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eCommerce Storefront must have Strong Capabilities to Stay Competitive

07-08-2013  |  By: Adrecom

Floating Shopping Cart

One example of “capability” in an eCommerce platform is a dynamic, floating “view cart” feature. Why is this important to your competitive posture? Shoppers, especially first-time visitors, are easily distracted and often get lost, losing track of how to find their “cart,” determine what’s in it, or locate the checkout page. And if they get lost, they get frustrated and end up leaving your site in search of greener pastures. Left with a bad experience, they don’t come back.

A “floating” shopping cart is always on-screen, regardless of where the customer navigates, and its visual presence can be configured to meet each site’s particular needs. The cart can occupy a certain segment of the page continuously, or an un-intrusive cart icon can reveal cart details on “hover.” The details revealed in the floating cart include essentials like:

  • Products
  • Quantities
  • Prices, taxes, shipping
  • Discounts
  • Gift card amounts
  • Total amount
  • Multiple “ship to” locations
  • “Remove” button
  • “Update cart” button

The complete shopping cart page is always accessible simply by clicking the floating cart.

Cart Presence Increases Conversions –A floating shopping cart essentially accompanies the customer as they navigate through the site, keeping them informed and on top of their shopping process/experience. The cart’s presence enables the customer to remain aware of their selections, prices, and shipping costs, make changes to selected items, readily return to product pages, and jump confidently to checkout.

This saves keystrokes and time and eliminates confusion – which empowers the customer while improving the shopping experience, enhancing the prospect of return visits. In fact, the simplicity of the on-screen cart has proven to lead to larger orders. Sales volume and conversion rates increase when online shoppers have peace of mind and feel secure.

The added convenience offered by a floating cart reduces abandonment. For example, the on-screen shopping cart gives the customer quick answers to pertinent questions like “how much are my shipping costs and sales taxes going to be on this order?” A well-designed on-screen cart offers customers the option to quickly calculate or readily see the order’s various cost elements. A clear presentation of total cost throughout the shopping process lets the customer know exactly where they stand before they get to checkout – eliminating surprises.

Highlighting Discounted and Sale Items, and Savings – On-screen carts can be configured to highlight items in the cart that are discounted, on sale, or for which coupons are available, revealing to customers how much they’re saving as they shop. This has the added advantage of making customers feel good about their purchases, improving their positive experience on your website.

As customers select items and reveal preferences the on-screen cart can dynamically present messages relevant to the shopper about other products or options. 

The on-screen cart updates (refreshes) independently of the page being viewed and doesn’t require the shopper to leave the page, view the main shopping-cart page, and then resume shopping.  This saves the shopper time and reduces confusion.

Other Important On-Screen Cart Features:

  • Cart contents are displayed on every page, and stays with shopper’s page location.
  • Items in floating cart link back to product page.
  • Direct Checkout from the floating shopping cart.
  • Calculates and reveals when “free shipping” or other incentive is available.
  • Change selections and quantities directly from floating cart.
  • Display is completely customizable to fit your site's format.

With all their advantages, on-screen shopping carts offer significant online capability that improves an online storefront’s competitive position.

Visitor Ratings and Reviews

Another example of “capability” in an eCommerce platform is the presence and visibility of customer ratings and reviews. The power of customer reviews is widely understood, yet can’t be understated. Large majorities of online shoppers rely on the candid testimony of other consumers in making their decision to purchase a product.

Of course, this can only happen if the seller’s eCommerce platform has a well-integrated customer rating and review feature that’s easy to use for both those contributing comments and those seeking reliable and accurate feedback. This is the trick: ensuring that the rating and comment feature is designed to be well used and return information to customers in an organized way with suitable hierarchy of relevance.

An Essential Element of your Online Presentation – If you’re serious about increasing and maximizing your online sales, consumer reviews are an essential part of your customers’ online shopping experience. Properly managed and presented, reviews increase your conversion rate, improve your SEO, enhance customers’ product-selection comfort and confidence, and reduce doubts or questions about your products.

Customer ratings and reviews allow online sellers to tap into and leverage customer’s enthusiasm, turning happy customers into a powerful asset. Shoppers perceive the reviews of real customers as significantly more trustworthy than product descriptions provided by manufacturers, and 63% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a site that provides user reviews (iPerceptions, 2011). Trust in the veracity of reviews presented is enhanced if a mix of positive and negative reviews is provided honestly. Providing average review scores enables customers to quickly gain a good sense of product reactions. Highlighting or prioritizing reviews and comments that others “found helpful” maximizes the utility of your comments section.

Fresh, regularly updated original content for your website is generated as customers post comments, reviews, and ratings, and this user-generated content differentiates your product pages in search results. The opportunity to post and read comments about products increases user engagement and activity on the site, which also improves SEO rankings.

Bottom line: the quality and flexibility of your eCommerce platform’s ratings and reviews feature dramatically and directly affects your customers’ comfort, perceptions, and purchasing decisions.