Whether you’re playing on a sports team, starting your own business, or working within a large organization, the end goal is to one day be at the top. For online retailers, the trip to the top is long and exhausting, and competition is extensive. Top retailers provide a frictionless experience to all customers – from start to finish.
There are common traits that all top performing retailers exhibit. Here’s what you can learn from top merchants to make 2019 a year of exceptional growth.
Expand your payment options
The way shoppers pay for products online has changed a lot over the past years. They have access to many forms of alternative payments and expect more flexibility in how they pay. Some shoppers want to pay over a period of time, while others want to use an online currency. By providing a variety of payments, retailers can tailor the experience to each customer and capture more sales.
To be among the top, retailers need to go a step further than just accepting credit cards. Top retailers give their customers payment flexibility by accepting almost 9 payment methods. They accept more than just credit cards because not everyone has or wants to use plastic.
Millennials continue to be the main force driving ecommerce. Online, millennials spend more than any other age group, except only one-third of this generation own credit cards and a lot have become scared to use them after the ’08 recession. To reach the top spot, merchants should try to expand their payment options to give customers more reasons to buy online.
Product reviews and testimonials are powerful influencers
Reviews and testimonials are designed to reassure customers of their purchases. People are hesitant to buy products online because they can’t interact with them before they pay – they can see them on a screen, but can’t touch or examine them closely. Two-thirds of customers say that reviews influenced their purchasing decision and retailers with reviews can experience increases in revenue, AOV, and conversion rates.
Unfortunately, not all retailers provide this form of credibility. The 2016 Q3 report by PYMNTS found all of the top performing retailers provide reviews, but that number dwindles to less than 30% for retailers outside of the top. Reviews are hard to gather and time consuming to maintain. However, it does provide another way to showcase why shoppers should come to you and not your competition.
Offering guest checkout is a good idea
Forced registration is the second most common reason shoppers abandon their carts. Although memberships are beneficial to both parties, 8 out of top 10 US retailers don’t make their customers create an account before checking out. Instead, they offer guest checkouts to provide customers with a faster, more convenient experience. In fact, after adding a guest checkout option, one retailer experienced a 45% increase in customer purchases. Shoppers don’t want to spend time filling out more forms than necessary – they just want to complete their order. For retailers that want more customers to become members, there are ways to get them to sign up.
Retailers need to help shoppers see the value in becoming a member. With a membership, customers can check out faster with saved payment and billing information for all future purchases. Customers won’t sign up without seeing the value in spending those extra minutes filling out more forms. Retailers need to be explicit with the benefits because if they aren’t apparent, why would anyone sign up?
Lululemon effectively uses a guest checkout option to create a fast, convenient experience for customers. At the beginning of the checkout flow, Lululemon lets customers know they can complete registration post purchase.
Choose the right type of shipping fees for your business
Deciding on how to charge for shipping can be a difficult decision for retailers. There are many options but ultimately between the retailer and the shopper, the cost has to be covered. Unfortunately, not everyone believes shipping should be an added expense. For 83% of shoppers, free shipping would entice them to shop more online. Today, almost all of the top retailers offer free shipping because they recognize the benefits. Although free shipping is the best incentive to get more people to shop, not all retailers can offer it.
If absorbing the cost of shipping isn’t an option for your business, consider alternatives such as incorporating the shipping cost into your prices. The psychological impact of moving the shipping cost to the product price will help get shoppers to your thank you page. You could also choose to offer free shipping on orders above a certain dollar amount. Not only will this make shipping less expensive for you, but it will also incentivize shoppers to buy more.
If you are going to charge shipping fees, you need to be upfront about the cost. One method is to calculate your average shipping cost and offer one flat shipping fee for all orders. Communicating a flat shipping fee is much easier for shoppers to understand and although it doesn’t save you money on every order, in the long run it will cover your costs and satisfy your customers. But don’t wait to tell them about it until they are ready to check out – surprising shoppers with the shipping cost may cause them to leave empty handed. In fact, more than half of shoppers will abandon their carts because they are presented with unexpected costs in the checkout. Make it easy for your customers to understand the costs associated with shipping with simple, clear fees.
One final recommendation
Test, test, test. The top performing retailers are doing what works for them, but not all retailers will get the same results. Before you make big changes, be sure to test the fit with your business. Just because it works for the big companies, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.