Advances in computing technology have accelerated dramatically over the last decade – platform owners can now rapidly develop and deploy rich, interactive user experiences which were simply not possible a decade ago. Machine learning solutions, virtual assistants, CRM systems have transformed a range of sales and marketing processes. These technologies are highly accessible and rapidly deployable by businesses of all sizes, to remain competitive, e-commerce companies need to evolve, adapt and apply new tools and approaches.
To extract the maximum benefit, organisations should analyse existing performance, baselining it against competitors, to identify areas to be enhanced. It may be concluded that the user experience is outdated, or poorly performing, user support may need to be improved or there may be a requirement to integrate new payment methods.
It’s no secret that COVID has driven an explosion in the demand for online shopping services over the last 18 months. Already hugely popular, online retail has become a preferred way to make purchases for the majority, not just because of the pandemic, but also ease of scheduling, fast access to services, and savings on travel expenses. According to Statista, in 2020, retail e-commerce sales globally accounted for $4.28 trillion while electronic retail revenues are projected to increase to $5.4 trillion in 2022.
Given the burgeoning shift in demand, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers are increasing focus on delivering excellent online service. Online is the new-normal, it is now crucial to stand out from competitors and deliver a tailored online experience. Consumer mobility is high; sales are made by delivering richly interactive, personalised services. To address this new expectation, e-commerce companies should apply innovative technologies which may include tools such as machine learning solutions, virtual assistants, chatbots, and CRM systems.
Welcome to the “E-commerce Website 2.0” guide that explains how to improve the current online platform, boost customer engagement, and increase the conversion rate. We have produced this guide to provide an introductory break-down of the top technologies and techniques – helping businesses to understand which approach is more likely to deliver their desired benefit.
Top 8 ways to improve e-commerce performance
1. Redesign of an e-commerce website
The design of an e-commerce website has a direct impact on consumer satisfaction. SWEOR reports that 88% of online customers will not return to a web platform after a poor user experience. Analysts at WebFX have determined that design has a 75% impact on website credibility.
Therefore, it is essential to present a user-friendly design that aligns with the audience’s preferences. If a product design is outdated, the business should invest in its modernisation.
To ensure an amazing shopping experience, designers should create user interfaces that are attractive and self-explanatory, organising content and functionality in such a way that users can navigate the site and find the necessary information without even thinking.
It is also important to provide smooth navigation and design responsiveness. In 2020, nearly 55% of website traffic came from mobile devices, excluding tablets. As of March 2021, there were 3.6 billion smartphone users globally, this number is continuously growing and many territories are even reporting consumers carrying more than one device (Typically work and personal handsets). Hence, as well as accommodating desktop users, website designs should be both highly attractive and at least equally functional on mobile operating systems.
With a modern, intuitive, and well-performing design, e-commerce companies will both improve customer loyalty and boost customer engagement, resulting in more effective lead generation.
2. Integration of an AI-based chatbot
Serving the needs of both SMEs and large corporations, AI bots can vary in terms of price and functionality depending on their sophistication. With conversational technology, e-commerce businesses can automate request handling and relieve employees from manual and routine tasks such as responding to frequently asked questions and searching for information.
According to Linchpin, organisations will invest in artificial intelligence mainly to improve the customer experience. Experts report that 47% of companies are anticipated to incorporate AI-enabled chatbots to ensure great customer support, while 40% of participants are predicted to use them.
Wait-times are a perennial irritant in customer services. Unlike human specialists, chatbots can simultaneously process numerous inquiries and provide assistance 24/7. Since an AI bot can reduce response waiting times from up to several hours to seconds, an organisation can significantly boost user satisfaction.
3. The use of personalised recommendations
Personalisation is an essential feature of e-commerce websites, helping organisations improve customer service and increase conversion rates. Analysts believe that 54% of users prefer to receive a personalised online experience rather than a generic one. Another survey revealed that 74% of consumers feel frustrated when website content is not personalised.
According to Evergage’s report, the key advantages of personalisation are:
- Better user engagement (55%)
- Enhanced customer experience (55%)
- Raised conversion rates (51%)
- Increased brand perception (39%)
- More effective lead generation (46%).
Many of the world’s largest and most successful companies, such as Coca-Cola, Netflix, Amazon, Sephora, and Wells Fargo have already adopted personalisation techniques into their online customer services experience.
To implement tailored recommendations, an organisation can leverage machine learning algorithms, collecting, collating, and processing customer data such as location, product search and purchasing histories. When using this approach, e-commerce platforms can react to user preferences and provide them with tailored, real-time suggestions and advice.
When first building this functionality, an online store owner should approach a trusted e-commerce website development company with solid experience in machine learning and data analytics software.
4. Integration of an e-commerce website with back-office systems
In order to deliver great client service and boost user engagement, it is crucial to optimise processes such as sales, marketing, procurement, and inventory management.
To address industrial challenges, an organisation should integrate its e-commerce website with back-office systems, for instance, CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning).
CRM software allows companies to manage and raise interactions with potential and existing customers, as well as centralise data. With a better understanding of the audience’s needs, online stores increase customer lifetime value and retention rates.
Many CRM solutions also make it possible to track online payments, task statuses, and determine RoI on advertising expenses.
Experts at HubSpot found that businesses can increase sales by 29% by employing CRM applications.
By integrating an e-commerce website with an ERP system, online retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers can achieve better visibility of operations, control stock availability, facilitate accounting and procurement processes.
ERP software also enables businesses to improve the accuracy and unification of data collected from disparate sources, such as different departments and partners. As a consequence, e-commerce companies can improve the quality and transparency of operations, achieve more effective cooperation with supply chain partners, and reduce costs.
5. The use of gamification
Gamification is one of the main e-commerce website development trends through 2021 and will remain a focus for some years to come. Mordor Intelligence reports that the worldwide gamification market is projected to rise from nearly $10.2 million in 2020 to over $38.4 million by 2026, progressing at a CAGR of 25.1% during the indicated period. Globally recognised companies like Nike and Coca-Cola have already adopted this technique in their market offering.
With gamification, businesses can improve the shopping experience, retain customers, increase brand loyalty, and boost sales as a result. The most common ways to implement this technique include:
- Tiered loyalty programs
- Promotional contests
- Using rewards and bonuses to motivate buying behaviours.
The gaming industry in particular has embraced gamification to incentivise participation behaviours.
The use of gamification features helped Hewlett-Packard increase revenue by 30%-42% in two consecutive months.
6. Progressive web apps to improve mobile experience
To download a PWA, users don’t have to visit the Google Play or Apple App Store, they just need to add a website to their smartphone home screens.
Aiming to improve customer engagement, many organisations are building PWAs serving as mobile-friendly websites that can be installed on smartphones.
A PWA has been developed and deployed by globally recognised companies in many different sectors—for example, Forbes, Twitter, Pinterest, Flipboard, AliExpress, Nikkei, PureFormulas—all managed to improve customer service and increase profits by developing their own PWA.
Thanks to its own PWA, AliExpress was able to grow the number of new users across all browsers by around 105%, the conversion rate on iOS devices—by over 82%, and the number of pages visited per session—by 50%.
7. The integration of various payment methods
With the view of improving customer service and increasing user satisfaction, it is important to support the use of as many payment methods as possible. By integrating an e-commerce platform with a payment gateway, for instance, PayPal, a company will enable payments via various debit and credit cards, bank account, PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus, and more.
With Braintree, another popular gateway solution, an organisation can allow users to make purchases using Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Visa, Mastercard, and other means. However, when choosing a payment gateway, a company has to verify that the necessary countries accept it. For example, Germany, Israel, and Panama do not support Stripe.
To gain a competitive advantage, businesses can offer consumers the opportunity to use their cryptocurrency wallets when shopping. Compared with more traditional payment ways, crypto wallets have higher security while ensuring ease of use.
8. The use of voice shopping
Voice recognition technologies have improved dramatically in the last few years. Building on this capability, voice shopping has featured as an e-commerce website development trend through 2021 and looks set to retain traction in the future. PwC estimated that 71% of customers preferred to conduct queries with their voices instead of typing in 2018.
The use of voice assistants increased during the COVID-19 pandemic by 7%, according to GlobalWebIndex. Last year, Google and Carrefour chain of supermarkets established cooperation on implementing voice-activated grocery shopping in France.
Experts at OC&C Strategy Consultants predict that purchases made through virtual assistants will reach $40 billion by 2022.
Since the popularity of this product search method is growing, online retailers can improve customer service by applying voice shopping functionality.
E-commerce website improvement case studies
1. Pura Vida uses personalisation to improve customer service
Established in 2010, Pura Vida is a retail company that delivers accessories to customers worldwide. For the purpose of ensuring an engaging shopping experience, the organisation implemented personalisation by adding two recommendation categories on their e-commerce website: “Products you recently viewed” and “Customers also like”. The retailer also enabled data analytics to send personalised emails based on user activities.
As a consequence, Pura Vida managed to receive an additional 1.6 million clicks, raising the recommendation conversion rate by nearly 8%. Due to tailored email marketing campaigns, the company was able to grow the number of subscribers by 350% while increasing its revenue from email campaigns by a factor of 4.
2. Alibaba launches an AI bot to automate request processing
Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational company that specialises in retail and e-commerce. Founded in 1999, the corporation has a revenue of $109 billion. A few years ago, Alibaba decided to launch its own chatbot—AliMe—to automate inquiry processing, improve customer service, and boost employee productivity.
Serving as an online shopping guide and assistant, the chatbot is capable of handling millions of incoming requests per day. For instance, this conversational technology provided responses to more than 9 million requests during the Double 11 shopping festival in 2017.
3. George.com builds a PWA to boost user engagement
George.com is a popular clothing brand in the UK and a part of Asda Walmart. Founded in 1989, the retailer now delivers goods to 580 retail stores. Aiming to boost both customer engagement and the conversion rate, the company decided to use a mobile-first approach. As a result, George.com developed a progressive web application.
Thanks to a PWA, the organisation was able to:
- Cut the page load time by 3.8 times
- Raise the conversion rate by over 30%
- Improve the number of page views per session by 20%
- Increase the average time of website visits by nearly 30%
- Halve the bounce rate.
Using HTTPS connections and the capabilities of modern browsers, the brand also offered consumers a more secure online shopping experience.
When creating an e-commerce website, it is essential to identify the needs and preferences of the target audience to ensure a seamless user experience. If you already have an e-commerce platform that does not deliver the desired metrics (e.g., low conversion rate, high bounce rate, declining users), you should define the issues and make the required improvements.
For instance, you could conclude that the existing design is outdated, or that consumers would like to receive personalised recommendations, or they have to wait too long until a shopping consultant is available to answer their questions.
By improving the software solution, you can boost customer engagement, increase brand loyalty, and boost sales. There are plenty of technologies that can be applied within almost any budget, from a sophisticated AI chatbot to the integration of data analytics tools.
To learn more about raising user satisfaction and maximising profit, read our article on the topic.
At Eureka, we have been delivering e-commerce website development services for more than 10 years. Focusing on your business-specific objectives, we build e-commerce software while achieving security, high availability, scalability, and resilience.
If you have a product idea but are unsure as to how to progress or address it, feel free to contact our team and we will get back to you quickly to analyse your goals and find the best way to meet them. We are happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement before a detailed project discussion to protect your intellectual property.