An e-commerce site should be exciting, yet stylish. Committed, but simple. Efficient, but navigable. After all, buyers assess your site’s visual appeal within 0.05 seconds of landing on a page. You have an incredibly short window of time to entice them to stay and shop.
Fortunately, many of the standard web design best practices apply to e-commerce stores as well. Use lots of white space, use fonts that speak to the brand, apply contrast to make CTAs stand out, etc.
But when it comes to e-commerce specifically, you need to go beyond traditional design elements. Creating a site that optimizes the path to purchase is a more complex undertaking.
What features do retailers prioritize?
As you embark on your own optimization journey, contextualize your strategy. In a recent webinar, we surveyed attendees to see how they were investing in technology.
When asked which of the following is on their e-commerce site’s wish list this year:
- 48% said they personalize their site
- 56% said they improved search capabilities on the site
- 59% said they made the site experience faster or easier
- 55% said they add personalized recommendations
Ultimately, retailers pretty evenly focus on these four key features. With that in mind, let’s explore a few ways to invest in these areas.
Customize your e-commerce site
Executing a great personalization strategy is a long game. Your ultimate goal is to know your customer better and better over time, and use that knowledge to deliver unique customer experiences per segment. But with the ability to customize nearly every feature of your site, you need to identify ways to start small with the most impactful fruits at your fingertips, so to speak, and then grow over time.
We recommend that you start by providing personalized product recommendations. Use a buyer’s order history or recently viewed items to inspire recommendations. Display complementary product alternatives to items they are interested in.
Not only will these tactics excite customers, they will also make them more likely to buy. According to a McKinsey & Company report, personalization in retail increases conversion rates by 10-15%.
Keep your search bar visible
Creating a great site search experience is a quick and easy way to increase your revenue. Display your search bar prominently, making it easy for visitors to use it throughout their journey.
Don’t fall into the design trap of hiding or shrinking the search box in an effort to declutter the page. Buyers who use site search convert at significantly higher rates than those who browse. Encourage seeking behavior. Don’t be shy about hiding this income-generating asset.
Better yet, make sure that when shoppers search, they don’t receive a “no results” page. Consider adding product recommendations to your search results. Or even boost higher-margin products.
Make sure your website is responsive
When it comes to simplifying the site experience, you need to make sure your eCommerce website is responsive.
In 2021, 73% of all e-commerce sales worldwide are expected to be generated via mobile. Shoppers expect a seamless experience and will quickly bounce back from a site that doesn’t work on their device of choice.
Be sure to test your site on all screen sizes to ensure a consistent shopping experience. Pay special attention to conversion-driving features such as site search, product recommendations, and navigation.
Improve your merchandising strategy
Merchandising extends to a large part of your e-commerce website. Shoppers are influenced by everything from product photography to product presentation on category pages.
With that in mind, consider these merchandising quick wins:
- Create reusable templates for special offers, which can be presented in banners or badges, to ensure consistency with your overall strategy.
- Display in-stock items first, then bestsellers to increase conversions.
- Group products by style, color or theme to create an aesthetically pleasing experience.
- Look at top search queries with low conversions and rearrange products so they are more likely to convert.
Ultimately, it’s about presenting a merchandising experience that aligns with the behavior of your shoppers.
Short-term feature updates = long-term success
Optimizing your eCommerce site doesn’t have to be a huge effort. We recommend taking a two-pronged approach to income. Implement quick wins to increase buyer conversion. And identify long-term strategic activities to improve your return on investment over time.
By customizing your site, improving your search, improving merchandising, and updating your site to be responsive, you can improve your shopping experience. When executed well, these updates have the power to smoothly steer shoppers down a frictionless path to purchase.
Peter Messina is CEO of Searchspring