Whilst there’s always room for a bit of debate around exact numbers and statistics, the overall upward trend for online shopping is undeniable.
Recent reports show New Zealand and Australia’s online spend has increased between 13 – 24% on the previous year, depending on the product group analysed. Both NZ & AU’s total online spend is now roughly equivalent to global averages – approximately around 6% of total retail spend.
Kiwis spent $2.8 billion online in 2012, compared with Aussies $14.7 billion and in the US the figure is an astonishing $161.5 billion (2011). Many commentators believe these figures are set to double or triple in the next 5 years and we would agree – as both technology improves (internet speeds) and consumer habits change with people spending more time online.
So what does this mean for business owners?
Firstly, there is little doubt that online shopping is a growth area and we’ve said it before several times on this site! Online ecommerce presents new opportunities for businesses to capture new or additional revenue from a growth market. If you have products to sell, now is the time to be investing in an online store or easy to use online product catalogue / ordering system.
Secondly, some very interesting research offers powerful insight into how online consumers behave, want they when shopping online – what works, and what may lose you the sale. So if you already have an ecommerce site set up – now is a good time to review how it’s working. If you’re new to ecommerce and online shopping, this will make interesting reading.
Some may say that many of the points discussed below are fairly obvious. However, it’s quite surprising how many online stores make the basic mistakes. Purple Dog have brought together research & graphics (see sources in footer) to present this article as a learning opportunity – and open discussion topic! We would be happy to discuss any of these points further with you, or provide information on our recommended online strategies and solutions – just get in touch.
Site speed: With just over half of online consumers leaving an e-commerce site after waiting for around 3 seconds, it’s crucial that your website is optimised to load quickly.
No second chance: Reducing the enormous 80% of consumers that will never return to an abandoned site is a daunting- perhaps impossible task. Basically, it means you’ve got one chance to impress, which is why you’ll need to get it right first time. A high quality ecommerce website design that incorporates powerful functionality and is easy to use and attractive, should be your priority.
Great design: A mammoth 92.6% of consumers say that the general design of an e-commerce website, along with the display of product, affects their immediate decision on whether to buy or not. Investing in your website by hiring a website designer that can focus on a visually attractive site as well as the correct functionality, is a critical consideration, whether you’re building your website from scratch or even redesigning your existing website to appeal to a wider audience.
People are visual: The power of decent visuals is undeniable. This means product photos and videos should be one of your key budget areas. If your products are displayed well, and include informative product text, they are more likely to sell ! Yeah, that’s obvious you may say – but look around at how many sites there are where they expect you to buy the product by looking at a tiny, poor quality thumbnail – and where the product description is non-existent! Laziness will cost you the sale.
Reviews engender trust: Typically, the main downfall of buying online for a consumer is that they can’t physically view the product, get a feel for what they are buying, touch it, shake it, drop it etc. How can you reassure the buyer to trust you, that what you are selling will be worth buying? Product reviews written by other genuine purchasers are proven to give other purchasers confidence and this should be a key feature of your store.
No scary stuff: As you can see from the image above, simplicity in the user-experience is key. There are many ways to keep the consumer’s attention without it being too scary or complex. A well designed site with custom functionality – such as automatic account creation, newsletter sign up as part of the shopping cart, and other such features – allow the user to navigate easily through your online shop.
Promotions work: Marketing products with ‘special offers’ and other incentives using coupons is a massive business in its own right – and is a great way to increase awareness of your products and thus, increase sales. Typical channels such as social networks, e-mail marketing or search engine advertising, allows for a wide marketing program and as the saying goes “a discount goes a long way”. Whether big or small, today’s consumers are constantly on the hunt for a bargain and using discount coupons on your e-commerce website is a sure way to encourage sales!
Low cost or free shipping is best: With same day delivery not being as important to the consumers as you might think, it’s plain to see that the cost of shipping has a large impact. High or perceived to be expensive shipping costs can be detrimental to your sales, as consumers leave your site without purchasing any product. Therefore, it is prudent, wherever possible to reduce the shipping fees to a “flat rate” – or perhaps including the shipping cost within the product price, and then offering “free shipping”. Of course, this becomes more difficult when shipping bulky products internationally – what’s important is that shipping costs are ‘reasonable’ and so it may mean reduced profits for some items.
Security & payments: This is really a given and most people know the “little lock symbol” represents security. Another influential factor for a consumer when buying online are the payment options. Interestingly, Paypal continues to claim top spot for most recognised online payment processor. However, there are a number of alternative – more localised – payment methods that Purple Dog Design can advise you on.
Conclusion: When shopping online, consumers want an easy to use site, that’s well designed, provides all of the information they need, offers reasonable shipping and payment options and fast and intuitive. All of this of course, must be backed up with fast delivery, reliable products and of course excellent customer services in case something goes wrong.
If you are considering launching an online shop, or need help with an existing online store or ecommerce site, Purple Dog Design can help you. We are experienced at providing e-commerce services and we’d be happy to discuss your requirements further. Get in contact with us today to find out how we can help! Alternatively, feel free to join us on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/purpledogdesign
Sources: Content quoted in part from; nzherald.co.nz, smh.com.au, mashable.com, internetretailer.com, news.cnet.com, forbes.com, economist.com, graphic by vouchercloud