The New York Times has had a couple of stories recently about ecommerce sales slowing down along with everything else. Here is a blog post from the Times on this. They are still growing but at a much slower pace.
There are some implications here for anyone who makes direct sales via their web site. The primary one is that the usability of your online store is more important now than ever. When times are good, it’s easy to ignore some loss of sales due to challenging interfaces. When numbers are no longer growing or even contracting, however, you can’t afford to lose anyone who wants to give you money.
Here are a few things to look for:
- Review your web traffic reports and conversion rates. Identify any steps in your processes that tend to lose people.
- Personally observe several people completing transactions on your site and note any areas where they get confused or slow down.
- Have an expert mystery shop your store and identify where you can improve. (I can help you with this, by the way!)
- Talk to your call center staff and see what issues they hear about from customers who call them.
Once you have identified some improvements, drop everything until they are done. Otherwise they are less likely to be implemented. I’ve seen instances where a single small change had a 6-figure impact on revenue.
Optimizations are key to success for any ecommerce site. Testing, retesting, measuring, analyzing, and improving, are the basic steps to figuring what works best for your site. As competition rises, you should really tweak what works and get rid of what does not.