Although the South African online shopping scene is still in its infancy compared to the rest of the world (it currently represents 1% of the total retail sector), it is predicted that local eCommerce will grow 20% by the end of this decade.
The low penetration of eCommerce means that competition is still few and far between in the South African online shopping sector. But, new and existing online stores must prepare themselves for the imminent eCommerce boom that will have local shoppers spoilt for choice. In this competitive landscape, there will be a greater need to assess consumer behaviour. Brands will be increasingly considerate of why shoppers did not navigate further than the homepage of their website or why customers abandon their shopping carts altogether. While it’s possible that they found a better deal elsewhere, a lot of this also has to do with user-experience such as the ease of a website’s EFT payments system.
With a combination of the right analytic and web design technology, eTailers can successfully measure online performance and improve their site. Here are eight useful tools for consumer tracking.
Do customers visit your website to buy the latest product arrivals or are they more interested in signing up to your newsletter to receive the latest deals and promotions? You will never know for sure unless you have a tool that highlights the hot and cold zones of your website. This is where heat mapping comes in. It allows you to track which sections on your site attract the most visitors and how consumers are scrolling on a specific page. With the data generated by a heat mapping tool, you will be able to optimise your home page, sign-up forms, shopping cart, among others, to boost consumer activity.
Crazy Egg is a highly effective heat mapping software, providing a wide range of features that can be accessed on a trial basis or paid subscription. Depending on the price plan, this tool compiles data from 10 000 to 250 000 visitors across 10 to 50 pages. It comes with a range of features including heatmap reports, scrollmap reports, confetti reports, overlay reports and list reports. Advanced features such as mobile heatmaps are included with the more expensive options.
Studies have shown that 92% of customers read online reviews while 90% of shoppers admitted that online reviews are a very important determining factor on whether they would buy something or not. Furthermore, 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. Besides the obvious upshot of more sales, positive customer reviews can improve your SEO. If these reviews appear in major business directories and news media, search engines such as Google might reward you with an higher search engine ranking.
When it comes to customer-generated reviews, Yelp and Tripadvisor still lead the pack. Brands can display these reviews on their eCommerce product pages and mobile apps. Shopper Approved offers everything from merchant reviews and product reviews to video testimonial and local reviews. The service pulls over 40% of reviews from around the web and embeds them on your website. They also have a partnership with Google to display reviews on Google Free Search, Google Adwords, and Google Shopping. Additional features include the Shopper Approved seal and certificate and Milestone Awards to proudly show off on your site.
Page bounce rate calculates the percentage of visitors who access a site and then exit without proceeding to other sections in the same site. Users may lose interest in a site if they find it to be irrelevant or if a page takes too long to load. The bounce rate of single page sessions can help eCommerce sites to determine how efficient their website is in keeping visitors longer than five minutes or until a transaction is completed.
Google Analytics has established itself as the go-to software for free web-based analytics. Users simply sign in with their Google account details and once they’re logged into the service, they can submit their website for an in-depth diagnosis of their bounce rate and other performance metrics. Google Analytics compiles data on the location of visitors, the average time spent on the website, and referral websites visitors originate from.
Pop-ups have come a long way since their days as irritating disruptions of a browsing session. Nowadays, we’re seeing less in-your-face ads and more carefully placed pop-ups that have huge conversion potential. It’s now common for pop-ups to be embedded in a web page, therefore they cannot be restricted by ad blockers. Apart from the on-page pop-up and its traditional counterpart, the pop-under, eCommerce businesses have three activation options to consider when introducing these digital fliers to visitors: time-triggered, behaviour driven and exit pop-ups.
Mobile’s contribution to the eCommerce sector has significantly increased globally. With advances in mobile technology and the high volume of consumers who now own handsets, brands have begun to realise the huge potential of mobile. Smartphones are quickly becoming the leading force of traffic for eCommerce stores as they provide a convenient way for consumers to connect with brands. There has also been a shift from web-based shopping to in-app purchases. Mobile apps do have their limitations though: with the file size of website pages getting bigger today, many consumers who click on an ad will find that it becomes unresponsive or that the page does not display correctly in mobile. Such drawbacks lead to an unsatisfactory user experience.
Facebook Canvas Ads provide an innovative platform for brands to distribute multimedia content to consumers. Through completely adjustable features, the digital canvas allows advertisers to create and share beautiful content that loads almost instantly. Small ads lure consumers from the Facebook news feed. When they click on an ad, a full screen display opens where consumers can smoothly navigate the ad via swiping, tilting and zooming functionalities.
Imagine someone entering your eCommerce site and head over to the shoes section where they spend about fifty minutes browsing the catalogue. The customer then leaves without buying anything, and instead, heads over to Facebook. Or, someone does a Google search for the latest smartphone and ends up on a tech blog. How do you convince that potential buyer to return to your site or remind them that they can get a specific product from you? By observing their online behaviour and presuming their interests you can create a targeted ad that will appear on a relevant website or social media network they often visit. This is how remarketing works.
AdRoll is a great tool for getting the job done. They have teamed up with internet giants Facebook Exchange, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which means you’ll be able to connect with a wide online audience. The package includes customer segmentation and location-based advertising customised according to previous customer actions that will enable businesses to create relevant content.
Gone are the days when customers had to be put on hold to speak to a representative when they have queries or complaints. Nowadays, the fastest and most efficient way to attend to the needs of customers is to make instant support available online. Live assistance is a valuable service for any eCommerce website as it gives retailers an opportunity to improve user-experience through feedback and ensure that consumers return to their site.
With Zendesk, eCommerce websites can provide a quick and easy way for customers to get in touch with them. Customers can submit product queries while they browse a site and even when sales representatives are offline, they’ll get automated replies. Apart from live customer support, Zendesk allows you to customise the design of your chat widget and connect with essential apps like Google Analytics and Facebook. Since it is a cloud-based platform, you can also collect data on past customer concerns, identify the most common issues and create specialized support teams.
Suppose someone just purchased a romantic comedy DVD on your website. Of course, you’d like them to buy more products from your inventory, but since the customer is in a romantic comedy mood why not display an ad that reveals “customers who bought this also bought...” and then show them DVDs similar to the one she just bought. The customer might not have known that that these particular DVDs were also in your inventory, but even if they did, they may also buy the recommended DVD because others are buying it (its popularity signifies that it is a movie worth watching).
Activity Stream lets you carry out this strategy. It displays notifications for recent consumer activity and which products have sold the most. Shoppers have a natural inclination to go with the flow and eCommerce stores can use this to draw attention to other consumer activity and boost their sales. Activity Stream comes with fully adjustable features such as colour schemes and page placement and is compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
There’s no doubt that eCommerce has a bright future in South Africa and to maintain a competitive advantage, online brands will need to invest heavily in customer experiences. With these resources, they can design the best strategies to capitalise on the potential of their eCommerce website.