All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, the world of commerce changed in the face of the coronavirus. Suddenly people who had never put any thought into their online presence, or who had only halfheartedly put up a website and perhaps thought about social media, were thrust into the online world. It was either adapt or go out of business, or adapt and capture whatever business they actually could manage to scrape by with. But what the whole recent news and challenges have pointed out is that there’s going to be a permanent shift to e-commerce, and a heavier reliance on online shopping in the near future than at any other time in history.
How much of the shift is permanent is yet to be decided, but it’s probably more than many people can imagine.
So if you were one of those businesses that hadn’t made the shift to e-commerce, it’s imperative to get a handle on not only what’s going well but what you could improve and how you could evolve that experience for customers. People are spending more time on e-commerce and more time considering where to buy from. As you do that, there are some best practices that you need to be aware of that can help smooth out the customer journey.
The first may not be as obvious as you think, but mobile is absolutely essential. How things look on the desktop is not the same as on mobile, and the function needs to be the same and as easy on mobile. More and more people are realizing that they should be able to do everything they want on their phones. And although physical store shopping is much more limited in the short term, it’s true that it will probably come back, in fits and starts, as we move through the current situation.
Because people have so many more options for e-commerce, they are absolutely going to be swayed by your competitors. They don’t need to visit a physical store of the business that competes with you down the block; they can simply click from one site to another.
That means if your competitor has a similar product but offers some sort of deal with shipping or returns, you are going to fall behind. Generations also bring their different biases and preferences to online shopping experiences; many prefer companies that have a good social ethic, for example.
One thing that can drastically improve your e-commerce experience is the use of artificial intelligence to help people navigate and finesse their experience. That may mean suggestions for them of related or helpful products. Or it may mean answering their questions in real-time so they don’t get frustrated and abandon their shopping carts.
Artificial intelligence can also help people smooth the experience as they go from online to physical and back again. That’s because so many people go back and forth, starting one place and then finishing up in the other. Want to learn more about e-commerce? This graphic explains it.Click To Enlarge