Become an e-commerce pro

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For most of us Christmas still feels like it is a long way off. For online retailers the festive season is approaching like an out of control freight train. Its no secret that retail brands have been hurting in recent years. The Global Financial Crisis quickly changed consumers spending habits at the same time as digital communications was changing the marketing and product discovery landscape. The result, brand loyalty has been eroded and consumers have been flocking to online shopping to quickly and easily compare prices and offers.

Many brands have realised that the world will not return to the way it was and have responded to this “new normal” by investing heavily in e-commerce and online marketing. The e-commerce space is maturing quickly but it can still be confusing to know the right formula for your customers.  So let’s explore the three key principles that e-commerce sites need to master this year.

Device optimisation
Making your site look great and function well on mobile devices is no longer optional. A recent Econsultancy report said that “62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales”. And a Margin Media report stated “48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring.”
You can go down the “responsive design” path, meaning your site will adjust to suit the available screen space, or you can build specifically for mobile devices. Either way your customers will be visiting your site on their mobile phones so the investment will be worth it.

Communication automation
When it comes to converting potential customer interest to sales communication is vitally important. In the world of e-commerce, where the shopper is in control of how and when they shop, automating the points of communication are essential. Spend time mapping out the times where sending a helpful message can make a difference. For example when someone signs up to your site, when a customer puts items in a cart but doesn’t go all the way through to purchase, letting a customer know how shipping is progressing, and  following up after a customer does purchase are all moments that can impact your brand. And it makes a difference. A recent study from Gartner noted that  “…Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months…”

Social media integration
According to Nielsen “…approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision…” So social media should be integrated deeply into your e-commerce website. It should be thought about as an essential tool – and not as an afterthought. Levi  increased web referral traffic by 40% after  integrating social media to its site. Adding social integration gives your customers a chance to talk about you and refer your brand easily. Who wouldn’t want that?

Of course getting an e-commerce site to work well takes a lot of time and effort. But time and effort spent on these simple areas will produce a great return. And you have time to get them all running before Christmas.

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