E-commerce has become essential in the last few years for businesses that sell just about anything.
Secure payment providers, peer review systems and lots of practice caused customers to transition from cautiously testing the waters with online shopping, to e-commerce being just another shopping channel — and sometimes the preferred one. PWC reports that more than 90 percent of global online shoppers buy books, music, films, clothing and footwear online.
Customers now expect to have the option to buy everything easily and quickly both on and offline. And businesses have risen to the expectation: most retailers have an e-commerce system in place. E-commerce solutions have grown in complexity as a result, offering more and better technical solutions that help the transaction go ever more seamlessly. Some even integrate smart CRM practices, like following up on abandoned shopping cart items.
Despite all of these improvements in digital retail environments, online shopping cart conversion rates remain shockingly low: between 1 to 4.5 percent, depending on channel.
While e-commerce vendors have made tremendous progress in improving the transaction process, they have not yet found the solution to getting the customer to make the transaction itself (and then to come back and do it again).
Looking at the Whole Experience
For this reason, e-commerce businesses are looking beyond the e-commerce solution to improve the overall digital environment in which the transaction takes place. Increasingly they are turning to CMS providers, so that they can track, analyze and improve the entire customer journey, not just the final part. The answer lies in contextual content delivery and optimization.
An excellent CMS solution allows businesses to adapt to their customer’s individual circumstances in order to deliver exactly the content that he or she is looking for at that particular moment (which can be a certain kind of product). By using information like behavior tracking, in-depth analytics, social activity and geolocation, businesses can create rich, engaging and — most importantly — highly relevant experience for each individual customer.
An Individualized E-Commerce Experience
Successful e-commerce environments rely on this for several reasons:
Customers may be just as comfortable shopping online as in-store, but they look at online brands with a more critical eye. A single bad e-commerce interaction can send customers running to a different vendor or brand (as there are usually multiple options to choose from).
Brands can insulate themselves somewhat from this behavior by building up a strong brand that delivers exactly the kind of experience that the customer is looking for. This means serving up the content that’s most relevant to the customer’s interests, at the right time, in the right tone of voice.
The better the content suits what their customers are looking for, the more likely the customers will stick around (even if something happens to go wrong with the transaction itself). The right CMS solution can provide both the relevant content delivered in the right context, and the analytics on individual pieces of content's performance to allow for improvements if need be.
Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment will always happen. But responsive content delivery creates a more contextual, interesting and rich experience for customers that engages them more deeply in the buying process, and ensures that their path to the shopping cart — and the ‘buy’ button — feels as natural as possible. A good CMS can also provide a more context-sensitive way to follow up on abandoned shopping cart items than a blunt email.
Multichannel Shopping Experiences
The PWC report also noted that 65 percent of US consumers currently shop across at least two channels, sometimes even using four or five. To close the sale, it is essential for the customer experience to remain consistent across all of these potential touchpoints with the business. A CMS will provide the ability to not only optimize and tailor content for each channel, but to adapt to each customer’s journey and to learn from their behavior across channels to ensure a seamless shopping experience.
An e-commerce solution alone can never be as powerful as when it integrates with a strong CMS. Only when the two combine can today’s retail businesses ensure that the entire customer journey is optimized for maximal conversion by creating truly personalized and engaging digital experiences for their visitors.
Title image by Timothy Muza