May 07, 2020 03:53

Sharpening your digital tools: why optimizing e-commerce is so essential

By Jack Stratten

Even as the first signs of Covid-19 emerged in China, and epidemiologists began to prepare for a global pandemic, retail experts knew that good e-commerce might now be a means of survival for retailers.

And rapidly, this became very apparent. What’s also clear is that simply having the capability to sell online isn’t enough. With most retailers pouring resources into their digital capabilities, any e-commerce platform has to be carefully refined and optimized.

 That’s not to mention the world’s biggest e-commerce players who were already prepared for this situation. Just look at Amazon, who are currently doing around 50% of all retail sales in certain countries.

Brands like Victoria’s Secret in the US and Next in the UK are having to pause online sales completely. Logistical limitations are the main cause, but they reflect the spectacular scale of customer demand. So, whether you’re new to digital sales or an experienced online seller, it is now vital to refine your online offering.


Small tweaks that have a big impact

 To the untrained eye, e-commerce doesn’t look that complex. And that’s often because the best e-commerce websites are so simple to navigate and user friendly. That’s the art of brilliant e-commerce: making it look easy.

Transforming your SEO – that is, making sure people find your website when they search for certain products or services – requires a huge amount of testing and analysis. Ensuring your CTAs – the ‘Calls To Action’ that compel customers to buy your product – are in the right place, is an exhaustive process too.

When you’re shopping with your favourite online retailer, the fact everything works quickly and easily belies the depth of brilliant work that’s gone into it. And in a world now dominated by e-commerce, this is work you need to do, too.


Covid-19 is changing e-commerce rules

 Many e-commerce experts have noted that customer behaviour online is more volatile than ever before. Customers are spending far more time online, which is no surprise. Vodafone reported a 50% rise in internet use in the UK in March.

But with an uncertain economic future ahead, customers aren’t rushing into their purchases. They’re spending more time than ever before browsing before they buy – which makes your job even harder. You need webpages that attract these customers. But even more importantly, you need pages that convert them into buyers.

The journeys customers take online are changing, too. Previously, optimizing e-commerce was purely about speed: customers were in a hurry, and needed to be steered in the right direction as quickly as possible. During Covid-19, it isn’t necessarily that simple. Customers have time, and many of them are online constantly. Their online journeys are therefore harder to predict, and harder to steer.

Furthermore, there are growing opportunities for smart digital marketing. Data tech company Blis recently reported that click through rates – the proportion of customers that click on ads when they see them – have doubled for retailers in the US, and risen by 60% in the UK.

 That means that, with the right planning and preparation, this could be the perfect time to sharpen your digital tools and boost your sales.


Jack Stratten is a senior trends consultant at Insider Trends, delivering retail safaris, presentations, keynotes and workshops all over the world.  In a time when retail is going through a really hard time, Insider trends offers workshops, webinars and reports about how retailers are pivoting and optimizing their offer to survive the Covid-19 crisis.  


Looking for quick fixes to optimize your digital platforms?

Our experience from hundreds of large e-commerce projects allows us to help our clients with everything from system implementations to strategic consulting and business development. We are currently helping several retailers to quickly optimize their digital channels to cater for the increased demand to buy online.  

In reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, we've put together a number of packages of extremely affordable offers for retailers to help you weather the storm. Read more about them here: Packages for quick optimization of digital sales


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