming across as robotic instead of human. Chatbot technology has evolved. Today, chatbots increasingly understand context and nuance.
Optimizing your chatbot should be a continuous process. It will enable you to more easily phase out frustrations customers have expressed about chatbots in the past.
Personalization: Personalization in e-commerce means that the shopping experience caters to the individual customer rather than a broad audience. Polls show 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard service, and among e-commerce customers, people are more likely to buy if their experience is personalized.
Effective personalization strategies often employ:
- Targeted messaging, including emails triggered by certain behaviors (cart abandonment emails, welcome emails, order follow-up emails, etc.).
- Personalized homepages displaying products and services that match a customer’s preferred categories, recently viewed products or suggested items on their homepage.
- Geospecific information — location data allows you to direct customers to your site, or if you have a brick-and-mortar location nearby, you might include information on the store’s hours and availability of products.
- Tailored offers for products and services that match customer preferences, are on their wish list or complement something they’ve already bought.
Environmental consciousness: While less technology-focused, environmental consciousness is topical, and for good reason. Half of digital consumers polled by Global Web Index responded that they consider environmental impacts when making buying decisions. People are more conscious and are asking more questions about the products they consume, particularly millennials and Gen Zers.
E-commerce businesses can optimize for these concerns by reviewing products and practices, considering changes and addressing relevant social concerns.
Does your company support any of the following best practices?
- Carbon offset for shipping by purchasing carbon credits.
- Environmentally friendly packaging.
- Ethical sourcing — this might include aspects such as fair trade or only using vetted factories with safe labor practices and fair pay.
- Environmentally considerate products.
- Repair programs for products that need it.
If so, highlight them. Doing so builds brand trust and influences buying decisions.
The Evolution Of Social Media In E-Commerce
Today, 61% of North Americans access social media via their mobile devices. This makes optimizing the transition from social to a mobile version of your website critical.
E-commerce features have been around on social media for a while. Facebook’s “buy” button and the Instagram checkout feature are memorable examples. Today, social media continues to change the way people buy. E-commerce platforms allow store owners to easily link their sites to social media platforms so people can buy directly through those channels.
Breaking down demographic information is important too. Doing so allows you to connect to your users in the proper context, which is particularly important to younger audiences. Today, 41% of TikTok’s rapidly growing userbase is 16-24 years old. TikTok and other popular social channels recently began testing shoppable links in the U.S., leaving the door open for further e-commerce functionality.
E-commerce stores are taking note and similarly creating seamless experiences for shopping via social channels.
One of the most important factors of optimization is trust. Downtime can be very costly and negate all the work you have done. Even a small period of downtime is costly as measured by lost sales and reputational damage. When optimizing your e-commerce experience, there’s no alternative to a website that is up and running well.