I recently had the chance to interview Nick Crumlett, Americaneagle.com Director of Ecommerce Projects. Nick oversees the project production teams for all ecommerce platforms Americaneagle.com supports, and was happy to share some key pieces of wisdom for anyone looking to refresh or upgrade their ecommerce site.
1. Start with Product Data
Most important of all, but rarely treated as such, is your product data. Our first step is always to analyze your current product data, particularly how complete and consistent it is, and how well it translates to a format that can be used on a modern ecommerce platform. It is also important to know in what format we will receive your data – if it is currently available in spreadsheets, is stored in another system that can be exported out or integrated with or if we need to start from scratch. Each option presents its own timeline requirements that should be vetted at the outset of a project.
The next step is to decide how to structure the store navigation. There are potentially three different divisions of taxonomy: main global navigation and sub-navigation, product filters or guided navigation and product details refinement. It is essential to bear in mind that the priority is to ensure your users can easily find what they’re looking for while not excluding any browsing habits. Searchers, Sorters and Browsers should each be presented with an unencumbered interface that allows for intuitive decision making. Each type of user will focus more on one navigation element than the others, so a harmony of the three components with logical break-points is critical to optimizing conversions. Every industry we work in is different and there is not a single navigation type which works for everyone. Our teams work with our clients to assure the navigation we move forward with is optimized for that client’s specific audience.
3. Search Capability
Search is essential to helping guide your customers, and how robust the site search will need to be is dependent on the complexity of your navigation and product data. We’ll discuss the best placement of the search interface in the global siteshell, the extent to which advanced features such as stemming, auto-correct and auto-suggest are needed, the level of customization needed in determining the display order of search results and the capacity of your search utility to utilize machine learning to continue to build upon itself. Most search tools do require “Tuning” during the pre-launch phase of the project and we work with various tools and analytical data to optimize the search algorithms before actual customers start searching the site.
4. Shipping Rules
Shipping rules often present challenges to ecommerce retailers. Online stores always have competition, and for many products it can be difficult to charge for shipping when a customer could easily buy the product from the store. Therefore, simplifying the shipping process is essential. Confusing calculations or expensive shipping costs can deter a conversion at the most critical point: the checkout. We encourage our clients to remove obstacles by making the shipping process as simple as possible, for example by using flat rates. While this is not always an option, there are strategies to be explored (typically in the B2C world) to incentivize customers to increase their order value to attain a free shipping level. From a B2B standpoint, we have strategies in place to price shipping from a 1st party delivery service, freight, and warehouse pickup options.
5. Set up Google Analytics
Using data to understand your successes and where you can improve is essential to making ecommerce business progress. Properly setting up your Google Analytics, including goal conversion and event tracking, can help you to understand actual shopping habits on your website in order to make optimizations that matter. Goal conversion analytics will help you determine whether your customers are successfully following the funnel created, for example, to complete the check-out process. You can also review sources of traffic, cross-channel conversion rates, popular search terms and pages that get the most traffic, where customers are entering your site and at what point they tend to leave. All of the metrics available within Google Analytics can paint a picture of trends on your website and help you make informed decisions to improve and maintain exceptional conversion rates.
What makes Americaneagle.com stand out as an ecommerce site designer and developer?
Our use of business analytics makes us stand out. Within our ecommerce team, our project managers are also business analysts, they understand the taxonomy of navigation and search and understand user experience. They are experts in data normalization, and can help guide those customers who don’t yet have a solid product database. We offer more than a standard, cookie-cutter solution. We analyze individual business needs and create custom solutions built to your specifications while recommending industry best practices and using our own experience to build the best possible solution. Last but not least, we can handle a lot of data!