E-commerce best practices to increase sales and stay ahead of the competition

Contents

How to ensure data security, increase personalization, and comply with green consumption to create a strong and competitive e-shop.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly shaken up the economy and forced both big players and start-ups to take a bolder look at the prospect of e-commerce growth. The pandemic has posed new challenges and problems for building relationships with consumers in the virtual world. Not only has the competition within e-commerce increased, but also the expectations of customers, who have significantly changed their consumer habits. Today, when consumer awareness is growing, it is not enough just to allow online shopping. We must ensure the highest quality of user experience in digital sales and service channels.

The user experience is affected not only by how the website works but also by the price of the products, the delivery method and time, and elements related to service. Therefore, the consumer experience should be taken care of in a holistic way.

When talking about staying ahead of the competition, it is important not only to have a functional website, but also a well-functioning customer service department, an accessible returns and complaints policy, as well as the availability of the most popular delivery and payment methods.

When we are sure that our services are in line with market trends and requirements, it is worth having a top-quality website as well. The website should encourage people to buy by inspiring trust, through personalization, and many other elements, which we describe below.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been driving the e-commerce market for several years now. Thanks to the implementation of AI solutions, customers can gain a personal, customized virtual assistant. In addition, thanks to artificial intelligence, we can facilitate product searches and also support the customer in making purchasing decisions 24/7, thanks to the possibility of consulting a chatbot. This relieves the burden on the customer service desk and makes it easier to access information. This is important from a business perspective.

According to a report by Magento Commerce, seven out of ten respondents admit that they switch to another shop if they are unable to find a specific product quickly. Without a doubt, in 2022, artificial intelligence is already an essential element in the battle for the consumer, especially for large shops with extensive offers.

 

Data security

The global pandemic has provided new opportunities for cybercrime. Today, protecting information is more important than ever.

Check Point Research data shows that over the course of the third quarter of 2020, a 50% increase in ransomware attacks was observed compared to the first half of the year. What’s more, we learn from research collected by Coveware that the average ransomware value in the second quarter of 2020 was $178,000, up 60% from the first quarter.

Ransomware refers to attacks that use software to encrypt the contents of your hard drive or databases. It is the responsibility of e-commerce owners to keep their data secure. Online retailing is primarily struggling with attacks on customer access data.

However, other risks should not be underestimated. Often, cybercriminals work in several directions, exploiting security gaps. Therefore, in addition to access data, e-commerce businesses should pay particular attention to issues related to payments and the storage of users’ data. The best ways to protect your shop and customers from attacks are:

  • Creation of backups and storing them externally, e.g., in the cloud.
  • Machine learning for threat detection, email scanning, automated network analysis, and pattern search, among other applications.
  • Multi-factor authentication as the cornerstone of security when an unwanted person attempts to access an account or database.
  • Good passwords both on the shop users’ side and on the employees’ side. The passwords should be long and consist of both letters, numbers, and special characters to make it difficult for a computer to crack.
  • Appropriate access to information policy. The list of persons with access to confidential data should be kept up to date. It is also advisable, as far as possible, to restrict access to only those people for whom it is necessary for day-to-day work.
  • Updating software security is very important from a security point of view. Hackers use automated software to find shops using older versions with serious security vulnerabilities.

 

Furthermore, research conducted by the Baymard Institute on 4,329 respondents found that as many as 17% of users had abandoned a payment in the past three months because they “did not trust the site with their credit card details.” The same research shows that the average user’s perception of a site’s security is largely dependent on the extent to which a site visually inspires confidence. It is therefore worth taking care of the security of the site and, in addition, placing security confirmations in the form of certificates on the site.

 

Augmented reality

AR, or augmented reality, is a technology that combines the virtual and real worlds, merging them into one in a computer-generated image. To receive AR, unlike VR (virtual reality), you don’t need any tools other than a smartphone or computer.

According to the Retail Perceptions Report, 40% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a product if it was possible to interact with it. As you can read in the report E-commerce in Poland 2020:

“Non-purchasers online account for 27% of all respondents. They most often cite the need for physical contact with the product before purchasing as the reason for this, with this answer chosen by as many as 43% of respondents in the non-buying group.”

In response to the needs of potential consumers, it is worth using AR technology, which allows you to interact with the product without leaving your home. Examples of the use of augmented reality in e-commerce include 3D visualization, filters, virtual fitting rooms or virtual retailers.

 

Big data

Big data is a system of data sets with high variability and diversity; once processed they can provide the knowledge needed to increase sales. This is extremely important, because thanks to such actions we can get to know the customers and adjust the offer individually to the needs of each of them.

A report by Magento Commerce found that 49% of customers buy more if suggested products are tailored to their browsing history. Big data analytics also helps to identify suspicious payment behavior and prevent fraud before it happens.

In addition, by using big data, we can increase the popularity of our brand and reduce advertising expenses. In 2022, the development of data-driven e-commerce is a key growth direction that gives retailers a competitive edge.

 

Loyalty programmes

According to a report conducted by Magento Commerce, an effective loyalty programme is one of the three elements that significantly increase the average basket value in an online shop. The other two elements are a visually appealing website and personalization.

Moreover, according to a report by ExpertSender, in 2020 as many as 62% of Polish consumers took part in e-shop loyalty programmes. Today, it is extremely important to place an emphasis on the retention of existing e-commerce customers. Financially, it is much cheaper than acquiring new customers, and emotionally, it will influence the attachment of customers to the brand. This is not a new issue, but it is worth being mindful of continuous optimization to positively impact the customer experience.

 

Social proof

Described by psychologist Robert Cialdini, the social proof theory states that when a person does not know what the right behavior is in a particular situation, they will look to what others are doing to adjust their actions. According to Robert Cialdini, “we perceive behavior to be more correct in a given situation to the extent that we see it performed by others.”

This theory is based on three basic principles: uncertainty, similarity and knowledge. Using knowledge about social proof can positively influence the building of trust in a brand that was previously unknown to the consumer. It is worth taking the theory and turning it into concrete elements in the shop. The most commonly used types of social proof type elements in e-commerce are:

  • testimonials;
  • sectoral awards and rankings;
  • expert reviews;
  • referrals from influencers;
  • the possibility to add and read product reviews;
  • highlighting demand;
  • integrating social media into the marketing strategy;
  • presenting best sellers and most popular products together to prevent decision paralysis.

 

Virtual exhibition

According to a report conducted by Magento Commerce, the most important information and elements that users look for in an online retail shop are: price (66%), a clear display of discounts (63%), and accurate product description (62%).

All of these elements come down to a well-thought-out product presentation and a standard-compliant product sheet. If we want to adapt the way we present goods to the current trends, it is worth taking care of:

  • appropriate display of prices and promotions;
  • product images from a 360° perspective;
  • detailed description of the product;
  • easy access to information on payments, delivery methods and order processing time, preferably on the product card;
  • in the case of unavailable products, allowing the e-mail address to be left to inform the customer that the product is again available;
  • the opportunity to ask questions about a particular product;
  • indication of reviews confirmed by purchase;
  • placing in the shop pictures of products added by customers;
  • making it easier for consumers to compare products;
  • the possibility to share a link to products, e.g., via social media.

 

Green consumption

Green consumption is a form of environmentally friendly consumption. Conscious shopping and sustainability are increasingly important to consumers, and consequently for e-commerce entrepreneurs. If retailers do not adapt to the prevailing environmental standards, they may fall behind their competitors.

For 69% of Magento Commerce respondents, it is important that the shop operates in harmony with the environment. If you don’t want to lose customers to your competitors, it’s worth labelling products that are produced in harmony with the environment, shipping products in 100% recycled packaging and communicating this on your website.

You can also take care to reduce the risk of returns by providing a sizing chart or sizing by means of an intelligent assistant, and thus reduce the carbon footprint of your commercial activity.

 

Social media for boosting ecommerce sales

We spend a lot of time on social media and, due to the pandemic, this has increased. Social commerce retail sales in the US will grow 34.8% to $36.09 bn in 2021, according to Insider Intelligence’s social commerce report.

An additional factor contributing to the growing power of social commerce is that in 2020, Facebook changed its interface and placed the Marketplace icon in the middle of the navigation bar. The change has made it one of the first things seen by the 2.7 billion users logging into the service.

Today, traditional “online shops” are now only part of a strategy to market brands, so in 2022, when talking about e-commerce, it is worth taking care of social commerce as well.

 

Takeaways

As you can see, to boost your sales in e-commerce in 2022, you need to:

  • benefit from AI-driven solutions;
  • ensure data security;
  • use augmented reality to make the buying experience as real as possible;
  • use big data to customize your offer;
  • implement loyalty programmes;
  • take care of the virtual exhibition of your goods;
  • build trust in your brand;
  • ensure you are eco-friendly;
  • use the potential of social media.

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