Is it time to change your eCommerce technology? Q1 is the time to get it moving

February 19, 2020

February 19, 2020

Is it time to change your eCommerce technology? Q1 is the time to get it moving

Written by  AJ Leale, Sr. Director eCommerce 
Last year’s stats for eCommerce are in, and the news is excellent — eCommerce accounted for over three-quarters of retail’s overall growth, with global eCommerce sales projected to reach $4.2 trillion in 2020. 
In addition to the good news and favorable industry trends, a more precise metric that you should be looking at is…. what share of the eCommerce market did you manage to attain last year? And (how) can your eCommerce technology push you higher this year to make real market growth?
With Q1 projects well underway, now is the time to assess and understand whether you need to adjust your technology to really maximize your potential market growth. Today, we’ll look at the questions you need to consider to get a fresh perspective on your performance. 

Q1: Did you meet your goals for last year?

This is a simple question, assuming you have measurable and defined KPI objectives. 
No matter who your target audience is, there are some basic success indicators to look at in order to get a good perspective on your eCommerce technology. Now, take a look at your final standings for last year and let’s assess your platform against them. Note that these are just general questions that we will look at in more detail later on.

  1. Was there an increase in relevant traffic to your website? Not all traffic is equal, so be careful what you analyze here. Higher traffic doesn’t mean qualified traffic, so scan your visitors based on:
  • Were visitors from your target demographic?
  • How did visitors get there? Referral to your site, valid keywords, social, paid search
  • Geographic information
  • Their demographics, preferences, and interests
  1. How were sales last year? The ultimate metric to look at is the volume of sales.
  2. Did you reach your conversion rate goals? Did your conversion rate meet your mobile and desktop targets?
  3. How was your average order value compared to a year before? Or compared to your projections? This figure can help you get a better understanding of your customers’ spending habits, which will help you adjust your product mix and merchandising to increase the AOV. 
  4. What was your average cart abandonment rate? Did you manage to bring it down? According to the Baymard Institute, the average cart abandonment rate is around 70%, so you’re not alone in this struggle. Still, you should invest in efforts to improve your cart abandonment rate.

Once you have assessed your progress towards your goals, it’s time to look at areas where your eCommerce technology can be improved.

Q2: Did technology limitations decrease your potential sales?

New or improved eCommerce technologies and add-on solutions can help give your customers a better experience, which is ultimately why they choose to stay with you instead of moving on. If you take into consideration the fact that 40% of customers look at a competitor after a bad mobile experience with an eCommerce platform, the importance of your technology becomes more than apparent — it becomes a prerequisite.
Here’s what you need to be asking yourself:
Are you optimized for mobile? Right now, there are around 75 million shoppers in the US alone who make their purchases on a mobile device. Can you accommodate their mobile shopping needs? Will your site display well? Will it provide a smooth or clunky shopping experience on the mobile? Is it fast?
Do you provide mobile wallet functionality? Mobile wallets save a ton of time, which is ultimately what customers want — the ability to place orders fast. If you can provide this experience, they are more likely to come back to you for their next purchase.
Do you have the needed solutions integrated? The future of retail lies not in shopping, but in the experience. Adding on a tool like Narvar for shipping emails may help satisfy your customers’ needs.  
You need to think of all aspects of your customers’ journey and identify areas that can be improved through add-on solutions. Assess your site from the perspective of customer experience and what users need that you don’t currently offer. For instance, can you show the tax and shipping costs on the cart page? Look for third-party tools to help. Taking care of improved UX through integrated solutions, by relying on APIs and headless commerce, can be a path forward. 

Q3: How reliable was your site?

Your site reliability is straightforward but crucial.
What’s your load speed? Remember, a one-second delay can cause a drop of 7% in conversion rate. That means if you’re making about $100,000 a day, you’ll be losing around $2.5 million in revenue per year. So, whatever you do, make sure your site speed is fast.
Were there bugs or site crashes?
How do you monitor your system?
Do you have a reliable backup?
Do you use secure protocols?

Q4: What’s the customer experience like?

Customer experience is the key metric to decide whether you should stick with your current eCommerce technology. Site engagement is a good indicator of how you are doing here. 
Unless your platform offers a very good or excellent experience, you need to change something fast.
Here’s the bottom line: if there’s some experience you want to offer your customers but technology prevents it, then it’s definitely time to upgrade your technology.
These are a few areas to examine:

  • Do you offer various payment methods, including mobile?
  • Do you save card details for subsequent purchases?  
  • Do you have ratings and reviews / FAQs?  
  • Do you have a personalized experience based on the user? Product recommendations, special pricing, etc.?  
  • Is your checkout simple and fast? 
  • Does your Help Center or Support link really help customers?
  • Do you provide meaningful content to support the purchase process?
  • Do you support product customization based on personal preferences?
  • Do you use video marketing and storytelling to better explain your products and create a good brand experience?
  • Can you provide a smooth omnichannel experience
  • Could you use AI technology to learn about each customer’s habits and personalize the offer?

Q6: How good is your SEO?
Obviously, unless customers can’t find your eCommerce, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your site is. To ensure they do find you, you need a well-articulated SEO strategy in practice. Ask yourself this:

  • Do you have SEO limitations? In particular:
    • Do you have indexable dynamic pages?
    • Do you have control over XML sitemaps?
    • Do you have page-level meta-data?
  • Does your eCommerce platform support user-generated content?
  • Assess your URL structure, canonical URLs, and product catalog structure.

Q7: What are your competitors doing?

If visitors are flocking to your competitor’s website, they must be doing something right. Take a look at their technology and whether and how it appeals to customers. Here’s what you should assess: 

  • What are they doing that you aren’t/can’t?
    • Can you do the same now or do you need new technology?
  • How does your localization compare to theirs? 
  • Look into: 
  • Payment methods
  • Shipping
  • Delivery
  • Customer service
  • Location-based marketing and personalization

Next Steps
Once you’ve looked at how your eCommerce technology stacks up according to this list, it’s time to strategize how you will add to or change your technology.

  1. Create a cost-benefit analysis. Investing now in a better technology may help eliminate costs in the long run. 
  2. Determine opportunity costs Without a solid tech basis, new features may not provide enough improvements for your business to thrive. 
  3. Planning a redesign? Often, during a redesign, adding new capabilities to new technology may be more cost-effective.
  4. Look at the future trends in eCommerce. How prepared are you to adapt these trends based on your current technology? 

If you’re ready to assess your technology but you’re not sure where to start and need some help with your strategy, get in touch with Visionet — we know how to help retailers, manufacturers, and distributors assess these factors to make the best decision.