6 e-commerce best practices


Use these essentials to attract customers and improve purchase follow through.

Nearly every online retailer worries about lost revenue from cart abandonment – and with good reason. A deep dive into the latest research shows the checkout process is only part of the issue.

"People are looking for easy returns, the opportunity to get help via online chat and a higher level of service," says Ashley Boggs, UPS retail marketing manager.

"The path to purchase starts way before checkout," says Ashley Boggs, UPS retail marketing manager. She shares six best practices that are critical for achieving your e-commerce revenue goals:

1. Ensure customers can find you. Most people begin looking for products using popular search engines like Google and Bing. "You need to make sure you are using popular keywords for products you sell so that you get on the first page of search results," Boggs says. "More than 90 percent of people are not going to go past the first page of results. If you aren't there, take a close look at your search optimization program and how the keywords on your site align to the target buyer."

2. Optimize searching and browsing on your site. People won't buy what they can't find. "When buyers get to your site, make it easy for them to search for what they want," she says. "Almost half of all searches take place on smartphones or tablets, so you need to allow for easy searching across multiple devices and browsers." Another key is allowing buyers to browse and filter by color, style or price ranges, she says.

3. Provide personalized recommendations. Smart retailers are serving up product suggestions based on a buyer's search and purchase history. "Making recommendations based on their known identity, prior purchases or how they arrived at the site is a major trend," Boggs says.

4. Ensure fast and easy experience. Streamline the online shopping experience. "People are looking for easy returns, the opportunity to get help via online chat and a higher level of service," Boggs says. "You have to rely on your site to provide the customer with that kind of interactivity and build a virtual relationship."

5. Offer flexible shipping options and specific delivery dates. According to UPS research, 56 percent of online shoppers want to see the expected date of arrival rather than a range of dates; 50 percent will abandon a cart because of lengthy shipping time or no specific delivery date. "People will wait a bit longer if shipping is free, or if they can pick up purchases at a nearby store," Boggs says.

6. Let people save their cart. Carts are abandoned for a variety of reasons, even when someone likes your product. Common reasons are lack of time or not having the right credit card at hand. "You can lose a lot of business unless you let people save their cart," Boggs says. One savvy option: Capture new visitors' e-mail addresses when they first arrive, or have them log in through Facebook, so you can retarget them.

For more details, download the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper U.S. Study or the new Global Study (published March 3).

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