How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Value Proposition
By Tom Wintaugh
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There’s no denying it—we live in an Amazon world. There’s a 99.9% chance you’ve purchased something from Amazon at some point. That’s not an official statistic, but it’s a pretty good guess, especially considering the company brought in nearly $118 billion in revenue in 2017 – a pretty nice chunk of change by any standard. Amazon is convenient, efficient and comprehensive. It makes online shopping simple—as 100 million(!) Amazon Prime subscribers can attest. Amazon has also changed the game—online consumers’ expectations are now measured against the Amazon experience. And if you’re an online retailer, it means your online store must deliver a similar experience, or risk losing business. Competing with a giant like Amazon sounds intimidating, but by offering the kind of customer experience that online consumers are now conditioned to expect, you can find success alongside Emperor Bezos.
When building your online store, the following features are a must:
Sophisticated searches like “predictive” search, which uses an algorithm to generate results as the user types, will help consumers find exactly what they are looking for faster and more efficiently. Similarly, “suggestive” search guesses at the user’s intention as they type—helping to steer searches or preemptively correct misspelled words. These features are familiar (and expected) to anyone who uses a major search engine like Google, which is to say, everyone. Every online store should include this functionality.
Faceted navigation, or faceted search, allows the user to filter results down to view specific categories. For instance, if a user comes to your site looking for a t-shirt, they can filter results down to view only t-shirts. Consumers don’t want to sift through your entire inventory—they just want to find what they’re looking for with minimal effort. Faceted search can get very specific too—consumers can filter down type (t-shirt), size (medium) and price (under $30) among other options. Like sophisticated searches, the modern consumer is conditioned to expect this feature.
Sound familiar? Free shipping is the reason 100 million people have signed up for Amazon Prime. Consumers can be turned off by high shipping costs, and many will abandon their shopping cart once they see the shipping cost. Of course, Amazon’s free shipping isn’t really free—Prime members pay $120 per year for the service—but psychologically, it feels like a better deal. You also get your merchandise quickly, satisfying the human need for instant gratification. Your online business, of course, doesn’t have the scale of Amazon that would allow you to offer truly free shipping, but building your shipping costs into your product price instead of tacking it on top will completely change the way the consumer feels, and spur them to make the purchase.
Many consumers buy the same product from the same place multiple times per year. Household items like paper towels and laundry detergent are good examples. Amazon and other large retailers make this process simple by offering subscriptions that auto-renew and charge a payment source that it keeps on file. Even if your online store doesn’t sell goods that people would generally subscribe to, having a digital wallet or vault system is imperative. Shoppers don’t want to fumble through their wallets to enter in a string of numbers. They want to press a button and have their merchandise magically appear a few days later.
Did you forget you wanted to buy that new book by that author whose name you can’t remember? Amazon didn’t. In fact, it’s right there in your wish list – the adult version of a letter to Santa. Adding a wish list feature to your online store allows your customers to window shop, then come back later and make a purchase. Not every consumer interaction with your online store will result in a purchase, but having a wish list ensures that whatever time consumers spent on your site is well spent, and moves them further along the journey to a transaction.
The decision on whether to make your online store accessible via mobile device isn’t a hard one, because it’s already been made for you. Today, mobile sales account for more than half of online sales. All the kids are doing it. The adults too. Here’s proof. And if that wasn’t enough, not having a responsive website will hurt your SEO rankings, making it far less likely that consumers will find your online store in the first place.
Let’s be honest – you’ll probably never be Amazon. But you can be a successful online retailer if you have Amazon-type functionality and a great product line. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You need all of the above features and more to meet consumer expectations right off the bat, including:
You don’t need Amazon’s budget to create a fantastic online shopping experience. But you do need a compelling ecommerce website to achieve a familiar, simple and efficient online shopping experience—and one that is unique to your brand.
Tom McFadden is a creative brand copywriter, communications strategist and a person who is generally interested in things—which is why, he figures, he became a copywriter in the first place. As a Miva contributor, Tom explores the nuances of the digital marketing space. Tom resides in San Diego and spends his free time doing fun things, like writing.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.