We’re already halfway through 2022! With eCommerce still at the forefront of most digital strategies this year, we wanted to look at how you can stay relevant in 2022 and beyond. This is a two-part series. First, we will focus on eCommerce Retailers. That means, in this piece, you will learn all about eCommerce Marketing Best Practices that we have seen offered by various retailers around the world. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will give you the full picture by reviewing eCommerce best practices showcased by brands, next month.
GUIDED SELLING BEST PRACTICES
By definition, guided selling is the act of guiding the customer to buy a product. In its simplest form, it could be a blog post explaining the benefit of a certain product and then linking to it. It, however, can be as advanced as technology allows it. In this section, we’ll cover some of the advanced forms of guided selling we came across through our work.
The customer is in this case prompted with questions guiding him/her to the desired product. So for instance, if a customer is on the market for skin care. He/she will be asked to enter their skin concern, followed by questions on their skin type. The Quizzes then lead to a list of suggested pre-filtered products.
Here are examples from Ulta & Nykaa an Indian eCommerce retailer
Masterclasses linking to Products
Some retailers found it interesting to collaborate with content creators in producing masterclasses or tutorials. But instead of the regular collaboration dynamics, the created videos are posted on the eCommerce website as part of their guided selling portfolio. In the case of Nykaa, an Indian eCommerce retailer, they also had links to all products mentioned in the video. The link then directs the customer to the corresponding product page increasing the chance of conversion.
Following is an example from Nykaa:
AR/VR Guided Selling
In this case, the retailer isn’t relying on inputted data from the customer’s side. It’s an advanced tool that analyzes the customer’s photo. Based on the analysis, a list of recommended products is then displayed. This tool shows how keen the platform is on catering to its customer’s needs. Creating such a tool is quite an investment and for a retailer to cave in says a lot. It also increases the credibility of the website if the analysis leads to accurate results.
Here are a couple of examples from Marionnaud:
Best in Class eCommerce Marketing
This is an especially interesting feature for the pharmaceutical industry. It is a live consultation with an expert, which could be a doctor in the case of an e-Pharmacy. So for instance, if someone is missing a prescription and needs to place an order. He/she can simply have an online live consultation and get the prescription on the e-pharmacy of their choice. It is by that more convenient for seniors and individuals with limited time.
Here is an example from Tata 1mg India:
It is, however, not limited to this application. Beauty retailers also use the tool to promote their products. It could be as individual as it is in the pharma industry or a scheduled Livestream format. They are also usually directly linked to the promoted products.
Here are examples from Douglas Germany:
Experts in the field were also incorporated in guided selling. Relying on their credibility, experts’ recommendations are usually reliable sales drivers. This is a fact some retailers have come to acknowledge.
Here is an example from Galeria Germany, where the expert is giving perfume and gift recommendations:
Specialized Live Chat
The more reachable an eCommerce retailer is, the better the overall customer experience is. Live & automated chats are hence popular amongst eCommerce retailers. It is, however, the specialized Live Chat feature that stood out to us. The chat is in this case not with a bot or a customer service agent. It is with specialized agents capable of correctly answering product-related questions.
Here is an example from Superdrug UK:
How does Guided Selling add to you?
Think of it this way, it is a set of tools allowing you to guide your customers on their purchasing journey. A way to bring the assistance they can find in an offline store to the online shopping experience. As a brand, it is essential to be well aware of how advanced your eCommerce partner is in terms of guided selling marketing. To do that you need to properly assess your market and be aware of the available features. This would allow you to better negotiate changes and improvements with your eCommerce partner. You should also emphasize the need to link to your product pages to facilitate conversions. Tip: Produce advanced content to match those eCommerce partners that offer advanced guided selling opportunities.
eCOMMERCE PRODUCT PAGE BEST PRACTICES
It is the page that provides all the details and information about a certain product. On an eCommerce platform, a product page has to include the following features:
- Product Description
- Photo of the product (preferably multiple photos)
- Add to cart or buy button
During our analysis, we, however, came across other features that we thought were worth sharing.
Mobile Optimized Product Images
With more than 50% of traffic coming from mobile websites, optimizing for mobiles is only going to grow in importance. We all came across mobile websites that have a lot to wish for. Retailers mainly face issues with image quality and size. As an eCommerce platform, you should always consider that. This is especially true if your customer base is relatively young. The customer’s switch between mobile and website versions has to be smooth. Differences and discrepancies between both platforms should barely be noticeable.
Here is an example for Asos, notice how the images are also optimized on the SERP (search results page):
Short Description Enhancements
Most product pages have a long detailed description of the displayed product. Some are, however, missing the short one. Given the placement of the short description (on top of the page next to the image) having them is important. Some retailers even emphasize them by bulletizing the points, making them easier to read. Others go even further, by listing the keywords describing the products, under a properties section.
Here are examples from Hagel Shop Germany:
Suggestions on PDP
This could be as simple as suggesting other products on the page. It could however be a full-on routine incorporating suggested products. Through our work, we’ve also come across eCommerce retailers suggesting other brands on the PDP. A feature allowing a second chance for Competitors.
Here are some examples from Bleu Libellule France:
Sometimes also referred to as Rich Content is any extra media content on the product page. Rich Content is normally at the lower part of the page. It usually consists of, but is not limited, to the following:
- Extra product videos (not the ones displayed along with the main product image)
- 360° product images
- Images & Banners
Here are examples from Ulta US:
Ratings & Reviews of Confirmed Purchases
Let’s face it, we all look at online reviews before we give in and decide on a particular product or service. Knowing how important reviews are, some eCommerce retailers emphasize the point that their reviews only come from confirmed purchases. Others go a mile further by providing detailed information about the buyer: age, skin type..etc.
Here is an example from Douglas Germany:
How do Product Page Features add to you?
For customers to go to the product page of a certain item, means that they have almost made up their minds. You need to just guarantee they don’t steer away at this point. This is where the PDP features come into play. The more engaging, informative, and eye-appealing the content is, the more likely it is for customers to buy the product. It also, in a sense, increases the credibility of the brand. As a brand, make sure to leverage all available PDP features on your eCommerce partners’ platforms.
NAVIGATION & SEARCH FUNCTIONS
Think of it this way, imagine walking into a physical store, not liking the layout, and not finding someone to ask for what you’re looking for. In an instance like this, you are likely to go somewhere else to find your product. This is, in essence, why good navigation and advanced search functions are crucial.
Bottom Navigation on Mobile Version
Most app users use their thumbs to navigate their mobile devices. Having bottom navigation on mobile websites just makes it easier for users to navigate. If it is also sticky, it adds to the overall ease of navigation. By sticky, we mean, it is on every page in the same place.
Here is an example from Sephora US:
Search is one of the key features of an eCommerce platform. The more advanced the search functions are, the more chances you have to win conversions. This is especially true for advanced autosuggest features. By advanced we mean having photos, prices, package size, add to cart button…etc. This is especially true in the case of the use of generic keywords. Having those added features would help win over undecided customers.
Here is an example from Apollo Pharmacy:
Best in Class eCommerce Marketing Implementation: Hero Images
These are images that have a text overlay on them. It could be featured on the side or the bottom of the product image. It usually gives information about the product, its size, or category. Hero images stand out on the search results, hence their name.
Here is an example from Amazon US
How do Navigation & Search Functions add to you?
For a website to be successful, navigation is one of – if not the – most important design elements. Your homepage navigation plays a major role in whether visitors stay or go back. Your website strategy and user experience depend on navigation. By allowing visitors to find content by searching and browsing, you can increase the chance of them spending more time on your site. By doing so, you can also increase the likelihood of them purchasing from your site.
A searchable website encourages customers to stay on your site, consume your content, make a purchase, and even become repeat buyers. With a search function on your site, you’ll be able to gather valuable information about your customers’ behaviors and needs, which can be used to improve your marketing and SEO strategies.
To ensure smooth eCommerce marketing, remember to optimize your website for mobile users. As previously mentioned mobile users make up a decent portion of website surfing. Optimizing mobile websites accounts for the quick-paced life we all currently have.
It is the retailer’s way of protecting the buyer, even if the brand is not offering it. Data protection, retailer guarantee, and easy returns all fall under the umbrella of buyer protection. eCommerce retailers who attach great importance to this, stand out in their markets. Buyer protection leads to an increased overall trust in the eCommerce platform.
Imagine buying an electric device for which there’s no warranty. Now imagine buying it on a platform that offers you a guarantee, regardless of whether or not it is offered by the producer. This could also be a return or a replacement guarantee.
Here is an example from Very UK:
Easy Free Return
Customers are more likely to buy on platforms that offer an easy free return. It’s as easy as that. Everyone is currently striving for convenience. Especially now after two years of covid, convenience has become even more crucial.
How does Buyer Protection add to you?
As a brand, you should seek retailers that go the extra mile for their customers. Before deciding to partner with a retailer, make sure to properly evaluate their customer service. Customers will seek out retailers that treat them fairly and have a good reputation. Having satisfied customers leads not only to repeat sales but also provides good feedback to prospective customers and helps brands increase their trustworthiness.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
The best way to fine-tune your eCommerce marketing strategies mid-year is to conduct this type of assessment. Have you partnered with the right retailers? On these retailers, are you leveraging all their eCommerce marketing best practice levers? Doing so means that your customers can find you in their preferred stores. Further, it means that your product is easy to find in the actual store and your portfolio is easy to navigate through. For retail partners where you have made marketing investments, use these best practices to drive the development of features that showcase your portfolio in the best light.