Last year, online retail in Australia reached $33 billion in sales, which is almost double the $16.9 billion recorded back in 2009. The average individual eCommerce spend for online consumers in Australia in 2012 was over $2,100, where almost 75% of users aged between 35 – 44 shopped online.
While, with figures like these, it seems the news for online businesses can only be positive, there is still a lot of work to do if we are to fully capitalise on the online opportunity. Interestingly, of every 100 Australian online consumers who visited a website, only five became actual customers, and three of every 10 online shopping carts were abandoned. So why are we losing so many potential sales?
From our experience, built over years of work on eCommerce projects, sites lose sales for various reasons — it may be design, their product or something as simple as their ‘buy button’. To combat this, we have developed a consistent formula of rules we follow to ensure our eCommerce web design produces high conversion rates.
Essential rule no. 1: Clarity removes confusion
It is important to ensure your website clearly articulates the value of your offer from the very first second of a customer visit. They are looking for a reason to buy, so your site simply needs to give them the confidence to follow through. When assessing how clear and concise your site is, test it with some of these important questions:
- Why should they purchase from you?
- What is the price of each item?
- What is your delivery guarantee?
- Do all components of your website reinforce your brand values?
- Can I easily ask questions or find answers quickly?
- Does the site speak my language – in terms of style and dialect?
Essential rule no. 2: Usability to suit ALL user types
ECommerce sites must provide multiple navigation methods and tools because online consumers look for products in many different ways.
User type 1: Some online consumers know exactly what they’re looking for and want to type the name of the product into a search bar and jump straight to that product’s page. Predictive input can help streamline the product selection process further and facilitate more efficient online buying.
User type 2: Other customers have only a vague idea of what they’re looking for and want to explore a range of content to get a better sense of what’s available before making their final choice.
Find new ways to help both customer types scratch itches they didn’t even know they had:
- Tell your customers what new and interesting products you have by showcasing featured products on your homepage portal. Help them find related or more expensive versions of products by cross-selling and up-selling.
- Drive more sales by providing personalised recommendations specially tailored to their individual interest and needs.
- Offer a recommendation community in which customers can provide feedback and comments on products. By fostering a thriving community, you are partnering with your customers, having them create new content for your website, and, in effect, providing everyone with yet another reason to visit your website again in the future.
Essential rule no. 3: Make online buying too easy!
People have a high expectation when it comes to user experience and information on offer. The easier you make your site to use, your products to find, and your sales to complete, the more successful your site will be. ECommerce website design is unique, differing from a normal company site or a mobile site, however it is just as important that it is user-centred and tested.
When planning your eCommerce strategy, there are some important factors to consider:
- Keep product pages clear and concise and ensure you feature thorough yet relevant information that will assist your customers in making informed decisions.
- Make information and products easy to search and find.
- Ensure your site enables customers to select multiple items for their shopping cart so the process of online buying is easier.
- Make sure your site is accessible from different devices and platforms — support those of your customers who like to impulse buy!
Essential rule no. 4: Present yourself in the best light
Design, presentation and user experience are arguably the three biggest influencers for site stickiness in eCommerce. Your site needs to be designed well. It needs to present better than your competitors. It needs to provide your customer with an exceptional user experience, otherwise it will not only fail to influence their buying decision, but fail to meet their expectations.
The key things to consider are:
- Information structure and hierarchy.
- Content that customers can relate to.
- Innovative, clean and intuitive design that reinforces your brand and helps differentiate you from your competitors.
- Invest in good quality photography and provide large size previews.
- Adapt interactive elements such as product zoom, product customisation capabilities, and product videos for increased engagement.
Providing your customers with a great online experience by creating a seamless online presence will lead to more customer satisfaction and therefore more sales. At Platform Digital we help you create this seamless online presence. We are a company that operates in the Australian Online Retail sector developing and implementing digital marketing integration strategies.
For more information about using eCommerce effectively in your business, please contact Platform on (02) 9911 7788.