New Year, New You: 6 Ways To Prep Your Store For 2018
A guest article was written by Kayleigh, a writer, and digital marketer. She heads up content production at her Bristol-based SEO agency and leads on business direction & development. Kayleigh can usually be found drinking Rooibos tea and wearing something yellow.
eCommerce has taken some great steps in 2017. Mobile shopping, customer-centric content marketing, even AI, and VR are making their way onto the scene. For new eCommerce store owners, it’s easy to feel like you’re getting left behind – there’s always some new, exciting development that everyone’s jumping on. This year, here are six ways you can prep your store to make the most of what’s on offer.
1. Add intelligence
Artificial intelligence will make future online shopping experiences more personal and efficient. Which can only be a good thing, right? Chatbots, in particular, seem like they are here to stay, enabling users to find answers to their questions with no need for human intervention. And they are getting better all the time.
Chatbots allow you to scale your customer service operations quickly and efficiently, and they can easily be hooked up to your internal database and knowledge center. Chatbots and marketing are also powerful partners — users are less likely to ignore a marketing message in a messenger app, and the near 90% delivery rates are something email can only dream of. Emojis and playful messaging make chat a super engaging way to reach your customers.
Looking to add a chat feature to your Shopify store? It can be as simple as installing an app – and many of them are free. Take a look at Kik, Gobot or Free Live Chat. Test out chat as soon as possible so that you can take advantage of its intelligent features.
2. Accelerate page load times
Patience is a virtue, sure, but online shoppers are not known for possessing it. In fact, our patience is wearing thinner every year. Make 2018 a time to tune up your page load times if you want to keep conversion rates high.
According to Google, optimal page load speed is around 400 milliseconds. That’s about how long it takes to blink. Luckily, you have the power to speed things up. Here’s how to optimize Shopify page loading speed in 5 simple steps.
Speed is closely tied with good UX — so make sure that you aren’t sacrificing either for the sake of ‘pretty pictures’. The key to a good store design is to balance power with speed. Even though Shopify automatically resizes all images for speed, you still need to make extra tweaks and speed improvements.
3. Get personal
Brands that feel personal and human will have a great competitive advantage in 2018. While technology steams ahead day-by-day, users crave a personal touch more strongly than ever. Effective personalization can improve the user journey, entice them to buy, and even generate repeat custom.
So how to apply personalization to your own store? It all starts with collecting user information, which (hopefully) you are doing already. This data will be used to personalize all future advertising based on their interests, activities, and preferences. From here, you can choose an adaptive or prescriptive method of personalization.
Tools like Optimonk, Personyze, and Granify are all helpful aids that will improve your personalization efforts.
4. Target featured snippets
Featured snippets are the summaries you sometimes find at the top of a search result page, extracted from a web page to provide (what the search engine believes) is the most accurate answer. They appear as paragraphs, lists, or tables, and have many advantages – among them being more traffic, and authority over the competition.
There are various theories around how to get a featured snippet. The most commonly advised strategies are to:
- Identify common, simple questions in your niche
- Give clear and concise answers
- Offer additional context around the answer
- Make it easy for search engines to crawl your website
5. Be ready for mobile commerce
If you’re not ready for mobile commerce in 2018, this should be your first priority. Mobile is expected to make up 70% of eCommerce traffic by the end of 2018, as customers increasingly buy products and services on the go. As with so many things in eCommerce, it’s all about convenience.
Is your store mobile-friendly? There’s an easy way to find out – check using Google Search Console. Not only will it tell you, yes or no, it will also give you pointers for improvement, whether that’s reducing the file size of your images to improve page load speed, or switching to a more responsive design template.
6. Speed up delivery
Today’s consumers are really spoilt when it comes to delivery times. Order shipped and delivered within 24 hours? Yes, please. While this is achievable when you’re an eCommerce monster operation like Amazon, it’s sometimes harder for the little guys to compete.
Even so, in 2018, it’s worth looking at your average delivery times and asking whether anything can be done to bring them down. Do you work with a dropshipping supplier? Perhaps discuss your arrangement with them, or shop around to see if there are alternatives with faster turnaround times.
Alternatively, use Amazon’s success to your advantage and try Fulfillment by Amazon. You sell products, Amazon ships them. In some ways, it’s the best of both worlds. The closer you can get to delivery in 24 hours, the better.
It’s easy to experiment with the world of multichannel commerce these days — just hook your store up with big marketplaces and your social channels to diversify your sales channels.
To recap: there’s a lot you can do to prepare your online store for 2018 – and you don’t need to do it all at once. Take it step by step, and note the effect it has on your traffic and sales. Best of luck with your eCommerce endeavors for the New Year!
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