Top Signs That You Should Replatform Your eCommerce Store

Top Signs That You Should Replatform Your eCommerce Store

4 MIN READ

If you are still using your business’s first eCommerce platform, it can be tricky to recognise the tipping point when your current solution begins to hinder your growth.

Online retail markets are competitive, so it’s essential that you provide your customers with the best possible shopping experience. If your current solution hasn’t been able to adapt to your evolving needs then it could be time for a change.

The idea of migrating all your customer and product data to a new platform may seem like a daunting task, but with detailed planning and preparation the process can be stress-free and simple. Although there will be some upfront costs involved with the redesign and build of the new website, if it’s time for you to upgrade the migration should pay for itself in terms of new efficiencies.

If any of the below sound like familiar pain points, get in touch with one of our eCommerce experts today to see if Venditan Commerce could be the right fit for your business.

You Are Spending More On Maintenance Than New Features

All software requires regular upgrades to maintain security and quality. Without these, existing features stop working and your site runs the risk of being vulnerable to hackers. When these upgrades are deployed they then require thorough testing. The amount of preparation work that’s involved will depend on your platform and integrations.

Maintenance costs become an issue when you find that you are spending more of your overall development budget on maintaining existing features rather than developing new functionality to push your business forward.

For Venditan Commerce, there are no on-going maintenance or support costs – we deploy software upgrades and bug fixes our platform twice weekly. This means that all our clients benefit from new features, improvements and bug fixes.

You Are Unable To Provide A Better Shopping Experience Than Your Competitors

To remain competitive, you need to be able to personalise the experience you are providing and optimise the eCommerce journey end to end. You need a comprehensive platform that includes key functionality out of the box so that your development budget can be spent on future-proofing your business and outshining your rivals.

If you are paying additional costs for any of the features below (or their maintenance), it may be a sign that it’s time to move to a new platform that’s capable of managing your entire operation through a single, integrated application.

 

Features that your eCommerce website can’t live without

  • Responsive design
  • Fast loading pages
  • A quick, accurate search function and filtering system
  • Simple website navigation
  • Automated product recommendations
  • A simple, optimised checkout
  • Loyalty schemes and tiered pricing
  • Advanced promotions and pricing management
  • SEO management tools

You Are Spending Time & Resources Lining Up Data From Multiple Systems

Your eCommerce solution should provide a single view of all stock and customers across your entire business. If you are selling across multiple channels such as bricks-and-mortar stores, Amazon and eBay, then having a real-time view of stock levels is critical to prevent overselling and disappointed customers.

If you are finding that the stock levels on your website don’t match the reality of what’s in your warehouse then that’s a clear signal that your current solution isn’t working for your business.

Similarly you should have real-time visibility of customer and sales data so that you can make informed business decisions to accelerate growth and protect profits.

You Are Wasting Time On Manual Processes & Workarounds

You may find that what were once small tasks when you were only receiving a few orders per day are now a huge drain on time and resources.

As your operation scales up, you should be able to take advantage of automated features that will help you streamline your processes. Courier integration, scheduled printing of picking slips and optimised warehouse layouts are all things that can help improve efficiency and boost productivity.

If you have found internal processes and concepts that work for you, your eCommerce platform should be flexible enough to adapt and incorporate these. If you’re finding that you are having to work around rigid procedures outlined by your provider then it may be time to switch to a more bespoke solution.

You Feel Like You Are In It Alone

Unlike bricks-and-mortar stores, many of the issues that occur with your webstore often need technical expertise to resolve. Even if customers are unable to checkout for a small amount of time, this could have a huge impact on your revenue and brand image.

Your website is live 24/7/365 so you need a trusted provider that you can get in touch with any time of the day or night. If this isn’t the case then you should find out if you are able to pay for additional support or consider moving to another, more reliable provider.

As well as giving you peace of mind, your provider should also be using their technical and industry experience to help you to continually attract, convert and retain customers. They should regularly be talking to you about new technologies and trends such as voice commerce, subscription models and alternative payment methods that will help you to future-proof your business.

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Stephanie Fenton
28th March 2019

eCommerce Replatforming: 3 Crucial Considerations

eCommerce Replatforming: 3 Crucial Considerations

3 MIN READ

Replatforming is sometimes essential to enable an eCommerce business to grow.

As customer expectations increase, retailers must keep up with trends in website functionality and the experience they provide. The prospect of replatforming can be daunting but with detailed planning and preparation the majority of issues can be avoided – there is no reason why retailers who’ve outgrown their current platform shouldn’t go ahead and make the move.

Here are three considerations for retailers who are looking to take the next step and replatform.

1. Data Migration

Failure to migrate the correct customer data can have a huge impact on an existing customer’s experience.

As a minimum, customer account details should be migrated to the new system with the exception of passwords, which should be updated for security. Retailers should alert their customers about any changes to their website functionality, highlighting any enhanced features or customer-facing benefits such as faster, cheaper delivery services. You also need to make sure that customers are provided with a seamless way to update their passwords.

Ideally customer order histories should be migrated so that the new platform has knowledge of previous purchases. Often this is not the case and so refunds and exchanges are manually managed within the old system for a period of time. If customer order history is being used for any marketing or loyalty programs then the migration of this data should be specified as a requirement.

2. SEO

The revenue generated from organic sessions often accounts for a huge portion of a retailer’s overall online income. This means that SEO should be one of the key considerations when deciding to replatform. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of pounds replatforming if you then see your sales drop off a cliff. You will hear many vendors saying that their platform is “SEO friendly”, however this means nothing without some manual considerations and a certain amount of custom work.

If, like most retailers, your organic revenue is critical to your business, make sure that you or your new provider makes a full list of SEO considerations and that these are all being addressed. If your URLs are going to be changing with the migration it’s important that you have a thorough redirect strategy in place. This should include the migration of any existing redirects stored in your live database.

A migration to a new platform is also a good time to review your meta content and make sure that it’s optimised for the new/migrated content. Often the data used to build product page meta content is pulled from product data within your installation so make sure you know which fields need to be optimised for search engines.

3. A Single Ecosystem

Customers interact with your business across multiple touch points, so integration is key. Your eCommerce platform should give you a single view of all the data your retail business owns. It should be the master of all customer, inventory and order information. Only by having a full understanding of how users are interacting with your business will you be able to make the data-driven decisions required to grow revenue. When replatforming, make sure that you map out your business’s eco-system to ensure all data is flowing back into your eCommerce platform. This will allow you to provide a frictionless shopping experience whether your customers are shopping with you in-store, on your website or on a third-party marketplace.

Replatforming is a complex process that requires agility and strong project management. Core business processes and requirements need carefully mapping out to ensure the new platform meets your business goals.

If you’ve outgrown the capabilities of your current platform and would like to find out if Venditan Commerce is the right eCommerce platform for you, get in touch.

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Stephanie Fenton
20th March 2019

5 Mistakes With eCommerce Website Translation You Need To Avoid

5 Mistakes With eCommerce Website Translation You Need To Avoid

3 MIN READ
Translating your eCommerce website is key if you want to engage with your international customers and provide them with an experience that competes with local retailers.

9 out of 10 Europeans say they always prefer to shop on sites in their own language when given the choice.

– European Commission

You are probably already aware that a Google Translate job won’t cut the mustard, however even once you’ve identified a native-speaking translator, editor and proofreader, there are still common oversights we frequently see on translated eCommerce websites…

1. Forgetting certain assets

If you’re hosting your translated website on the same domain as your UK site, you need to make sure that all assets containing text are reproduced for your new market. This includes:

  • Banners and imagery
  • Size guides (make sure you include a translation to the local size)
  • PDFs
  • Offer messaging
  • Marketing materials – custom marketing should be created for each market
  • Invoices and delivery notes
  • Packaging
  • Blog content
  • Video content
  • Gift cards and loyalty cards
  • Pop-up messaging
  • Brand logos / names – for example The North Face are referred to in China as Bei Mian or 北面 which translates as Back.

Make sure you have a native speaker reviewing the entire buying journey, with several different user stories, before your translated website goes live.

2. Not providing customers with support in their local language

Allowing customers to place orders in their own language is all well and good, but what happens when they contact you with the details provided on your translated contact page? As a minimum you should be providing a local telephone number where customers can have their queries answered in their own language.

You should also make sure that your courier’s tracking details are in the customer’s language.

3. Not considering the formatting of your website

If translating your content to a language with a different structure, such as Arabic or Chinese, you may need to think about a website redesign, or at least rethink which fonts you use. Not all fonts support foreign characters – this could potentially impact the layout and readability of your content.

When choosing a new font, think about the length of words in the language you’re translating to. Short Chinese words may look better in wider fonts; long German words may look better using shorter fonts.

4. Language doesn’t equal location

Don’t assume you know which currency and shipping location the user will want by the language they select. Instead present them with a global landing page at the start of their session where they can select their shipping location, language and currency.

Don’t restrict your customers by only showing them flags to select their language. For example some Canadian customers may want to view your website in English but others may want to view it in French. It’s far better to provide a list of languages for the user to select from. Make sure that these are listed in the local language e.g. Français.

5. Cultural Misunderstandings

The last thing you want is to invest in translation with the hope of providing a better user experience, only to find that you’ve actually damaged your brand in that market by not considering cultural differences.

Make sure that your translator and editor are native to the location you’re translating for and can spot any potential issues with product names, marketing campaigns, promotion codes and slogans.

Don’t forget to consider that you might need to rethink your brand name, tagline and product names for the new market. For example, Vicks needed to rebrand as Wick for the German market after they initially entered the market failing to realise that “V” is pronounced “F” in German – not ideal for a family-friendly brand! Similarly KFC’s famous tagline “finger lickin good” translates to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese!

Always make sure that new content is reviewed before it’s launched

Don’t neglect your translated website once it’s been launched. Make sure that you continually work with your native-speaking team to review any new product descriptions, marketing campaigns and landing pages before they go live.

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Stephanie Fenton
18th March 2019

Here’s How To Reduce Your Customer Returns In 8 Steps

Here’s How To Reduce Your Customer Returns In 8 Steps

6 MIN READ
Reduce your product returns, protect your profits and increase customer satisfaction with our top tips.

In a recent study, Barclaycard calculated that UK shoppers are returning £7 billion of purchases every year [1]. Online retailers need to give the subject of product returns serious consideration then in order to maximise their margins. This should include strategies for firstly reducing return rates and then streamlining internal processes to deal with the percentage of returns that remain unavoidable.

According to PostNord, 40% of UK consumers have returned at least one online purchase in the past year. This figure increases to 52% in The Netherlands and 53% in Germany [2].

To protect their profits, retailers may consider transferring the cost of product returns to the customer, however with 55% of online retailers now offering free returns and almost 70% of consumers expecting free returns as standard [3], if retailers want to remain competitive they are going to need to look at this issue from a different angle.

Although some returns are inevitable due to the remote nature of eCommerce, there are a some adjustments that could see your returns rate plummet.

1. MAKE SURE YOUR IMAGERY PROVIDES AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF YOUR PRODUCTS

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s incredible the number of product pages we see containing a single product image. Products have multiple sides, angles and hidden features – the customer needs to see them all. Providing 360 degree product images is a great way to get this across in an elegant way, and is especially useful if you’re selling a technical item or a piece of furniture.

If 360 degree product imagery isn’t something you’re able to invest in at the moment then make sure you provide the ability to zoom and view close-up images of any details such as stitching, fastenings and the inside of drawers.

Don’t overlook the images you are providing on a mobile. For the majority of eCommerce sites, mobile and tablet traffic will now amount to more than desktop traffic.

2. USE VIDEO TO BRING YOUR PRODUCTS TO LIFE

You only have to look at the success of home shopping channels to understand how effective videos are for remote selling. They are a great way of bringing products to life and can be especially effective when used for the two highest returned categories – clothing and home electronics [4].

With clothing, models can show off the movement of the garment, giving shoppers a better idea of the fit and flow.

For functional, home electronics items, videos can demonstrate the product in use. AO.com do this particularly well with detailed videos talking through all the features and benefits of each product in order to help the customer make the right decision.

3. WRITE DETAILED PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS

Not only are detailed product descriptions great for SEO, they also help shoppers decide whether or not your product is right for them.

Descriptions need to be clear on the particulars of a product so make sure that the person writing your descriptions knows your products well. Ideally they should have tried the product for themselves and have it in front of them as they write the description. If you’re in need of help with writing product descriptions, check out our complete guide to writing product descriptions that actually convert. 

We often recommend explaining all the features and benefits of a product as if you were describing it to someone who could not see it for themselves. Would they still know what they were getting?

You should talk about the product in an appealing way as if you were selling it face-to-face in your bricks-and-mortar store, however don’t exaggerate as this will only come back to bite you.

Specification information is a must for technical products. Different customers will be looking for different attributes, for example, bigger isn’t always better – don’t try to make out a TV is big if it isn’t – your customer may be looking for a small TV to fit in a specific spot.

4. REVIEW YOUR SIZING INFORMATION

Two in five consumers (40 per cent) say they return clothing bought online because items don’t fit as they expect them to.

– Barclaycard

You may think that you already have this covered if you provide sizing charts on your product pages but take a look back and consider just how accurate and useful this information is to each of your customers.

One of the biggest and most common mistakes we see is offering a single default sizing chart covering all categories, across all your product pages – this is not accurate and will be highly frustrating to your customers!

Make sure that the sizing chart you provide on a particular product page is relevant for that particular product, category and brand. Don’t use a clothing size charts on a footwear product pages and make sure you provide accurate sizing charts for different brands – one brand’s size 8 may be the same as another brand’s size 10. If using a model in your imagery, make sure you give information on their height and which size they’re wearing.

If you sell overseas, make sure that you are providing international conversion charts for clothing, and both metric and imperial measurements for dimensions. Some customers may think they know how to convert the numbers in their head but do you want to rely on that?

Show measurement charts and dimensions in image form so the customer knows exactly how your item has been measured. You can even provide fitting tools such as ASOS’s Fit Assistant.

5. ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK

Encourage customer reviews and feedback so that you can learn more about the products you sell and how they’re used in real life scenarios. This will help you identify any potential quality issues with either the products that you stock or the information you’re providing about them.

On returns forms, provide tick boxes that will help flag issues such as if it looks different in the images or it seems larger/smaller than expected. You can then go back to review your product listings to see if they could be improved.

Offer incentives to increase the number of reviews such as ‘win your shopping’ or a voucher for a discount off your next purchase.

6. OFFER LIVE CHAT FOR REAL TIME SUPPORT

 

Let shoppers quickly ask you questions about products in real time. This will help both conversion rate and prevent customers from ordering items that don’t meet their requirements.

If the items don’t meet the customer’s requirements, this also gives the customer service team the opportunity to suggest a more suitable item or an add-on purchase to make it better suit their needs.

If you’re going to offer live chat to your customers, make sure that you educate customer services on your products so that they know the best product to suit the customer. Hold regular team meetings to showcase new products and discuss feedback you’ve been getting on existing products.

7. PACKAGE YOUR ITEMS WITH THEIR JOURNEY IN MIND

From leaving your warehouse to reaching the customer’s door, you have little control over how your packages are handled. Prevent damaged and broken goods by ensuring you use protective packaging.

If your items are susceptible to water damage, use waterproof packaging – it could well be raining when your package is out for delivery.

For fragile items make sure you use enough padding and bubble wrap – it’s likely to be sat under a pile of other boxes at some point on the journey.

Mark your boxes with information about what’s inside and how they should be stored e.g. if it’s a plant, which way up does it need to be positioned and which temperature should it be kept at.

8. CLEARLY DISPLAY DELIVERY ESTIMATES

With approximately 33% of UK households now subscribing to Amazon Prime [5], shoppers are accustomed to receiving their online orders on the same or next day. If orders are going to take any longer to get to customers, you need to make it clear on your product pages, basket and checkout BEFORE the customer has placed their order. This is especially important in sectors where products are manufactured on demand and can have long lead times, for example furniture.

Make sure that any estimated dispatch and delivery dates take Bank Holidays and weekends into account. Allowing customers to select a specific day for delivery, can sometimes provide a more favourable experience even if they have to pay for the privilege.

For more advice on how you can improve the shopping experience for your customers, call us on +44(0)161 826 3098 or email us at: startyourjourney@venditan.com

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Stephanie Fenton
8th March 2019