5 Ways E-Commerce Experiences Must Evolve to Succeed Among Economic Uncertainty
The economic downturn is dramatically impacting consumer budgets, making shoppers think twice about their spending. This puts pressure on e-commerce merchants to adapt their online shopping experiences to maximize profitable conversions.
Meeting this challenge requires a focus on five key areas:
1. Enhance e-commerce site search with dynamic ranking and merchandising.
With every cent counting more, merchants should closely track behavioral data around how products are performing and adjust how high they rank in on-site searches. If a product can’t stand on its own and deliver significant sales, it needs to be less visible. Those less visible products can still be shown to those who might be interested through personalization. Equally, search can rank products based on margin and inventory, so shoppers aren’t shown out-of-stock items. Modern site search platforms leverage similar technology to ChatGPT, such as large language models and image recognition/deep learning.
2. Make category pages work harder.
Merchants are increasingly focused on driving more traffic directly to category pages, as they try to shorten the path to purchase. With most category pages consisting of rows of product images, the downside is that shoppers that don’t buy will click away without ever seeing the brand messaging and offers that typically exist on a store’s homepage.
Merchants can rectify this by displaying more personalized editorial on category pages, highlighting USPs, brand values, discounts, offers and wider inventory. The aim should be to encourage visitors to explore more of the site, with fewer bounces, more pages per visit and, ultimately, more sales.
3. Reward VIP customers.
It’s always easiest to generate sales from your most loyal customers — particularly in downturns when buyers become more risk averse. This makes it imperative that merchants segment their returning buyers based on customer lifetime value and invest in delivering custom experiences to repeat purchasers. Reward visiting VIP customers with tailored content and promotions that makes them feel special and valued, including early access to sales, exclusive offers or limited availability products that others can’t get.
4. Win over socially conscious shoppers.
With budgets tightened, more shoppers are comparing the costs and benefits of different retailers. Brands therefore need to be especially focused on highlighting areas that provide value, such as socially conscious initiatives. These appeal to consumers who are looking to only buy ethically sourced clothing, demand a commitment to sustainability, or only shop organic or locally produced, for example.
Merchants need to be able to recognize shoppers’ social values and tailor their shopping experience with products or content that appeals. Socially conscious filters can allow shoppers to tailor their experience in line with their values, so they only see organic or sustainable merchandise, for example. And socially conscious visual badging, which demonstrates how each purchase benefits a specific cause, such as dollars donated to charity, can really help shoppers feel engaged.
5. Use authentic customer images more widely.
There’s a lot of evidence that visual user-generated content (UGC) increases conversions as shoppers see products being worn or used by real people; 54 percent of consumers in Nosto research said they’re likely to purchase after consuming UGC, for example. UGC also benefits the bottom line in other ways — e.g., it reduces the need for expensive content production and lowers clothing return rates as people have a better idea of fit and sizing before they buy. Merchants should make UGC more noticeable on more sections of their website and across more channels (homepage, product recommendations, ads, social media, email).
As with any period of economic uncertainty, there will be winners and losers. The merchants that succeed will need to do more than offer the right products at the right prices. They’ll need to focus on the experience across the customer journey, and that starts with following these five tips across their operations.
Jan Soerensen is general manager, North America at Nosto, an e-commerce personalization platform.
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Jan Soerensen is the general manager of North America at Nosto, an AI-powered commerce experience platform. He spends most of his day working with the teams in New York and Los Angeles to increase visibility of Nosto in the North American market. Previously Jan led the customer success team at Nosto, and has intimate knowledge of personalization as well as the wider ecommerce ecosystem.