“Successful ecommerce outcomes are shaped by understanding what consumers want and how they want it. The essence of frictionless shopping is making it easy for consumers to make a decision and check out.”
Are you making it easy for customers to purchase and return to your website? The key to successful online stores is making it easy to do. This concept isn’t mutually exclusive to only ecommerce websites, but it’s especially critical.
The goal of frictionless ecommerce is sales. Focus on removing obstacles that stop sales, your conversion rates will flourish..
“Much remains uncertain but what I can say for sure is that Shopify has entered a new box. The role we play in the world of commerce has become clearer: we help entrepreneurs become successful merchants. More merchants survived the pandemic than would have without us. Outside of our four walls (ha!) people now understand what Shopify does and what we care about. We are certainly less underestimated. But what’s also certain is that Shopify is more important than ever and in a better position than ever before. We are taking 2020 in stride and finding ways to thrive in the face of so much change. “
Some things profit from shocks, they excel and improved after being exposed to disorder. In spite of the ubiquity of this phenomenon, there is no word meaning the exact opposite of fragile. Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined this term as “Antifragile”.
Shopify has embraced all of the shocks that 2020 has thrown in their way thus far, applying Taleb’s concept and growing from the disruption.
” As far as online shopping goes, every ecommerce store has a cart-abandonment problem. And some of those lost shoppers simply can’t be converted — they weren’t all that interested in the first place, and no matter what you say, they’re not going to finish their purchase. “
Shopping cart abandonment is the most pivotal problem for online stores to overcome. The bad news is that it’s impossible to solve entirely – some people will unavoidably abandon their carts before pulling the trigger and making a purchase.
But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The question is, how can you stop rational prospects from bailing on potential purchases? Here are the top five reasons shopping carts end up abandoned – and luckily, each one is quite easy to fix.
The devastating economic consequences of the pandemic cannot be overstated, with millions of businesses being crippled or even closing their doors. However, out of the ashes of fallen retailers, Ecommerce rose and shined like a phoenix. The popularity of online marketplaces has grown monumentally over the last year, but what does the future have in store?
The e-Commerce timeline has moved up significantly in just a few months by the Covid-19 epidemic. Online store development is the new gold rush with every company now having to look at ways to get online and fast. From your normal mom and pop store selling 1 or 5 products, to your favorite restaurant now having to pivot to online sales and food delivery. To retail giants scrambling to shift from physical locations to moving their merchandise online in record time. Many are struggling to understand this new world we live in but one thing is clear. No business has a choice anymore. You will either make the shift or struggle to keep up long after the effects of the epidemic have worn off.
“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”
Those that have already made the shift online are far ahead of the competition but it is not too late for those only starting out. The tools available today make it possible to move online in record time. Platforms such as Shopify & BigCommerce make it feasible to start selling within a very short time. Gone are the days of building online stores from scratch with code that only the developer understood. Anyone can launch a basic store. For more advanced setups a developer is still required or if you need a more custom-designed look at feel. Traversing the more technical issues such as payment gateways and shipping can still be difficult for some.
Necessity Drives Innovation
Everyone knew it was coming, they just thought we had more time. Yet like all shifts of significance, this one came out of necessity.
Necessity has always driven innovation throughout history. The pandemic of 1918 brought on a new understanding of the benefits of hygiene. World War 1 and 2 changed production forever with the ramping up of streamlined factories, especially in wartime America and post-war Japan.
This new shift will be equal in its severity yet no less life-changing.
Current sales figures are reaching black Friday levels, yet over a much longer period, as the rush to buy online continues to gain momentum. The latest data suggests that a large number of new users are buying online, and most importantly, returning for repeat purchases. This shows that these new users are becoming more comfortable with the process and forming new spending habits. Online grocery sales have seen the biggest shift in numbers with no letting up. This is the time to capture the hearts and minds of these new online customers.
How customers continue to shop and how the e-commerce industry responds, will bring about a sea change in the world of online, and the offline retail landscape.
What does the future of commerce and e-commerce hold?
Automation and AI
Automation and AI will be at the forefront of this new world. This current epidemic has shown the fault lines in our global supply chain. It has placed a strain on the economies of the world by first threatening the manufacturing heartland of mainland China. Next, it threatened our freight and backed up our ports. This might point to commerce moving more localized in the near term. Long term the giants of the industry will have to look at ways to secure the things that keep our economies ticking.
Automation will play a large part in this with robots moving more and more into the factories, ships, fulfillment centers, and stores. Amazon’s Cashierless stores promise more convenience with less human interaction.
Online stores are using the term contactless shipping to attract customers wary of COVID-19. Contactless curbside pickup and home delivery are becoming the new normal and a popular option with safety-conscious consumers.
Drone deliveries are already a reality in some countries, and this will only increase in the next year. Some see a future where drone ships cross the oceans powered by solar and wind, and steered by satellites and AI. Automated Harbors that run by digital harbormasters that keep goods flowing at an unmatched efficiency, constantly learning and adapting. Solar, driverless trucks shipping the goods to fulfillment centers where no humans are needed or present. And onto the cashier-less stores or home delivery bots that bring the goods to the consumers. Where we will all find jobs during this next evolution is another matter. Universal income might become a right, together with access to the internet.
This new revolution will bring forth new jobs yet unimagined, the same way all big shifts have done throughout history. The agricultural revolution made it possible for craftsmen and artists to appear as people had more time away from subsistence farming.
Fulfillment is the next battleground for giants such as Amazon, Walmart, and Shopify. Shopify is working aggressively expanding its footprint in the US against the well-established market leaders. Customers want products fast and efficiently and they are willing to pay. Retailers are looking for one-stop solutions that include warehousing and shipping that seamlessly integrates with their online stores.
Courier companies across the globe will have to keep offering better services and pricing to help merchants take on the big boys.
“My belief is that eCommerce is the future, and [that] eCommerce is going to replace a lot of traditional ways of doing business,”
e-Commerce search engines will begin to think more like humans. This will ensure that search results become more relevant to customers, instead of based on outdated algorithms.
Some of these AI tools are already available to us today in image recognition features in Pinterest, Automatic searching of videos, and other media.
AI will change many areas of e-commerce including:
optimizing the sales process,
prospecting new products,
chatbots and virtual shopping assistants.
The Gamification of e-Commerce
This is one area garnering the most interest. Bringing together social media, interactive games, and e-commerce is the dream for many online retailers. Shopping is becoming more about the experience for the customers than a straight buy and pay model. It has become another form of entertainment where people shop for fun. eBay was one of the original drivers of making shopping fun with its bid and pay system, where you have to beat out other customers for the privilege of buying the item you desire.
Loyalty programs and other points systems further extend Gamification into the online shopping experience.
Facebook recently made a significant investment in India’s Reliance Jio. JioMart went live in Whatsapp days after the accusation in Mumbai, thereby dipping their toes in a potential userbase of 400 million Indians currently under lockdown. This will be a powerful tool for small businesses to get their products in front of potential customers.
Did you know: The first-ever online transaction occurred in 1994 when a 21-year-old entrepreneur, Dan Kohn, sold a Sting Album, Ten Summoner’s Tales, to a friend in Philadelphia. The transaction of $12.48 was the first-ever protected by encryption technology.
New kid on the Social Media block, TikTok, recently launched a new initiative called Small Gestures where users can send virtual gifts from well-known brands to each other. This gives brands exposure to the millions of users flooding the platform as well as giving users the ability to “reward” content creators. This is just the start of TitTok’s evolution into online sales and advertising.
Screen time on Social Media has seen big increases in recent months as people try to stay connected during COVID 19. 87% of people claim that they use social platforms to help them decide to buy a product. This has given rise to Social Shopping where users can purchase directly through the social media platform.
Yet it goes beyond a single channel. Consumers want to be able to interact through multiple channels be it email, social media, WhatsApp, or the online store. Research shows that they spent on average 80% more than single-channel shoppers. Retailers need to make sure that their brand is consistent and reachable across all platforms.
e-Commerce cannot be ignored any longer by any business serious about its future. Things will not return to normal once the infection rates begin to fall. Users are becoming more comfortable with shopping from the comfort of their own homes. Getting your weekly groceries delivered to your door is now the norm and plays towards our inherent laziness. It is also more efficient than looking for parking & standing in guess at checkout. This will not change. It is time to look for the gaps in this new reality and see where one can innovate and expand to fill those gaps.
The focus should be on the customer journey, the efficiency of production & fulfillment, and fine-tuning your marketing for the multi-channel reality.
“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
The Global eCommerce market is predicted to grow to $6.5 trillion in 2022
Currently the largest e-commerce market in the world is China
The US eCommerce market is set to grow from $365 Billion in 2020 to $600 Billion by 2024
The 3rd Biggest eCommerce market in the world is the UK with 586 Billion Pounds(31% through Amazon UK)
The biggest increase in e-commerce growth is expected in India
95% of all purchases will be made through e-commerce by 2040
Men tend to outspend women online
E-commerce is estimated to grow to 17.5% by 2021
The average abandoned cart rate is 2.5% across categories
The category with the best conversion rate is gifts at 5% with the lowest being electronics at 1.4%
The highest conversion rate goes to food and drink at 7%
70% of shoppers state free shipping is the reason they buy online
On average 30% of products are returned with clothing and shoes returned the most
Tips for anyone selling online or for those planning to
Decide on the platform best suited for your business.
Focus on quality Product Photos and include lifestyle images.
Create Videos and include it on product pages
Offer honest and open information to your clients to build trust
Respond to Customer Concerns and Recommendations
Focus on reducing abandoned cart rates
Design for mobile commerce and test, test and test
Improved Delivery Options in eCommerce
Have an SEO, Content & Social Media Strategy
Talk to your customers the way they want to. Provide live chat, WhatsApp, email, phone, Messenger, etc.
Understand your customer’s needs. Talk to your existing customers to find out what they need.
How to improve your conversion & abandoned cart rate, SEO ranking, sell more products and build the best online store possible
1. Experiment Constantly. You can also learn more tweak more and make your online shop better.
2. Put money back in your business.
3. Collect email addresses from day one and start the conversion with your audience through newsletter app such as Aweber.
4. Nurture relationships with influencers in your niche.
5. Clearly display shipping & return information so your customers are left with no surprises. Unknown costs kill conversion rates so be transparent.
6. Write quality product descriptions that describe the product in detail. The customer cannot pick up and touch your products so make sure that your description gives them a clear picture.
7. Design a website that is visually appealing but does not take away from your products.
8. Find online shops that inspire you, study them, improve on what they are already doing right or not so right.
9. Ask for feedback from your customers regarding your store & products. Use focus groups and heatmaps to constantly get feedback and test and tweak using this information.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
10. Make sure your product categories make sense to customers, not just you. Don’t make them think and make sure it is clear and easy to navigate.
11. Set up your social media platforms from Day 1 and actively post to each platform on the schedule that you can maintain. Find your voice with these posts and remember to stick to 80% informative and only 20% selling.
12. Create valuable content that inspires & educates your customers through multiple forms of media; video, articles, how-to guides, infographics, etc
13. Video is king in online content. It drives the most engagement and must be part of your marketing strategy. Online video editing tools have made it easy for anyone to create unique content for their brand.
14. Offer free shipping if possible. Calculated shipping at checkout hurts abandoned cart rates
15. Make sure you have a budget for advertising. When you first launch no one will come to your site if you don’t advertise. Adwords, Facebook Ads, Social Media Ads is a good start but don’t throw money at it blindly. Set specific targeting goals for your campaigns, do A/B testing, and keep refining.
16. Study your abandoned cart rates, find potential issues, and keep improving the fall-off rate.
17. As the owner, you should talk to your customers. Check-in by email, phone, or WhatsApp. Use Live Chat to find out what they need in real-time on your site.
18. Build quality links through guest blogging or by creating sharable content.
19. Use Upsell and Cross-sell apps such as Bold Upsell to boost shopping cart size.
20. Use free trials for Shopify apps to test which ones work for your store. Make sure to back up your theme before installation.
21. Test everything in your store before you go live. Test mobile responsiveness, do test orders with a real credit card, shipping rates, all links, anything that might hurt the customer experience.
22. Do SEO Optimization on your site. Check for broken links, do SEO optimization on images, product pages, H1 & H2 Headers.
23. Use Retargeting Ads to expand your reach.
24. Ask your customers for photos of them enjoying your products and share that on your website, blog, product pages, and social media
25. Ask for testimonials. This can be set up automatically with Shopify Apps such as Judgeme.
26. Use Flash Sales, countdown clocks and limited stock counts to drive urgency.
Click One of the pillars of a successful e-commerce store is giving your customers what they are searching for. Many sites take this for granted. Store owners are so familiar with their own products, that they fail to see that a potential customer might be unfamiliar with what’s on offer.
Most of us accept that the standard search functionality, that comes with our e-commerce platform of choice, is good enough. We fail to realize the amount of lost sales that take place due to an ineffective search. We accept that it is working and that people searching our stores will find what they are looking for.
One way of keeping your customers happy, is an effective and powerful search function. This helps to satisfy their immediate need and in turn increases the chance of them come back for more. Thereby boosting your conversion rate and decreasing your cost per acquisition.
The 2nd sale is so much easier when a customer knows they can come to you for what they are looking for. It builds trust and goodwill towards your brand.
Look at your own experiences. What is more frustrating than searching for a specific product online but coming up empty? One has to look at it from the customer’s point of view and see the full experience.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.” —Alice in Wonderland
Site search makes up to 30% of total site sessions. If your stats are showing a lower number, then it might be time to relook your bog-standard search engine. Or you might want to make Search a more prominent feature on the site by not making your Search box hard to find.
Adding Site search has been shown to increase the conversion rate up to 4 times. On the flip side it has also been shown to frustrate users, if the results don’t match their search intent. Showing your customers the wrong products, or even worse zero results, can be even more detrimental to your bounce rate.
Searchanise places your store’s search on steroids. It allows you to choose which sections of your site to include. From Product names & descriptions, tags to collections, to your blog posts and static pages. Almost anything type of data can be included. Searchanise creates an index of your content offsite, on its own servers, which means your site isn’t bogged down by the extra load.
The basic search in Shopify only searches your product pages and ignores blog posts, which could be an important conversion opportunity. Research shows that your blog posts have a much higher chance of building trust and converting into a sale. According to optinmonster blogs are the 5th most trusted source that people use for information. It also helps to establish you, or your company, as a trusted source.
It might be a good idea then to include blog posts in search results, together with product data?
More Than Just Products
Searchanise assists by showing products together with blog, category/collection & page results. This helps to drive clickthroughs to informative articles and specials you want to highlight.
Imagine a customer is searching for the benefits of rooibos tea during pregnancy. With the basic search function they would only see the product page displayed. Searchanise will provide them with a complete picture of the information available.
It even allows search by substring which makes searching by parts of a field possible. For instance only search for parts of an SKU. A useful trick if you consider the complicity of Variant SKUs.
Instant search powers up your website by providing immediate results as the user types. You have total control over how much data is visible in search results. For instance a B2C/B2B store might want to hide product pricing, or decide to remove product reviews so as not to clutter the results page.
You are also able to provide suggestions for visitors if they have misspelled a word or came up with no results. This helps to improve the bounce rate. And over time your search suggestions become more efficient at plugging all the deadens. It will also provide you with useful insights into what your clients are actually searching for and give you product ideas for the future.
The bulk of visitors to your e-Commerce platform will visit it from a mobile device. Limited screen real-estate means showing them what they are looking for is more of challenge than on desktop.
Advanced search helps with this by laser focusing the user’s attention on exactly what they are looking for.
Filter options are where the real power of the app comes into play. It is possible to search and filter by an extensive list of options including
You have full control over which options are shown. This comes in handy when some of your data is not complete or if it is not applicable. I’ve often found errors in the data that I may have missed by being able to see the full picture in one handy screen
Upsell, Cross-Sell & Personalization
“Definition: Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question, while cross-selling invites customers to buy related or complementary items.”
One of the best features built into this app is the ability to do Upselling & Cross-selling. You are able to recommend popular products & new arrivals anywhere in your store. This allows you to show a widget to your customers throughout the site that displays the Top Products, Recently Bought items or You might also like items.
You can even choose for Searchanise to do this automatically. But you have the option to set up manual widgets and you have full control over the look and feel. This is a wonderful tool for any merchant and would usually cost extra through the use of dedicated upsell/cross-sell apps.
The Analytics section must my favorite part of the app. This is where you get down and dirty into the meat of the analytics and get a better insight into what your customers are searching for including. Top search queries, top search results that gave no results and my personal favorite, Most bought products.
Other tabs included are Instant SearchAll Searches, Zero results(NB), Suggestions, Products Clicked, Products Bought CSV Export
Customize the look at feel
Many apps make it difficult to customize the design of the results or widgets. Not so with Searchanise. You are in full control of the branding, from colors to fonts to what is visible or hidden. This is a great feature and helps to make integration with your site seamless and helps it blend in.
The dashboard is where you get to delve into all the nitty-gritty and explore all the options and features. Take your time and try and understand each section. There are some powerful features that will be a boon for your online store if you apply it correctly. The app works almost instantly without too much configuration but the dashboard is where you get to tweak and optimize it to your environment.
The following tabs are available:
This is where you are able to force reindexing if you’ve made changes to the product data that you need live asap. Otherwise the indexing updates every 10 minutes.
Analytics (Available on Pro plan)
Includes all the info you need to understand your customers search patterns and boost conversion
Instant search widget
Allows you to customize the search box. Available options are: Colors, Content, Sticky Widget, Translations, Product Labels, Custom HTML, Custom CSS
Search results widget
Here you are able to customize the actual search page including Colors, Content, Filters, Translations, Product Labels and Custom CSS
Available settings. Products, Product fields such as title, description and SKU, Categories, Pages & Usergroup Rules
Filters on Collections
Another excellent feature is the ability to place filters on Collection pages within Shopify. You have the option to have no navigation, Navigation through redirecting to Shopify links or navigation by embedded code in your template.
Upsell & Cross-sell
In this section you are able to add new widgets, edit exciting ones and check in on the performance to date.
Suggestions for search terms used by visitors to your site. You are able to approve suggestions or add manual ones
You are able to add synonyms for search terms which are then treated as the term itself. Useful for spelling in different regions or for example iPad vs tablet. You are also able to bulk import/export from here which will help save time and assist store migrations.
Stop words are ignored during search including words such as “a” “the” and prepositions. You are able to add your own from here.
Promote products in search through updating this section. Available options includes Products, Tags & Categories
Helps if you have special landing pages for products or if you are running a special and want a search term to redirect to that page. A handy feature that gives you even more control over what your customers see.
Compatibly e-Commerce Platforms
Further integration is also possible through API if your platform is not one of the above. Enterprise solutions are also available for stores that need something more advanced. For instance if your product range is between 50,000 and 500,000 and you need a more robust solution. This gives you access to the Searchanise API plus your own server and CDN.
Some of the brands that use Searchanise includes
For a few dollars a month you are able to provide the same level of advanced search functionality that many of the big brands above and the likes of Amazon give their customers.
Front End View
Please see below a short screen-recording of the front end. There is also a handy demo that you can play around on their website.
Searchanise Price Plans
This is the one part that I was pleasantly surprised. Many apps and plugins are expensive and out of reach for smaller merchants. Searchanise offers a nice pricing scale which makes this affordable for almost anyone. There is even a Free version for up to 25 products.
The paid plans start at $9/month up to 500 products and all the way up to $54/month for 50,000 products. Above 50,000 you will need to contact them for custom pricing.
Searchanise also offers a 14 day free trial for you to test it before buying and no credit card details are required. This is something I wish more service providers would offer.
I hope this guide is comprehensive enough to give you a better idea of the features and customisation possible with Searchanise. It is one of the apps that I most recommend to customers and almost the first one that I install in my own stores. It truly does beef up your shop and makes normal boring search into something you can be proud of.
It puts the customer first, which is something we as merchants should all strive for. And it helps in bringing your products front and center on any device. The all-inclusive search engine will give you more control, an increase in sales and hopefully many more satisfied customers. Just remember to keep checking your search stats and tweaking your settings. All the data in the world means nothing if the person at the helm remains oblivious.
We believe that in these trying times it is best to focus on what you can do, instead of becoming overwhelmed. Small actions now could mean big results down the line, but more importantly, help to improve your current situation. When it comes to e-Commerce, small improvements can mean the difference between a positive cashflow and going bust. Retaining customers is of the utmost importance and it is far more cost-effective to retain and sell to a current customer than it is to convert a new one.
Communicate clearly to your customers if you are still able to ship or if there will be delays. Inform them of any safety-related information such as hygiene protocols for packing and shipping and highlight how you go the extra mile to keep them safe. Inform them of any problems you might have and be transparent and clear about the challenges faces by your team and how you are solving them.
Shipping Discounts & Decreased Spending Threshold
Offer free shipping or shipping discount codes to your customers to help them reduce costs and increase conversion. Decrease your spending threshold or offer contactless shipping.
Contactless deliveries/shipping is where courier companies limit the amount of contact between courier and customer. Both parties are encouraged to maintain safe social distance at all times
Pivot your Product Offering
If you are a restaurant that’s been forced to close its doors to walk-in customers, look to pivot your food offering to meals that can be delivered, freshly made frozen meals that can be stored, or immune-boosting recipes that help those worried about getting sick.
Include the ability for customers to send meals to those in need or close family members or activate the ability to send gift cards from your store to loves ones. Make it easy for customers to give during a crisis.
Innovate & Upskill
Look at ways your company can innovate with either a new product tailored for the current environment or for what will follow after. Don’t allow you and your team to be bogged down by fear. There is opportunity in every crisis and keeping your business strong and innovating is the best possible thing you can do for your community. We will need every business, large or small, once we are through this difficult time and getting your team through it successfully must be one of the properties. Study, learn, upskill your team as much as possible.
“If you don’t educate yourself, you’ll never get out of the starting block because you’ll spend all your money making foolish decisions.”
Update Your Return Policy for the Times
Returned goods must be handled with care. Protect your staff by quarantined goods for at least 10 days after being returned to make sure the goods are safe. Disinfect each item and make sure your staff have the proper gear to handle all goods carefully.
Automate & Optimize
Look at ways your company can cut costs and save time by automating repetitive tasks. Use smart email tools like AWeber to automate your communication with clients by sending newsletters based on their purchase history or behavior. Schedule social media & blog posts ahead of time by bulk uploading when you have time. Use Upsell/Cross-sell apps that you can set up to help improve your cart size.
Improve and Speed Up
Do an audit of your e-Commerce site and check site speed religiously. Many apps that you install/uninstall leave behind code that slows down your site without you even knowing. Run speed tests on your site pages but not just the homepage. Be sure to run speed tests on your product pages to spot any redundant code.
Use tools such as Searchanise Advanced Search to improve how your customers find products. It includes tools such as Zero results history, Terms that brought in the most sales, AutoCorrect when a customer spells something incorrectly and other powerful tools that help your customers find what they are looking for.
Increase content marketing and SEO
It is tough to keep the marketing budget going in difficult times. One might feel tempted to pause the Adwords account and sadly it is the time that your business needs it most. Focus instead of creating valuable content for your customers that you help you rank and help your customers find what they are looking for or help them solve a problem. Do an SEO audit to see where you are currently compared to your competitors and fix what is broken.
Research key trends in your region using Google Trends, compare the popularity for different search terms and use this data to optimize your content marketing strategy.
Find out about Government/Business Assistance in Your Region
Governments around the world are providing support for small businesses that are hit hardest by this epidemic. Find out as much as you can about what is available in your area and how to go about applying. There is no shame in asking for help during times like these. Ask your service providers of any discounts available or delayed payment options. Google for instance announced Adwords credits to all account holders to assist their customers during this time.
It is hard not to feel depressed about the current state of the world, the markets and business in general. Yet one has to remain focused on the long term picture whilst keeping everything running in the here and now. Remain focused, keep innovating and optimizing and keep your business strong. If we all do this then the recovery will be so much quicker.