While there are hundreds of thousands of e-Commerce sites on the Internet, the majority of them do not tap into the full sales potential of this dynamic medium. So what can be done to take your rote e-commerce site and move it to the elite category? In today’s post we are going to address the five e-commerce site features that separate the average from the optimized.
1. Offer advanced search results to customers.
Benefit: The easier it is for customers to find exactly what they're looking for, the higher are purchase rates.
Reasoning: Advanced search results can include product details, item categories, pricing and images. This feature can also encourage users to take the time to think through what they're searching for and help them get the instant positive and rewarding feedback of relevant results every time. Along the same vein, be sure your site search isn’t penalizing customers if they don’t know the exact metadata to get relevant results.
2. Inline field validation.
Benefit: Frustration during checkout significantly increases the probability of losing sales transactions either through cart abandonment or from physically preventing the user from being able to place the order.
Reasoning: Field validation is an important component of the transaction process, as it helps reduce error rates and can provide user confidence during the checkout process. Carefully select which fields to require validation on, to make sure that customer orders aren't impossible to complete or create frustrating errors. (Smashing Magazine's 2012 study provides some good information about this topic.) Validation fields to consider are email addresses, credit card numbers, zip codes, or cities. Also, keep in mind that there is a difference between inline validation and simply requiring that a field have a value provided.
3. Animated shopping carts.
Benefit: Animated shopping carts can keep visitors engaged in shopping while potentially driving increased revenue per transaction with add-on sales.
Reasoning: Shopping carts provide users with a visual confirmation that their product has been added to their purchase list and provide them a means to easily checkout when they're ready while also supporting the option to continue their shopping experience. Deciding the best way to implement this for your business will mean that cart presentation will vary from site to site.
4. Real-time inventory tracking.
Benefit: Designing your site to reflect current, saleable and deliverable inventory helps prevent disappointment when a customer wants to order a product or specific size, only to find out that it's unavailable.
Reasoning: This point doesn’t really require much explanation but disappointing a potential customer who has decided to buy and feels that a site lied to them about inventory levels can cost you not only that one sale but also any future business from them or the friends they complain to about their experience. If your industry tends to have fluctuating inventory levels, helpful information on when the product will be available again, along with possibly adding the option for them to be notified (or allowing them to pre-order) when it's available again can remedy this situation.
5. Creating video demos.
Benefit: Seeing is believing! A product 'in action' allows the customer to evaluate whether it is a good fit for them as well as helping them to imagine themselves interacting with it.
Reasoning: Providing the means for potential customers to gain an increased confidence-level about their purchase decision encourages the customer to place their order and can decrease returns.
Of course these five features are not the end-all-be-all for online shopping success, but they are high-impact features that are fairly easily to implement and use well-established technologies. Are you ready to revisit the user experience on your e-commerce site? Give us a call. IdentityMine can help you evaluate purchase flow, help you decide which features (including many not discussed above) will provide the largest value add for your specific business and help determine your criteria for success.