Guest Column | May 8, 2019

Flexible, Engaging, And Insightful: How To Create The Next Generation Of E-Commerce

By Roland Gossage, GroupBy Inc.

Walmart & Sam's Club eCommerce Site Upgrades

The retail industry is fast-moving with plenty of competition. Retailers are always on the lookout for the next technological trend that will win over shoppers and increase profit margins. It therefore comes as no surprise that recently we’ve seen several advances in checkout and last-mile fulfillment processes; consumers have a plethora of payment options and plenty of visibility into fast-shipping products. However, most of these advancements focus on the last stage of the customer journey: conversion. With their focus on conversion, retailers are overlooking a stage that is just as important—the consideration stage, which can shed critical insights about shoppers' minds.

The consideration stage is essential for ensuring retailers gather information about shoppers in order to understand what drives them to and keeps them on an eCommerce site. Retailers who use data to analyze the consideration stage set themselves up to create the next generation of eCommerce websites, which continually deliver exceptional experiences.

Achieve Flexibility With Headless E-Commerce Platforms

Historically, retailers used one-stop-shop platforms to manage their eCommerce sites. This meant if they experienced an issue with their search feature, merchandising tools or analytics, they would only need to approach one vendor to alleviate their challenge. But now, the consumer path to purchase has expanded to multiple touchpoints, and retailers must react by implementing fast and flexible solutions.

Headless eCommerce offers an answer to this, decoupling the front end of a website from the back end. From there, retailers can pick and choose the services that work with their existing architecture. No longer are retailers tied to one vendor, headless eCommerce gives them the flexibility to utilize the unique vendors they need, depending on their specific requirements.

Create Better Engagement At The Consideration Stage

Once a retailer has control over the backend of their website, creating a strong data management strategy is essential. Why? It’s no surprise consumers expect a user-friendly website with products that can be found easily; but consumers are searching with conversational phrases, and also use detailed, specific terms. If a retailer’s product data and search engine is not up to par to match these searches, they will be unable to deliver the seamless personalization customers expect.

Take a shopper looking for jeans who has viewed multiple pairs from the same brand. The next time they search for a different product such as a sweater, if appropriate, that specific brand could show up in their top results, as it’s been identified as a preferred choice. Shoppers stay on a site longer when viewing products that they are interested in but may not have originally sought out. This type of personalized experience is crucial to creating better engagement at the consideration stage. With an efficient back-end system that makes use of strong data management and search functionality, retailers can meet these evolving expectations.

Draw Actionable Insights From E-Commerce Analytics

The future of eCommerce analytics involves a continued investment in search capabilities and user-specific analytics. While many companies may invest in data analytics, they lack the ability to draw actionable insights from their site-wide metrics. For example, take a customer who leaves a site despite making repeated searches. Marketing efforts will fall short when there’s no understanding of why this occurs. Identifying how individual consumers use the search bar, filter products and add to their basket can lead to site improvements that benefit future shoppers.

What’s more, understanding conversions and the path to purchase allows retailers to test the effectiveness of new functionalities. Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) ensure retailers can identify whether their data is helping them achieve specific goals. For example, search conversion rate measures what percentage of search queries are leading directly to an order of a product. By understanding search performance rates, retailers can determine how relevant search results are to shoppers.

Remember To Implement Solutions That Ultimately Serve Customers

As eCommerce continues to evolve, one fact remains true: customers must be the focal point of all decision making. Successful retailers will be the ones that implement headless eCommerce platforms, create better engagement at the consideration stage via improved product data and highly relevant search results, and use their eCommerce analytics to draw actionable insights. Retailers who successfully help their customers through the consideration stage are ready to lead the next generation of eCommerce experiences.

About The Author

Roland Gossage is CEO of GroupBy Inc.