E-commerce is having a glow up, its #trending. Retail e-commerce sales worldwide reached $2.304 trillion in 2017, a 24.8% increase over the previous year. (source) this trend is predicted to keep going as the market’s predicted to double by 2021 to 4.8 trillion. (source)
If anyone is floored by that growth, wait until you make your first one-click-buy on Amazon, or download the Aliexpress app and sit around buying hilarious 0.50$ pet toys for your cat after your fourth Ubereats order of the week. You may just find yourself with a basket of cat accessories and takeaway paper bags that has started to make you question your drinking habits. Either way, e-commerce is pervasive and here to stay.
Now as there have absolutely been strides in e-commerce in the past few years, there still leaves some to be desired by the sites that got left in 2015. Let’s take a look at some of the best and least best E-commerce practices.
1. Be pleasant. Be Inviting. Be Warm.
At this point entering an e-commerce website is nearly the equivalent of entering a physical store. Some people may be there by accident, wandering around, others may be there enthusiastically browsing with their less enthusiastic significant other. The point is that you have to make your guests experience as pleasant as possible.
Once landed, invite your guest in, and immediately give them something to do. Have your visitor interact with your page. Beardbrand.com offers a ‘what kind of beardsman are you?’ quiz’ a fantastic way to engage customers. This engagement protocol can also be as simple as a ‘get started’ button, a sale items area, or changes of product imagery once hovered upon. Keep it simple and keep it engaging. AND no immediate pop-ups, please! I just got here, you haven’t earned my email yet, be patient, seduce my email out of me. Who do you think you are? Greenpeace?!
2. Don’t pretend to be what you’re not. Know your niche: Fill it. Live it.
While the biggest E-commerce players such as Amazon, Alibaba, or Zalando have a nearly transparent style to their websites and apps, the smaller niche players can’t afford that bland flavor.
Today people are interested in a brands personality as much, if not more, than their products, an image which has to be translated into a website as much as possible take a look at the difference between Nerf.com and Uncle Goose.
Uncle Goose (above) is a niche e-commerce store for woodblock memory games, with it’s landing page simple, relaxed and to the point. Astute simple quality.
Bonus: Very niche e-commerce sites like uncle goose’s woodblocks are on the rise thanks to new abilities in great search engine optimization, and of course the obvious lack of competition.
Nerf’s landing page immediately gives a browsing child the ability to play a small nerf shooting target game. Exciting, colorful, interactive, and adrenaline building, clear tone that this website is about nerf gun toys.
While at Ali baba there is no immediate projection of what I should expect from this website besides that there are a lot of options. This transparent style works for them, but quite obviously won’t work for the more niche e-commerce website.
3. Social Media isn’t only your friend, it’s the culture. It’s trust building imagery.
It’s the medium in which people communicate, learn, and keep entertained today. It’s not enough anymore to post packshots to a brands social media profile and call it a social presence. Tbh, I take it as a personal attack when I see packshots in my feed.
Today brands should throw away packshots, and look to social media users real life posts, or at least mimic their style, search hashtags, and content and think about creating a dedicated feed of user-created content right on the landing page. Just as a number of other brands have taken to, like Daniel Wellington, Fashionnova, and Koovs, who’ve added sections of their websites where social media users who’ve used certain hashtags may be lucky enough to be able to see their posts featured on the brands’ websites. Promoting the concept for brand ambassadors and publishing content that is extremely relatable to today’s social media savvy consumer.
In terms of Fashionnova they have added an entire ‘shop the gram’ section of their website, so not only can Instagram users be redirected to their website from Instagram. But also, when users post content wearing their Fashionnova clothing with their hashtag, Fashionnova can then find and repost it to their profile with the shopable option to the post, which is then fed to their website feed. Ultimately creating a strong social, even competitive, community of consumers. In turn, this social strategy has had the owner of Fashionnova calling the brand an Instagram brand and has said the social tactics are a huge player in the companies whopping 600% growth in 2017.
This following Daniel Wellington’s social moves in a similar vein, which had influencers frame the brands relaxed and ‘dapper’ aesthetic, which is consistent throughout all of its Instagram feed. (above)
Last note on the social media aspect of e-commerce, every e-commerce brand should be leveraging social media in one way or another. Whether paid ads, influencers, scroll up Instastories to landing page links, or Snapchat filters, the proper creative use of social media will be a brands road to power.
4. Keep shoppers focused with a prominent breadcrumb
Okay so you have a guest in your store, they’re browsing, they got lost in the sauce, bouncing from one thing to the next but how do they get back to the other thing from five dresses and two pairs of shoes and a poncho ago? Breadcrumbs.
On the side of the page keep your all of your guests ‘maybes’ or favorites in a recently looked at sidebar, or a simple breadcrumb bar above to make it easier for them to get back to their search results, and to what they really needed.
5. Confirm when shoppers add a product to their cart
This one is easy, make sure your guest knows what’s going on and they know what they did. A little icon is all it really takes to make your shoppers e-commerce experience a bit more pleasant and navigable. Also please make the cart straightforward. And If I have to make an account to checkout, well I’m probably gone, see ya. Thanks, Bye.
6. Checkout form has to be a fulfilling experience.
Okay. Where do I even begin? This is easily the second most important point here -behind the social media aspect. I’m gonna break it down real quick because we’re at the end and I’m honored you’ve kept up this far.
A- give them a progress bar, so your buyer knows the steps that are gonna be involved to complete this task, while also breaking it up, and giving your guest a sense of completion.
B- remove all clutter from the screen, sidebars headers-footers, let them go, let them focus, they’re giving you their money after all.
C- Use plugins, thanks to great plugins you can easily make the checkout process way more streamlined for your customer and also give them multiple payment options, from PayPal to crypto, to whatever else might be popular in your market.
GREAT! … Now you have to customize the experience for mobile.
Okay, you have their attention online, an engaging landing page, consistent aesthetic, and message, they’ve been shopping around you know their interests… Now change everything for mobile… Except for the social aspect, that should stay. And the aesthetic, that stays too.
Mobile obviously has to be suited for the form, until now mobile has been a browsing platform more than a purchasing platform. Because who wants to use a phone to buy things in 2015?
However, if you’ve been reading this article all the way through without any Instagram breaks you may remember that e-commerce is up 24% from 2016 -2017 to 2.3 trillion dollars. Well, mobile spend was a key factor as m-commerce accounted for 58.9% of all digital sales in 2017! And by 2021 M-commerce is predicted to account for 72% of all e-commerce spend. While 28% of this will come from my Ubereats and cat toy allowance.
I’m straying from the point, as e-commerce becomes more pervasive so will m-commerce and with this will be the need to customize the experience again for the mobile guest.
7. Finally, what’s the magic word?
Once a guest has completed a sale, thank them and wish them well, treat your customers like people. I’m sure you’ll have returning customers.