What’s one functionality or feature you think all e-commerce websites should have by the end of 2013?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Strong Security Measures
As a merchant services expert, one issue I see with many e-commerce sites is the lack of a strong security measures. Oftentimes, it’s a combination of thinking “hacks won’t happen to my site” coupled with a lack of knowledge about the necessity to have protections and accurate PCI compliance scans and controls in place. This results in unsafe online shopping environments.
2. A Great Mobile Experience
Comparing Black Friday sales from 2011 to 2012, the number of people shopping via mobile went up by 166 percent. This year, the number is going up even more. This is huge, and it means that e-commerce website owners must react to this if they want to stay on the top of their game. If your e-commerce site’s mobile user experience is not top-notch, you’re losing sales. Plain and simple.
3. Live Chat
Live chat is a great tool to allow potential customers to get answers to their questions, rather than having to call customer service or submit an email. Offering your customers a way to interact with your reps in real time can help to ensure brand loyalty.
4. FAQ and Blog
An e-commerce site can drastically increase its conversion rates, dominate search engine ranking and decrease the load on its customer service team by going out of its way to answer questions that customers may have. You can do this through a robust, detailed FAQ and frequently updated blog.
5. Customized Gifts
Generic e-commerce sites are in a race to the bottom, and the lowest price wins. You need to stand out and avoid “showrooming,” where people visit your site to learn but look for lower prices elsewhere. The more of a “custom” experience you can create, the more likely they are to stay. Two ideas are to offer discounts with bundled products or personalized packaging. Be unique!
6. The Ability to Accept eChecks
We started accepting electronic checks or ACH debit last year, and it has been interesting to see that many of our clients prefer it over credit cards. Some clients feel uncomfortable paying with a credit for large purchases and prefer paying with a bank debit online. The fees are sub 1 percent versus 3 percent or more for credit cards, so investing in being able to accept e-checks will save you processing fees.
7. Social Proof
When was the last time you bought something without asking your friend? It’s pretty rare. I’ve seen some companies out there that increase buyer confidence at the point of purchase by showing me that my friends bought this product or a bunch of random people similar to me did, as well. It’s always hard to click the “purchase” button, so make me feel better about it!
8. Multiple Languages
Knock down those imaginary borders and leverage the World Wide Web for what it is destined to be — a global marketplace. First, look deeper into your analytics data to learn your visitors’ demographics and language preferences. Then, strategically roll out new versions of your website. Doing so both makes your brand more trustworthy and opens more revenue opportunities.
9. Personalized Product Recommendations
E-commerce sites should incorporate personalized product recommendations as an effective way to increase conversions. A personalized shopping experience is a great way to make buying easier for customers by taking advantage of existing technology.