With the emergence and rapid growth of the internet has come increased opportunities in creating an online business. Suddenly the need for and associated costs of a brick and mortar store have been eradicated and entrepreneurs can kick off their dream businesses by simply buying or creating a website.
Things are not as simple as creating a great website. However, E-commerce can be a tricky and even merciless venture to go into. Marketing is imperative to draw customers to your site and converting those clicks to sales can be even trickier.
In this, we are going to take a look at a number of e-commerce stores that have found ways of penetrating the market and making a success out of their online stores. We chatted to a few of them of them to find out what their key to success was, and how you can implement it in your organization.
It’s All In The Content
In every single company we spoke to, content always came out as their number one strategy to drive traffic to the site. Content not only drives up your SEO and searchability, but it also solidifies you as a key thought leader in your field.
One company, in particular, relies on content to encourage visitors to the site to read the daily articles being posted in the newsroom. The site is an online insurance comparison site, which profits from customers comparing quotes and taking out insurance with one of the partnered insurance companies. The problem? Insurance is simply not sexy. It is generally almost completely unmarketable and is a grudge purchase that most people would rather spend their hard earned cash on. The second issue is that once someone has insurance cover, the chances of them changing or adding is very slim.
The company, therefore, had to find a way to draw people into the site and highlight why they need to take out insurance or compare for a better price. This is where the content came in. The company realized that there was a need to create content on topics around traffic, car and insurance related topics. The idea was to become a trusted news source and consumer champion that readers could rely on for up-to-date, useful and educational content.
If the reader knew that they could rely on the content, they could rely on them too for accurate and trustworthy insurance. They knew they that with this company, they would not be ripped off, they would be getting a good deal and be looked after and that their information and finances were safe with the company.
An Optimized Check-Out Process
Cart abandonment is one of the biggest downfalls of most e-commerce companies. In fact, almost 63% of all carts online find themselves abandoned. We chatted to one company that struggled immensely with this to find out the strategies they put in place to overcome it.
The company is an online wine and alcohol sales store. It specializes in fine, high-valued wines and targets mostly wine connoisseurs and those that prefer the finer things in life. But that doesn’t mean they can forget those who are browsing to get a case or two delivered for holidays or parties or simply to stock up.
Cart abandonment was one of the biggest headaches for the company and they would find themselves having to empty out several carts every day for months. So, they took a look at what the problem was. In fact, they spoke directly to their customer to find out what the problem was.
- Long check-out process
This was one of the biggest problems for most customers. They were buying wine, not taking out a bond on a new home. There was no reason for the company to have over three pages of forms and fields to fill out. The entire process on almost 70% of the checkout process was abandoned over two pages.
The company took a long, hard look at what they could cut out and what was absolutely unnecessary information to collect from the customer. They did away with at least 60% of the fields and consolidated the needed information into one form, with the next clicking directly to the payment page.
The company then ensured that return customers would not need to fill out the information again, which increased sales by around 34%. Autofill turned out to be a turning point for the company as customers went through the full process in under three minutes.
- The payment stage was not trustworthy
In saying this, it wasn’t the case that the site was NOT trustworthy, it was more of the case of it not appearing to be trustworthy. Most customers are extremely wary of sharing their financial information online in the first place. They are all aware of the dangers of sharing card information that can easily be stolen and used in fraudulent transactions.
The customers reported back to the site that they had not reaffirmed on the site that all transactions would be protected. There weren’t enough guarantees on the site that the customers’ details would be safe with the company. The company took a look at the site and included numerous banners on all pages, including the product and payment pages indicating the level of protection.
They then went through the full payment process themselves to ascertain just how smooth the process was and found that the one stage too alarmingly long and held the customer waiting in limbo.
The key learnings that they took from the exercise was this:
- You cannot highlight enough that the payment process is secure and safe;
- Go through the payment process on your site often to see what your customer sees;
- Give your customers options. Allow for Paypal, credit card, EFT and if you can, COD.
- Hidden fees and costs that surprised them at the end
A high rate of cart abandonment is also due to the surprise inclusions just as the customer is about to pay. One of these includes the shipping fees that are usually only included once the customer is at the checkout stage.
It turned out to be a huge deterrent in people doing transactions on the site, especially when the shipping cost more than the actual product! In the wine companies case, many regular customers visited the site to buy unique wines, certain vintages or even collectors cultivars and would spend a great amount of money on them, so would be unphased by shipping. But the market that the company wanted to penetrate, the regular alcohol purchaser was always put off by the attached shipping costs as popping to the shops was simpler and cheaper.
In order to overcome this, the company made some changes to its ecommerce shipping strategies:
- The estimated shipping cost was included on product pages to eliminate any surprises at the end;
- Several offers were created for shipping; first-time customers would get the products shipped for free, loyal and repeat customers would get free shipping on their fifth or tenth purchase, free shipping would kick in after the full purchase value was over a certain amount and customers could win free shipping through offers and competitions.
Making The Site Mobile
The third site that we are going to take a look at is an online health and product shop. Their popularity grew exponentially once they launched due to their targeting strategies and unique product offering. They found, however, that they reached a plateau of growth with their repeat customer base in the organic community.
In order to expand further, they saw that they had to make the site mobile to encourage new visitors to the site and to convert to customers. The social marketing was one of the biggest drivers for the site to go mobile and for a functional app to be created.
Potential customers would spot a product being advertised on Facebook or Instagram and the whole buying process simplified by linking the advert to a mobile site. Repeat customers could then download the app for a simplified shopping experience.
What we learned from all of the sites that we chatted to was that learning what your customer wants is vital. You need to go through the full customer journey yourself, checking out all of the touchpoints and see how functional you would find the site. If you ask yourself, “Would I buy from my site”, your answer better be yes, otherwise you need to start making those changes today!