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Your customer is busy. This is how to make them stop and shop.

The best practice guide to catching and keeping customer attention with your online store, by DPO PayGate.

The World Wide Worx Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study revealed that online retail has overtaken the R14 billion mark for the first time, reaching 1.4% of total retail sales in 2018 with increased growth anticipated for 2019. The suspicion with which e-commerce sites were once viewed is slowly dissipating but it is critical that online businesses build an online presence that engages and keeps customer attention.

People leave websites that are difficult to navigate, require excessive clicks to buy a single product, and that don’t come across as trusted and secure – especially at the checkout stage. To thrive in a busy online marketplace, websites need to catch, and hold customer attention by ensuring that the user experience is simple, seamless and secure.

Here are 10 tips for the best practice design of your website, especially when it comes to the payments process:

1. Keep it simple

Simple navigation, an excellent search function, clear pictures and detailed information are the touchpoints that keep customers on a website. Design plays an important role in the customer experience as it lures the customer and keeps them engaged. However, design must not overtake functionality.

A successful online store needs to be optimised for mobile devices so it is accessible on demand and it needs to minimise the number of steps between the desire to purchase and the final spend. It’s advisable to keep the process as clean and simple as possible and to use features such as geo-location to enhance the user experience.

2. Up-sell and cross-sell timeously

Ensure that your cross-selling and up-selling take place early on in the shopping journey. If you offer a two-for-one deal just when the customer is about to pay you’ll only frustrate them and potentially they’ll abandon their cart completely.

3. Design your cart with precision

There are few things as annoying as a badly designed shopping cart. It needs to be visible, modifiable and usable. Customers need to easily swap between the cart and the online store, costs must be clearly listed, and the total should be visible throughout each stage as the customer adds items to their cart. A customer will likely abandon their shop if they see an unexpected shipping fee attached at the end.

4. Simplify the flow

Shoppers shouldn’t spend time wondering what to do next. Use a visual trail to lure the customer from one point to the next. This can be done by adding in a progress bar with clear signposts that highlight where the customer is in the shopping and purchasing process.

5. Creating trust is critical

Customer trust is hard won and easily lost. It is critical that you put contact details on your website that are easy to find and connect customers with a real person on the other end. Also feature customer reviews on your site and respond to any customer queries visibly on your social media platforms.

It is also recommended that you work with trusted and well-known payment providers that have a strong footprint and an excellent reputation. A new merchant using an unknown payment gateway isn’t going to engender trust so work with familiar partners and be as transparent as possible.

6. Don’t overcomplicate information

Customers don’t want to hand over vast quantities of personal information in order to complete their purchases. What they want is a clear-cut process that asks the minimum number of invasive questions, that demonstrates security, and that is trusted and reliable.

7. Speed up your forms

Use clever design and smart technology to make any forms that the customer has to complete as quick and painless as possible. Above all, try to avoid annoying errors that won’t allow the page to move on if one aspect isn’t done precisely to instructions. Customers will just walk away after they’ve entered their password for the 40th time.

8. Offer choice in payment solutions

Provide the user a variety of payment options so they can select the one that they feel most comfortable with. Many merchants only offer card payments in spite of the availability of different solutions such as secure, instant EFT but this can impact customer engagement. More choice engenders trust, especially if the customer is using your store for the first time.

9. Welcome your guests

Forced site registration puts people off. If they want to shop as a guest, let them. Rather incentivise registration with a rewards programme or a speedier checkout process than force them to complete profile information that takes up their valuable time. Expedience in online shopping is key.

10. Say thank you

When your customer is finished shopping, show them a thank you page that explains what happens next. Let them know when their product will arrive, give them delivery estimates and send them an email with all the information they need. Ensure that they feel secure throughout the entire online shopping process as this will not only encourage them to return, but will build trust and potentially win you positive customer reviews.

E-commerce offers small businesses an incredible opportunity to expand their offerings and reach new customers. The trick to harnessing this opportunity lies in building online stores that reduce friction, enhance shopping experiences, and engage customers every step of the way.

DPO PayGate is a proud Partner of the NSBC