Despite double-digit growth, eCommerce still accounts for a small percentage of total retail sales, and new research reveals that the preference for store purchasing is actually growing. To counteract this trend, online merchants must pass the agility test — providing the eCommerce software and omnichannel fulfillment features that can boost online conversion and sales.
Low conversion rates are nothing new for online sellers. Just 3.5% of eCommerce site visitors using a desktop or laptop computer go on to complete orders, according to technology researcher Forrester — and mobile eCommerce conversion rates are lower still.
Furthermore, new data from the 2018 Kibo Consumer Trends Report reveals that the percentage of shoppers saying they prefer to purchase in stores jumped 330% from 2016 to 2017. While this may be welcome news for brick-and-mortar retailers, it also represents a lost opportunity to earn immediate orders from the 84% of consumers who research online prior to a store visit.
Thankfully, the Kibo data also points to a remedy — in a word, agility. From eCommerce software that integrates seamlessly with inventory and the order management system to omnichannel fulfillment capabilities that offer shoppers maximum flexibility, to responsive mobile eCommerce software, consumers are increasingly demanding that retailers adapt nimbly to their changing needs in the moment.
To overcome online conversion hurdles along the path to purchase, merchants should limber up and test their capabilities against this list of agile commerce must-haves:
☑ Dynamic promotions and pricing.
Price is still shoppers’ primary purchase factor, even as the shopping experience is gaining in importance, the Kibo study found. The ability to offer relevant promotions and competitive pricing is key: some 86% of shoppers said loyalty discounts were an important purchase factor, while 81% said they’d used a promotion emailed or texted to them in the past six months. Merchants with outdated enterprise eCommerce software platforms lack capabilities when it comes to linking discounts and merchandising tools with customer data culled from multiple systems and sources — one reason that eCommerce software replatforming is the top priority for merchants in 2018, Forrester found.
☑ Flexible order fulfillment software.
Increasingly, shoppers expect online order fulfillment to be both free and fast, with 40% saying delivery that takes more than two days would detract from online ordering. Thankfully, free shipping isn’t the only option shoppers will consider: fully 76% of Kibo survey respondents said it was important to have multiple omnichannel fulfillment choices, such as Buy Online, Pick up In-Store (BOPIS) and ship-to-store. To meet these expectations, merchants need comprehensive integration of store inventory and order management systems with eCommerce software. Not only do such solutions give merchants the capability to offer fast and free fulfillment to customers, but services such as ship-from-store make the most of local inventory, reducing costs associated with excess stock.
☑ Full-featured mobile eCommerce software.
Mobile devices now command the majority of minutes shoppers spend with retail brands, generating 49% of all online shopping traffic, Forrester found — but with less than a third of online revenues attributed to mobile, merchants must work harder to deliver a compelling experience. Responsive design enables merchants to deliver robust product content and merchandising regardless of screen size using a single set of code, ensuring consistency across touchpoints while eliminating the need to duplicate efforts. Merchants should also integrate eCommerce personalization solutions with mobile offerings so they can serve promotions specifically oriented to shoppers on the go.
Kibo merchant Bluefly.com saw mobile conversion jump 39% and online revenues increase 14% after deploying a responsive site that enabled the designer fashion retailer’s merchandising team to set a trend-setting pace with fresh product assortments, lookbooks, and visuals for shoppers across touchpoints. The site also offers a streamlined checkout process, which is critical for 78% of shoppers in Kibo’s study and especially important on mobile devices, as smartphone keyboards are difficult to use for filling out long forms.
☑ Personalized products and content.
Increasingly, shoppers recognize the value of personalization: 64% of Kibo survey participants said personalized recommendations on the eCommerce site product page would influence their purchase decisions — a 45% increase compared with the prior year. The ability to adjust products, content, and offers as shoppers move along the path to purchase is not only critical for product discovery and consideration; by showcasing unique brand assets and proving relevance at every turn, real-time personalization can help brands establish the credibility and trust that are crucial to boosting order completion. Furthermore, by integrating personalization techniques into post-purchase communications to deliver follow-up offers, replenishment reminders, and invitations to submit reviews, merchants can re-engage shoppers and begin building long-term loyalty.
What agile commerce techniques are you instituting this year to help boost conversion?