How To Make A Mature eCommerce Site Better

All online marketers want to make their ecommerce sites better but before embarking on improvements here are a few things worth considering:

If you are looking at your online channel as an extension to your store you are seeing half the picture. Use the online channel for what it is best, use it to do things that were impossible to do offline. Nixonnow.com is my favorite watch site. I recently bought a new watch and would love to know of other people who bought that same model. Here was an opportunity for nixonnow.com to do something online that is impossible offline.

If you think visuals only play a role in making your site pretty you are still looking at half the picture. Visuals also play a role in slowing down users as they move to close their browser window and in the process give your product page few more crucial seconds to make an impression. This is incredibly powerful.

The world of online commerce is changing way too fast and you are understaffed and finite. So instead of spending all your money on one gigantic strategy spend a little on hundred smart ideas. As Guy Kawasaki would say “let a thousand flowers bloom”

Phase 1 – information gathering

Identify lead users: lead users can be broken into 3 behavioral groups:
— Spenders (in terms of $ spend)
— Influencers (access to other customers/potential customers)
— Evangelists (people who send thank-you notes to you)

Review eCommerce landscape – look at all the wheels that have already been invented

– Answer the questions:

What is the value of shopping at our site?
Does my site allow customers to manipulate product listings in every possible way?
Are we capturing intent through every action? e.g. forward a friend, email sign-ups etc
Are we presenting products in every possible way? multiple pictures, video etc.
Is our digital store a mere channel extension or a completely new way to shop? What’s unique about woot.com is that they’ve used it to do something that’s impossible offline, thus guaranteeing immunity against hostile offline competitors with deeper pockets.
Are customers aware of all the cool features on our site?
Why would a shopper ever recommend a friend to our site? what are the steps involved in making that recommendation?

Phase 2 – setup

Setup an experimentation lab – Jeff Bezos believes if a company reduces the cost of experimentation to pennies then it can experiment freely, all day long. I agree.

Leverage infrastructure strengths – which means if you are a multi channel retailer with retail stores, warehouses, real time inventory systems, robust BI and ERP tools then use them to differentiate/enhance your online strategy.

Phase 3 – ground work

Initiate dialog: GrokDotCom points out users have low BS tolerance so it’s important to have a dialog that is genuine and respectful of their time:
—What do you like best about X?
—What unadvertised features did you discover?
—Why did you buy through catalog/store/website?

Unearth key points of differentiation

– Review site analytics data

Phase 4 – brainstorm

– Generate insight – this is the stage when we crunch data. I believe insight lies at the extremities of data: at the individual level (single customer interaction) and at very large numbers level (e.g.: 35% of visitors clicked on ‘add to wish-list’ and then hit back button)

Phase 5 – implementation

– Build a story around customer buying patterns

– Re-filter entire site with the story by updating copy, architecture and even design

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