As websites evolve and become more sophisticated, consumer expectations about them increase. In order to remain competitive and stay relevant, businesses need to regularly improve their websites to meet those expectations. Here we look at seven things that today’s online shoppers want from a website.
1. Customer reviews and ratings
Over 90% of online shoppers say they have used reviews and ratings to help them decide whether to purchase a product online. The majority of consumers now do this as a matter of course and for this reason, many choose only to buy from websites that provide product reviews.
Product reviews are important not just because they offer customer feedback, but because they tell potential customers that a business is transparent about its products, warts and all, and has nothing to hide. In this way, they are as useful for creating trust in the business as they are in helping customers find the right product.
2. Remembering the customer
Customers like websites that remember who they are. The use of user accounts, personal data and purchasing histories enables individuals to have customised homepages with personalised product recommendations. These sites remember who customers are, show them things they’ve recently bought or browsed and use data to make suggestions. At the same time, they provide offers the customer finds genuinely useful.
3. Everything is easy to find
Customers expect websites to have clear and easy navigation so that nothing is hard to find or more than a few clicks away. This applies to every aspect of the website, including account management, customer service and products.
When it comes to finding products, visitors expect well-designed menus and search bars. On larger sites with lots of products, they also expect to be able to filter their search results, for example, by price, brand, colour or size. These features are easy to implement and can often be added simply by installing a suitable plugin.
4. A quick and reliable service
The main thing customers want when it comes to speed is getting their products as quickly as possible. As services develop, that timeframe is getting shorter. Most big stores now offer next day delivery, while companies with both online and physical stores are increasingly offering same-day click and collect. Amazon is even able to offer same-day delivery on some products if customers buy early enough.
Speed doesn’t just cover delivery, however. Customers also want quick ways to communicate with companies. Rather than wait for calls to be answered or emails to be replied to, a preference for chatbots that can give instant responses has become de rigueur.
Reliability is achieved by fulfilling promises – essentially, delivering products that live up to customer expectations at the time agreed. Consumers will want to check how reliable a business is and will look at reviews on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google, etc., to find out.
5. Error-free websites
Reliability of a different kind is needed for the website itself. Businesses don’t just need hosting that comes with guaranteed uptime, though that is vital; they also need a hosting solution that provides them with all the resources they will need. Today, this not only means being able to cope with excessive spikes in traffic; it also means being able to deploy the advanced tools that users expect, such as product recommendation engines. The more features and functionality that a website has, the more storage, RAM and processing power it will need. Without the right resources, websites can become sluggish and even crash, a problem that loses sales and damages reputations.
6. Device-friendly web design
We spend more time searching the web on mobiles than we do on computers, and mobile purchases continue to rise. Customers, today, expect device-friendly websites. While responsive themes make it easy to create sites that work on all devices, they are not the total solution. Rather than create a desktop version and let the responsive theme take care of what it looks like on a mobile, businesses should put equal effort into both. Indeed, Google advises site owners to take a mobile-first approach. Leaving all the work to a responsive theme can result in sites that are hard to use, with badly laid out pages and buttons too close together to use effectively.
To prevent users from abandoning the site, it must work flawlessly on all devices.
7. Data security
Customers are not going to provide personal data or financial information to a website if there is a risk that their data or their login credentials will be stolen. The fear of what might happen as a consequence will frighten them away. The worst thing that can happen, therefore, is to have a data leak, as it can lead customers to close down accounts and shift their loyalties to a different company.
To prevent this, websites need watertight security, not just with the use of staff and customer login credentials, but across their entire IT infrastructure. Websites need hosting that comes with intrusion, malware, SQL injection and DDoS protection and advanced firewalls, as well as offering SSL certificates, automatic updates, remote and encrypted backups, email encryption, VPNs and more.
To be a successful online business, companies need to keep improving their websites so that they provide what customers want and can compete with their rivals. Hopefully, the points raised here will give site owners an understanding of the things customers expect online today.
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