How to Keep E-commerce Customer-focused

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: July 18, 2018

To many people, e-commerce simply means the ability to purchase items online like Amazon, but it can become bungled when the seller is focused on their own needs and not on the needs of the customer.

At Envano, we try to help sellers bridge the gap to appeal to all consumers: technologists, designers, marketers, and of course, the end customer. It’s amazing to me that user experience and simplifying the purchase are still not at the forefront of most developers’ and companies’ minds. A company might get all technical pieces correct, but their e-commerce site/app remains difficult to use and navigate for the customer.

So how do we do it?

Keep it simple.

It doesn’t matter if you offer a beautiful online store; if it’s hard to find online or it’s clunky to navigate, it’s a waste. Often, it is better to stick to a common convention like placing the shopping cart in the upper right corner, and hold your creativity for somewhere else. Also, make checkout and payment quick and safe by offering PayPal or Amazon Pay. These options build confidence in new users/shoppers in your store.

Keep it quick.

The real objective for the customer is to get what they want in as little time and effort as possible. Pickup is a great option if you have local stores and allow the shopper a quick in and out. Grocery e-commerce, for example, would ideally allow a consumer to have their staple groceries waiting for them at the checkout after placing an order online. They still may want to select their bakery, deli, produce or meat and fish items. Time saved on the staples will allow more shopping time on other personal selection items.

Give the customer the answers they demand.

E-commerce is also a transaction of information. As a customer, we simply type in a key phrase and a deluge of information hits us. It’s not that simple when we take a closer look at the technical side of things. The required amount of data makes the shopping process as hard or harder than ever before. Because the decision process demands all the details, a company must keep their data organized, sortable and open so it can be used by an ever-changing series of options. Loyalty programs, voice commands like Siri or Alexa, and many screens are available now and will be in the future.

Understand your customers’ needs.

Interview your customers to understand their e-commerce needs and shopping habits before designing a process. Even better, then build some prototype experiences and watch their behavior. Often users cannot articulate their desires, but they will reveal them through their behavioral shifts. Watch, learn and always experiment. Technologies change so fast that if you are not evolving you will quickly fall behind. Many companies are still not providing a fluid mobile experience and typically over 50% of our time is spent on mobile devices.

Don’t be afraid to blaze a trail.

In 1997, I worked on the team that built the first Green Bay Packers website, whose e-commerce component was the Packers Pro Shop. Not all NFL teams even had websites yet. At the time, the Pro Shop was a little shop next to the Packers’ business offices. This venture started small but quickly grew in scope and volume. Today, the Packers Pro Shop has expanded as a cornerstone of Lambeau Field with a booming e-commerce business, but that wouldn’t have been the case had the trail not been blazed years ago.

Integrate the newest technology.

Both Amazon and Pinterest use artificial intelligence to figure out a picture of what you’re looking for and find similar products. Many retailers are leveraging browsing habits to offer suggested shopping. Predictive display advertising allows companies to retarget consumers with products they already browsed to complete the transaction process. Don’t be afraid to incorporate the latest technology where it fits in your e-commerce process to aid your customer in their shopping process. Again, experiment and start with small incremental changes when possible, this will minimize the need for bigger, more expensive redesigns.

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