Delivering the best online retail experience

If 2020 has taught businesses anything, it’s the benefit of an online shop.  Millions of Australians have become very familiar with the online shopping experience, as they have battled to acquire goods and services during restrictions and lockdowns. Even if a vaccine re-sets us to life as it was in 2019, people are loving the convenience of shopping online and it’s going to become even more relevant.

There are some obvious benefits to having an online presence.

  • You can scale back your bricks and mortar retail presence. Or do away with it entirely.
  • You can easily collect data and re-market to people who have shown interest in your goods or services.
  • People can shop all hours of the day or night, at times that suit them.
  • You can branch out into international markets at little cost.
  • Your e-commerce website is doing the job your staff would do.
  • You can ensure your best sellers are front and centre of your site.
  • You can upscale your brand with a virtual presence that’s high class and intelligent.

But it’s not enough to simply create a website and load images of all your products or services onto it. There are a whole lot of complexities that you need to get right to provide a smooth customer experience, such as:

  • A secure website that protects financial data. This is critically important so don’t skimp on expertise in this area when selecting someone to build your site, if selling intentionally.
  • A robust site.  You can’t sell when your site is down so ensure that your site is hosted by a reputable provider.
  • Consider a currency converter if you’re targeting overseas markets.
  • Also look at a language translator options for your site.
  • Consider implementing a reminder email to someone who abandons their cart without completing the transaction – e.g. “You left something in your cart and we’ve saved it for you.”
  • Be upfront about delivery fees. If you can provide free delivery, trumpet it.  Or it may be that you offer free delivery over a certain amount. But whatever you do, don’t let the delivery cost be a nasty surprise at the checkout. That’s when people will bail.
  • Order status. Set delivery expectations and keep in touch with your customer by email, updating them on the order status. Order received, order packed, order despatched, tracking information.
  • Consider providing a discount for the first online order. This should appear front and centre of your home page when people have been on your homepage for a short while. Look at your bounce rates and time the offer to appear just before the average time for people to bounce out.

Once the technology is squared away, it’s time to focus on providing as much information as you can to your online customers so that they purchase with confidence.

  • Beautiful photos of your products or services. They should be able to be zoomed in – particularly for fashion – for a detailed look.
  • Whether they are technical or more general, the more information the better. What’s it made of? Fabric type?  Colours available? Sizes? Dimensions?
  • If you are selling clothes or shoes then people need to know what your sizes actually mean. Have a click through table of measurements per size.
  • This one is really important with the prevalence of food allergies and dietary requirements.

An online retail store is not set and forget – it needs to be continually evaluated and updated.  If you’re unsure how your site is performing, a good starting place is a website audit. Customer feedback is also really valuable in your mission to have the best online retail experience.

Author: Tony Tran, digital media specialist at FC Business Solutions.