What makes a great online experience?

online experience

Online experience plays a key role in gaining retail conversions and growing a loyal customer base. This article explores the ways that retailers can provide an outstanding online experience, including top tips from Dean Benson, CEO of Visualsoft.

1. How important is it for retailers to have a user-friendly online storefront that customers love?

Online consumer habits have changed drastically over the course of the pandemic and so must those of the retailers. The appearance and usability of a website can determine the length of time a consumer spends on a page in the same way that a shop front does, so it’s important that retailers keep their platforms updated and in line with current buying trends.

A big pull of online shopping is that it’s quick and easy. A real-life shopping experience bristles with barriers between the customer and their purchase: traffic jams, parking metres, crowds, queues, heavy bags, fellow customers. Online shopping removes all of these – and it shouldn’t add any other problems (like usability or navigation) that will push the customer away.

If your website is impossible to navigate and takes ages to load, your customer will look somewhere else – and think how easy it is to click out of a webpage. You want your customer to leave your site satisfied and hopefully a few pounds lighter instead of irritation and frustration.

Smooth out the bumps in your website by simplifying the purchase journey. For example, the loading time should be quick, the search function and product categorisation clear with good metadata and keywords, and guest checkout an option.

2. How can retailers optimise the online experience for shoppers?

53% of shoppers claim to have stopped buying from an online store because of a bad online experience or simply that a competitor offered a better one. And so, the problem boils down to one thing, the lack of understanding the ecommerce customer experience.

One of the easiest ways to optimise your online customer experience is to personalise it. Personalisation is one of the biggest factors driving customer loyalty and therefore key to retailers retaining their customer base. Here are a couple of touchpoints you could try:

  • Personalise emails: a birthday compliment or an invitation to an online VIP customer event will go down a treat.
  • Offer personal discounts on products or services that are relevant for the customer.
  • Remember customer history: showcase a list of recommendations based on the items the customer has recently viewed

Another easy method to provide an exceptional online consumer experience is to upsell and cross sell till your heart’s content. Make sure you don’t hammer buyers with irrelevant products, but rather offer the goods that complement their shopping cart. Create valuable offers with a clear CTA. You should also consider the frequency of your messages, as constant upsells may alienate clients. By offering valuable discounts and complementary products you’re able to tie people to your online store and become regular customers.

It’s also worth considering consumers that like to make purchases on the go. You can design an app for your ecommerce business or make sure your store is responsive to all devices whether a user browses your online store on desktop or mobile device. 

The most important thing is to make sure the customer’s online experience is frictionless and works properly on any device.

3. Tell us more about how loyalty schemes can be implemented on retail websites

It is now more important than ever for retailers to offer a convenient buying process and tonnes of engagement points to keep customers coming back. Loyalty programmes are great retention tools geared towards engaging existing customers, so they will buy in higher quantities, shop more often, and interact with your brand more frequently.

Next-gen ecommerce loyalty programs can create a devoted community around your brand, here are some considerations for the implementation process:

  • A redefined buying process, to make online shopping feel seamless
  • Incentivised customer profiling, to generate richer data and boosts other marketing activities, such as personalisation
  • Experiential rewards and VIP benefits, to increase overall customer lifetime value
  • Special interest clubs, to build communities and emphasize exclusivity
  • Viral social media contests, to encourage word of mouth and build trust

Retailers can also forge customer trust and brand advocacy by showing empathy, as well as demonstrating their core values. In the case of an online rewards program, this can be done by rewarding customers for bringing back used products, like clothes or beer kegs, or donating to charity.  

4. What are your top tips for inventory management across various channels?

By effectively managing your inventory, you can ensure that you have the right products in the right quantity and avoid products being sold out or funds being tied up in excess stock. Be sure that your perishable products are sold in time to avoid spoilage and prevent your business spending too much money on stock that’s taking up space in a warehouse or stockroom. 

So how do you avoid the traps of having too much or too little inventory? Here’s how:

  1. Fine Tune Your Forecasting – Accurate forecasting is vital. Your projected sales calculations should be based on factors such as historical sales figures, market trends, predicted growth and the economy, promotions etc
  2. Use The FIFO Approach – (first in, first out). Goods should be sold in the same chronological order as they were purchased or created. This is especially true for perishable products like food, flowers and makeup.
  3. Audit Your Stock – Even with good inventory management software, periodically you still need to count your inventory to make sure what you have in stock matches what you think you have. Businesses use different techniques, including an annual, year-end physical inventory that counts every single item and ongoing spot-checking, which can be most useful for products that are moving fast or have stocking issues.
  4. Use Cloud Based Inventory Management Software – Look for software with real-time sales analytics.
  5. Track Your Stock Levels – ​​Have a solid system in place for tracking your stock levels, prioritising the most expensive products. Good inventory management software saves you time and money by doing much of the heavy lifting for you.

5. What’s next for Visualsoft and how can retailers keep up to date with the latest updates?

As you would expect, we are always looking at how we can develop to be the best partner for our retailers.  Making sure our platform, account strategists and marketing experts can continue to help retailers navigate the ever changing landscape of ecommerce.

As demands on brands increase through the need of a truly omni-channel experience retailers need to work smarter to continue to provide the online experience that consumers want, and at Visualsoft we are focused on how we can support them more.

Despite continuous investment in user experience of both retailers and consumers, our customers are telling us that they need more data-led insights to help them drive increasing experiences for their consumers.

So we’ve listened and are creating even more in-platform data analysis, recommendations and reporting.  Allowing retailers to better understand their consumers and how best to serve them the right experience, products and services.  Retailers can learn where their strengths and weaknesses lie in their consumer experience and optimise it to maximise consumer satisfaction.

All our updates are regularly shared with Visualsoft customers, and can be accessed via the www.visualsoft.co.uk website.