14 Retail Strategies to use to Simplify the Shopping Experience for Your Customers
The e-commerce landscape has changed drastically from being a nice-to-have to being an essential part of people’s lives. The boom in online shopping has meant a big opportunity for people who wish to see huge business development and succeed in the online store business. As a result, multitudes of retail businesses have popped up, and the competition is very tight.
With all of these options, customers now have the luxury of choosing where to buy online in the ever-growing retail environment. One of the essential ranking factors they consider is the simplicity of their shopping experience. How can you master this aspect to optimize your sales figures? Here are six retail sales strategies business owners can use to simplify the shopping experience for their customers.
Here’s what we’ll cover
- 1. Simplifying your sitemap and navigation
- 2. Make searching your store easy
- 3. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
- 4. Develop an app
- 5. Encourage others to leave reviews
- 6. Improve your customer service and support
- 7. Have a FAQ page
- 8. Include product photos
- 9. Make checking out as easy as possible
- 10. Store shopping cart information
- 11. Integrating effective CRM solutions
- 12. Offer robust universal payment methods
- 13. Offering proactive shipping updates
- 14. Improving on user interface and user experience
- The bottom line
1. Simplifying your sitemap and navigation
The integral part of any e-commerce platform is its sitemap and navigation. If the browsing is complex, the chances of customers exiting your site increase. If the sitemap is complex and has many branching out pages and some with dead ends, the customer experience will be negatively impacted.
From a customer’s perspective, if the navigation bar or footer is complex for a novice online shopper such as an older person, their customer experience will also be ruined. Customers expect to be able to find things quickly and easily.
Try to simplify the sitemap and navigation by all means possible. You can even solidify some pages to avoid having many item categories.
Alternatively, have subcategories under a few main categories. You can use the guide on eCommerce trends to identify other ways to improve on product listings, build your site, and set it up to be released.
2. Make searching your store easy
This ties in with the point above about simplifying navigation; however it narrows it down to the search functionality for products. First things first, make sure that the search bar is easy to find. Next, make sure that consumers don’t struggle to find the product they are looking for.
Your search functionality needs to be responsive so that it fills in words when the customer begins to type something and even understands any typos that appear. Another way to simplify the shopping process for consumers is for related products to also show up in the search below the actual product the person was looking for.
You can even go above and beyond this and take the need to search away by having suggested and related products at the bottom of the webpage. Cross-selling is a great way to improve your sales, as long as the products you’re suggesting are relevant. Bombard your users with options that aren’t relevant, and you risk alienating them and pushing them away from your business.
3. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
Nowadays, most people do online shopping via their mobile devices. Therefore your website needs to be mobile responsive. Having a website that functions the same on both mobile phones and laptops means that consumers can easily shop whenever they wish.
Make sure that your website is optimized for a smaller screen. You need to ensure that your text is still readable, your website loads quickly, and your pictures fit the screen.
Things to take into account when making your website responsive are:
- The users’ network connection
- The size of the device’s screen
- The way users interact (touch screen vs. touch bad)
- The graphic resolution the device can handle
Being mobile responsive not only makes things easier for your consumers but it also improves your website traffic potential. The more website traffic, the higher your chances are of making a sale.
4. Develop an app
Why not take your mobile responsiveness a step further and actually develop a mobile app for your consumers to use. Creating a mobile app means that your business will remain relevant as people increase their mobile device usage and mobile commerce follows.
Having a mobile app brings the following advantages, you gain an advantage over your competitors, you differentiate yourself from your competitors, higher conversion rates, improved marketing communication, increased average order value, a more personalized shopping experience, increased customer loyalty and retention, reduced cart abandonment rates, and efficient customer service.
Why wouldn’t you take the time to develop an app?
The main negative of having a mobile app is that you need the right resources to develop one. You need a lot of time, money, and, most importantly, human resources with an excellent software development skillset. Having a mobile app that doesn’t function efficiently and effectively will only further annoy your users.
5. Encourage others to leave reviews
You may be asking yourself how encouraging previous customers to leave reviews helps to simplify the ecommerce shopping experience? Well, making decisions, even simple ones about which product to buy, can be mentally exhausting. Having product reviews makes decision-making easier as the user knows what they’d be getting from the product.
But isn’t a product description enough?
No. This is the concept of social proof. Consumers tend to believe the word of other consumers over that of the business, as consumers have no ulterior motives as the business may do.
Image source: Sephora
Having honest reviews of your products also reduces your chances of product returns. This is not only an advantage to your business, but it also makes life easier for your customer. They are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase, and they won’t have to waste their time going through the entire shopping experience all over again.
6. Improve your customer service and support
No matter how much effort you put into perfecting your ecommerce store, things can still go wrong. And when they do go wrong, the last thing you want is for your potential customers to be left floundering and without any clue of what to do.
This is where great customer support comes in. It is important to have a customer support team that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You never know where your customers are geographically located, which means that they may be accessing your stores from a variety of different time zones.
If something goes wrong, customers need to be able to sort it out ASAP, so it is important for your responsiveness to be efficient. Especially if the issue is related to payment. That is why our main suggestion for customer support would be to have live chat software installed on your website.
Having a live chat option also benefits your website as it means that you have access to real-time feedback and can quickly make changes and updates to your website before anyone else encounters the same problem.
Image source: Nordstrom
Other customer support options include a contact form, an email option, and even a phone number people can call to chat with one of your dedicated customer service team members.
Knowing that consumers can get hold of a team member, even if they don’t ever need to, will put them at ease throughout their shopping experience. Having happy consumers should always be a priority for an ecommerce store.
7. Have a FAQ page
Some consumers don’t like to reach out to customer support teams. They’d rather get the answers to their questions without having to go out of their way. Sometimes they just want to be able to solve the problem by themselves. Cue the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page.
The FAQ page is a central place that contains answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. More often than not, these questions relate to shipping and returns.
Image source: Levi’s
Some questions worth answering include:
- Is there a delivery fee?
- Do you deliver to my country?
- What is your returns policy?
Having a FAQ page not only helps to make the consumer shopping experience simpler, as they have the answers to their questions at their fingertips, but it also makes the lives of your customer support team easier as it takes off some of their workload.
8. Include product photos
Sometimes a product description isn’t enough to accurately portray your amazing products to consumers. You need to include product photographs with your product descriptions.
How does this help to simplify the shopping experience for your consumers? Having product descriptions shows consumers exactly what they can expect when their delivery arrives. This takes away any potential for disappointment when they open their delivered package.
Image source: Under Armour
Less disappointment means less chances of a consumer wanting to return the product they purchased.
Another advantage of including good-quality product photos is that you get that aspect of visual appeal, which may encourage consumers to make a purchase. This means more sales for you!
9. Make checking out as easy as possible
Imagine how annoying it would be for consumers to go through your website and add all the products to their cart, only to stumble at the final phase. The checkout process.
Don’t ask for unnecessary details during this phase, as people will be hesitant to give out their details and will often be deterred by this time-consuming activity. The shorter the process, the better.
If your consumers can check out in two or three clicks, then that’s ideal!
10. Store shopping cart information
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above.
You are shopping online, and you accidentally close the tab with the e-commerce site. The first thing that crosses your mind is probably the progress you have made on filling the shopping cart and if it will be saved.
That is exactly how your customers feel when they accidentally close their tabs while shopping. If the shopping cart info was not saved, they might be slow to come back, and by the time they’re ready, another supplier could have caught their eye.
Storing shopping cart information can seem like an unnecessary step, but as highlighted, it is a long-term strategy that can save you a significant amount of shoppers.
Even if the shoppers do not want to sign up or log in, you can use technologies such as ‘cookies’ to store the cart information - you don’t need to have a lot of customer data to enable this. Using this technology does not contravene any privacy policies because shopping cart information is not classified as sensitive.
Image source: Screenshot from Shopify
11. Integrating effective CRM solutions
Customer relationship management plays a pivotal role in improving consumer journeys that might have gone a little awry.
For example, if a customer has a complaint or query you are supposed to follow up on, using a CRM tool can help you give the best customer support. If different agents handle the matter, they can easily pick up where the other left off.
Also, a record of all the queries or complaints can help with identifying the pain points that might need to be officially addressed.
Some CRM tools come with in-built visualization tools for easier reference and identification of areas where the experience can improve. There is a wide repertoire of tools for different kinds of communication channels.
Overall, investing in a multifaceted tool can bring more value to a retail business than picking tools with limited features. However, which tool best suits your business, will depend on your overall goals and objectives, so make sure to keep those in mind when deciding.
Image source: Screenshot from Shopify
12. Offer robust universal payment methods
Regardless of whether you are targeting an international or local audience, having robust payment methods is critical for a simplified customer journey. The downfall of some e-commerce platforms involves a lack of diversity in terms of payment methods, including cryptocurrency.
Other payment methods such as digital wallets, like PayPal and Skrill, have been ignored by some suppliers. Some individuals prefer keeping their money digitally, and asking them to pay by credit or debit card might be a lot to ask from them. Therefore, consider the options that are most relevant to your target customers. This might involve getting consumer feedback on which payment methods they prefer using.
Whatever you do, make sure the payment methods you choose are safe and secure. The last thing you want is consumers getting scammed out of their details - that could lead to some serious negative word of mouth.
13. Offering proactive shipping updates
Consumers tend to be anxious after making a purchase from a supplier that is new to them or one they rarely use. It is your job as the online shop owner or manager to ease their anxiety by having a proactive strategy and sending timely updates in the form of text content or informational videos from when the purchase is made.
For example, after making a purchase, you could send an order confirmation email to the consumer, letting them know that it has been processed.
Afterward, send an email once the order is in transit and offer them a package tracking number. Even if the delivery is not done in-house, follow up with the courier company to send the tracking number and timely updates. You could even send a thank you email once the customer has received their order.
However, it is best to avoid sending a flood of emails to consumers because this might suffocate them. This provides your customer with an ideal shopping experience.
Image source: Screenshot from Shopify
14. Improving on user interface and user experience
The UI/UX should be a focal point when developing the visuals and functions of the e-commerce platform. UI or user interface refers to the point where the consumer interacts with the computer whereas UX or user experience refers to the interaction the consumer has with the product (or service)
One key element to a suitable and user-friendly UI/UX is a clean design that is easy to follow. That means content sections should be kept brief and easy to scan.
The buttons used must be visible, all text easy to read, and should be of good size. Also, consider that many people will be visiting your website on a mobile device, so the interface should be mobile-friendly.
Remember not to make the website too heavy because the user experience part of it dictates that it should be fast-loading.
For example, instead of using a lot of images, try to use scalable vector graphics for illustrative pictures since their code is lighter than an uploaded image. In general, the design should be modern and easy to use. Those are the elements consumers look out for and can provide your potential customers with a memorable shopping experience.
The bottom line
Developing an e-commerce shop is more than just sourcing products and marketing. It includes the business practice of customer relationship management and mapping out consumer journeys to create the best online shopping experience for your visitors.
Use the tools at your disposal, such as CRM tools, to manage customer queries as professionally and helpfully as you can. Lastly, remember to simplify your sitemap and improve your overall UI/UX for a better customer experience that leads to your store becoming one of their favorite businesses, to higher sales, and to better consumer relationships.