Your site may have the face of an angel, but if the experience of visiting it is like dealing with a stroppy teenager, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
How do you make sure you’re getting what you need? We spoke to Ruari Mactaggart, Technical Director at SME-focused digital agency Ember Interactive, about five key ways your developer can help.
1. How can they improve the experience for customers?Path to purchase, customer journey, user experience – no matter how you describe the process people go through on your site, maximising sales is all about making it as frictionless as possible.
Think about how your customers are using and accessing your site. Is your developer singing from the same hymn sheet? For example, recent sales figures from Experian and IMRG show that online spend on Black Friday was £1.1bn, with almost half (£495m) being spent on mobiles and tablets1.
You should also consider how easy it is for customers to get to the checkout pages. It’s another area your developer can advise on.
“Having strong call-to-action buttons on the page is good (such as ‘buy now’), and a one-page checkout is a great thing,” says Ruari.
2. How can they help address security concerns?Security is absolutely essential, so it’s vital your developer is data protection compliant and understands PCI compliance – requirements that ensure customer card data is stored and processed as securely as possible.
Many small businesses use third party payment gateways rather than processing the transactions themselves, and that’s the option that Ruari recommends.
When choosing one, consider the fee structure and ease of integration, while you might also want to think about the level of support they can provide and their track record in the market.
But it’s not just the security of the process that has an impact on the level of transactions – it’s also how safe customers feel when they’re on your site.
“It’s a good idea not to be too prescriptive about what people have to do when they check out,” says Ruari. “Don’t insist on people creating accounts or saving card details. We would advise allowing people to check out as guests.”
3. How can they help reduce cart abandonment?Not everyone who begins the payment process ends up completing it. In fact, figures from SaleCycle reviewing over 500 global brands show that the average cart abandonment rate is scarily high at over 75%2.
It’s unrealistic to suggest that all of these early exits can be converted into sales, but achieving some level of success here could make a big difference. The million-dollar question for your web developer, of course, is how?
“The more boxes you have to fill in on a checkout page, the less likely you are to get to the end of it,” says Ruari.
Page load times are also a consideration and you should try to avoid people getting bored or frustrated, he says. It’s also important to do as much internal tracking of the way customers are using your site as you can.
“You never really know why people don’t buy but, if you can see all the different stages of the checkout process and at which point they left, you can see where the bottlenecks are.”
4. How can they help retain existing customers?Repeat business should be a key part of the business plan. Not only do loyal customers come without the related acquisition costs of new ones, but there’s also evidence that they’re worth more as well. A recent US study by Manta and BIA/Kelsey suggests that a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one3.
Therefore, asking your web developer to build loyalty reward systems into your website could pay dividends.
“You can build them into the back-end so that the web administrator can create discount codes, which can then be distributed across their mailing lists,” says Ruari.
“Or you create an automated system which, if a customer buys goods worth a certain amount, will send them a discount voucher at a certain date in the future as a loyalty reward.”
In the online world, appearing near the top of a search results page can be critical to the success of your business. You therefore need to know how proficient your developer is in the dark arts of search engine optimisation.
5. How can they help to win new customers?
“Do they understand the impact things like page load times, duplicate content and broken links have on search engine rankings? The importance of different factors varies over time so it’s important that they are well aware of current industry recommendations,” says Ruari.
Your website also needs to be able to cope with the amount of visitors it receives if you are to maximise your sales potential. Heavy traffic is good, online gridlock is not. Ruari advises that you check your developer is making sure the site can perform under a range of conditions.
“Find out what tools they use to test this and how they would respond to these kinds of challenges,” says Ruari.
Please note that the views expressed in this article are those of Ruari Mactaggert. Barclaycard cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this article or any of the information set out in it. Please seek independent professional advice before taking any steps.