Digital is playing a larger and more meaningful role in the shopper journey. According to Google, between 72-90% of shoppers begin their journey online, so having a comprehensive online strategy is key to winning with the modern shopper. Whether consumers intend to buy online or in-store, the majority are turning to digital formats to begin their research and narrow down the list of products that fit their needs and the retailers where they’ll ultimately make their purchase.
Central to the growth of digital is ecommerce. While ecommerce represents a small portion of retail sales (roughly 13% in 2021, according to Statista), it is growing rapidly and is becoming an expectation of the modern shopper. It’s critical for retailers to have an ecommerce strategy and to continue to evolve it as shifts in consumer behavior become evident.
Here are five strategies for implementing a successful, frictionless ecommerce strategy that will allow you to experience the same success online as you are experiencing in your brick-and-mortar stores today.
1. Attract shoppers
Building a successful ecommerce program starts with attracting in-market customers to your website. This can be accomplished with a combination of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and paid media (paid search, display advertising, shopping ads, etc.).
In terms of SEO, you’ll want to work with your website provider to ensure your site is tagged with the keywords and phrases that represent the products and services you offer. An optimized site will increase your search engine rankings and make it easier for consumers to find you online. Paid media allows you to compete for one of the top spots in search engine rankings, Google Shopping ads and other ad types. This is a critical component of a solid digital marketing strategy as competition in this area has ratcheted up. You can work with your digital team or ad agency to determine the optimal budget and approach to maximize the ROI of your investment.
2. Provide a great user experience online
As a retailer, you have spent your career optimizing your in-store experience to delight your customers and help facilitate sales. This same approach and care should be extended to your website as it requires the same continuous attention to detail as your store. Make sure that the look-and-feel and tone of your website match your brand essence. Your content, assortment, pricing, etc., should be up-to-date and match your in-store experience.
One key website feature to consider is offering online chat. A growing segment of consumers prefers to interact online versus calling in to the store. This provides you the opportunity to capture customers you may otherwise have lost and to offer the same great service you typically provide over the phone or in-store.
Additionally, it is important that you manage your online reputation. Monitor your ratings and reviews on outlets such as Google and Yelp and respond to customers that may not have had a great experience. Prospective customers will want to see that you take this feedback seriously and take care of your customers. A proactive approach to reputation management will help build credibility and trust, and will set an expectation with consumers on how they will be treated.
3. Optimize your product details pages
Consumers today demand an efficient online experience with minimal clicks and an abundance of information to help them make a purchase decision. Provide as much information as you can on your product pages to answer the questions you think a consumer needs to answer to make a purchase decision. This includes:
- High resolution images and multimedia
- In-stock or availability information (extremely important right now considering continued supply constraints)
- Transparent pricing
- Shipping information including costs and timeline
- Warranty information
4. Provide financing options
Consumers expect options. It is no longer enough to solely offer traditional credit card checkout. Consumers expect to be able to pay from mobile wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay or from buy-now-pay-later options like Zip, Affirm, Bread and Klarna. It is especially important for higher dollar purchases such as appliances and furniture to also offer long term financing through consumer finance options like Synchrony and Wells Fargo. These providers can also help add payment estimates to your product pages so your customers can easily understand how affordable their purchase can be when utilizing finance options..
5. Affirm their purchase
This is an area where many retailers fall short. The shopping journey doesn’t end with the click of the ‘Checkout’ button. Post-purchase actions are just as important and can make the difference in developing a long-lasting relationship with a customer versus a one-and-done sale.
First, make the customer feel confident in their purchase. On the order confirmation, use language that re-affirms that the customer made a great decision. Additionally, give them information on what to expect next – things like anticipated delivery dates, or any work they need to do in the home to prepare for installation. These type of actions build trust and confidence with the customer and show them you are there to support them beyond the initial sale.
By implementing these tactics, you will be well on your way to attracting, converting, and building loyalty with today’s shoppers. And remember, the shopper journey is ever evolving. Continue to measure, evaluate and optimize your digital strategy frequently to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Aaron Bundschuh is Chief Digital and Technology Officer for Nationwide Marketing Group.