Long before COVID-19, eCommerce was on the rise. Rapid advances in technology have meant that buying online is easier than ever before. And many Australians now turn to their mobile as their preferred way of shopping. reports Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs.
How to create an eCommerce experience that will stand the test of time
The pandemic has undoubtedly spurred on consumer adoption: according to Boston Consulting Group, 9per cent of Aussies report making their first online purchase during the pandemic and 33 per cent are shopping online more than they did before COVID-19.
While necessity forced this change at the beginning of lockdowns, the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your own couch has charmed consumers. Even as restrictions ease in some parts of Australia, it’s clear eCommerce is here to stay. So what does this mean for small businesses?
Recent research from 99designs shows that 46 per cent of SMBs are planning or are actively rolling out eCommerce capabilities as a result of the pandemic and change in customer behaviour. So, if that number includes you, how can you easily create an eCommerce experience that will stand the test of time, through COVID and beyond?
Take the time to be true to your brand
While moving fast is important in times of crisis, it’s important to not treat eCommerce (or any pivot) as a band-aid solution. It’s natural to feel a sense of urgency with things changing so much and so fast, but don’t rush to get something out to market at the expense of your brand’s integrity.
Ecommerce is a fiercely competitive space, so take the time to align the online experience you create with your brand values, vision, and personality. In many ways, your customers have more options than ever before now they’re stuck at home (the internet is a very big place!), so define your point of difference and be smart about how you build all the digital touch points that make your business special.
Developing an unforgettable ecommerce brand takes time, so make sure that your strategy is authentic and reflects how you want your customers to feel about your business long term.
Create a sleek digital shop front
You know when you’re walking down the street and something catches your eye in a shop window? When it comes to ecommerce, your website is your digital window.
Your homepage is where the majority of shoppers will have their first interaction with your brand: so web design is critical. It takes approximately 0.05 seconds for customers to form an opinion of a website, so that means you really only get one shot to make a great first impression.
Ensure your branding is eye-catching and consistent across all pages and keep the design simple and clear. To ensure you show your products in their best light, invest in high quality, professional photography, and include as much relevant information about your product as possible without overloading the reader.
Good eCommerce design puts the customer at its centre. It needs to be attractive but it also needs to be intuitive and easy to navigate so that shopping with you is a seamless and frictionless experience. Finally, remember that a quarter of online purchases are now made from smartphones, so make sure your site is optimised for mobile too.
Remember the art of packaging
For an eCommerce brand, your packaging is the first (and most likely the only) physical interaction your customers will have with your brand. It’s more than just a vessel to deliver a product: think of a customer opening a package from you as an in-home experience.
Of course, it’s important that your packaging design reflects the rest of your visual brand, so the colours, fonts as well as materials you use should all align with your overall aesthetic. But be creative: as a digital brand, this is an opportunity to foster authentic and unique connections with customers in the physical world.
Spend time thinking about everything from the outer packaging (what it is shipped in) to what’s inside, so the product itself and any labels, tags or postcards you want to include. Each of these elements offers a chance to recreate the visual and sensory experience we are used to having in-store.
Creating an eCommerce experience that lasts really boils down to telling an authentic brand story at every single touchpoint a customer or potential customer may have with your business. Whether you’re interacting with customers online or in-person, it’s worth investing the time to find creative ways to leave a lasting impression, and ensure your brand stays front of mind for many years to come.
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