Creating the kind of shopping experience that your customers want and expect is critical and that means staying on top of the latest shopping trends and your competitors offering to keep up with the eCommerce features in demand. However, while you risk losing customers if you fall behind, you must be mindful of your eCommerce platform’s limitations. Your decision to implement new features must be based on consumer demand and your platform’s ability to incorporate and maintain that feature. Failing to do both will result in wasted resources and unhappy customers.
What People Want
There is no shortage of new eCommerce features/functions regularly coming out. Some last the test of time…others do not. While the online giants have the resources to develop and test them all, other not-so-giant sellers devote precious resources and sink cash into features that may never pay off.
For example, Google Checkout was all the rage a few years back and showed the promise of adding another payment option to streamline the process at checkout. Many platform providers, custom developers and the brands they supported jumped to implement the new functionality. Unfortunately, the general public did not embrace it and Google Checkout fell by the wayside. Those eCommerce businesses that invested in this feature unfortunately did not see a return on that investment.
Small and mid-sized eCommerce sites must always begin with the basics of what their consumers want, and test if enhancing any of these must-haves with new eCommerce features will boost sales and only then bake them into your site.
- SEO. If shoppers can’t find your website, they won’t be buying from you. Make sure your content is relevant, there are keywords in your title tag and all your landing pages have keywords in their H1.
- Easy to Test & Change. A good eCommerce platform simplifies things for you as well as your customers. Does your platform allow you to quickly test new landing pages, thank you pages, buttons and images then easily implement the winners?
- Cross-Selling & Up-Selling Features. Consumers expect and appreciate product recommendation that are personalized and relevant. According to one report, recommending related or enhanced products can boost sales by 10 to 30 percent.
- Advanced Payment Options. Consider the needs of your customers. For B2C sites, this means offering options like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay and other gateways. Data shows that these payment options will last the test of time. B2B suppliers need to consider everything from international payment options to bulk pricing.
- Mobile Functionality. Mobile shopping is no longer limited to the B2C market. Up to 75 percent of B2B buyers search on their mobile device before placing their order and 16 percent of all visits to B2B eCommerce sites are mobile users. A customized design that looks and functions seamlessly across devices—from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers—is no longer considered optional. It’s a must!
- Social Proof. Buyers trust the recommendations of others when considering a purchase. From simple star ratings to lengthy reviews, even the complex buying processes of B2B consumers is affected by peer reviews. Remember, B2B buyers are completing up to 60 percent of the purchase process before engaging sellers—part of that includes reading reviews so make them easy to find and relevant.
- Security. Even if the most recent data breach to hit the news has no effect on your business directly, your customers are going to be worried about their privacy and you should be too. Make sure your DDos and PCI standards are rock solid using the latest encryption and threat detection and mitigation techniques.
Building your eCommerce features around these consumer demands is likely to provide good ROI. If you are considering features outside of these essential basics, then take the time to make sure that the consumer demand is there, and that the feature is not a passing trend that might seem promising, but fail to deliver in terms of incremental sales.
Delivering on Consumer Demands
When consumer demand for a particular feature is high and an increase in conversions and average order value seems likely, every effort should be made to implement that feature. But Mid-Market eCommerce Businesses often struggle to find, afford and retain technical eCommerce professionals on a full time basis. If that sounds like you, look to your partner and tap into their talented group of eCommerce technical professionals for help. Partnering with your provider to enhance your site and implement new eCommerce features means you can commit fewer of your own precious resources and free them up to concentrate on other internal IT projects.
Eyes on the Future
Scalable and flexible eCommerce solutions are providing B2B and B2C sites with the ability to deliver experiences that meet customer expectations and drive revenue. The trend toward in-the-cloud solutions is pointing to fewer on-premise customized sites in favor of configurable, scalable and highly available solutions.
According to a recent forecast from Forrester, B2B eCommerce in the US is expected to grow from $825 billion to $1.3 trillion by 2020 and globally to $6.7 trillion in the same timeframe. Cell phones and tablets are expected to generate nearly half of eCommerce sales, and more than 80 percent of buyers are turning to the supplier's website to research products.
The customer demand for relevant online search and streamlined purchasing is here to stay, and will only increase over time. When considering which eCommerce features to implement, each must be centered around improving the shopping experience, especially from mobile devices.
If the features you are considering are not future-facing and instead are about untested pet projects, then meeting the goal of predictable, long-term increases in conversions and average order size will not be the likely outcome.