E-commerce has come a long way over the past 20 years. According to a recent blog in Retail Touchpoints, e-commerce sites have made great strides in the areas of product visualization, customer reviews, product personalization, real-time inventory and post-purchase features, such as recommendations based on past purchases.
eMarketer recently reported that e-commerce generated approximately $1.915 trillion in revenue in 2016; and between 2016 and 2017, the U.S. ecommerce industry grew by a healthy 15.6%, setting a new milestone.
So, what’s driving this growing e-commerce trend? Technology innovations that are creating a new type of customer – one who demands the same personal shopping experience that he or she has grown accustomed to in the brick & mortar world.
Consumers and businesses alike, recognize that there are still so many possibilities when it comes to creating the ultimate customer experience, which is essential for driving sales in today’s competitive multi-channel environment.
So how can you up your game in serving up the experience that keeps your customers coming back for more? Here are four best practices in custom e-commerce site development:
- Make sure your site is scalable from the beginning. It needs to be able to handle a sudden spike in activity as well as a steadily increasing transaction volume.
- Drive sales through differentiation. Set your site apart in the ways that will have the greatest impact on the customer experience. Incorporate functionality to make it better, faster, easier, more intuitive, more fun, etc.
- Know your customer, inside and out. One of the best ways to know what your customers really want is to listen to what they’re telling you through their actions. Conduct A/B testing (comparing two versions of a web page to see which performs better) once a month, or quarterly at a minimum, to make sure you are in tune with your customers’ interests and preferences. Leverage that knowledge to make continuous and intelligent changes. For example, through A/B testing you can find out that by increasing the size of the product image and increasing the font of the product description you could increase sales by 10%.
- Be analytical. Gather as much data as you can through customer interaction on your site, review it, measure it and make decisions based on that information to help control the user navigation process and ultimately drive sales.
For example, our work with a next-generation e-commerce site leverages A/B testing and analytics to drive donations and purchases through a social marketplace. By using advanced scalable technology to create an easy-to-navigate site and analytics tools to understand customer behavior, they were able to minimize the number of clicks to make purchases and enhance the overall customer experience.
There are exciting things ahead in e-commerce development. One of the next big areas of focus will be offering a truly fun, engaging and personalized window shopping experience. Imagine how augmented reality and virtual reality can be applied to make your customers feel like they are actually browsing in a store and can see how the outfits they are “trying on” look in a mirror.
The race to differentiate your e-commerce site and create the ultimate experience is on. And those who successfully crack the code, will reap the benefits of increased sales and customer demand.