Preparing for Peak: The Importance of Customer Data 

The countdown to peak is officially on and preparations for your eCommerce store should be well underway to make the busiest time of year a business success. Once you have a peak plan in place to ensure your website can cope with the increased demand and traffic influx, it’s important to ensure your digital storefront is also optimised.

Customer data plays a key role in optimising your website to create an enjoyable shopping experience for your users. Your customers should be at the core of everything you do which makes their data extremely valuable. Collating, analysing and interpreting this data builds an understanding of your audience and where you should focus your efforts during the peak period.

The importance of customer data

In today’s digitally driven world, listening to your customers is imperative. Shopping online provides users with endless choice and it’s become even harder to capture their attention and convert them into loyal customers. The peak period only makes competition tougher. During this time, consumers are subject to countless offers resulting in a busy and distracted shopping experience. However, customers create and share data points throughout their online interactions, using this data, you can cut through the noise and develop effective strategies to attract and convert your target audience.

Using a data warehousing tool such as Magento Business Intelligence enhances your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, allowing you to spend less time collating data and more time putting it to use. This tool empowers informed decisions on advertising spend to help improve customer lifetime value and buying habits. As a result, campaigns can be driven further to generate a higher ROI, improving sales and ultimately accelerating business growth.

The data pulled into Magento BI can be analysed, segmenting and targeting customers by region so you can produce and share tailored promotional offers. Using Magento Commerce, high impact customer segments can be created quickly and easily. Content including banners, promotions and emails can then be targeted directly to these highly responsive shoppers who are more likely to convert.

Businesses who understand their customers and their buying behaviours ultimately have a competitive edge. This is the key to providing exceptional service which in turn generates loyalty, repeat business and positive recommendations. Understanding your customers is just a start, optimising your website’s UX to suit the way they browse and buy will give you even more power during busy shopping periods.

How customer data can be used to optimise UX

When traffic is expected to peak, your website should be looking and performing its best. User Experience (UX) can have a huge impact on success and is one of the top considerations facing businesses today. As an eCommerce brand, you should optimise and test your website to ensure consumer needs are fulfilled through a smooth and streamlined UX.

User test your checkout experience:

Did you know, 69 percent of customers abandon their cart at checkout? The reasons why can vary but often include hidden costs such as shipping rates and tax, website issues or a complicated checkout process to name a few.

Businesses must provide a consistent checkout experience to make the buying process as intuitive, simple and seamless as possible. After all, this stage of the buying journey plays an integral role in driving conversions and revenue. Why not consider implementing a one-step checkout solution or integrate a payment solution that doesn’t redirect users to another page to maintain a consistent brand experience? Whatever your process may be, be sure to user test it so bugs can be ironed out before the peak period begins.

Check your site speed

In a fast-paced world, we expect fast websites. No one likes a slow loading page and unfortunately, if people think they can find what they need faster elsewhere, they will leave your site. Kissmetrics reported that 47 percent of consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent of consumers said they would abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Additionally, according to Cloudflare, not only do users stay for longer on fast-loading sites but they also convert at higher rates compared to slower sites.

Make sure you conduct a site speed test and if necessary, look at upgrading your server or hosting plan to improve site stability to mitigate the risk of your site crashing. In addition to potential server performance problems, your website may also contain code that is slowing down performance. Utilising tools such as Google Lighthouse, New Relic and Blackfire.io, you can gain an understanding of performance issues to inform iterative site improvements. This could be anything from compressing your images or tweaking caching, so refreshes aren’t completed as often to reduce the strain on your server.

Introduce extensions to enhance the experience:

Third-party extensions are often a necessity to help you enhance your UX and increase site speed; these are just a few we recommend to our clients:

  • TinyPNG: If your website has many images in a variety of sizes, they may be causing your site to slow down considerably. Compress store images to optimise their size using this Magento 2 plugin.
  • NewRelic: This cloud-based platform can identify performance bottleneck prior to peak, giving you a clear view of what’s happening within your software environment. As a result, you can find and fix problems faster, delivering a more enjoyable UX for your customers, even during the busiest of times.
  • Queue-it: This extension acts as a virtual waiting room system that sits in front of your website to manage traffic. If your eCommerce store hits your predetermined traffic threshold, the application will kick in and start holding your customers in a queue. Users are encouraged to enter their email address so a notification can be received when they can access the site. This is a failsafe solution to make sure you don’t run into any issues with traffic levels or worse, lose all your traffic due to your website crashing and going offline.

It’s also important to disable any unused extensions on your store and remove codes and scripts which aren’t in use to improve site speed and experience.

Think audience-first and mobile-first:

Track site traffic on Google Analytics to understand where your users come from. If your audience is predominantly from mobile usage, then you should be designing for mobile over desktop or tablet. A 2019 study by UKOM revealed that mobile devices account for 78 percent of all online minutes, highlighting the necessity of thinking mobile-first.

Upsell and cross-sell:

Do you sell a protector to go with those leather shoes? Be sure to make this obvious to your customers! Shoppers will often look for smaller purchases to bump up their order and get over the free delivery threshold. Cross-selling and upselling also make consumers notice a product which they may not have seen or considered. This process creates effective opportunities to increase your Average Order Value (AOV) and can be done by showcasing complimentary items in the basket, review emails or order confirmations. Additionally, you could look at assigning and promoting products that are commonly purchased alongside other products within a set price range to entice customers.

UX is a core consideration for your website as it underpins how your customers interact with your online business. During busy retail periods such as Christmas, customers are likely to have an idea of what they want to purchase and may be in a rush to find and shop the best deals. This presents an opportunity to maximise the use of your site search, leading customers to the products they want and to conversion faster. Find out how you can do this with our simple tips and tricks below.

Improve your site search

For users to find their desired product, they need to be able to search through your website content quickly and easily. After all, the easier it is for people to navigate your site, the more likely it is they will do just that. Integrating smart search functionality offered by Nosto helps connect shoppers with the exact products they are looking for. From product recommendations and content personalisation to onsite popups and personalised emails, an intuitive and personalised shopping experience can be created no matter who your customers are or what stage of their buying journey they are in.

A world-leading personalisation platform for eCommerce, Nosto works with over 2,500 online retailers delivering more than 25 billion personalised shopping experiences. Improving your site search will encourage shoppers to use it. From experience, we have found that conversion rate is, on average, 5x higher when customers use the site search feature compared to when they ignore it. This is the feature that ‘ready to buy’ customers will instantly look for and the best performing search bars are the most noticeable. This is why Start Fitness, shown below, have enhanced theirs with a design that takes up two-thirds of their header, now you can’t miss it.

Start Fitness

When designing for mobile, we recommend using site search as a primary navigation route as it provides a quicker and cleaner experience for users to reach the products they want, faster. To enhance your site search even further, index and serve more than just product results. Site search could incorporate feature guides and blog posts to provide a variety of results making it an effective feature to satisfy informational queries.

Customers are a valuable asset so it’s important to listen to them. Gathering, analysing and interpreting their data unlocks insight that empowers you to optimise your website in the most effective way possible. Assessing your opportunities and maximising UX potential for the peak period is a certain way to improve your shopper’s online experience and continue building upon that all-important customer loyalty.

Would you like to find out more about how you can effectively prepare your eCommerce store for peak period? Our in-house eCommerce Strategist has the expertise to help your business thrive during the busiest shopping period of the year. Contact the team to find out how.