Three Keys to Maximizing Store Growth by Breaking Brick and Mortar Rules

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Today’s consumers make a greater number of online purchases than ever before. A survey of 5,300 consumers by the United Postal Service and measurement company comScore found that online shoppers made 51% of their purchases online (excluding groceries) in 2016. That number is up from 48% in the 2015 study (UPS Study). With so many opportunities in the eCommerce space, store owners need specialized strategies that are ready to evolve with modern, online shoppers.

Learn from In-Store Selling Practices
When designing an eCommerce presence, store owners sometimes draw from their experiences shopping and selling in the brick & mortar world. While online and in-store consumers typically want the same things, merchants should approach selling very differently in these two environments.

For a number of reasons, many of the rules that define success in physical stores don’t equate to eCommerce sales. Here are some key rule-reversals in the eCommerce success playbook that will result in better conversion rates and fuller carts.

1. Shorten the Distance to the Milk

Online Shoppers Want Instant Gratification

When shopping at a grocery store or department store, it’s not uncommon for shoppers to walk in needing only one item and end up standing in the checkout line with arms full of items they never planned to purchase. This is no accident. Stores like Costco know that most people who walk into their stores aren’t going to buy a TV or an appliance. Costco makes their money on full baskets.

On the other hand, most eCommerce transactions are for only one or two items. Costco keeps the milk, bananas and toilet paper in the back of the store so their customers have to walk past everything else to get what they came for. Costco does this because their shoppers are already committed. Similarly, Ikea creates an entire floorplan based around customers navigating their entire store, so they walk past every product to get what they came in for.

map of ikea

Online, hiding products doesn’t work. Shorten the distance to the milk.

ECommerce merchants don’t have the luxury of a customer who has already committed to their store (by means of traveling there). When shopping online, a customer is only one click away from buying a competitor’s product. In many ways, eCommerce represents a shift of power from merchants to customers. Because online customers can see many competitors and travel between their storefronts in seconds, the window of opportunity for merchants is slim.

Here are some tips to “shorten the distance to the milk”:

  • Make sure site navigation is clear and well-organized.
  • Display best-selling products prominently whenever possible.
  • Pay attention to site speed, as a slow site can be a major conversion-killer.
  • Make it easy for customers to re-order frequently purchased items. Consider a subscription service if products are something many customers buy on a regular basis.

2. Show Them the Blue Shirt

Online Shoppers Only Want to See the Results They’re Looking for

While some visitors might be on a site to browse a store’s inventory, most know what they want when they arrive.

Better Search for Better Sales
Online store owners understand that search is a powerful tool to bring traffic to their store. However, sometimes they overlook what an effective tool search can be for meeting and exceeding online customer’s expectations once they’re on the site.

A site’s search terms tell the story of what customers want. Paying attention to frequent terms and testing their results for relevancy is a great way to keep on top of this goldmine of customer info. If users refine their search terms often, those edits can reveal where results are missing the mark.

Even if the right items come up in search results, their order and the way they are displayed can have a significant impact on conversion. Simple fixes, such as favoring more popular items, can make a tremendous difference. If items have variations (like color), display the variation if it relates to the search term. Here’s an example of this in action when searching for a blue shirt on two popular websites:

mixed search results examplerelevant search results example

Here are some ways that you can “show them the blue shirt”:

  • Look at the most popular search terms and check that the correct results are displaying.
  • Check for instances of customers making repeated searches and identify problems that might have occurred in the initial results.
  • Upgrade the site’s search to enable you to show filtered results based on categories like gender, color or size.

3. Upsell with Something that Adds to Their Purchase

Customers are Willing to Spend More to Get More

With a trapped customer, stores like Costco or Ikea can force customers to walk past everything to entice them into making additional impulse purchases. Online merchants don’t have that luxury. Once customers signal what they want, merchants need to be targeted with additional offers.

After customers make a buying indication, such as clicking ‘add to cart’, online stores should offer them the next logical purchase. The moment when they demonstrate trust is an excellent moment to offer more. A great example of this is the “People also bought” feature many retailers use to sell add-ons and related products.

upsell with related products

Some less targeted methods have also proven effective. These strategies include showing best-selling items, highest-reviewed items or add-on items. Add-on items are inexpensive products a customer might want to add to their cart, since they’re already paying to ship their initial selection.

Here are some actionable tips for merchants looking to upsell on their eCommerce shops:

  • Consider integrating a product recommendation engine to create smart product suggestions for customers based on their viewing history and what other customers buy.
  • Without a product recommendation engine, try finding creative ways to display popular or related products on product listing pages so checkout can have a larger payout.

Adding it All Up

Improve Conversion Rate and Cart Size

With these kinds of changes, small improvements can have large, compounding effects. The three points in this article are just a few strategies to boost conversion rates, grow cart sizes and increase overall sales.

compound eCommerce growth graph

When taking the power of compounding into consideration, incremental improvements in various success metrics across a site (conversion rate, cart size, return rate, and referral rate) will result in exponential sales gains.

In this article we’ve covered a few ways to increase a store’s sales. Our team can create targeted solutions specifically for your site. Ready to get started? Contact us at info@coolblueweb.com.

A Seattle-based team of web developers and designers specializing in Magento, WordPress and Custom Web Development. We love coffee, ping pong and coming up with effective, personalized solutions for our clients.