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5 Ways Ecommerce Experiences Must Evolve to Succeed Among Economic Uncertainty

Explore the crucial steps ecommerce merchants must take to thrive amidst economic uncertainty.

The economic downturn is dramatically impacting consumer budgets, making shoppers think twice about their spending. This puts pressure on ecommerce merchants to adapt the online shopping experiences to maximize profitable conversions.

Meeting this challenge requires a focus on five key areas:

  1. Enhance ecommerce site search with dynamic ranking and merchandising:

With every cent counting more, merchants should closely track behavioral data around how products are performing and adjust how high they rank in onsite searches. If a product can’t stand on its own and deliver significant sales, it needs to be less visible. Those less visible products can still be shown to those who might be interested through personalization. Equally, search can rank products based on margin and inventory, so shoppers aren’t shown out of stock items. Modern site search platforms leverage similar technology to ChatGPT, such as large language models and image recognition/deep learning.

  • Make category pages work harder

Merchants are increasingly focused on driving more traffic directly to category pages, as they try to shorten the path to purchase. With most category pages consisting of rows of product images, the downside is that shoppers that don’t buy will click away without ever seeing the brand messaging and offers that typically exist on a store’s home page. 

Merchants can rectify this by displaying more personalized editorial on category pages, highlighting USPs, brand values, discounts, offers, and wider inventory. The aim should be to encourage visitors to explore more of the site, with fewer bounces, more pages-per-visit, and ultimately more sales.

  • Reward VIP customers

It’s always easiest to generate sales from your most loyal customers—particularly in downturns when buyers become more risk averse. This makes it imperative that merchants segment their returning customers based on customer lifetime value, and invest in delivering custom experiences to repeat purchasers. Reward visiting VIP customers with tailored content and promotions that makes them feel special and valued, including early access to sales, exclusive offers or limited availability products that others can’t get.

  • Win over socially conscious shoppers

Because budgets have tightened, more shoppers are comparing the costs and benefits of different sites. Brands therefore need to be especially focused on highlighting areas that provide value, such as socially conscious initiatives. These appeal to consumers who are looking to only buy ethically sourced clothing, demand a commitment to sustainability, or only shop organic or locally produced, for example.

Merchants need to be able to recognize shoppers’ social values, and tailor their shopping experience with products or content that appeals. Socially conscious filters can allow shoppers to tailor their experience in line with their values, so they only see organic or sustainable merchandise for example. And socially conscious visual badging, which demonstrates how each purchase benefits a specific cause, such as dollars donated to charity, can really help shoppers feel engaged.

  • Use authentic customer images more widely

There’s a lot of evidence that visual user generated content (UGC) increases conversions as shoppers see products being worn or used by real people; 54% of consumers in Nosto research said they’re likely to purchase after consuming UGC for example. UGC also benefits the bottom line in other ways—it reduces the need for expensive content production and lowers clothing return rates as people have a better idea of fit and sizing before they buy. Merchants should make UGC more noticeable on more sections of their website, and across more channels (home page, product recommendations, ads, social media, email).

As with any period of economic uncertainty, there’ll be winners and losers. The merchants that succeed will need to do more than offer the right products at the right prices. They’ll need to focus on the experience across the customer journey and that starts with following these five tips across their operations.

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