© Christian Horz | Dreamstime.com
Quetion Marks

No One Wants a Bad E-Commerce Experience, But How Can You Improve?

Oct. 27, 2021
Four tips to get your user experience out of the basement and into the light.

Pandemic pressures have spurred manufacturers to enhance their online presence. When offices closed and in-person meetings ceased, they needed new ways to stay in touch with customers, provide up-to-date product information and close sales. Disruptions to the supply chain and wild fluctuations in supply and demand made it difficult to maintain production, fill orders and manage inventory. Some companies, facing steep declines in sales and profits, expanded from a business-to-business (B2B) model to sell their goods directly to consumers (D2C).

Here are some tips for e-commerce success:

1. Make sure your website serves all users

More manufacturers are relying on their websites to reach customers around the globe, providing up-to-date information on product availability. An online storefront serves as the organization’s face to the outside world, essential at a time when travel limitations have curtailed in-person transactions. It’s important to make sure the user experience is a positive one.

Look at your site critically, as a first-time visitor might. Does it align with your brand as a company? Is the design intuitive, friendly and functional? Ease-of-use is an absolute must. Customers need to feel comfortable, not intimidated or overwhelmed by choices. Even newcomers should be able to find what they want quickly and easily.

Focus on the feature set that addresses and solves the business use case. Technological bells and whistles, such as flashy video capability or separate product application, can be tempting, but they can distract from your basic mission: serving the customer. Make sure your designers keep your customers’ needs front and center when creating the storefront.

Personalization goes a long way toward making visitors feel appreciated, encouraging them to stick around and come back. A relevant, dynamic user experience that adapts to your customer’s preferences and selections through initiatives like conditional content—a way to create custom content for each visitor—and progressive profiling—a data gathering tool to learn more about your customers with each website visit—will ensure they’re not bombarded with information that’s of no interest.

2. Stress stability and scalability

The best-designed eCommerce site will succeed only if its technical platform is as rock-solid as its customer-facing front end. Speed, performance and stability are basic requirements. Visitors want pages that load immediately, with interfaces that allow optimal ease-of-use when finding product information or placing an order.

To function effectively, a site should integrate all the data available from multiple catalogs, product lists and databases, with everything constantly updated—product names and descriptions, images, SKUs, prices, inventory levels and more. Manufacturers with both B2B and D2C sales platforms also have to deliver on order fulfillment and tracking, secure payments, customer service management and sales and marketing tracking. The technical infrastructure must be solid enough to support current operations and offer scalability to allow for expansion.

All this requires a lot of work behind the scenes, especially as a business grows. If you’re working with a digital partner, make sure their technology and systems have the flexibility to integrate with your existing hardware and software with minimal need for expensive customization.

Avoid partners that choose a solution, product or technology before understanding the goals of your business and overall digital needs.

3. Share data to support analytics

eCommerce offers a wealth of information, including data on customer behavior, the cost of customer acquisition, CRM functionality, lifetime value and much more. Often, such data is siloed in different departments, so it’s important that all systems, legacy and new, can easily communicate to integrate data from across the business so it can be organized and analyzed. High-level analytical data, such as product inventory, orders received and shipping timelines, accessible in real time, can quickly inform strategies and support actionable decisions.

Today, businesses use many different systems; before APIs (Application Program Interface), if they wanted these systems to connect or interact, it required writing a custom bridge of code between the programs. This process was both timely and costly. In the last decade, new applications and programs have created API hooks—places to read or write data—to allow programs to more easily be connected. We measure how easily a program can be used or data communicated by how well the API is written and documented.

4. Centralize product inventory management

Closely monitoring inventory is key to success, but it is also a major challenge. Accurate, up-to-date inventory information isn’t easy to come by, particularly for global operations and those dealing with thousands of SKUs that are constantly changing. When data resides in multiple databases, websites and storage locations, there’s often no single source of truth for all product information.

A digital system for product inventories can allow teams to make updates more easily, reduce overhead and maintenance costs, increase accuracy and allow for scalability. Customized API integrations—ways to bridge the connection between two data systems—can enable databases to sync all information into a centralized website experience automatically through tying those systems together. This facilitates updates to product lines and new product additions and makes it possible to quickly deliver products and information to distributors and clients, reducing overall time to market.

The ability to give prospective customers the right information and products quickly and deliver a stellar experience will help you develop a loyal following and build business—no matter how challenging or competitive the market becomes.

Jason Rosenbaum is  the COO of Crowd Favorite. A forward-thinking executive with strong client-facing, financial, and operational experience, his leadership has resulted in improved performance across companies operating both in the U.S. and internationally. With a focus on business administration and growth strategy, his restructuring of small businesses, managing multi-disciplined teams and expertise in integration activities has led to success in building companies and delivering enterprise-grade client services.

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!