Published on by Meghan Goetz, Director of Marketing
The pandemic has raised the stakes for eCommerce sites as consumers of all ages spend more time on the web than ever. When they’re not working or taking classes remotely, they’re shopping, socializing and streaming entertainment on their phones, tablets and computers.
Consumers who have embraced the digital lifestyle have come to expect a lot. At the very least, they demand personalization, speed, and performance. Beyond that, they want a seamless user experience (UX) that’s exceptional, dynamic, and relevant. To satisfy them, and to thrive in an increasingly sophisticated and more demanding marketplace, retailers must create a winning website experience, finding the right approach, technology, and partners.
Here are three steps to help you set priorities, select the right tools and vendors, and compete more effectively now and in the years ahead.
Focus on the Customer Experience (CX)
Online shopping, which skyrocketed over the past year, won’t go away as the pandemic wanes. Consumers who’ve grown accustomed to the convenience of internet shopping are likely to keep buying household basics and consumables online. If you want your website to be their go-to source, be diligent about monitoring and updating the customer experience (CX). Make sure your site is user-friendly and accessible so visitors can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. Don’t sacrifice functionality and ease of use for a flashy new design.
Even buyers who want the immediacy of shopping at a brick and mortar store won’t completely abandon online retailers. Many are still wary of crowded, enclosed spaces and not ready for a leisurely browse of store aisles. They’d prefer to scope out the options on the web, check availability, then pick up their purchase curbside or with a quick in-and-out visit.
Some fashion retailers are encouraging this hybrid shopping approach to expedite purchases of clothing, which is notoriously difficult to buy sight unseen. Shoppers can choose items and specify sizes on the retailer’s site, then visit the store, where sales associates have their selections ready to be tried on. Emerging tech developments such as 3D and virtual try-before-you-buy experiences will also motivate more consumers to shop online for clothing, furniture and other items that don’t lend themselves to a quick point-and-click purchase.
As shopping options become more varied, the CX will assume even more importance. Make sure your CX meets your customers’ needs and is equal or better than the competition’s. Personalization and a focus on CX will create a winning website experience for your customers.
Look for a Stable & Scalable Platform
The look and feel of your website is clearly a top priority, but what goes on behind the scenes matters, too. A poorly chosen digital experience platform (DXP) can undermine even the best-designed site. Customers may love your online storefront, but even ardent fans won’t stick around if it constantly crashes. You’ll also lose business if you make visitors work too hard—say, if the site requires them to log back in repeatedly, rather than carrying their details across the platform.
Overly complicated platforms can hamper usability and functionality, and the need for custom code can slow development cycles and jack up costs. Alarm bells should go off if the vendor tells you that their proprietary DXP option needs customizations, add-ons or complex upgrades.
A growing number of retailers are turning instead to Open Source based DXPs that offer greater flexibility to respond to change, as well as a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than traditional or proprietary solutions. The code has been proven effective and is continually enhanced — at no cost to the retailer. An Open Source DXP can integrate across an entire organization, unifying content creation, sales data, CRM functionality, marketing campaigns and a multitude of other touchpoints. This not only ensures performance but can integrate a broad range of information and applications to yield critical data.
Pick the Right Digital Partner
It’s not easy to develop and manage a great front-end experience and the solid technical platform needed to support it. There are thousands of things happening in the background, across a multitude of systems. It takes specific expertise to make everything run smoothly, and odds are your internal staff doesn’t have the time or advanced technical skills to do it all on their own.
That’s where the right web partner comes in. Your best ally is an expert you can count on to ensure that integrations and customization are done correctly, giving you the flexibility and scalability a growing business needs. An experienced vendor who already knows the best practices and pitfalls can help with planning and anticipate needs.
When your website can give a prospective customer the right item quickly and deliver a great experience, you’ll gain more loyal customers. And you’ll be poised to perfect your offerings and capitalize as retail momentum continues to swing toward online.
At Crowd Favorite, our “bread and butter” is doing the work to elevate the future of the digital experience our partners need. If you’d like help with getting started or need a partner to work alongside you through your digital transformation, please reach out to us.
If you want to read more about creating a seamless website experience in retail, check out our article on Retail Customer Experience.