Five ideas to improve e-retail holiday sales
Following recent studies suggesting that internet sales in Britain will top £7 billion in 2006, compared to £5.5 billion in 2005, RightNow Technologies has published its top five tips to help e-retailers offer a smooth and painless shopping experience in the run-up to Christmas.
Online shopping is thought by many to be the least stressful way of completing the Christmas shopping list, but many retail web sites are still not serving their customers as effectively as the could, RightNow warns. The company's five tips for e-retail improvement include:
- Self-service options Customers need to get information when they want it - even on Christmas Day. Make sure your web site is easy to navigate and that your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section isn't just a static portal of data that can't be searched intelligently.
- In-Stock notices Ensure that your web site is clearly marked with the availability of products, and information such as how long delivery will take. This will help to reduce customers' stress levels, as they will know exactly when to expect their goods.
- A sensible ordering process The web site's ordering process must keep the customer informed at all times, letting them see exactly what's left to do, and letting them know how to go back, forward, or change things. Make it clear if they'll be shown a printable receipt or order summary at the end.
- Content-sensitive help The web site should support the customer and help them go from browsing to purchase with the least effort and worry. By providing context sensitive help (information that is relevant to each specific page) you can ensure that the online experience is positive, resulting in lower abandonment rates.
- Live chat It's a good idea to allow your customers to have direct, on-the-spot contact with your contact centre, via an instant messenger capability that remembers your last live chat conversation. This enables customers to raise any questions, incidents or problems - which can be immediately solved by an online agent who knows the customer's interaction history.
According to Wayne Foncette, RightNow's vice president for the UK and Ireland, "Online retailers need to remember that customers are now expecting a higher level of service - and that competitors are just a click away."