Two strategies to boost online order value and volume.
A milestone with a mixed message earned headlines in the mainstream press last week: online shoppers make more than half of all their retail purchases on the Web. But with eCommerce revenues still trailing the number of orders by a significant margin, merchants must do more to both drive purchase volume and boost order value.
New research from measurement firm comScore and shipper UPS revealed that among regular shoppers, fully 51 percent of their purchases were made online. For this audience, the number of non-grocery transactions occurring solely in-store dropped to 20 percent of the total (versus 22 percent in 2015), while more than 4 in 10 purchases were made solely online and 38 percent were triggered by a combination of online and in-store experiences.
But the dollar value of these purchases lags the volume. In fact, online purchasing is forecast to comprise just 11 percent of all retail revenues this year, according to technology researcher Forrester.
The quest for discounts online partly explains the discrepancy: Better prices topped the list of why online shoppers chose their favorite retailers in a recent survey from professional services firm PwC. The popularity of lower-priced product categories on the Web also helps explain the difference: shoppers are more comfortable buying books and apparel online than furniture sets or major appliances, PwC found.
Still, the research suggests that merchants who hope to thrive as more commerce shifts to the Web must find innovative ways to maintain and grow revenue – especially for those sellers who can’t afford constant discounts or across-the-board free shipping. Among the strategies to consider:
Deliver on convenience for every buyer.
While shoppers choose favorite retailers online due to price, convenience is what drives them to shop online in the first place, PwC found. Fully 58 percent of U.S. consumers said convenience was the top reason they shopped online, compared to 32 percent who sought cheaper prices first and foremost. In short, merchants who can help shoppers accomplish their goals smoothly and swiftly stand to boost volume and repeat business. Merchants should:
- Invest in product discovery tools. Faceted on-site search, real-time recommendations and cutting-edge tools such as visual search can connect shoppers with the right products faster.
- Streamline checkout routines. Especially as mobile buying surges, the need for simple and smooth checkout is paramount. Merchants should forego forced account creation, offer shortcuts such as social login and integrate with alternate and mobile payment tools to give shoppers maximum flexibility with minimum keyboard input.
- Make repeat buying a snap. Existing customers should be able to replenish their supplies, route orders to frequent gift recipients and access loyalty rewards easily from any device.
Kibo merchant Beauty Brands integrates repeat buying options into product pages with its free replenishment service. Shoppers can set the refill interval directly on the product page, as well as access additional information about the service and extensive FAQs.
Coax higher order values with stellar service.
To boost shoppers’ confidence in their offerings, merchants should spotlight and deliver expert customer service — from category-specific shopping tools to ready access to live help. Prominent and ubiquitous service features can give prospective buyers of big-ticket items the information and reassurance they need to complete orders online, while savvy support can convince those shopping for smaller items to buy more of them. Service offerings to highlight:
- Product guarantees and return policies. Close to two-thirds of shoppers seek out return policies before committing to online purchases, so merchants should make this information easy to find by promoting their policies like top products.
- Questions and answers. User-contributed Q&A content and FAQs topped the list of desired customer service tools, comScore and UPS found, so merchants should ensure that their offerings are robust. Answers to frequent call center and live help questions should be incorporated into the site, and featured on relevant product pages – not just in the customer service section.
- Ready access to live help. Live chat links and customer service phone numbers (with click-to-call enabled for mobile users) should be prominently placed, and services such as online personal shopping consultations should be highlighted.
Kibo merchant Berkshire Blanket includes washing instructions in its extensive customer service section, with a printable guide and the option to click to category-specific guidelines. The care information is repackaged on the product page with a replica of the item’s tag and item-specific instructions.
What measures are you taking to boost volume and order per revenue?