The Role of the Website in Ecommerce
The Role of the Website in Ecommerce
In ecommerce, there’s a difference between a brand and a store. Brand has to do more with company image—influencing how customers perceive your business and your products. Executing a brand strategy means conveying to customers the reason they should buy from you over one of your competitors. In other words, your unique selling proposition is part of your brand. Ask yourself this: When customers hear your brand name, which descriptors come to mind?
Your online store is the place customers actually go to learn more about your brand and make purchases. The role of the website in ecommerce is primarily to facilitate these transactions, but a truly effective website goes above and beyond to solidify customer relationships for the long haul. Here are some of the most important roles your ecommerce website plays in your overall business.
First and foremost, your website exists to make sales. If this functionality is compromised, your revenue will suffer. Simply attracting someone to your website is far from enough to guarantee a sale, let alone make one. One 2017 report found that the average conversion rate for an ecommerce website is below 2 percent. To capture these precious conversions, your website must offer streamlined browsing and buying processes—the less friction, the higher the likelihood of people finishing their transactions.
Checkout in particular is a site of rampant website abandonment. In fact, shopping cart abandonment rates average around 70 percent, due to reasons like:
- High extra costs
- Account creation required
- Complicated or long checkout processes
- Difficult to calculate total costs
- Website failure
- Untrustworthy websites
- Lack of options
Your website’s design, navigation and architecture are all central to the role of facilitating conversions. Successful enterprise ecommerce means providing an excellent on-site user experience. Visitors to your website must be able to navigate menus and landing pages with ease. The payment process should be intuitive and concise; it helps to show users their progress, so they’re reassured they won’t have to invest too much more time and effort to seal the deal.
One challenge in ecommerce is the lack of in-person facetime with shoppers. Your website must provide enough of a personal touch to build rapport and trust with visitors if you hope to secure their loyalty. As one expert notes for Entrepreneur, “That’s why establishing trust, in tiny increments, is the key to helping move those in the early stages of the buying cycle towards a decision to buy something.”
Which factors establish trust on an ecommerce website? Well, images and copy go a long way toward conveying your brand personality. You can also use reciprocity—that is, offering users a reward in exchange for engaging in a desired action. For example, you may offer a freebie for signing up for your email newsletter, or access to pre-sales for creating an account. Closer to checkout, bolster trust by displaying trust seals touting the legitimacy of your company.
Provide Customer Service
Customers increasingly expect personalized customer service. Gone are the days of posting an email address on your “Contact Us” landing page and expecting it to satisfy customer queries and comments. Competitive ecommerce websites offer responsive on-site customer service via live chat. Human operators are always preferable, but artificial intelligence-powered bots can also handle basic questions and make product recommendations.
The point is: People like to feel like merchants care about their questions and comments enough to address them quickly, in a personalized fashion. Your website should serve as the link between your customer base and your brand. Websites in ecommerce must fulfill many roles, from handling actual sales to building relationships with first-time and returning customers.