This is a guest post from Patrick Foster of EcommerceTips.org. Patrick loves to help struggling eCommerce businesses and brands connect with their ‘why’ more — whether it’s through content, social media, or design.
Got a beautiful store? Can’t wait to serve your first customers? The modern eCommerce customer can be tricky to please. Customers will be judging your content, your customer service, and even your site’s user-experience (sometimes subconsciously). Have you gone through our eCommerce store checklist yet? If you’ve got everything on that list down, here are seven things customers will definitely want to find on your online store so you can make sure you meet their expectations.
Customers are looking to have interactions with brands on a meaningful level, and online content is a big a part of that. Blog posts, whitepapers, buying guides — all of these mediums can help you position yourself as a product expert and a credible brand.
What’s so great about eCommerce content?
- Great content helps you build a brand, and it also helps you develop relationships with customers, stakeholders, and online influencers. Content research tools like Buzzsumo can really help you take your content to the next level – see what’s trending in your niche right now.
- Even with advertising and sponsored content fees, content marketing is pretty democratic. As a small brand, balance frequency with expertise to compete with bigger household names for more genuine content and better customer engagement.
- Integrate content with the sales funnel and use blog posts and videos to answer customers’ questions. This type of content helps create a sense of trust, and will help you win over a tricky customer.
- Pro tip: find engaging stories from your customers and share them with everyone (with permission, of course). Did your product help someone achieve something extraordinary? When was the last time you asked people to share their experiences?
Paying online should be seamless and hassle-free. Typing in long credit card numbers on smartphones is tedious – make shopping with you as easy as 1,2,3.
- Always give people the option to save multiple payment details like credit cards and store cards. The best option: ability to save multiple payment cards at once, and name them individually for fast retrieval next time.
- Attracting a first-time shopper? Have a “log in with social media” option, as well as a guest checkout option. Social media integration takes the friction out of creating an account with you.
- Use a payment gateway that people know or trust, and make sure it’s not glitchy. Give people different payment options like PayPal as they might have money saved there they want to use.
- Customers often come to your store from affiliates and voucher code sites – make using a voucher code as easy as possible to reduce friction. Don’t have money-off offers and online sales advertised without creating proper landing pages to capture web traffic. Here are some more tips on managing vouchers on your store.
Think very carefully about how you organize your products. Product discovery will be one of your customers’ main aims. They’ve come looking for a particular product, and you need to help them find it. Prioritize usability and clarity over being ‘clever’.
- Users behave slightly differently. Even if you have conducted extensive user research, you will still struggle to know exactly how people will always behave. The important thing is to give customers lots of options, but not too many so that they feel paralyzed.
- Give people the option to immediately search for a product : this is great for people who know exactly what they want. Here are some eCommerce search usability findings from Baynard you’ll need to factor into your search.
- Always have top level categories that allow people to self-identify. E.g. there may be a category for women, a category for men, or other logical product categories. Include a sidebar with an alternative way of categorizing your products.
- Make sure that when customers have found your products, they are able to filter them in multiple ways. Whether you have product filtering that goes by size, price, product type, reviews, or anything else; make sure that the filtering always works; and that people are able to apply multiple filters at once.
- Drive traffic to your most popular product pages by including quick links or ads on your homepage.
- If you have a great, unique product, people can be quite patient; they’ll withstand small usability issue in order to get to what they’re looking for. But you should never rely on the goodwill of your customers — someone else will snap them up.
Personalization is everywhere – people don’t expect to be forgotten online anymore (though over-personalization can be creepy).
Capture customer data that will allow customers to pick up from where they left off last time. Focus on personalization that genuinely helps the user.
- Save customer shopping carts for as long as you can. People often shop in phases, and may eke out the purchase journey over a whole week.
- Can’t save shopping carts easily? Add products to a customer’s personal wish list, so that they can quickly add stuff back to their cart later.
- Send out email reminders and cart abandonment emails to your customers. (Here are some fun subject lines you can try). Help people shop smarter by letting them know when their favorite is on offer.
- Invest in personalized advertising and product recommendations throughout the user journey.
eCommerce web design is paramount for conversions — you don’t want to put people off with an outdated design and a clunky store that splutters into life slowly. Spend time customizing and designing your store, but don’t forget to ask for opinions from users before you launch. You don’t want to discover a crucial design flaw during week three of trading.
- WordPress has plenty of optimized and modern eCommerce themes you can choose from. In fact, WordPress offers a whole host of eCommerce options — check out which one is best for you. Need a more hands-off option? You could use a hosted platform like Shopify to sell through your blog or WordPress site with a buy button. Whatever you go for – always customize and put your own twist on a theme, so that your store doesn’t get lost in the eCommerce sea.
- Design your store for speed – avoid having huge hero images or too much slowly-loading video. Speak to a web designer on how to maximize your theme’s performance. Some theme designers introduce design workarounds into your CSS that may be inadvertently slowing your website down.
Having only five star reviews starts to look a bit fishy – focus on capturing real user language and experiences instead. Reviews are a big conversion rate and customer experience factor – make sure you capture as much review data as you can.
- Use reviews as a basis for creating a genuine community of users and brand advocates. Make leaving reviews fun, and give customers the option to upvote other people’s comments (plugins like WooCommerce Product Reviews Pro can add this). A social incentive is a great way to make leaving reviews more appealing.
- Reviews are a great way to help people decide whether a product is going to be right for them. Try not to see divisive comments as purely negative – they are actually helping your customers buy the right products. (Reviews are obviously subjective, and different people will see the same product or service from a different angle).
- Deal with a negative review swiftly and decisively. Try not to contradict the reviewer too openly (it will make you look defensive). Focus on reaching a positive outcome, and let people have their say if they are being reasonable. How you deal with a negative review will be noticed by other users – err on the side of caution.
- Edit online reviews cautiously – too much copy-editing, and they will start to sound like “marketing speak”.
Your customer’s purchase journey doesn’t end at your store. Make sure that you keep them happy with engaging email and social content after and before the purchase.
- Be strategic, not blindly reactive with your customer content. Map out all the different communication channels you have, and how you’ll need to adapt your brand tone of voice for each.
- Use social media for support as well as promotion, and always balance promotional posts with plenty of fun and useful content for users.
- Email is an invaluable eCommerce tool, but so many brands get it wrong with too many promotional emails and ‘newsletters’ that start to feel like harassment. Personalize email offers as much as you can, and create a culture of advocacy and exclusivity around your emails.
- Order confirmation emails, password reminders, delivery notes – don’t ever pass up an opportunity to develop a relationship with credible content. Be ambitious with all customer communication.
Pleasing customers comes from being able to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Don’t be so desperate to share your own brand story that you forget to contribute to the story that customers are experiencing with you?.
What’s the number one thing you want your customers to take away from your store this year?