A mind-blowing one in every five pounds spent in UK shops is now going online according to the Office for National Statistics – up from one in every ten just five years ago.

The online retail industry is booming. In fact, a report by Statista predicts worldwide ecommerce revenue will have reached $4.88 trillion by 2021 – more than doubling the $2.3 trillion of 2017.

But what does this mean for companies considering changing their ecommerce website or embarking on their first ecommerce business?

With a reputation for building stunning digital experiences on the Magento platform, Redbox has helped some of the world’s most iconic brands digitally transform their businesses – including the likes of Nespresso, Universal Music Group, Nestle, Paperchase, Screwfix, AXA and Chapel Down.

As such, we are often asked what advice we can give companies putting together their own digital commerce strategies.

Just as every business is unique, with different products, goals and customers, so is every ecommerce implementation.

Feedback from our clients below puts design, understanding customers’ needs and being mobile-ready as some of the most important factors to consider.

While we agree, we have put together our own thoughts on what we believe should run through every ecommerce strategy.

Design and UX

If you walked into a shop with products strewn across the floor and no room to move around due to badly placed furniture, you’d probably walk back out.

A lot of time and money is often spent on getting the look and feel of the bricks and mortar side of the business just right – ensuring the customer experience is such that it not only ends in them buying something, but also sees them return in the future.

As your ecommerce platform is your online shop, it is amazing how little time some companies consider spending on their User Experience – or UX – strategy.

But designers are big news in the industry at the moment. An article by the Design Council highlighted how many major corporations such as Philips, PepsiCo and Hyundai, had appointed Chief Design Officers to their boards in recent times – following in the footsteps of design-led businesses like Apple.

Writing on the Adobe blog Christopher Murphy adds: “Forward-thinking companies are elevating the role of designers within their hierarchies and, equally importantly, stressing the importance of design thinking as a core strategic business driver. As a result, we are seeing design driving company-wide business innovation, creating better products and more engaged relationships with customers.”

He continued: “Whether you’re building a website or an application, at heart you are designing for users and, as such, it’s important to consider these users at the centre of a customer-focused ecosystem. Great brands are more than just logos or marks and websites or applications, they’re about the totality of the user experience, wherever a customer comes into contact with the brand.”

So, it’s vitally important to consider every aspect of a customer’s journey – or touchpoints – across online and offline channels. And that starts with how they may have come in contact with a brand before landing on the website.

Other areas to consider include attractive product presentation and data presentation through menus; strong branding and easy payment flow.

There are so many areas that can directly influence a customer’s journey.

Our years of experience and professional design team understand the customer journey and how best to enhance it through design. Our UX expertise means the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.

Make the checkout process easy

Which leads us nicely on to the next topic: Easy Checkout Process

The customer has come to your site, scrolled through all the products, picked out the one they want and put it in the basket. Product sold, right? Wrong.

Research conducted by the Barnard Institute discovered an average shopping cart abandonment rate of 67.91 per cent. That’s more than two in three people leaving without going through with paying. Of course, some of these missed opportunities are due to people wanting to shop around, but the same research suggested that 29 per cent of the abandonment occurred due to an overwhelming checkout process.

Another survey by Worldpay found that the top reason given – at 56 per cent – was due to shoppers being presented with hidden costs.

So, think, is the checkout process simple? Are you forcing customers to register and create an account? How many payment options are there? Are the delivery costs and any other costs clear throughout the site?

We say, be up front about additional fees; build trust through creating a feeling of security; reduce the number of pages the customer has to click through to buy the product; offer a wide variety of payment methods; create a guest check-out minimising the amount of information that a customer needs to divulge before being able to buy a product.

To return to the analogy we used in the last section, would you expect a shop customer to queue to pay for a product – but be made to fill in a form before the transaction was completed? No, you’re likely to see them walk out! In the same way, make the checkout process on your ecommerce site as easy, quick and stress-free as possible and increase conversions and sales in the process.

Think Mobile
Gone are the days when mobile could be an afterthought when planning your ecommerce strategy.

‘Omnichannel’ can seem like a buzzword, but today’s tech-savvy customers interact with brands across a multitude of different platforms and devices, so providing a seamless shopping experience is in many cases considered essential. And mobile is a huge part of this approach.

According to Adobe Digital Insights, US consumers spent more than $24billion shopping online last Thanksgiving, up 23 per cent on the year before.

But the bigger story was that over 40 per cent of this was mobile spend – just over $10 billion. What’s more, this was up 44 per cent from the year before, with smartphones 77 per cent of these sales! Worldpay say mobile shopping will take over from desktop by 2023.

Its annual Global Payments Report found the total eCommerce market in the UK is set to grow by 40 percent in the next three years to £240bn, with E-wallets favoured when purchasing via mobile.

Worldpay suggest that ecommerce brands develop a branded app, with 71 percent of shoppers preferring apps over mobile browsers when shopping on their smartphone. And we find it difficult to disagree.

With 5G around the corner meaning faster networks, increased smartphone ownership, and more hours spent on the devices than ever, think mobile.

Some words of advice from recent clients 

So those were some of our thoughts from our side of the industry. But what of the companies on the other side who have recently undergone their own digital transformations?

Redbox asked three recent clients for one piece of advice they’d give to businesses embarking on a digital commerce implementation or strategy. Here’s what they said:

“There are a lot of companies doing ecommerce because it’s seen as the next big thing – ‘because everyone else is doing it, we should do it as well’ type of mentality.

“But you need to be sure you have a customer segment who would use that ecommerce platform. So, ensure you understand your customer first; understand who they are and where they are and where their natural environment is. If this is online, then you should be online.

“When this is established, think about what they would expect out of it. Would they expect next day delivery or an additional added value service, for instance?”

Ross Cumming, Chapel Down Group’s Digital and Brand Marketing Manager

“Whether it’s a new strategy or implementing or updating your tech, as much time and effort should be spent on the pre-work as on the development itself.

“For a new strategy, your detailed requirements, to the letter, will make it more likely the end solution is what you want, or expect.

“I have found the majority of issues, or shortfalls, come from lack of detail or clarity. With tech and a new strategy, there can never be too much detail.

“Build out your use cases. The Devil is always in the detail. So, my advice, get detailed.” 

Dean Smith, Ecommerce & Marketing Director Latest in Beauty

“Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. I still see agencies only thinking through a desktop and not thinking about a mobile.

“Look at the world from a multi-device standpoint as that is how a customer is looking at it.

“Your customer may plan their purchases on mobile and tablet but not execute those purchases on these devices. We see that with some of our customer base. So, spend as much time as possible learning about your customers and how they interact and shop.”

Sean Reilly, Head of Ecommerce at Budd Shirts

In conclusion: customer is key

While the online retail industry is growing year-on-year, the key ingredient of the shopping experience remains the same: the customer. A good ecommerce strategy will put the customer at the heart of everything it does.

As Chapel Down’s Ross Cumming says, first working out who your customer is, is essential to everything that follows.

A comprehensive UX strategy will then help you identify every aspect of a customer’s journey across online and offline channels, enabling you to design your site with this in mind.

Recent research has found that is costs seven times more to attract new customers than to retain existing customers, so when you have identified ways to bring people to your site, it’s then all about ensuring they want to return.

Listen to what puts them off and frustrates them. Make navigation and communication simple. And ensure mobile and an easy checkout process are integral to your plans.

If you incorporate some of these key elements into your ecommerce strategy, you will be onto a great start.

Want to find out more? Let’s talk.