By Piperis Filippaios is MD at digitalbeans
It goes without saying that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on business practices and personal lives this year. As a result more business operations are happening online than ever before and we are increasingly reliant on the internet for our leisure, social and domestic activities.
From a retail perspective, the shift in consumer behaviour has seen the number of consumers shopping online grow by 58 per cent, according to Bazaarvoice. Lockdown 2.0. has drastically reduced retail footfall during the busiest sales period of the year, forcing retailers to turn online or risk their business’ future viability.
Investment in ecommerce may seem a solution to an immediate problem, however, it should not be seen as a short-term fix. The pandemic will have a lasting effect on consumer buying habits; even after the first lockdown lifted, online sales increased by 42.4 per cent, according to KPMG. Forward-looking retailers will divide their enterprise into two business streams: online and physical stores to serve all customers.
Lockdowns and social distancing have eliminated casual in-store browsing. Many retailers which stocked up in an attempt to recover Q2 losses could be in financial trouble unless they can sell fast. Independent retailers can benefit from sentiment encouraging consumers to shop locally. But even those with a solid ecommerce platform will need to make the most of it through digital marketing and advertising.
To optimise your site quickly and make changes that will benefit you in the long run, address these areas.
Meet your audience’s needs
Knowing your audience and understanding what they want and like will help you to cultivate a loyal customer base that repeatedly buys from you. It will also enable you to reach similar consumers.
Baby-boomers are a significant generation for retailers. Possessing greater disposable income and with 77 per cent of 54-64-year-olds and 53 per cent of over-65s owning a smartphone, according to Finder, this generation is a captive audience for online shopping. In terms of mobile and internet shopping, they look for streamlined services, so to serve this audience focus on enhancing the speed and ease of your online sales process.
Test your site with third-party tools including Page Speed Insights to identify where you can make improvements. One quick way to speed up your site is to reduce file size. Sometimes you have files on your site that are bigger than they need to be, slowing it down. We suggest using a file compressor like TinyPng to reduce files and replace them, helping users to access your pages quicker.
Don’t lose customers at the checkout
Barclaycard found that 41 per cent of shoppers have abandoned a transaction during checkout in the past year, adding up to £18 billion in lost sales, and 62 per cent of those were down to checkout process factors, research by Baymard finds.
A well-optimised checkout experience should be clear, informative and as easy as possible for the customer, so a one-page process works well. You can break it down into multiple steps, so the user is not overwhelmed with too many fields to fill in at once. Make it convenient. A postcode lookup feature can be installed to existing ecommerce sites and means shoppers can complete billing and delivery address information effortlessly.
Increasing order value
Consumers indulge in small luxury items even in times of financial difficulty. Gifting and self-gifting fulfils this behaviour, and when consumers are looking to treat themselves and the ones they love to something special, there are a few ways you can uplift their basket size.
Using ecommerce plug-ins that curate custom-related feeds will recommend suitable products to shoppers. Positioning popular items, or even excess stock, on the homepage as ‘featured products’ drives interest. Furthermore, personalise their checkout experience and list products as ‘you may also like’ or ‘last chance to buy’ to increase spend. It is also important to link products users have shown interest in to offers that they may be entitled to, encouraging shoppers to look at more product pages and spend longer on your site.
One sure way to increase order value for your ecommerce store is by using plug-ins such as custom-related feeds. These allow you to recommend products to the customer on your site, increasing order value. They can be placed on the home page as ‘featured products’ or at the checkout with a more personalised approach ‘you may also like’.