18 April 2019
By Jon Akass
Jon is a Product Owner at Volo, and writes about how retailers and brands can improve their ecommerce performance.
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Ecommerce businesses face a lot of pressure to keep up with customer demand.
If you want to succeed, you need to understand your customer, what they want from you and what they are being offered by your competitors. Your fashion business is sitting in a competitive industry, and online retail is even more cut-throat.
Putting your products in front of the right audience and marketing them correctly is going to help you to generate the traffic that you need. But, in order to grow, you need to be responsive with data.
Almost all ecommerce managers already know that their website is key to their business’ growth. But realistically, fashion retailers cannot afford to stop there, with customers using a wide variety of channels to browse and purchase fashion online.
Here, we're going to take you through seven ways that you can be a better ecommerce manager.
You need to avoid making decisions that are based on guesswork. You can't guess what your customers are looking for; you have to know what they want if you are going to succeed. Being data-driven means testing your customers with how your website is set up and tweaking it based on their behaviour. You need to learn how they interact with your products, search functions, buying options and more — and then act on that information rapidly and iteratively.
AI-powered recommendations can provide you with actionable insights based on data from your customers, your listings and the wider ecosystem. You can look at how your customers interact with your website, learning exactly what they're looking for by studying their actions. This becomes more complicated when trying to capture information on third-party ecommerce marketplaces. But, there are now dedicated ecommerce software solutions that will allow you to gather analytics insights wherever your products are posted online.
If you can collate data from across these various channels and understand the wider ecommerce context, you can proactively make strategic decisions which will empower your future growth.
With any ecommerce site, there’s always a temptation to add new features, analytics, tools and functionality for yourself and your customers. Chasing that last 0.1% conversion rate uplift is a dangerously short-term approach, however. While you may want to add Live Chat, loyalty programmes, cart recovery tools and click mapping, it's often best to step back and look at your competitors.
Especially in fashion retail, shoppers tend to appreciate the simplicity of a website that focuses on the products rather than overstated imagery. Leading fashion retailers like Nike and Asos make a statement by creating frictionless customer journeys. They maximise the experience for customers from browsing to buying, by delivering functional minimalism. All the necessary information is surfaced, but nothing else is taking up space or diverting attention from the products.
Obviously to put the products on a pedestal means you need to have high quality representations of your products to stand up to the emphasis you’re putting on them. That requires great product data, formatted to be easily crawled by search engines to ensure you rank well organically and in paid search.
By improving your understanding of what your customer wants and allowing this to lead your product data enrichment and listing creation, you match your offering to consumer demand and improve your relevance to customers, which is reflected in higher search engine ranking and conversion rates onsite.
This does not mean that you should never invest in ‘new’ features. It simply means making sure that they add real value. Features that add value are the types of features that customers appreciate anyway. Again, data can help direct these decisions and substantiate/test investments that you make. If in doubt, your product data and understanding of the customer are the two base points which it can never hurt to invest in.
You're running an online site, but the success of your website doesn’t come down to you. It all depends on your customers. If you want your ecommerce strategy to succeed, you need to start and finish with your customer in mind. Here's how to do that:
Look at your analytics and data to understand the way that your customer behaves when they're on your website and pay attention to the feedback you receive.
You need to use the data that you have to get your products and ads where your customers will see them. If necessary, be agnostic about the channel that you use — you need to be in front of your customers, and the only way that you're going to do that is if you insert yourself in front of them.
The more interactions you get, the clearer your understanding will be. But, there are some things that you can’t understand simply from bounce rates, aborted purchases or changing buying habits. In addition to collecting data on purchase and use habits, you should go out of your way to ask customers for feedback.
It is worth sending out the occasional questionnaire with order confirmations. Even consider offering rewards points or discounts for providing feedback. That can deliver valuable insights into what customers want and what is lacking in your ecommerce experience. Do they want more channel options? Is your search bar hard to find? Ask customers what they want. That can only ever deliver valuable insights.
Customer data and customer feedback should sit at the heart of your ecommerce strategy. But, for that to be meaningful at all, that information needs to permeate your ecommerce team and the organisation beyond. On a cultural level, people need to care about customer insights and make decisions accordingly.
The best ecommerce managers make it their priority to become the voice of the customer within their organisation. That means actively encouraging customers to give feedback, making sure that it is analysed, overseeing the dissemination of those insights throughout the organisation and evangelising the importance of using that data to make decisions.
Every business process is a team effort. You need to make sure that your team is set up to meet the expectations of your customers and your colleagues. That means ensuring that they are supported by people, processes and technology that will allow them to deliver.
First, it is your responsibility to make sure that the rest of the organisation is on board when it comes to delivering accurate product data and capturing customer insights. You then need to develop processes and structures that are clear to your teams.
Lastly, you need to make sure that you are delivering to them technological solutions that will automate as much of the listing procedure as possible while also delivering analytics insights. Although we have focused heavily on the importance of analytics, if your teams are bogged down by too many manual procedures, they will have very little time to address or act upon insights. Analytics and automation are two tools that go hand-in-hand and are critical to setting up your teams to succeed.
SEO is an integral part of your website strategy. It is what will enable your products to appear high in search results, driving traffic and ultimately sales. A misunderstood element of search optimisation is that you actually should be aiming for clarity. You should avoid looking to trick search engines with keyword stuffing. You just want to ensure that search engines find it as easy as possible to locate and understand your content.
One of the largest challenges when it comes to SEO is understanding all of the nuances within different marketing and sales channels. You should assign team specialists to each platform, allowing them to develop deeper specialisation and channel-specific knowledge.
Again, technology can help. Automation tools will free up time needed to put the thought into SEO maximisation. The most advanced fashion and retail IT solutions not only automate listings and can operate across multiple online platforms, but deliver insights into specific platforms, taking your SEO a step ahead of the competition. These kinds of smart investments are key to becoming the best fashion retail ecommerce manager imaginable — creating a happier customer base and driving sales.
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