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Looking ahead to the future for retail in 2019, we know that consumers, partners, app marketplaces and search engines will now be expecting much more from top online retailers. Everything from up-to-the-minute stock levels delivered via API, through to product listings with full documentation, 360 zoom images, video and testimonials from social media as well as behind the scenes schema, site maps and correctly configured code.
The expectation is that the retailers of 2019 will provide fully interactive, real time product information, customer data and community interaction, alongside being fast, working across multiple devices and maintaining “brand authenticity”.
This requires great teamwork within big corporates, but can be a little daunting in the mid-market. So where do you begin?
Here at Silicon Dales, we can assist your business by bringing the full menu of options and looking at which solutions deliver the greatest “bang-for-buck” first. That is: we’re concerned with your Return on Investment, making sure any improvements help your business make more money.
The list below is in the order of what most commonly works for our clients, but we will often change the order of work depending on what will help the client’s business the most:
Get setup with a payment gateway. Payment gateways can help you take payments through a variety of methods, so even if your website isn’t ready yet, you could be taking payments over the phone, through Point of Sale or through your accounts software.
If you already have a payment gateway, New Year is a good time to review the market and find out if you could be saving money by speeding up transfers, lowering fees or removing a hold. Oftentimes, if you find a better offer, your current provider will be open to negotiation.
Do a simple test on your checkout. Try checking out on your own website with different devices and payment methods. Are the address fields working? Does the auto-complete work? Is the shipping price right and does the Thank-You Page pop? Even if everything is technically working, there’s often room for improvement – such as creating a distraction-free checkout, adding appropriate payment methods and checking there aren’t too many input fields for your mobile users.
Having a fast-loading website is essential. Google has a revenue impact calculator here, which demonstrates how important speed is for your online store. Anything over 5 seconds for a pageload is damaging your business, and the gold standard is under 0.5 seconds. Test your site speed and then follow our guides – here for speeding up a WordPress website or here for a WooCommerce website. For other CMS’s, get in touch for assistance.
You’ve got the checkout working and the payments flowing. Customers aren’t being held up by a slow site and the checkout thank you page has real appeal. Now it’s time to take a look at your payment notifications and receipts – especially if your business provides docs, invoices, downloads or special access.
Try some test checkouts and take a look at the emails your receive. Have a tour around the My Account dashboard when logging in as a normal user (you will need to create a test account for this to really experience it as your customers do). Could your business benefit from SMS notifications when an order goes out for delivery, or, even better, integration with the shipping provider so your customers can get a tracking code and watch as the parcel heads their way?
Most eCommerce softwares and platforms will enable you to customize the messages, emails and My Account zones to keep your customers proactively informed and even allow your customers to answer their own questions or make their own changes without hitting your valuable sales and support staff.
Once you’ve dealt with the basics of helping your customers pay and get their goods, it’s time to dig into the data a little. Don’t have any data? eCommerce tracking from Google Analytics is generally sufficient for most businesses and if you’re using WooCommerce you should check out this extension. We’ve also had some really happy clients using Metorik.
Look for any obvious problems such as a high abandoned cart rate or any important opportunities such as a major source of traffic – you might not have known that the majority of your customers came from Facebook, or that the majority of your profit came from iPad users – which leads to the next point….
Based on your data, you’ll know how important mobile and tablet users are in your business currently, and based on how well your website is loading and rendering for those users, you’ll know whether there’s some growth potential. It might be worth re-working your site to work better on handheld devices, and if you’ve got a super popular site, it might even be worth releasing an app.
Once you’ve got your basic eCommerce functions on track and some data to work with, it’s worth having an SEO review. There are loads of tools to help you pick the low-hanging fruit and make your site profile better than the competition.
Product data can work hand-in-hand with search engines, API’s and feeds to serve a number of purposes and have a big multiplier effect. Product data improvements can be done in a number of ways, and if you’re using WooCommerce we have some extra tutorials on that.
Once you’ve got all the technicals in order, it’s time to review your content for some basic improvements: make sure everything’s up to date and accurate, put some headings in, add links where you’ve got new information or handy hints, add refreshed images.
Want to go further? Find out more about SEO here, then look at your content again: have you used the anchor text correctly, is your linking strategy up to date? Think about making even richer content with video, star ratings, chatbots, sliders and community embeds.
Going advanced requires a business plan. Who’s your market? Where’s your profit margin? Which products are your priority? The answers might surprise you, and the data will help. Advertising strategies and personalized page delivery mean you can get granular with which products you sell to particular people and at what price, time and delivery method. Read more about funnels here.
There’s more that can be done to help overhaul your eCommerce website for 2019 – check out our tutorials or book a consult to help weigh up the available options and make 2019 the best year for your business.