Uncertainty for brands and retailers continues. Already faced with the challenges of a global pandemic that led to a mandatory shut down of physical stores for months, many brands and retailers were hit with destructive looting and vandalism in major cities over the weekend just as the country started to allow businesses to reopen. While the destruction derives from a bigger social issue, given all that has recently occurred, now is the time to enhance and prioritize your eCommerce and retail website.
According to Google, 50% of US shoppers searched for what is open or closed near them.1 This means a lot more consumers are looking online and it becomes more critical for a brand’s e-commerce site to not only sell products but support and inform its customers. Here are the key factors to provide customers with an optimal shopping experience.
8 Strategies for an Optimal Shopping Experience
1. Prioritize Challenges
In unprecedented situations, it is expected for your business to be inundated on many levels. The key is prioritization is. Evaluate whether there are aspects of your site’s messaging or design that are hurting the brand or having a negative impact on customers’ experience. Adjust that first. Then dig into optimizations that can either improve the experience or improve performance. Things to consider include site performance and matching the messaging on your marketing channels to your site. You may also want to look at ways to optimize customer support and promotions, as well as ways to manage volatility in site traffic and transaction volume.
2. Optimize Site Speed
With more store closures, means more people are shopping online. And as online traffic spikes, it’s critical that your retail website can handle the increased traffic volume. These tips will ensure you’re ready.
● Check your content delivery network (CDN) providers (for example., Akamai, Cloudflare, Google Cloud CDN) for settings that can enable faster requests.
● Many site resources don’t require updates on subsequent visits. Adopt simple HTTP-caching methods that improve load times for returning users and reduce server load with minimal code changes.
● Implement a font-display swap so customers can read your site’s text, even if the primary font doesn’t load fast enough.
3. Provide a seamless checkout experience
Seventy-six percent of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly.2 Ensure your payment processing system is fast and effortless. Also identify ways to incorporate personalization enhancements, such as storing shopping information or recently explored items.
4. Leverage technology to relieve customer support demand
More than 25% of U.S. shoppers say brands could be most helpful to them by training their customer service teams on how to best handle their needs at the moment.3 With that in mind, are you giving customers the kind of support they need in today’s environment? Use your teams and chatbots to clarify customer service updates, be transparent about expectations, and signpost handy resources. Enable and check any customer messages on your Google My Business profile too, so customers get answers quickly and easily.
5. Use Prime real estate for critical information & alerts
We know that over 50% of U.S. shoppers want to hear how brands and companies are responding to the crisis.4 Use your site’s homepage to share information about how you’re supporting customers. Remain authentic, avoid corporate-speak, and ensure your banners and other site notifications are simple, yet distinct, with calm colors and fonts.
6. Make product offerings and promotions relevant
The closure of nonessential stores and continued shelter-in-place orders have disrupted consumers’ routines and changed their priorities. Is what you’re featuring on your site relevant to this new normal? Are you promoting the products that can help your customers most? Nearly 40% of U.S. shoppers say they can’t find the products they need or want to buy and have bought brands they wouldn’t normally buy during this time.5
7. Adapt your creative and media campaign strategy
As routines and schedules change to meet the demands of social isolation and shelter-in-place orders, so are shopping behaviors. Make sure your brand campaigns and creative assets reflect that.
● Update your content to drive shoppers to your site instead of physical locations that may be closed.
● Discontinue campaigns in regions where you can’t operate or where the content may seem insensitive, such as areas where your supply chain is disrupted or stores are closed.
● Make any brand message or creative relevant and empathetic. Refer to these 5 guiding principles for media teams.
● Use automated solutions that respond to real-time signals to keep up with customer demand and optimize within your digital budget.
8. Be consistent across channels
In this turbulent environment, people are struggling to find information they can trust. Nearly 60% of U.S. shoppers searched online for what’s open or closed near them last week.6 Whether you’re communicating product availability, shipping times, or brand messaging, make sure the messages reflect what’s on your site.
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Originally Published on Medium and Google Think (see sources below)
1 Content Published originally for Google Think, Retail article, Kevin Fried / May 2020 1, 2 Google/Ipsos, U.S., Playbook Omnibus 2020, n=1,697 U.S. online smartphone users, A18+, Jan. 2020. 3,4, 5 Google-commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 tracker, AU, BR, CA, CN, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, RU, ES, U.K., U.S. n=1000 online consumers 18+ per market, April 24, 2020–April 26, 2020. 6 Google-commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 tracker, AU, BR, CA, CN, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, RU, ES, U.K., U.S. n=1000 online consumers 18+ per market, VN n=500, April 9, 2020–April 12, 2020.