by Chemi Katz, contributor to Multi Channel Merchant
The impact the pandemic has had on ecommerce is enormous, with records and predictions for 2020 already shattered. With trends set to outlive the pandemic itself, ecommerce brands are reckoning with an increasingly competitive online landscape in which consumers are more than willing to change their brand loyalties if it means a better customer journey.
Attracting customers to a your site is one thing, but how can you ensure they’ll actually convert and keep coming back? Here are four ways to drive increased sales and engagement in the current environment.
Optimize for Mobile
2020 was a year of ecommerce milestones not only in terms of sales but also where those sales took place. Our study analyzing the 2020 holiday shopping season found that for the first time, mobile purchases surpassed desktop at 54.7% of sales in Q4 vs. 48.8% in 2019.
Mobile’s growing share of ecommerce means it’s all the more essential for ecommerce brands to provide an accessible, appealing and intuitive mobile experience.
Start with a user-friendly account creation process. The more cumbersome this step is, the greater the risk that impatient shoppers will abandon their carts. Apps make it easy to save their details, providing for swift checkout and payment processes. Of course, some customers will prefer to shop as guests, which is why it’s also a good idea to allow them to opt out of account creation.
Once a customer is browsing an app or mobile site, they should be able to quickly find whatever they’re looking for, so it’s important to include an accessible, easy-to-locate search function.
Bear in mind that mobile shoppers can be easily distracted by push alerts, text messages or their many other mobile apps and services. A seamless mobile experience free of interruptions and superfluous components will minimize the impact of these distractions and make it easier for shoppers to complete their journey.
Understand Real-Time Customer Intent
No two shoppers are entirely alike, and from visit to visit, their purchase propensity changes. Thus, ecommerce brands need to understand the factors changing their customer needs throughout the day. To boost sales, use technology to develop individualized promotions based on a variety of factors (location, device, time of day, etc.). They can all indicate a simple browser looking to buy from home later in the evening, or one intent on buying right then and there.
Incorrectly targeted promotions, often resulting from systems that are either rule based or segmented, can lead customers astray. On the other hand, relevant, tailored promotions at the right moment – such as buy one, get one free (BOGO) or free shipping – can keep customers engaged on your site.
Shoppers have come to expect personalization as a basic standard of service. You can deliver the tailored experiences they crave by harnessing AI to customize promotions, product pairings and recommendations based on user intent. AI helps you deliver the most relevant offer at the right moment in the customer journey.
For generated promotions to be effective, these incentives can’t feel like mere upsells; they must be relevant and valuable to the specific shopper. That is why you need to invest in data analytics to help anticipate customer intent in real time, engaging shoppers with messages and relevant offers leading to a boost in conversion rates.
Prevent Customer Journey Hijacking
Many brands have invested substantial resources in delivering high-quality, individualized customer experiences, only to see some of their most valuable customers diverted to competitor sites by injected ads. These ads may appear legitimate, but they are in fact far from it, with brands often unaware they’re even appearing on their sites.
Exposed by Google in 2016, customer journey hijacking impacts an estimated 20% of ecommerce sessions and has continued to cost the ecommerce industry billions in lost revenue in recent years. Those who profit from it are savvy enough to target the highest-converting customers. Our research finds that hijacked customers convert much higher than other site visitors despite these intrusions, and are 2.5 times as likely to convert when retailers act to remove them.
Eliminating these sophisticated and unfortunately highly effective distractions can ensure a more seamless customer journey and power more sales.
Offer Flexible Payment Options
In an uncertain economic climate, shoppers are increasingly price sensitive, so flexible payment options can mean the difference between an abandoned cart and a purchase.
Accordingly, retailers including Macy’s, Gap, Neiman Marcus and others are beginning to embrace flexible payment options and the payoff can be tremendous. Millennials made about 20% of their purchases in 2020 with Buy Now, Pay Later, and are far more likely to convert when given this option.
One year into the pandemic, it’s abundantly clear there’s no going back to the prior status quo. Ecommerce brands can thrive in this new normal by removing friction from every aspect of the customer journey, from a hassle-free sign-up process to personalized, distraction-free, mobile-optimized experiences including payment flexibility.
There’s no time like the present for you to perfect best-in-class experiences that will help you stand out from the pack.
Article originally appeared on Multi Channel Merchant.
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