Every successful e-commerce business should direct its operations towards one area above all else: The customer.
Who are the customers, what do they need, and how to you help them make the decision that your product is the right one? The customer is the most important single factor to keep in mind - whilst the content and UX of the website, the marketing channels and pricing considerations are all vital, unless they are ultimately consumer focused they will not be a success. Here's what you need to achieve to keep the customer experience at the heart of your site:
1. Search Engine Optimisation
Possibly the most important element of SEO is creating high-quality, informative content, doing so on a regular basis, and sharing it over multiple channels all of which link back to the website. This might include crafting “How-to” guides for YouTube; running engaging competitions over Facebook; guest blogging for respectable and relevant sites, or contributing to industry discussion on platforms such as LinkedIn.
On-site content that is keyword-dense no longer cuts it - what the search engines are looking for is well-curated material that answers the needs of the searcher. There are many technical aspects of SEO that boost the performance of an e-commerce site in rankings of course, such as naming pages and images appropriately, and link-building, but good quality content should never be neglected.
Harry's Razors are a great example of creating immersive on-site content, a curated and active social following and editorial content that people want to read alongside their products. It doesn't harm them that they have a great product and back-story.
2. Conversion Rate Optimisation
This is all about making the customer journey from the first page they land on until the payment is processed as smooth and as efficient as possible. Experts suggest that SMEs on a budget should look to what’s referred to as “low-hanging fruit” first of all - ensuring that landing pages are relevant to the ads that brought a person there; making font sizes readable; checking all pages load correctly and that links work; clearly displaying any official accreditation; making the payment process uncomplicated and trustworthy, and incorporating the messages behind customer reviews and feedback into the content so that they are, in effect, selling to themselves.
A successful e-commerce site provides the visitor with a personalised experience, focusing on their needs rather than just making the sale. Big fashion brands tend to be exceptionally good at this, promoting relevant special offers, retaining consumer preferences for the next visit, or offering products that complement what’s already in the basket.
It’s also vital to track customer movement on the site through analytical tools that can pinpoint any problem areas where the journey is being interrupted.
Asos halved their cart abandonment by removing the need for customers to create an account. It was actually all just clever copywriting and UX, as customers had to create an account, Asos just removed the word registration.
3. Great customer service
Any retailer knows that a pleasing customer experience is usually more important than pricing in ensuring repeat business. Ads should be targeted appropriately; any problems should be dealt with promptly and transparently - especially if the business is using social media platforms as a channel for complaints; and post-sale communication is also very useful, such as checking that orders have arrived safely and whether the customer is happy with their purchase, and providing clear information on returns policies.
Again looking at fashion brands, many of the industry leaders are working hard on initiatives such as improving delivery and returns options, and helping customers check sizing is correct before orders. A dedication to providing good customer service lets people know their business is important to an e-commerce site and keeps them coming back for more.
Nordstrom offers great customer service online. Their product pages have detailed size guides, and shoppers can see fit information from other customers.
The successful e-retailer keeps the customer front of mind at all times and ensures that every aspect of their site’s operations is tailored towards meeting the customer’s needs. When it comes to SEO, CRO and customer service, it recognises that these are ongoing processes with no end-point and that there is always scope for improvement.