As in the States, there is much discussion here in Europe (note: I run ATG’s European operations) about how the slowing global economy will impact e-commerce. Whether you believe current economic conditions are good or bad for e-commerce (or will have no effect), you no doubt always want to maximize your sales on the Web. In working with a roster of great customers, we have gained a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t. In this post, we present five basic steps that all e-tailers should be taking to get the most out of their e-commerce Web sites.
1. Deploy product-comparison tools. If shoppers are being drawn to the web because they are looking for bargains, comparison tools can be especially useful – particularly in the case of products with many different specifications such as consumer electronics. At a time when people are watching their wallets, comparison tools can be vital in helping shoppers consider how much to spend and, ultimately, in justifying a purchase.
2. Create customer ratings and reviews facilities. Although it can take some time to get a reviews system furnished with a large amount of user generated content, it is time extremely well spent. Any content created by your customers can help win over other shoppers.
3. Personalise. An old principle, but a vital one. As soon as a customer comes to a site, they want to see highly relevant information. E-tailers need to embrace technology that will help them build up sophisticated consumer profiles so that they can match web content and promotional offers to specific customer interests and previous spend threshold. Interconnectivity is the key to any multi-channel strategy and by sharing information captured online with other commerce channels, it is possible to build up an in-depth profile of customers which can be effective right across the business.
4. Co-ordinate on- and off-line marketing initiatives. Retailers should coordinate marketing strategy with merchandising. By integrating e-mail campaigns, for example, with website content, companies will be able to attract new and repeat business. Customers need to be able to relate to a brand and solutions across the full purchase lifecycle.
5. Searchandise. When looking for a good deal, consumers will make the most of a website’s search function. Searchandising can deliver search results based on both a customer’s personal profile and the merchandiser’s strategy. Changes to the product catalogue can be automatically updated in the search function so shoppers are not offered items that are, frustratingly, out of stock. Searchandising can also suggests additional purchases that complement what a customer has searched for, presenting items the customer did not even realise they wanted.