With a raft of tools and frameworks now available to make ecommerce development easier, how can an organisation identify and prioritise the features and functions that will deliver a higher conversion rate?
The key is to make the process of purchasing easier – from minimising data input to providing clear information and end to end process integration. Emma Gooderham, CEO of WorldAddresses.com, outlines the features that have been proven to make a difference and show best practice in their deployment.
E-commerce has fast become a core component of virtually every business model. But how many organisations have developed sites that truly reflect the needs of the customers? Whilst it is tempting to exploit tools that make the site look fantastic, the reality is that many still fall down on the essential features required to deliver ease of use.
If organisations want to boost conversion rates and improve customer loyalty, there are some key steps to consider.
Mobile commerce continues to demonstrate extraordinary levels of growth; mobile sales now accounting for 5.3% of e-retail sales in the last quarter of 2011, according to Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a rise of 1,320% in two years. However, while conversion rates have doubled over the past year, from 0.7% to 1.4%, mobile conversions are still much lower than traditional PCs (4.13%).
One of the key issues is the ease of use of the m-commerce site, most notably driving down the amount of data input required on small screens, with smaller keypads.
Retailers are working hard to improve the mobile customer experience – even investing in Quick Response (QR) code technology to make it easy for consumers to visit the website while on the move.
But what about the purchase process? Having loaded the website through a QR code and navigated the entire site easily, consumers are then forced to enter billing and delivery address details line by line on an awkward mobile keypad or touch screen. Effective and rapid data entry is critical at every stage of the m-commerce experience if organisations are to improve conversion rates and avoid the high levels of abandoned baskets.
Click and Collect
With customers increasingly disenchanted with the problems surrounding the receipt of online orders, growing numbers of companies are using the ‘click and collect’ model, offering customers the chance to order online and collect in store. Indeed, according to the IMRG quarterly benchmark, click and collect accounted for 10.4% of sales in the third quarter of 2011.
Key to making this process work effectively is the ability to offer customers fast access to the location of the nearest store and its opening hours. By integrating ‘find my nearest’ technology into the website, a company can offer customers a number of search options – such as Postcode – and display results in nearest order with the distances in miles or kilometres. The technology can also be used to present customers with location-based offers.
Getting the right customer address is a critical component of successful e-commerce. But the issue is not simply ensuring the goods are delivered to the right place at the right time. Companies need to consider the way address information is collected from customers throughout the process to make it as easy as possible, minimise the amount of rekeying required and minimise the risk of problems caused by inaccurate information.
In addition, it is important to consider the international customer – and this requires more than an ability to support multiple languages. The challenges posed by multiple different postal address formats, preferred postal methods, different regulations and even character sets can appear daunting.
A simple, easy-to-use international address lookup via Postcode or zip code can provide the full address as used in each specific country and deliver rapid, low cost access to new markets.
Any technology that reduces the amount of data input required during the purchase process will improve the customer experience. Tokenization helps sites store sensitive data, such as credit card information, removing the need to enter this information at each visit whilst maintaining security. The site can also remember other information such as the most frequently delivered to address, invoice address and delivery information.
By replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that retain all the essential information about the data without compromising its security, tokenization speeds up the purchase process, driving customer loyalty and repeat purchase whilst also minimising the cost and compliance with industry standards.
End to End Integration
For these solutions to deliver real benefits it is, of course, essential that the website is tightly integrated with back end processes. Services such as click and collect cannot be provided if the organisation does not offer a real time view of the stock available in each store, for example; whilst payment processes must be integrated to ensure a company can safely and securely manage payments whether via card or Paypal.
Yet today, many websites are still essentially unintegrated, front end solutions that accept email orders. They may look good, but as soon as customers attempt to make a purchase, the lack of an end-to-end integrated process is a problem. With customers increasingly looking at online reviews and comments on both product and service before making a purchase, this lack of integrated solution is a major issue and one that no serious e-commerce operation can afford to ignore.