Back to School: The ABCs of Ecommerce

abcIt’s Partner Thursday Monday! Today’s post is contributed by ICF Interactive. Adobe’s 2014 North American Partner of the Year, ICF Interactive is a full-service interactive marketing agency that guides brands through informed strategy, inspired design, and technical know-how.

For most of the United States, it’s back to school season. Ask any kid what he or she has covered in the first week back, and you’ll likely hear “enh – just a review from last year.” That got us thinking, while brands are entering into new and unfamiliar territory in:

• Customer experience management technology, strategies, and processes
• The potential of the Internet of Things, and
• Journey mapping and innovative, real-time relationship building

…that we should feature our own quick review on the basics of eCommerce. While this list is by no means exhaustive, these items are still questions and concerns we regularly encounter. Read on to reacquaint yourself with the ABCs of eCommerce, and although we won’t be quizzing you at the end, your passing or failing will be determined by what your customers think about your brand, the touch-points you’re creating, and the online shopping experience you deliver.

A

Adapt to your customers’ evolving needs, shopping habits, and desires for easily accessible content.

B

Build a robust technology environment that’s flexible and scalable – for your brand’s growing interactive marketing needs and fluctuating number of site visitors.

C

Create online stores with brick and mortar layouts in mind – easy steps from the aisle (product or landing pages) to cart to the checkout.

D

Devote time to site and process check-ups, especially before high-traffic events and the holiday shopping season. (In the US that’s generally from Thanksgiving to January of the following year).

E

Experiment with A/B testing, surfacing variations of landing page content to segments of your customers to determine which ones lead to higher conversion rates.

F

Functionality > fancy design. Customers will leave if your site takes too long to load or if the browser can’t render the page, such as flash on an Android device.

G

Get social with your consumers. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram lend themselves well to online relationship-building and engagements for B2C brands, while LinkedIn is great for B2B organizations.

H

Hosting, the cloud in particular, is a game-changer. In addition to speed, a strong hosting solution enables flexibility, can reduce overall operating costs, and ensures the health of an organization’s owned digital properties.

I

Integrate, integrate, integrate. Integrate your technology systems, your internal teams, your processes, and marketing strategies.

J

Journey mapping is essential to understanding the needs of the customer; here’s a quick guide courtesy of our own Mary Carter and Deanna Peiffer.

K

Keyword analysis activities will help your customers find your online store through improving search engine optimization (SEO), as well as once users are on your site via a powerful, intuitive indexing engine.

L

Listen to your customers, your communities, and your competitors. Hootsuite is a great example of how a brand can improve its user experience through listening to constructive (albeit blunt) criticism.

M

Mobile is increasingly becoming the go-to gateway to conversions, beginning with research. eCommerce brands can’t afford to ignore mobile.

N

Nurture leads with targeted emails, social outreach, and loyalty programs. But with this in mind, lose the annoying marketing tactics.

O

Omni-channel commerce is “an interconnectedness between every touch-point from the perspective of the consumer” and essential to building the store of the future. Here’s multi-channel versus omni-channel as explained by our experience-driven commerce partner Elastic Path.

P

Product, promotion, placing, and price have been all but replaced by the cohesive, user-friendly shopping experience that brands develop and deliver. Loyalty that is fostered by relevant engagements and unparalleled customer service will improve customer acquisition and retention rates.

Q

Quickly resolve complaints, site issues, and concerns. Customers are taking to social media more than ever to voice opinions and exploit poor experiences, and it’s imperative to respond quickly and effectively to an #epicfail.

R

Recurring orders should be automated to save time and effort – both for your brand and your customer.

S

Solutions are many regarding B2B and B2C eCommerce needs. You may wish for help through the process of selecting the right mix of technology and process for your brand’s needs.

T

Technology should facilitate sales, and needs to be the framework through which your eCommerce strategy is delivered. When developing an eCommerce store, consider your brand’s current and future goals, and build an environment that will support both.

U

Use your customer profiles, including order history, demographics, and other data to engage with individuals. Up-selling and cross-selling can be achieved and improved with the right technology, targeted strategy, and personalized content.

V

Validate your eCommerce strategy with analytics. What was successful in the past might now be costing you business.

W

Weekly ads, local deals, and coupons should to be streamlined across the off and online shopping experience. Ensure your brand isn’t frustrating your customers with confusing offers and gimmicky sales.

X

X marks the spot where a user can close a window – if your eCommerce site can’t be navigated easily across all devices, it might also indicate the spot where a customer leaves your site completely.

Y

Yellow is used to grab attention. The aesthetic of your site can positively or negatively impact the buyer’s mood and feelings about your brand; design carefully.

Z

Zoom, multiple image views, and dynamic features such as the ability to change color, size, and other product features can enhance the shopping experience – creating an in-store feel to a virtual experience. Create ways for customers to evaluate products as they would in a physical store, leaving little room for questions or hesitation.

Experience-driven commerce solutions and strategy should be as easy as 1-2-3 for your customers to navigate and use, even as your brand and its technology advances.


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