Not every e-commerce company can be as financially lucrative or dominant as eBay, Amazon or Zappos. Yet there are great lessons to be learned from the principles that these brands adhere to in order to increase conversion, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, repeat purchases. Blueport Commerce examines the five most important features that these e-commerce industry leaders share, and how furniture retailers can reap the rewards.
1. Anytime, Anywhere Accessibility
“You are not a desktop brand. You are not a mobile brand. You need to be accessible from anywhere,” says Dave Surgan, Manager of Digital Communications at Morpheus Media. Truer words aren’t often spoken: an e-commerce website is no longer viewed just from the comfort of a large desktop monitor – in fact, with furniture showrooming increasing, half of US shoppers rely on phones for in-store research. As a result, testing should be done to ensure that your e-commerce website renders well on all possible browsers and operating systems on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Otherwise, you can kiss a stellar conversion rate goodbye.
2. Intuitive Navigation
Simple and useful website navigation is essential for e-commerce sites, as consumers need to browse among different furniture categories and products quickly through a navigation system that’s intuitive. E-commerce giant Amazon, which has an endless assortment of merchandise, favors a left vertical navigation menu, which allows them to include more links than a horizontal navigation menu would permit. This is most typical for e-commerce retailers, which allows for product categories and sub-categories. However, some online furniture retailers may prefer to adopt a horizontal navigation menu, which is more attuned to how people read, and works better for those with less inventory and product categories.
3. Prominent Search Box
Having a very visible search box is mission critical to an e-commerce site. The ability to search is of paramount importance because many online buyers have a specific piece of furniture for which they are actively searching. A search box aids in helping a customer locate a particular item and navigating the entire site. The most successful search boxes in online stores are in very prominent positions, at the top of the page in the layout, enticing the user to search the site for the pieces of furniture they most desire.
4. Responsive Customer Service
Time and time again the value of listening to the voice of the customer has been proven. In fact, of people that received good customer service, 72% of internet users share that experience with friends or family, 40% share it with coworkers in person, 32% share it with the company that provided the service and 30% share it on social media. Email, phone and live chat are all key channels used by e-commerce retailers to communicate with customers, and a timely and polite responsiveness is crucial. Zappos grew into a $1B company by 2009 largely based on their culture of customer satisfaction – nothing to sneeze at!
5. Cohesive Omnichannel Experience
Both consistent messaging and look and feel are critical to all brands. “Brands that are doing it right have a consistent look and feel across all consumer touch points,” says Janine Silvera, a marketing and media strategist. Ensure that your brick and mortar stores’ marketing aligns with your online stores’ e-commerce presence – email promotions can work to drive online revenue, as well as traffic to physical stores, and email capture in store can help grow a furniture retailers’ mailing list. Or you can reward in-store traffic with gift cards that can be redeemed online – as long as you keep the traffic flowing in both directions, you’re setting your furniture business up for success!
By keeping these five critical features of e-commerce sites top of mind, furniture retailers are poised to reap the rewards of the estimated untapped $1B opportunity that exists for selling furniture online.