Sometimes Internet retailers fall into the trap of believing that what is most important is crafting the ideal "experience" for users. And to that we say - hogwash.
Ecommerce is about conversion and while a well-developed and thoughtful digital experience can certainly contribute to conversion, it's vital that merchants never lose sight of this one true key indicator of performance.
Fortunately, since most "experiential" elements can be connected directly to the conversion journey, there are some very well acknowledged elements that can (and should) be optimized in order to ensure shoppers move through the purchasing funnel. What's important of course is to regularly audit these elements in order to assess conversion readiness.
What should your ecommerce enterprise audit to make sure it's delivering an experience that leads consumers to purchase?
+ Images/Visuals: The Web is a visual medium and consumers need to see the products they are purchasing. Are the visual assets being published of a high quality, interactive (zoom-able) and placed in relevant locations?
+ Videos: Consumers are simply more prone to purchase after viewing a video, which makes their development and distribution vital to success. Are these assets being viewed in their entirety?
+ Color Use: The psychological underpinnings of color are crucial to conversion. There are numerous studies exploring what best motivates different types of shoppers (impulse, budget, traditional) so understand your users to boost conversion.
+ Urgency: One of the more challenging aspects of ecommerce marketing, crafting a sense of urgency often proves to be a worthwhile endeavor. Audit a website to emphasize limited availability through product quantity indicators, exclusive discount hours and brief offers.
+ Reviews: Confidence boosts conversions and if consumers feel that others believe in a product or brand, they can too. For this reason, auditing product reviews to ensure a balance between good/bad and authenticity/integrity is a wise endeavor.
+ Confidence: Displaying trust seals also builds confidence; if a well-known and trustworthy third-party believes in an enterprise, consumers are more likely to convert. While they've decreased in usage over the years, a good "seal" can do conversion wonders.
+ Communication: Websites without contact information just don't convert as well as those that do publish this information. Including phone numbers, physical and email addresses or other modes of communication increase a site's credibility and are vital to conversion success. Take it a step further by integrated with live chat providers
+ Checkout: Moving a user from browsing to buying is difficult. Moving that same user from a buying mindset to a converted user can often feel impossible. There is an abundance of guidance on checkout pages, but when auditing these assets, ensure that forms are brief, isolated (one-page), free of clutter, featuring a clear page hierarchy and error/validation messaging.
+ Payments: While most merchants will only sell in the same location as their buyer's country of origin, featuring the appropriate currency for that location and the variety of payment options available should also be audited.
+ Product Discovery: If consumers can't find what they are looking for, they'll leave - it's really as simple as that. As such, audit your website's site search capabilities and look for improvements in both coverage and filtering.
+ Speed: Delays in page loading have a clear and negative impact on the conversion and sales. While the expected speed and assumed drop off will vary, focusing on delivering your experience faster is always something to audit.
+ Sales Awareness: A majority of shoppers display what are known as discount-seeking behaviors. Developing a sales/specials section caters to this audience - many of whom won't buy anything unless it's cheaper.
+ Product Awareness: One of the best ways to boost average order values is to make recommendations on other products - up-selling or cross-selling.
What other elements of the ecommerce experience should sellers regularly audit in their digital presence? Share your insights with a comment below now.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.