Plenty of eCommerce technologies work. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily work for you. When you’re evaluating new eCommerce tech, you need to consider the same exact questions you’d ask yourself if you were thinking about investing in any other aspect of your business.
What does this solution do that you can’t accomplish with what you’ve got right now? Is this solution going to give customers a meaningfully better experience? And most importantly, is this solution going to help you meet your objectives?
Let’s take a look at some of the important kinds of eCommerce tech. Along the way, you can discover the solutions and approaches that work best for your business.
Omnichannel presence: Seamlessly connecting different customer channels
Where are you visible? Where and how are your customers looking for you? You will have to interface with buyers across a range of digital channels as you guide them on their customer journey and eventually funnel them to your platform. You expect your customers to do certain things on certain channels, but siloing them in based on these assumptions hinders the overall experience.
According to a Google study, 98 percent of Americans switch between different devices on the same day. It’s key to have an omnichannel presence to engage with customers across all the platforms that they use.
Let’s look at an example: You sell handmade jewelry through your own digital storefront. You also have a fashion blog where you promote specific pieces in your product lineup. The blog’s for people to read and find out more about the product. It’s enough to just link to the storefront, right? No!
If your customer’s reading through the blog and they’re interested in a piece, you need to give them a seamless, non-intrusive purchase option. The blog and the storefront shouldn’t feel like two distinct entities. They should feel like a single, consistent omnichannel experience.
Automation: When is it right for you?
Is automation a good thing? Well, yes and no. Compared to traditional retail, eCommerce is inherently leaner and more efficient. A lot of eCommerce functions — such as store checkout — are already “automated” compared to conventional channels. But Paypal integration on your Shopify storefront isn’t exactly what we mean when we’re talking about automation, the buzzword.
In an eCommerce context, automation refers to automating certain, specific client-facing and back-end processes. Chatbots and automated support are a big part of automating your front end.
Chatbots have their advantages. For starters, they’re always available, and they can help users address common issues. However, it’s important to note that many users reach out to support channels because their issues aren’t addressed by FAQs and other basic support.
To these users, a chatbot giving them a menu of common issues can feel like your company is flippantly telling them to “read the manual.” Front-end automation can save costs if you’re dealing with a large number of customer requests every day.
However, it’s a good idea to personalize and humanize your customer support offerings, especially if you’re new in business. Treat customers like humans and have relationships, not transactions, with them. According to a survey by CGS, 86 percent of users prefer talking to real people as opposed to chat bots.
On the other hand, back-end automation is useful in a lot more situations. Automating purchases, restocking, and logistics can actually be critical to your success if you’re in fast-moving sectors like FMCG. When picking an automation solution, be sure to evaluate it in terms of your needs. Does it do what you want it to do? Does it make financial sense to invest in it?
Payment and Checkout: Make it easy to buy things
Customer convenience is a recurring theme in this piece. If you’re in the eCommerce space, it’s always a good idea to remember that your competition is literally just a few clicks away. According to a study by Google, something as minor as having a 6-second page load time can increase your bounce rate by 106 percent. You need to do everything possible, at every stage to make the customer journey as convenient and pain-free as possible.
The biggest pain-point, naturally, is at the point of sale. No one likes spending money. People absolutely hate being forced to jump through hoops because of the payment process. An inconvenient checkout process is one of the key factors behind cart abandonment. Losing a customer at checkout is like dropping out of a marathon at the 22-mile mark.
Convenience and reducing pain-points need to be your key focus areas with the checkout process. Make sure to implement a robust payment solution with as many payment options as is practical. If a customer doesn’t have a Visa credit card they should be able to use Paypal or a digital wallet.
If you can pay for some of your expenses (e.g. server infrastructure) with cryptocurrency, don’t be afraid to offer a crypto payment option. This might seem obvious but don’t make it hard for your customers to pay you.
eCommerce is an incredibly dynamic sector. An Emarketer report suggests that 16 percent of all sales will occur on digital platforms. By 2021, eCommerce is expected to become a $5 trillion market. Naturally, competition is intense. eCommerce technology, if implemented properly, can provide you with that critical edge. eCommerce tech isn’t a cure-all, though.
When implementing new eCommerce tech, remember to look at it in the same way you consider any other investment. What’s the ROI here? What are the risks involved? And how will it improve the customer experience?