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As e-commerce, encompassing both research and buying, becomes increasingly simple for consumers, it grows more complex for the brands that sell in the digital age. E-commerce competitors must now differentiate themselves with superior user experience, strong web performance, and marketing strategies that both raise brand awareness and engage customers. These competitive areas now represent the three pillars of e-commerce, which need to be a priority for any online retailer.
Brands can’t underestimate the importance of user experience when designing or revamping their e-commerce websites. “We’re no longer in the business of selling products; we’re in the business of selling experiences,” said Brad Rencher, Adobe’s EVP and GM of digital, stated during a recent Adobe event, according to Direct Marketing News.
Research from eConsultancy even found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of businesses think that user experience plays a primary role in improving sales and bottom-line revenue. Respondents to the User Experience Survey Report also stated that a better UX would lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as an overall stronger brand.
This is why e-commerce companies need to take a scientific approach to UX and front-end design, performing an in-depth analysis of the user environment and testing the quality of the experience from every conceivable angle. The eConsultancy report found that brands use UX testing to take the guesswork out of the design process and support a user-centric design approach.
Today’s e-commerce websites need to function with exceptional agility and seamless performance if brands want to keep users engaged throughout the research and purchase process. With so many ways to buy products and services, consumers will quickly turn away from a website that takes too much time to load or cannot process a given request.
Brands that invest in back-end engineering for their e-commerce platforms will have a major competitive advantage in a marketplace where time is of the essence for customers at every phase of the buyer journey. When inventories, transaction software, web content, and other back-end systems are all coordinated properly, the website will simply perform better, creating a great experience for everyone who visits.
Strong back-end integration is also key for delivering the omni-channel commerce experiences that consumers demand these days. According to an infographic from Experience Dynamics, 83% of customers say that smooth transitions across devices are very important in the shopping process. Top brands have no technical flaws in their experiences, making them a cut above the rest.
Even with a great set of products, a compelling visual design and a perfectly engineered website, an e-commerce brand will struggle to maximize its business without a complete digital marketing strategy. Organizations need to attract visitors to their websites, qualify leads, spark their interest with personalized communications, and close the deal over a wide range of channels and devices.
In other words, a successful digital marketing strategy is a massive undertaking, and brands need to approach this area of e-commerce as they would any other. Search engine optimization, social commerce, and content marketing are just a few of the ways in which companies are boosting awareness and engagement in their audiences today.
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