Running an ecommerce business is a little like fishing in a lake with twenty million other fishermen, some of them equipped with magic fishing nets that attract all the fish in the lake.
While each fisherman out on the waters would love to lay their hands on those magic fishing nets, few take the effort to weave their own nets to catch the biggest and plumpest fish. More importantly, few nets are strong enough to keep bagging the choicest catch in the lake on a long-term basis.
Here are four time tested ecommerce tips to weave that magic net to grab your own super-haul every single day.
Put them to work in your business, and you’ll not only improve your conversion rate, you’ll ensure customers come back time and again, for even higher return on investment.
1. Make Your Website Easier To Use
One of the fundamentals of user experience design is that ease of use trumps nearly every other factor in any form of interactive design. From websites, to apps and physical stores, to furniture, living spaces and urban design; ease of use for the end user dictates how popular the product you created will be.
Whether you choose a plug-and-play ecommerce model like Wix or prefer a more DIY, open-source (and free!) approach like PrestaShop to set up your online store, a snappy, memorable and easy-to-use website is an essential to keep users coming back.
Some key usability guidelines to keep in mind include:
Make your website intuitive and easy to navigate. A navigation bar with clearly spelt out website sections and sub-sections helps users find their way around easily.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure your users can find what they are looking for on your site in not more than 3 clicks.
Not all users need to browse through endless options to find what they want. Some users arrive at your site knowing exactly what they’ll pick up, right down to the model number and color.
For users like these, a prominent search bar that cuts the chase down to a simple search is all they need. This ensures that even if your categories and sub categories are not spot on, the user will still be able to find what they’re looking for on your site.
Uncluttered, Aesthetic Design
A cluttered website confuses users with too many sensory signals, leaving them at a loss of what to do next.
Make white space your best friend and use it generously across your website. By leaving enough white space on every page, you let users see and absorb each page element individually and help them focus on the most important aspects of your page.
Keep your copy simple and conversational. Keep your typography and fonts minimal and use your typography to highlight important action items that you want to draw the user’s attention towards.
Don’t be part of the ‘build it and they’ll come’ club. In spite of following the most popular design principles to the ‘T’ you might still be missing out on something very fundamental and intrinsic to your business model that will only come to light when a user actually browses through your site with a specific goal in mind.
Design and carry out A/B tests and multivariate tests of the most important aspects of your website—your userflows, calls to action, copy and overall layout—using tools like Crazy Egg to help you along the way.
Mind you, testing is not a one-off activity. Your website is not a static being. There are hundreds of little changes that you carry out on your site on an almost weekly basis.
Your users are not stuck in time either. Their preferences and abilities evolve with time. Hence, it is critical to make website testing a ritual that your site swears by.
2. Churn Out Complimentary Products & Upgrades
HP, Canon, Epson and their ilk have got a critical customer retention principle down perfectly. The printers that they sell may not make them very big money. But the cartridges that these printers require on a recurring basis are cash cows waiting to be milked.
To get users back to your site over and over again, build products that are complementary to the earlier ones sold through your site.
The games that users buy for their PlayStation or X-Box, songs that you buy on iTunes to hear on your iPod, the travel insurance that you buy on your air ticket are all examples of complementary products that make users go back to the original service provider on a repeated basis.
Another great way to keep ‘em coming back is to build upgraded versions of your existing products and promoting the upgrades as must-have, cutting-edge features.
To be fair, this approach works best for successful products that have already made a niche for themselves in the market. With a newer and better iPhone launched every couple of years or a new desktop operating system upgrade that comes along every few years or even a faster, more efficient processor being released on a regular basis, Apple, Microsoft and Intel use the product upgrade principle to their advantage.
3. Provide Great Value
Offering your users great value is not equivalent to offering rock-bottom prices. Great value can mean fantastic quality at prices on par with competition. It could mean a huge variety in SKUs. It could mean unique designs unmatched by anyone else.
A free product thrown in with the purchase or a free service contract are examples of value that make a customer return over and over again.
Whatever the value paradigm is in your industry, strive to offer it without charging a premium for it. Customers know value when they experience it once. A brand that offers great value the first time can be assured of a repeat visit, as no matter how wealthy a customer may be, being a value-seeker while shopping is an innate quality hardwired in all of us.
Research confirms this fact. An Ipsos study of affluent individuals in the US (with a minimum household income of $100,000) showed that 74% of these shoppers believed that good value for money was more important than the price tag of the item itself.
A successful example of perceived great value is an offering like Birchbox. For a monthly subscription of just $10, users get beauty product samples whose cumulative value is a lot higher than their monthly subscription amount.
4. Always Be Useful
A brand that goes out of its way to make users’ lives easier is one that will stick in their minds for a long time to come.
Don’t just sit tight after your user makes their first purchase. Reach out to them and offer them tips and tricks to best use the product that they just bought. Educate them about alternate uses for your product and complementary items that team well with it.
Offering users ideas on how to improve the longevity of their product or how to service it best to keep it in good shape are always appreciated.
Remind users to get a refill or renew their subscription (if it applies) to get them to come back on time and not experiment with other service providers.
Use big data and personalized communications to create product cross sells based on user information. Emails like ‘You bought item X. We think you might like item Y’ help to prod users in the direction of their next purchase.
You don’t need me to tell you how important repeat customers are. You’ve probably heard it all a hundred times before. We all understand and agree that the bottom line for a successful business is its ability to get customers to keep coming back over and over again.
Whether your customers pay you in cash, credit or bitcoins, the only way to keep them coming back to your site is if you make their first experience memorable (in a positive way!) and a real breeze, and then follow it up with subtle reminder tactics to ensure top of mind recall.
Have any ecommerce tips that have worked for you? Share them with us and spread the love!
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Pratik Dholakiya.