the latest from 2am Media

15 Nov

The e-commerce experience


Recently we’ve been considering the shape of the future for e-commerce websites. There is no question that online shopping is a growing success, and why wouldn’t it be?

Online shopping has given us the power to browse from the comfort of our sofa and to select products that offer unlimited choice and value. It has also given us the authority to make choices about whom we purchase from without being railroaded into shopping with whichever chain store giants dominate our local high street. But as online shopping has developed in the last decade, so too have our expectations and needs as users.

When it comes to online shopping the overall user experience falls short of expectations. Creating an experience that satisfies the target market seems to be a secondary priority for most retailers, favouring a quick and easy solution based on what they think their shoppers want to see, or indeed what their budget dictates. Many retailers founded on the high street have branched out or made a complete transition to e-commerce, but compared to the standards in place across their branches and despite being responsible for such a vast proportion of their revenue, the quality of their online experience seems to have taken a back seat.

The initial groundwork period is a difficult one but it is crucial in setting the tone for the future of a website. Getting the design right is one thing, but it’s the functionality that can make or break those vital sales. Nailing this down takes planning – an important stage that appears to be neglected all too often by many retailers.

Once it has been decided how the site will navigate, it’s time to upload your products and let the shopping commence, right? Well yes, ultimately, but consideration must be taken at every stage. It is the little details that set the good and great online stores apart; like professional product images, and in-depth information about key features. Once you’ve entered these products it’s vital to keep them fresh and vibrant, merchandising them as you would a shop display. As a high street shopper you would expect your favourite clothing retailer to have new products and displays, but you will always know where to find the jumpers, and the same principles should be applied to an online store.

One of the main barriers to quality is ultimately the cost and time involved with creating and maintaining an e-commerce website. But with so many technological advances at our disposal, it feels like a cheap excuse for laziness. Software and hardware alike are so readily available and developers are practically tripping over themselves with the latest updates and advanced features, it’s hard to believe that we aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits they have to offer in order to create the ultimate online shopping experience.

In recent times the e-commerce world has hit somewhat of a ‘sweet spot’. With consumers being driven to the Internet in search of choice rather than quality of experience, there really has been no reason for retailers to up their game. They have taken their eye off the ball, certain they have the upper hand – this confidence is arguably misplaced in the current financial climate. With the ever growing popularity of online shopping and the volume of e-commerce traders rapidly increasing, to contend in such an aggressively competitive environment online retailers must up their game and take their shoppers seriously.

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