If you’re a business who sells online, it’s likely your store took a beating over the holiday season. But perhaps after all the Christmas promotions, discounts, new customers and shipped products your online space is feeling a bit over-worked?
Holiday rush aside, here are a few things we would encourage you to be mindful of all year round, especially after the year we’ve just had as you get back in to your normal rhythm. Ready? Read our 4-point health check to get your eCommerce store running at it’s best for your customers.
1. Check Those Stock Levels
Communication is key. Is your best-seller running low on stock? It’s ok to say so. In fact, please do. It’s better that your customer knows it’s running out than be disappointed when it’s not there tomorrow. Small let-downs like this make a difference to the way people think about your brand.
Completely out of stock? Let people know how they can get a hold of your product if it’s currently unavailable: that means setting up back in stock emails, or pre-order functionality to keep site viewers onboard and excited. This gets rid of some of the mystery around their purchase. “I don’t know when it will be back in” turns into “I can’t be bothered to keep checking back in” pretty quickly, so nip it in the bud with a notify me button.
If you’ve got products that are sold out, and you don’t plan to restock them, take them off your website. Isn’t it annoying to click through pages of sold out items?
By properly communicating stock levels, you let the customer know what to expect. Your communication with them is clear, and they feel looked after. This is incredibly important when you’re trying to build brand authenticity and rapport with your customers.
2. Manage Your Promotions and Discount Codes
Promotions and discount codes are a great way to get products moving, and people engaging with your store. We often recommend setting up a small discount for customers who sign up to your newsletter as a thank you - but the necessity and success of these depends on your brand and business model. We touch more on the pros and cons of discount codes in our piece on ecommerce tools.
Whether you’re running codes regularly or not, it’s important that you check all of your discount codes are operating as you want them. Can two codes be used together? What happens if they have used the code once before? Is it a generic code or customised per customer? What did you set up over Christmas that is no longer relevant? Clean them up!
All of these make a difference not only to your customers’ experience but also to your margin at the end of the day. It’s worth spending the time to go through them.
3. Optimise Your On-site Experience
You’d be surprised by how many websites are underperforming; loading slowly, bugging at checkout and riddled with unclear messages. Here are a few top optimising go-to’s.
Run speed tests: you can use tools like Chrome Lighthouse or Ahrefs which will tell you how you’re running, usually with a score out of 100. It will also list your biggest sticking points and which elements to update. Running tests and fixing issues this way is also a great way to potentially boost your SEO ranking.
Check all your buttons and links: Make your customer’s pathway to purchase as streamlined as possible. Broken links or misdirected buttons create friction (and frustration), so it’s worth the half an hour to thoroughly check all links and buttons on your website.
CTA’s and Language: Tell your customers what you want them to do. Again, we want to give your user as many opportunities to purchase as possible. The wording of your CTA’s (calls to action) should stay the same, and state clearly the action that the button does. You might be tempted to change up your wording on different parts of your site, say, from ‘Shop New Collection’ to ‘View Latest’, but if those two phrases take you to the one page, better to reduce the mystery and stick to one wording. If you’re going to change it up, change them all.
4. Bulk Up Your Marketing Activity
The new year provides a good opportunity to re-evaluate and build on your marketing plan – or create one if you haven’t already. Marketing is all about highlighting why someone would choose to shop with you over someone else. There are lots of varying marketing activities you can undertake, and we won’t suggest that there’s one solution for every business. But here are a few basics to revisit especially for eCommerce website.
Retargeting Ads: Show your customer that the product they had a look at two weeks ago is now listed at a reduced price, or that that black sweater they were looking at now also comes in blue. Use Retargeting to keep your brand in the back of your customers’ mind.
Emails: Send highly curated, short, sharp and visually appealing messages straight into someones inbox. If this person has been part of your mailing list for a while, you can even segment them to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want to see. That’s easy, personalised marketing and a great way to build trust and authenticity.
Social Media: Setting up Instagram or Facebook Shopping means people can not only browse products on your profile, but are taken straight to purchase them when they’re ready. No switching back and forth, the transaction happens seamlessly.
Content: I can’t end this section on marketing without mentioning content. Content marketing is one of the biggest advocates for your brand. It’s always there, it communicates in your tone of voice and it builds trust and value for your customers. This might look like having a blog section on your site, well managed social media accounts and/or cohesive language across all platforms that people encounter you on. Take a moment to consider what your content says about your online store.
As online shopping and ecommerce continues to grow in popularity, investing time into a well-run eCommerce website is well worth it. We believe in setting businesses up to be profitable and sustainable ventures, whether you’re ecommerce, professional services, hospitality or otherwise. So take five, run some tests and see how your site is performing. Reach out if you need an extra hand, we’re just a phone call away.