Building an online store and connecting it to a range of eCommerce solutions is a lot of work. By the time you’ve set up your web server, web authoring tools, analytics software and your shopping cart, it’s easy to forget about the customer journey when putting your eCommerce tech stack together.
With the various technology solutions available on the market, and the rising demand for seamless customer experience, we’re beginning to see a divide in eCommerce emerging. On one hand, we have more technology solutions available than ever before to cater to our customers. But on the other hand, integrating several different software applications and getting them to work effectively in an eCommerce framework can provide your customers with a patchy and confusing shopping experience.
In this post, we look at some key areas in your technology stack that might be impacting your customer’s experience and how you can rethink your approach to the Frankenstack.
Unified Purchasing Journey
Let’s be real, some eCommerce sites provide an overwhelming customer journey, pushing buyers in and out of secure sites, and in between apps and website interfaces. Ask yourself how your customers are moving through different phases of the purchasing journey: are they browsing products on your main website, then ending up on a completely different mobile app to make the transaction, and then finally on a whole other platform in order to determine the shipping method?
If you answered yes, you’ll need to look into how your customers are perceiving your brand throughout that journey, as well as how your data is being fed throughout these different platforms.
Often consumers will ask themselves, ‘Surely there is a simple way to combine all the aspects of an eCommerce into one simple, easy and accessible site or app?’.
The rapid growth and expansion of eCommerce have made it necessary for retailers to reassess how technology can unify systems and platforms so they can create a smooth customer experience, from beginning to end.
For omnichannel and multichannel businesses this means unifying all your sales channels so customers can access the products they want from the channel they want to purchase them from. For example, if half your customers prefer to buy in-store but the other half prefer to order online, unifying your inventory from your POS and your warehouse with ERP platforms like Magento will enable you to keep better track of the inventory available through all your sales channels.
The biggest challenge in unifying your eCommerce technologies would be navigating legacy systems and ensuring new platforms you introduce can seamlessly integrate with the rest of your business intelligence systems. Here are a few great examples of technology stacks used by some of the world’s largest online businesses, you’ll see that all of them use a mix of analytics tools, utilities, DevOps and business tools to ensure their data is totally unified.
Mobile Friendly Purchases
One of the most frustrating problems faced by consumers is the inability to purchase from their favourite online store on their handheld device. For many, online shopping is strictly about convenience and the ability to purchase an item, anywhere, anytime. The flip side to this is that many eCommerce sites function way better on a desktop or a laptop, totally disregarding the experience of purchasing goods on their site with an index finger and thumb on a tiny screen.
Slow mobile loading times, hard to press buttons, hard to read text and an impossible to navigate interface can all result in the ultimate loss of a sale. Customers are impatient and demand convenience, so if your mobile offering can’t deliver it, you may find a lot of people give on their sale during the purchasing experience.
As you can see from the above image, this online site displays the product images clearly. When you click on the product you’re interested in, all the information is easy to read and navigate through.
With the introduction of new sales channels like Instagram’s shoppable posts feature, there’ll be increasing pressure placed on eCommerce businesses to unify their buyer journey across all marketplaces, it’s never been more important to assess your eCommerce tech stack and how it’s catering toward your mobile consumers.
Product Visualisation, Photography and Viable Online Stores
We no longer live in a time where shoppers are cautious of purchasing online goods without first seeing it in the flesh, in fact, we now that perfectly executed visual merchandising can increase conversion rates by 71%.
The problem facing many eCommerce businesses today isn’t just the fact that they need to use the latest photography techniques to take beautiful and eye-catching product images, but you need data insights into what visual merchandising techniques are converting the most customers, how many units are being sold compared to how many times it’s viewed, and then combine this with a customer’s historical behaviour.
To do this effectively, you’ll need an automated merchandising system that captures critical information on users then assists with upselling at the checkout, which brings us to our next point.
One of the most frustrating aspects of running an eCommerce is cart abandonment. Picture this: a customer was just about to whip out the old credit card only to be scared away by shocking shipping fees, and boom, sale lost.
We covered how shipping can improve the customer experience in this blog post, but it’s also worth noting here that shipping is one of the biggest catalysts of cart abandonment. To avoid losing customers to surprising shipping costs, be upfront about it during the whole process, not just when they get to the checkout. Secondly, offer a range of different options (we wrote an eBook on that here), and then make sure you start testing to see whether or not cart abandonment rates are dropping.
If not, you might want to consider offering guest checkout options that make navigating between the cart and store effortless and also allow your customers to save items in their cart so they can come back later. As business owners, it’s easy to want to lock-in the next sale as quickly as possible, but the more trust you build with your customers shopping cart experience, the more likely they are to keep purchasing from you.
The security of your eCommerce business has far-reaching consequences on your brand’s reputation. It is absolutely vital for online retailers to consider how they’re treating their customer’s data through the whole purchasing journey. And unfortunately, the internet era has only compounded our need for data.
The more effective we are as eCommerce business owners, the more data we require on our customers and their purchasing behaviour. A single breach of security can be enough for consumers to lose all trust in a brand so it’s important that your website is secure. Ensure you establish and build trust in your transaction forms with the right verification software, and above all else, make sure you let your customers know what you’re doing with their data with transparent privacy policies.
When you start using new payment gateways or a new CMS, you need to assess how safe your customer’s data will be when it’s moving through a stack of different platforms, and you’ll also need to consider how safe your customers feel about your current technology stack.
Technological innovations can most definitely complicate the way in which eCommerce businesses operate, but if you’re not thinking about how the end-user interacts with your tech stack, you’ll start to lose sales from a complicated customer journey. It’s great to keep in the loop around new software and technology that can grow your online enterprise, but make sure these new platforms are easy for your customers to interact with.