Despite the solitary nature of online shopping, the steady rise of e-commerce is the click heard round the world. As the pace of shutting retail locations intensifies—the number of American retailers alone closing up shop has doubled this year—online shopping is picking up the slack.
While brick and mortar shops try to reinvent themselves, e-commerce business booms: Online shopping is predicted to grow 8 to 12 percent in 2017, up to three times higher than the growth rate of more traditional retail.
The trend is nothing new—but the pace of change is. E-commerce has had a proven track record of healthy growth. According to Business Insider, “Though the U.S. retail average growth rate in the first half of 2016 was just 2 percent for total retail, it was 16 percent for e-commerce.”
How can you take advantage of the shift toward online shopping? By integrating an e-commerce store into your utility’s product programs, then making your e-commerce site intuitive to use, quick to display, and painless to purchase from. The biggest mistakes to avoid are making prospective customers mess around with too many forms, wait for pages to load, or entertain last-minute hesitation about unexpected shipping costs. And be sure to provide lots of images they can zoom in on and plenty of product reviews. According to Big Commerce, “The top three factors that are very or extremely influential in determining where Americans shop are price (87%), shipping cost and speed (80%) and discount offers (71%).”
The gold standard for your e-commerce site is a site that’s free of friction (anything that causes distraction, confusion, or hesitation). You don’t want to make customers think too much or they will mutiny, abandoning ship—and shopping cart. Users don’t want to have to think too much once they have decided to make a purchase. The more they must think about a purchase, the less they tend to buy it, which explains the popularity of features like Amazon’s one-click purchase button.
For a full guide on how to build and optimize your e-commerce site, download our e-book