Rain, snow, sleet, hail, and numbing wind chills… this winter has been a doozy for many parts of the U.S. I, for one, am over the winter weather. Luckily, spring is right around the corner. To help you find a warmer state of mind until it arrives, let’s tackle the best ways to spring clean our e-commerce programs.
These tasks may seem tedious and mundane, but I guarantee you will uncover a few surprises along the way. Just as you sometimes come across a forgotten $20 bill while unpacking a pair of shorts, you never know what rewards you’ll uncover while spring cleaning. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started:
1. Open Multiple Browsers
A primary goal of spring cleaning your e-commerce program should always be an audit of your site, but you should simultaneously open your competitors’ sites to do a direct comparison and see how they perform similar functions. You’ll boost your ego when you discover the ways you are beating the competition, but also gain insight into the ways they are outperforming you and where you can improve.
2. Gather the Devices
You may have the newest iPhone or Android device, but those are a very limited sample of what consumers are using to shop and buy. Survey your team to find owners of various tablets and smartphones, and ask them to participate in some user testing to see where your site and emails could be better optimized. Remember, responsive designs can vary based on the device. Even though you may have recently redesigned your site, there might still be ways to improve the experience for certain platforms and devices.
3. Be a Newbie
Sign up to receive email messages and create an account on your site. Identify any steps in the process that are not functioning correctly. You may find that some data fields are required even though you do not actually use the data that you request. This could be a barrier to new subscriber and customer acquisition. Determine if there are ways to streamline the user experience and only collect data that is necessary.
4. Search Like No One Is Watching
You know the ins and outs of your site, but new shoppers may not be able to find their way around as easily. Try searching with extremely generic terms that would likely be used by someone who is inexperienced with your products. You may find ways to provide search results that are better optimized for new shoppers.
5. Abandon Your Cart
Don’t overthink this step. It’s easy to get bogged down with optimizing and enhancing the carting and checkout experience, but that is not what this to-do is about. Simply add a few items to your shopping cart and step away. While wearing your “I’m a new shopper” hat, really pay attention to the timing of the message and how the content and copy of the email extend the shopping experience. Be sure to check the links in the email to see if they actually work! Trust me, there are some clunky cart reminders that have fallen victim to the “set it and forget it” trap.
6. Ask a Question
Test your customer service experience by replying to an email, live chatting, completing the Contact Us form, or calling customer support. Cover all the bases. Even if response times are fast, the responses may not be quite as helpful as you would like.
7. Buy Something
Now that you’ve audited the cart abandonment process, complete an order and review your buying experience. As you proceed through the checkout process, identify areas that could be updated, consolidated, or removed. If you haven’t completed an order on your site recently, you may be surprised by what you find! Not only will you improve the buying experience for customers, but you may also help decrease abandonment rates by clearing up glitches in the process that previously frustrated shoppers when they tried to submit an order.
This step should not be limited to email opt-out. Locate all of the areas on your site where subscribers can modify preferences, such as My Account pages, preference centers, etc. Then, after assessing the basic functionality of the process, take the time to explore how to use this area of your site to prevent subscribers from opting out. Offering options to receive fewer emails, promotions only, or messages that pertain to certain products allows subscribers to tailor their experience and should decrease list attrition.
Chores are not meant to be fun, but they are productive and you usually feel better when they’re finished. Consumer behavior is always changing, and it can be easy to overlook certain areas of your site. If you complete this spring cleaning list, you will find ways to enhance the customer experience when interacting with your brand. Make sure you take the time this spring to clear the cobwebs and make your site sparkle.
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