Website Evaluation – I recently worked with a client on a project regarding their desire to replace their ecommerce platform (ECP). When asked why they wanted a new platform, their reasoning was based on “it’s time”. They felt their current website was not providing the functionality they were looking for and, since it was several years old, it was no longer provide what they wanted from their website.
As everyone who has been through it knows, replacing a website platform is not only a monumental task but can be very expensive, adds pressure to an organization, and creates additional work on top of the day-to-day tasks of managing the business. Once we began discussing this particular client’s needs and why they wanted to replace their ECP, it became apparent they had not discussed the shortcomings of their current ecommerce platform with their current provider. Rather than going down the path of looking for a replacement, FitForCommerce suggested that a website evaluation be conducted to identify the gaps of the current site and compare those to what best practices.
A website evaluation provides the client with a quick evaluation of their site, identifying the shortcomings of the existing areas (such as checkout), suggestions on how to improve the particular area reviewed and examples of what FitForCommerce would consider a better solution. The cost of the evaluation is considerably less than replacing the ecommerce platform. The suggested changes can then be taken to the existing ecommerce platform provider to identify which of those suggested enhancements can be done by the provider, which would be easy “fixes”, and which would require additional development, including the cost and time frame to implement those changes. Essentially, it’s similar to taking your car to a mechanic and getting a tune up, replacing some parts, paying for labor, but not having to purchase a new car.
One might wonder what should be reviewed during a site evaluation. Well, it’s everything from the time the homepage appears on the screen to the last page at checkout. As the seller of goods and services, you need to approach the site evaluation from your perspective but, more importantly, from the consumers’ point of view. How easy is it to shop your site? Have you conducted a focus group session to identify what they would like, what’s missing, not working well, etc.? Through focus groups and having FitForCommerce conduct a website evaluation, you will be armed with a roadmap of improvements which will enable your organization to have a better understanding of what changes should be considered and which can be made with the existing ecommerce platform. Those changes should improve and/or increase shopability, sales, AOV, conversion, repeat visits, site performance, and customer satisfaction, and save your organization the expense and additional work of implementing a new ECP. A site evaluation will enable you to get more life out of your investment before taking the plunge and purchasing a new ECP.
There are numerous areas to consider when conducting a site evaluation. Besides checkout, which was mentioned earlier, navigation, homepage, site search are some of the areas FitForCommerce would assess. FitForCommerce has done extensive work in this area and has found that identifying the issue(s), providing positive feature(s), and providing examples of best practices and recommendations to the client, allows them take action and get results immediately.
One last thing to note is, doing your own site evaluation is very difficult since it is much harder to be objective and identify the opportunities. Having a third party evaluate your site provides unbiased suggestions that you may not have considered or even thought of. In many situations, you’d be surprised to find out that areas you thought were fine could use significant improvement. The client I mentioned earlier was able to make many of the suggested changes within a few weeks – many without any additional cost – and immediately began to see improvement. So, before you start looking for a new ECP, talk to us about conducting a website evaluation!
FitForCommerce will be at Shop.org Merchandising Workshop, July 20-22.
Contact us to schedule a meeting at #merch15 !
Written by: Walt Blum, Sr. Consultant
3 Hot Tips:
Stay engaged: Don’t wait for sales to flatten out or abandonment rate to increase. Have the site evaluated every year by an outside company, someone with a different set of eyes. Consider it a tune up and maintenance to get the most out of your engine.
Customer input: User groups or focus groups are important in ensuring you are meeting the expectations of your customer base. Before implementing changes, test your ideas with this group and get their feedback.
Keep reaching: Look at other sites and see what the competition is doing. Take a step back and focus on your overall goals, but be flexible enough to meet the demands of your customers.