Even with the vast growth of online retail in the past decade, one of the biggest barriers that online merchants face today is low conversion rates. The ease of online shopping is what has made e-commerce so successful, but it also breeds an environment in which customers feel less pressure to buy. While conversion for brick and mortar shops average around 30%, online conversion rates of 5% or above are considered extremely good, as most online merchants average around 3%.
So, what are online merchants doing wrong?
Poor product information
Product data and descriptions are the key to connecting a customer to the product they are looking for, and poor or incomplete product information is the Achilles heel of many online merchants. It can be difficult to maintain consistent product data, as it requires constantly updating an ever increasing amount of content. However, connecting a customer to their desired product is one of the best way to make conversions.
The most successful online stores provide product information that includes a compelling product description, product visuals, reviews and accurate search-ability. Failing to maintain any of these features leads customers to distrust your company due to inaccurate or insufficient product data, or can cause potential customers to lose interest if they can'y easily find what they are looking for.
By designing your website or app such that all of the products are accurately catalogued and easy to search for, you will vastly improve conversion rates, as customers will be able to find exactly what they are looking for with little effort.
Disconnected omnichannel experience
Omnichannel is a cross-channel business model in which a brand reaches out to a customer consistently through multiple different channels, such as an online store and a brick and mortar store. However, because of constantly changing technology and data, many online retailers fail to create a seamless omnichannel experience. In fact, a report from 2016 showed that 78% brands have no one-brand experience across all platforms. But retailers can no longer let this slide - today's consumer wants to address a single entity, regardless of what channel is used. Whether their interaction is face to face, over social media, website or app, your customer wants to be identified and recognized seamlessly.
Creating an effective omnichannel experience is a key piece to making your customers experience as personalized as possible. By maintaining a the data from all the different channels, retailers can use this data to create a full view of a customer, and thus improve customer experience. This personalization across multiple channels creates brand loyalty, and has shown to produce a 15% to 35% boost in average transaction size.
An example of a company with a great omnichannel experience is Starbucks. The Starbucks rewards app allows customers to check and reload their Starbucks card balance through their phone, the Starbucks website, or in-store. Any new rewards, changes in profile or balance are updated across all channels in real-time, allowing the customer to have a smooth transaction no matter which channel they are using.
High shipping and return costs
While it can be annoying and create a lot more overhead, the fact of the matter is that customers have the expectation of free shipping and returns. If a customer makes it all the way to checkout, and then sees the price bump way up for shipping, you will likely lose a sale that was pretty much a shoe-in...not to mention losing a potentially loyal customer. By paying a little (or a lot) extra for your customer' shipping and returns, you are building a good customer relationship, which will lead to more sales and new customers.
For an online merchant, conversion rates are one of the most important way you can pull ahead of the competition and make your store stand out. Focus on these three things, and you're already ahead of the curve.
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