Current e-commerce statistics state that 40% of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices. This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to continuously grow.
In 2012, U.S. retail eCommerce sales amounted to $225.5 billion and are projected to grow to $434.2 billion in 2017.
eCommerce is a huge industry and opportunities in mobile-first platforms is even higher. According to an IBM report, mobile accounted for 45% of all online traffic during the 2014 holiday season, and online sales from mobile devices accounted for 22.6% of the total.
#1 Swipe-to-judge like Tinder
Swipe right to like an item, left to dislike.
This feature sounds familiar, right? Yes, the famous ‘Swipe-to-judge’ feature is a creation of popular dating app, Tinder. The popular dating app was launched in 2012 and achieved explosive success within no time with more than 800 million swipes per day.
Given Tinder’s breakaway success, its ‘swipe-to-judge’ model has spread to online shopping as well. Many eCommerce apps are following suit with similar swipe to like app formats. Instead of scrolling through tiny images, customers are presented with one item at a time. They can either love it or reject it.
In most cases, swiping right means, the product is added to wishlist or cart and swiping left means the product will disappear from your list.
Kwoller, a mobile commerce startup launched at TechCrunch Disrupt last year, lets users sort through clothes by using a swipe of the finger. If you swipe left on Kwoller, an item not only disappears forever but Kwoller’s algorithm takes note of your dislike and personalise feed accordingly.
Tim Bernal, co-founder of Kwoller, said in an interview, “We saw app after app that basically took a desktop experience and crammed it onto a small screen, resulting into a terrible shopping experience. We knew simplification is a recurring theme in mobile and saw a huge opportunity to simplify mobile shopping.”
Brian Louko, another co-founder of Kwoller, said, “In a shop you flick through garments on a rack of clothes, quickly sizing them up on gut instinct. When something catches your eye, you might look more closely at the price tag, the equivalent of tapping a card to see a few more details on an app. But unlike real life shopping, the learning algorithms behind these apps can help generate more relevant content the more you swipe.”
Another example of Tinder inspiration is Grabble, an app to discover daily hand-picked fashion. The app gained a reputation for being the ‘Tinder for fashion’ due to its swipe left for no and right for like functionality.
Takeaways from Tinder app:
- Having a ‘Swipe-to-judge’ feature can recreate the retail experience online in the closest possible manner. Like the customers flick through the clothes on a rack of clothes, the equivalent of tapping a card to see a few more details on an app.
- ‘Swipe-to-judge’ also solves the problem of ugly display of crammed small images, which users have to zoom every time they like a product.
#2 Seek friend’s opinions like WhatsApp
You are standing in a retail store, you liked, picked, and tried something. But you are confused. You immediately take out your phone take a picture, send it to your friend on WhatsApp and get his/her opinion and immediately make a choice.
Sorted, purchase done!
What if, you can have the same convenience for online shopping?
Most customers share product links with their friends and family either through email or messaging apps. Instead of copy, pasting a URL and then sharing it through an external app, eCommerce apps can have this feature inbuilt.
The UK-based shopping app, Mallzee has incorporated Tinder and WhatsApp like features. It has got a social component in its user interface. Mallzee lets users ask friends whether the item will make them look fab or drab. Users can share items with their friends who also have the app to get feedback in the form of up- and down-votes, or they can seek advice from Mallzee’s styling team. The idea is to create a community that gives users honest opinions to keep them coming back.
Recently, Indian eCommerce giant Flipkart also launched this new social feature called as Ping. Now the eCommerce app lets customers share product images and discuss with each other while shopping on the platform.
Image source: nextbigwhat
Takeaways from WhatsApp:
- Including a chat component in an eCommerce app eases the problem of sharing products with friends and family and discussing whether to buy the product or not.
- Users get a detailed version of product such as name, pricing, product ratings and if there is an offer on the product or not.
- The product discussion will happen within the eCommerce app rather than on third party messaging apps or on emails, thereby leading to higher frequency of app usage and possibly higher percentage of impulse purchases.
#3 Encourage reviewers like Yelp
81% of shoppers research online before buying and 61% of online shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase.
9 in 10 consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a business. Infact, around 85% of consumers are satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews.
According to a survey of US internet users by EXPO, consumer reviews are trusted nearly 12 times more than descriptions that come from manufacturers.
Most of the eCommerce apps have a section for product reviews, but not all apps give this feature a great importance.
When we think of reviews, Yelp is the first app we think of.
When Yelp began in early 2005, most people thought it is just another boring user review platform, but very soon the platform had 3.3 million users.
What Yelp did differently than others?
Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder of Yelp, said in an interview, “Yelp spent most of its energy attracting a small group of fanatic reviewers. It didn’t try to pay for reviews, as some sites have. It didn’t subordinate the users’ contributions to professional reviews, as on Citysearch, or to directory information, as on yellow-pages sites. Instead, it structured the site to motivate people through the praise and attention that their reviews receive from others.”
Not only this, Yelp gives business owners the ability to respond to negative reviews, either to privately make apologies to reviewers or publicly correct misinformation. Like Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
This gives the app a two-way advantage as it lets user interact and also address issues.
Takeaways from Yelp:
- Having user reviews in your eCommerce app can have higher conversion rates. 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.
- Having user reviews can have considerable ASO benefits too. Most of the eCommerce apps/sites just use the same standard manufacturer descriptions and product specifications, user-generated content can differentiate a product page in the search results.
- When shopping online, most people search for name of the product plus the word ‘review’, or related words such as ‘ratings’, especially in case of electronics. If you have reviews, you will stand a better chance of picking up this traffic.
#4 Let users search products like Google
Google is a synonym for search. Search for an eCommerce website/app means two things. First, the ability to get discovered on search engines through keywords. Second, the ease to let users search for a product within the website/app.
It is important to optimize both.
1. Optimizing external search
First let’s talk about getting discovered. Here is an interesting graphic by Search Engine Land about the elements for optimizing search for ecommerce:
Each of these elements should be optimized. For example, when you are making a list of keywords for your website, consider different variations of the same product.
Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, explained this with an example, “So let’s say you sold coffee grinder. So you want to put coffee grinders and coffee grinder. And you want to put the singular and plural because sometimes there’s a pretty significant difference between the search volumes for the two keywords.
So click on keyword ideas in Google Keyword Planner and that will show you the search terms that you entered here and their average monthly search volumes. So depending on how it makes sense for you and your site and your business, you may want to use coffee grinder because that gets significantly more search volume.”
Here’s some more help.
We did a #BiteSize video interview with Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, where he spoke about leveraging SEO to get traction. Brian suggests, “If you have an app that helps people book doctor’s appointments. So you wouldn’t want to target a keyword like ‘find a doctor’. Now, ideally that’s what your target customer is probably searching for so you think perfect. The problem is that it’s so competitive that it’s going to take you years, if ever, to hit the first page. But something more specific, a little bit longer, like ‘apps for iPhone to find a doctor’ is much less competitive and can convert better for you on a percentage basis on that sort of keyword.”
Another way of getting discovered is through price comparison websites, communities, and forums. For instance, The Hunt is a community shopping app. Anyone can post a photo of what they’re looking for, and the community of shoppers will helps them find it, style it, or buy it for less.
2. Optimizing internal search
Optimizing your site for internal searches is equally important. The keyword search is classic in this case as well. Few tips for keywords: use plain English, the words people search for, let users easily search for products and have the search box positioned well.
Taking it a level ahead, give your users the ability to search through pictures and barcodes like Google image search.
For instance, Pounce is an app which turns the smartphone into a simple “click-to-buy button” for real world advertisements. With Pounce, users can take a picture of an item from print ads, circulars and catalogs, then easily buy the product directly from the retailer via the app in just a couple taps.
#5 Awesome payment options like Starbucks
Studies show that most smartphone owners don’t mind making large purchases through their phones but 44% of them wish they had a mobile wallet-style program to be able to pay for purchases.
One of the main reasons buyers don’t complete purchases on mobile devices is that entering credit card information is both a pain and unsafe.
The first and foremost thing is to have multiple payment options for your eCommerce app, and the next step is to make the payment option amazing and rewarding.
The inspiration here is Starbucks app.
Starbucks introduced a digital tipping ‘Shake to Pay’ feature in 2014 wherein the users can just shake the phone to bring up the barcode baristas need to scan to accept the tip through mobile payment.
There is another way Starbucks delight its customers. The company offers a star for each purchase made through its popular app and automatically generates a reward after a fixed number of stars. Under the program, customers who earns 30 stars within a year attains Gold status, which then entitles them to a free beverage or single food item for every 12 stars earned.
The company also gives an option of Starbucks gift cards to avoid payment hassles. The coffee giant says 1 in 7 Americans received one of its cards that imply that nearly 46 million received Starbucks gift cards in 2014.