On a crowded high street, shop owners have to work hard to attract customers, tempt them into browsing and ultimately, encourage them to buy. For this reason, there are classic tricks of the trade – perhaps a grocer will pump out the smell of fresh bread and coffee. They might even have some products unboxed and ready to try out. But all the freshly baked bread in the world won’t help if they’ve put the wrong price tag on key items, hidden the best-selling stock at the back of the store and forgotten to get anyone to cover the till. The same applies to online retail. Beautiful images, flash sales, and video demos count for nothing if the site is a nightmare to navigate and checkout is a pain. Whether your online presence is your whole e-commerce world or stands simply as a showroom for the offline retail experience, making sure that site is clean, clear and effective should be a retailer’s number one priority. As your site is being built, testing is the name of the game.
Whether you’re an SME just starting out or a large global company, understanding how customers will use your site and discovering the problems they come up against is vital. You might ask your family to log on and give it a go or employ professional companies to beta test it for you – the aim is the same. Find the roadblocks and fix them.
Not every site is built perfectly from the get-go. And as companies grow, so do their product ranges and their site pages – sometimes even multiple sites. Designs can change; so can management. Over time, challenges can creep in. Sometimes, even the most obvious mistake can derail a whole experience – according to Google’s research, 23% of EMEA retailers haven’t published contact information for their stores on their website.
Read more: Keys for a Successful Online Business
Understanding what customers want to see on a site isn’t too difficult – there’s lots of freely available research into customer trends available online, through Google as well as many other sources. For example, research into Mobile Site Speed found how crucial load times are on smartphones, with 75% of people in the UK saying that the speed it takes to load a page has the most impact on their overall experience.
Another example is recent research which shows that 63% of UK consumers want clearly displayed prices while 77% want search tools to feel familiar and intuitive. In Spain, on the other hand, 40% of customers would buy if they knew next-day delivery was available so that’s something to put front and center, not buried at the bottom of the checkout page.
Of course, not everyone has the time to manually sift through research and then work out how it applies to the many pages that populate even the most basic e-commerce websites. The process can be automated by using a tool like Grow My Store. This free tool scores retailers’ websites and generates bespoke reports with recommendations based on country-specific data to help retailers improve their online experience and grow their business.
Everything from making pricing clearer and improving navigation to personalizing the experience, providing live chat and optimizing for mobile can be covered in the tool, which tests the site against up to 22 metrics that have been created from customer best practice studies.
For retailers of all sizes, the website is the digital flagship store. It has to be the brightest and the best to make the online and omnichannel experience as appealing as possible to customers – and as effective as it can be for the retailer. Retailers’ big focus should be addressing the digital storefront that websites represent. The great online experience can make shopping as easy as pie for consumers – without the need for that freshly baked bread smell.