E-Commerce Best Practices: Creating an Online Destination
Are you omnichannel ready? You’ve probably been asked or have asked yourself this question. Omnichannel has definitely been the biggest topic in retail as of late. Omnichannel is the coming together of many pieces in an overall retail strategy and one of the major components retailers need to tackle is e-commerce.
For retailers, websites and mobile apps are not just e-commerce ordering vehicles – they are virtual store fronts and branding mechanisms. At the same time, physical stores are not just showrooms – they are testing labs, points of purchase, help desks, shipping centers, and return locations.
Consumers are continually pushing retailers to improve the shopping experience, whether it’s in-store, online, on their phones - or more likely a combination of the three. The modern consumer is now researching potential purchases on multiple websites, actively surfing the web, scouring social media and blogs for product reviews and ultimately completing the purchase wherever is most appropriate for them.
We know that consumers prefer to come in-store and they are using physical stores, online and mobile solutions as part of their purchase decision.
“It has become clear that those retailers who seamlessly integrate the best of both digital and physical worlds at each step of the customer experience are likely to enjoy significant advantages over retailers that try to pursue either one alone or both independently.” – Brayden Gervan, iQmetrix Product Marketing Manager
So, how can we leverage e-commerce to create an online destination and capitalize on every sales opportunities? It all comes down to effectively incorporating e-commerce into the buying cycle and supporting it with a consistent in-store experience. Using MarketTrack’s recent study for insight, there are some things your website should have to tailor to the new steps in the consumer buying process including:
- Show Availability - Have in-store inventory match what is shown online. When asked what information would be the most useful to have from their favorite retailers websites before going to a physical store, 82% of respondents chose current product availability as their top choice.
- Display Store Policies - Reassure your customers that they can quickly and easily go in store to make returns and put this on your site.
- Showcase Promotions, Stock Quantities - Proactively alert your customers about promotions, last chance inventory and re-stocked inventory when it becomes available.
- Price Match - When possible consider price matching to your competitors and any online offers consumers are finding – as all of us as consumer love to get a deal.
- Deals – Offer your customers online coupons and in-store promotions. Consumers are frequently searching for promotions or coupon codes before making a purchase decision.
- Offer Click & Collect - Present online coupons and savings for your customers who are visiting your website in an effort to drive them in-store. Over half of consumers who have received coupons of this nature said they would not have bought the item if they hadn’t received the discount.
- Display In-depth Product Information - Include product details for those consumers who do a lot of research before making their final decision.
- Encourage Trying In-Store - If you are not able to do online transactions, 81% of consumers responded it’s important to offer online ordering with in-store pick up. Almost all of consumers surveyed said that visuals are the top influencing factor affecting a purchase decision so it’s important to demonstrate online how products fit into their lifestyle through product imagery and video, and then encourage customers to come in an test a product in-store.
So despite that the consumer purchase process now involves both showrooming and webrooming, the opportunity is shifting back to brick and mortar with most consumers wanting to complete the purchase in-store. Retailers need to use their e-commerce solution as more than a place to get company and location information.
Leverage your solution to get customers into your store using some or all of the techniques we described and take advantage of multiple touch points to increase conversions.