Online Retailing  

Top five best online practices for retailers

Retail Digital looks at how retailers can hope to improve the web experience they deliver to their customers
 UK online retail sales in 2011 were worth over £50bill

Written by David Flower, VP EMEA, Compuware, Gomez

Online retail sales increased by 14 percent last year to more than £50 billion, with predictions that the growth will continue to hit high streets, according to a report from Kelkoo.

With more and more shoppers choosing to spend their money online, it’s important to deliver a satisfactory web experience. In addition to having the right content logically organised, you need to keep a close watch on your site’s download time, performance consistency and transaction success rates across all geographies and connection types.
If a company’s website is slow, unavailable, inconsistent and generally clunky, this speaks volumes about what customers might expect from its products or services. Regardless of the actual quality of the goods or services the company is selling, the company’s web performance is quietly snuffing the life out of the brand. And what’s more, the company may never even know it. 

Retail Digital look at five ways retailers can improve the internet shopping experience for tech-savvy consumers.


1.      Know your customers, their profiles and their usage patterns

What kind of browsers do they use? What kind of machines – desktop, mobile? How do they connect to the internet? Where in the world are they located? What are their usage patterns, (e.g., days, nights, weekends or certain paths through the application)? What are the key processes that they use on the site? For instance, if your site serves people over 65, the use of images that take one click is easier to use than lots of drop-down menus. All of these factors affect the customer experience, so make sure your site will work well for your customers.


2.      Continually check on your customers’ experience

Continually gauge the customer experience from various locations around the world.  Remember that many of your users don’t always have super-fast internet connections. Leave the huge, flashy graphics to product description pages. The home page needs to be fast and easy to navigate, so the user can get where they want to: login, search, or buy.


3.      Know what contributes to your customer’s experience

Many organisations understand the concept of third-party web services, but still only monitor the content they provide. Just because your third parties perform well in one country, doesn’t mean they will in all of them. You can’t assume your third parties are as consistent as you are.


4.      Benchmark

 Identify your chief competitors and find out exactly how the web experiences you deliver match up to theirs. For starters, look at response time, availability and consistency. Then look at user’s ability to find or do what they came to do.


5.      Connect the web experience to business results

 Web performance testing reveals connections between web experience quality and business success. E-commerce professionals can track important processes such as online conversion rates, shopping cart abandonment, click counts, or even the frequency with which users hit the stop button to interrupt failed page loads. Users can drill down for in-depth data on what may be responsible for a problem, and then quickly resolve it.


If you build a business-to-business website, customers might come. If they do, you must take important steps to ensure they get the service they need, make the purchases they came for, continue using the cost-effective web channel, and enjoy an experience that strengthens your valuable brand.  After all, a lot is at risk: Revenue, customers, the brand itself, the business – and then what else is there?

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