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E-commerce News and Insights | Jul 22, 2020

Optimizing Your Site’s Performance to Enhance Your Customers’ Online Experience

Optimizing Your Site’s Performance to Enhance Your Customers’ Online Experience

While none of us has had a crystal ball and knows exactly what challenges may exist next week or even next month amid COVID-19, one thing’s for sure: e-commerce will continue to be heavily relied upon for the foreseeable future. 

As an e-commerce business, you may wonder how, and if that might change, once we’ve all gotten through to the other side. It’s actually pretty simple, shoppers that have had a great experience with your business during these tough times, are more likely to stay. If you’ve made the overall shopping experience super positive and—equally important—super seamless, then you’ve helped to make their decision easy. Great, but how do you actually get proactive so that you attract and retain loyal customers for life (that means far beyond this pandemic)? Online, one of the major ways is optimization. That’s a fancy, five-syllable word for making the most of what you have—and speeding it up.

Here are some ways to optimize your site’s performance and page speed. Your ultimate optimization goal is a smooth and satisfying customer experience. Think about what this could mean for your customers (and potential customers) who may be looking for what you are selling while they isolate.

Use Accurate Descriptions

Online, you often never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why your tags and descriptions are so important to get right, right away. These labels tell the Internet who you are and why you’re here, and show up on: 

  • Search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • Web browsers (like Google Chrome or Safari) 
  • Social networks (like Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook) 

The clearer and simpler you make your keywords, tags, and descriptions, the easier you will be found by customers. And the more often you are found, the more you may rise up in the search ranks. 

Know the jargon: 

  • Header tag (also called an H1 tag): usually the title of a page post, like a headline 
  • Meta description: summarizes your page’s content in about 155 characters. The art of meta description takes some practice, but the goal always remains the same: to identify what you are selling clearly.

A few tips when writing your tags and description:

  • Get right to the point. Be specific and direct
  • Keep it simple and brief
  • Avoid ALL CAPS. They take up too much space
  • Make sure the content directly matches the content on the actual page 
  • Utilize SEO keywords

Increase Page Load Speed

Have you noticed customer attention spans lately? They’re getting shorter all the time. If your site tends to lag or freeze up, the sale is lost (and so is your customer and maybe even your business’ reputation). Take a proactive approach by optimizing for page speed.

Keep it simple

The fewer bells and whistles that have to be downloaded, the better. A website busy with excessive plugins and fonts takes longer to load. Customers (and potential customers) hate that. 

Make use of optimization tools

There are tools available that help measure your site’s optimization. They’ll point out where you’re sluggish and, by focusing on where the speed bumps are, you’ll be able to help increase your page load speed and, therefore, customer satisfaction. 

Keep your cache strong

A cache—pronounced similarly to “cash,” as in “I want this site to generate lots of cash”—is hardware or software that lives in your customer’s hard disk. It stores your website’s data, usually on a temporary basis. The idea is that if a customer called you up before, they will likely want to call you up again. If a certain operation was performed, like a specific search or purchase, the cache will remember that. If your customer visited a certain page of yours, the cache will help them return to it with little typing effort. 

A good caching solution will keep your site quick on its feet, and will help to load your page faster the next time the customer thinks of you.

Use Images and Colors That Work Well on All Devices

Of course, you want your e-commerce site to look good and be attractive to customers. Yet you never want to achieve this at the risk of slowing your download time or forsaking the quality of the images. 

Often, images or colors may look great on one device—say, a laptop—but look poor, jumbled, or distorted on a smartphone. Try considering fewer images and simpler, more commonly used colors. Lots of white space on your site can also help things move faster. This may increase your page speed, reduce your load time and be more mobile-friendly. 

More and more consumers are shopping on their smartphones as opposed to other devices, so you may want to keep this in mind when deciding on the most smartphone-friendly images and colors.

Communicate Directly to Your Customer with Personalization

When it comes to your customers, you need to make it all about them. Always. Make the most of the data you gather from them to give them what they want. 

You can already see who they are and where they’re traveling on your site. Optimize that info to personalize offers and preferences. Generate content that lets them know they aren’t just another face in the crowd.

Smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable digital businesses to increase their profits by up to 15%. Here are a few ways to make that happen: 

Recommend similar or complementary products

Don’t be shy about displaying products that are similar to the ones your customers recently viewed. The content usually reads like this: “Visitors who viewed this product also viewed…” 68% of e-commerce revenue comes from this type of language. In other words, you see this verbiage a lot because it works. 

Ask what your customer prefers

A small survey asking about preferences can connect to the products and pages that your customer may find interesting instantly. 

Connect all of your digital marketing to your customer’s specific preferences and likes

Doing an email blast or text? Make sure your customer is seeing products related to the last sale or search. Show that you are invested in their experience with you. 

Utilize Your Own Specific Voice and Tone

You want your site to practically be like a living and breathing person. Give it a personality that reflects the tastes and values of your customers. A few ways to communicate your message well:

• Be consistent

• Keep your content short and precise, but stay friendly and human

 • Keep positive.

• Always include a call to action

Minimize Cart Abandonment

In the e-commerce universe, there’s nothing sadder than an abandoned shopping cart. The sad fact is that the cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69.57%. Why? Often, it’s when reality—the cost of the purchase — hits the customer. Try these strategies to keep the cart moving to the finish line:

Consider offering free or discounted shipping

The added cost of shipping also makes that original low price suddenly seem like a faint memory. If you can, consider offering free or discounted shipping, and don’t let your customers forget why you’re the right place to shop with. 

Communicate with pop-ups

Use a pop-up to decrease the chances of your visitor leaving the page. Remind them of the value and benefits of shopping with you, which can include: further merchandise options, free shipping, flexible payment options, and a no-questions-asked return policy. 

Don’t let that shopping cart disappear

Keep the cart visible throughout your customer’s journey on your site. If the cart pops up only at the end, it may disrupt the joy of the shopping experience. 

Lock in your customers for their next visit 

Don’t make it difficult for customers to have to sign in again. Save their info and preferences so that they consistently have a user-friendly experience, and get right to shopping. Knowing that you’ve prepared for their visit may encourage them to buy and keep coming back. 

Tap them on the shoulder 

Send them an email or text reminding them to complete the purchase. Show them what they left in the cart. Ask if there were any concerns or issues with your shopping process. Entice them to reconsider their decision by offering them a coupon, special discount or free gift. 

Display Strong Product Pages

Don’t just optimize your website as a whole; optimize each individual product page as well. Consider these ideas: 

Use video

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially if it’s a moving picture. Make use of original videos along with well-written descriptions of what the viewer is seeing.

Make cart loading easy

Try to reduce the shopping process to one simple click. Always keep the checkout function near every product image and video. Save customers payment and preference information for their next visit. 

Use your own voice

Give your page a personality—your personality—by writing the content and product description in your own voice (or a hired writer who gets it). This way, it won’t sound like every other product page out there; you and your unique voice will set yourself apart. 

Add your product’s name to the page’s URL and keywords

Search engines pay attention to this. That means the prospective customers will be more easily led to your page because the URL code includes what they are looking for. It’s relevant! 

Check Your Pricing

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you want them to do: shop with you. Of course, you can be more subtle than that:

Try gentle nudges 

Consider a “call to action” that says “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now!” (make sure these buttons stand out in size and color). 

Offer a flash sale or loyalty discount 

This could be just the compelling incentive that gets customers to dig into their cyberwallets.

End it in “9” 

When it comes to pricing, get human nature to work in your favor. For instance, prices ending in 9 ($39.99) tend to increase conversions. A price like that just instinctively “feels” cheaper. 

Don’t give too many price options 

Again, it’s simply human nature: people are uncomfortable with so many options that they can’t make a quick, confident decision. Let them choose between chocolate and vanilla instead of a mind-boggling 31 flavors. 

Add a human element through a live chat, or at least a chatbot

Some customers want to talk through their decision before they finally decide. Be there for them with a customer service team, answering questions and addressing concerns. 

Promote your provide secure payment options. 

That alone could build more trust and comfort in the customer’s mind. 

Show product benefits as close to the price as possible. 

By thinking geographically, a customer may be able to visually connect the value to the price. 

Yep, optimizing your site performance is going to take work, and maybe even some trial and error. Keep your eyes on the prize, though: 

• A rise in conversion rates

• A drop in bounce rates

• A larger and more loyal following

• A reputation of being reliable and professional 

Delve deeper and know where you stand (or rather, how fast you run) by taking the Google website speed test or a website performance test

 

Learn more about how you can offer fast, reliable, and cost-effective shipping solutions with Shippo. 

 

Ron Sklar is a business content writer based in New York. He writes for clients in a number of sectors, including real estate, healthcare, financial services, tech, and transportation/automotive.

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