Who benefits from online shopping

Online shops: How retailers and brands can benefit from e-commerce

In particular for special products that are not available everywhere, more and more customers have been using online shops of retailers and brands since the Corona crisis. The prerequisites for a successful online shop are a special range, a good user experienceand trust. It is hardly surprising that online sales rose sharply during the pandemic. After all, stationary retail was not available at all or not fully available for weeks.

It is noteworthy that the customer's desire for online shopping has not decreased significantly even after the Covid-19-related restrictions were lifted and that the current development is increasingly also benefiting online shops of retailers and brands. However, there are big differences between the successful and the less prosperous shops.

Online shops: Special assortments attract customers

Anyone who offers products that can also be bought on the major marketplaces and in other online shops will have a hard time getting users to their own site. But those who have special goods that ideally also require specialist knowledge are also an attractive supplier for new customers.

Different customers have different needs. Large B2B customers have different expectations and interests than smaller commercial buyers and even more so than end consumers. Successful online shops will meet these various requirements among other things individual landing pages suitable for different user groups. In this way, every user receives personally relevant visuals, information and offers right from the start. The user guidance should also be adapted to individual needs.

Ideally, potential customers shouldn't have to search or think to find information or products, or to understand the mechanics of the online shop. In order to be able to correctly assess users right from the start, it is worth taking a closer look at how they found the shop. For example, major customers and professionals usually use different search terms than end customers. Further indicators result from the behavior of the users in the shop.

Qualified information convinces customers

The better a product is presented, the better it will sell. This applies both online and in brick-and-mortar retail. The customer's first impression is shaped by images. Therefore should Product images High quality produced and appear in high resolution in the shop. Studies have also shown that convincing application images in particular achieve significantly better conversion rates than exclusively technical-factual images. A photo gallery that contains informative packshots as well as attractive or authentic application scenarios provides the user with a comprehensive visual impression.

The text content should be just as comprehensive as the visual representation. All product features should be presented in detail, completely, clearly and in a way that is understandable for the respective user group. For both categories, image and text, the following applies: the more unique the better. Because so-called unique content not only convinces customers, but is also rewarded by search engines with higher rankings. Multimedia content such as how-to videos also support the convincing product presentation.

Online shops: Support creates an optimal user experience

Despite all the care and detail in the product presentation, questions can of course arise. Successful online shops therefore offer both quickly accessible and uncomplicated dialogue options. Many of the customer questions are repeated and can therefore be from so-called Chatbots answered absolutely satisfactorily. In the event that a chatbot is at its limits, sufficient service staff should be available to answer even complex questions.

The search engine giant Google has been pursuing a clear “mobile first” strategy since 2018. This means that the Google bots, which scan millions of shops and websites every day and define their place in the ranking based on various criteria, no longer consider pages that do not offer sufficient mobile performance. But consumers are now also frequently visiting the Internet “mobile first”. It is interesting for shop operators that the number of mobile page views is increasing much faster than the number of mobile purchases actually made. Obviously, many users research and inform themselves via smartphone, but ultimately buy on the desktop. Anyone who is not present on the move therefore runs the risk of being ignored during the search for an offer.

Trust is a worthwhile investment for online retailers

Customers who are considering ordering in a shop for the first time often react very sensitively if their service expectations are disappointed during the purchase process. Free shipping and, if necessary, return shipping, if possible with the included or easily accessible Returns label, have become established standards in online retail that every retailer should offer despite the higher costs. Studies show that many customers “look the way” when shipping costs are shown separately.

The range of different payment options is also an excellent opportunity to give customers confidence in their own shop. In addition to PayPal and credit cards, the purchase on account option has proven to be a very effective means of convincing any doubts, especially from new customers. Another important confidence-building measure is the so-called social proof through reviews of products, services and the shop by other verified buyers.

Effective search engine optimization ensures visibility

Whoever is not seen disappears. The results of the online search are the first and therefore most important guide to your shop for interested parties and customers. However, the ranking criteria and algorithms are now very complex: From the technical structure optimized for bots to a keyword-based semantic concept to continuous monitoring with professional SEO tools, search engine success depends on a variety of criteria.

Successful trading through one's own online shop is possible despite the presence of the large online marketplaces. However, there are many and varied aspects that should be considered. For many online retailers it is therefore certainly more sensible to outsource some of the tasks to appropriately qualified professionals and to concentrate on their core competencies, such as the maintenance and further development of their range.

E-commerce specialists like the Berlin digital agency i-ways take care of the trappings and create the basis for successful digital trade. And even those who are not looking for comprehensive professional support should seek competent advice, at least at the beginning. For companies with up to 100 employees and an annual turnover of up to 20 million euros, there is even up to 50 percent funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), if the consulting company is certified accordingly.

Also read: E-commerce market: Top 1000 online shops crack the 50 billion euro mark

About the authors: Philipp Petzka is Head of Product at the digital agency i-ways.
Cora Rosenkranz works as an IT journalist for Wordfinder.