By its very nature, ecommerce software is in a continual state of flux, as platforms offer various ways for retailers to enhance their online stores.
But is this constant drive for improvement and enhancement obscuring the central issue of how well these platforms should enable customers to buy from retailers?
Integrations are central to most ecommerce platform offerings, but have they become too important, to the extent that they’re hindering rather than helping the core purpose of online stores? This purpose is to sell.
The Tail Wagging the Dog?
Integrations are meant to help with overall ecommerce functionality, but the basics should be in place first.
One problem is that integrations may offer too many solutions to a single problem.
For example, the customer experience is absolutely central to a successful online store. No one would disagree with this.
But in attempting to improve the customer experience, integrations may actually complicate the customer journey, and make it less reliable for the retailer.
Take YouTube videos, for example. Videos can be a great way of communicating with potential customers. They can also, however, lead shoppers down an unnecessary rabbit hole. Taking your customer away from the checkout process and allowing them to digress, means your shopper that was nearly ready to click ‘Checkout’, may even forget why they were on your website in the first place. Not only that, but with the advancement of online advertising and targeting, you have to consider the risk of your competitor’s products being advertised. In some instances, YouTube videos may prove valuable, but in others, they might do more damage than good - so think carefully before adding them to your site.
And if a retailer focuses on extras like this too early on, are they losing focus on the core functionality of their store?
Another example is filtering. Yes, it’s important that shoppers can find what they’re searching for, but if they feel overwhelmed with too many options, they may abandon the search altogether.
In a nutshell, ecommerce platforms are competing for their own customer share, and they must find ways to differentiate themselves. Offering more and more integrations is one way of doing this.
However, while integrations may be giving retailers what they think they want, they may not be providing them with what they really need.
What Do Online Retailers Need?
If you were setting up your online store, you would be asking, what will my customers need?
This isn’t just about finding the right products that there will be a demand for, but also ensuring that the online store will work for the shopper.
They will need to search and find what they want. They must be able to navigate their way through the site smoothly and quickly. And they should find all the information they need, including details about payments and shipping. Finally, they need a payment system that is simple, swift and reassuring.
Customers need these things, but ecommerce platforms should be asking the same question of retailers: what do they need to launch an effective, efficient online store?
It’s not about the extras and enhancements but about the core functionality. This needs to be right from the very start. Only then should you consider adding essential extras to improve the customer experience.
The Psychology of Simplicity
Psychology is one of the most important assets an online retailer can draw on, and there are various aspects of marketing psychology that can improve online conversions.
One of these is the Law of Pragnanz, which is the basis of gestalt psychology.
Pragnanz is German, and it translates literally as “good figure”. The Law of Pragnanz is the law of simplicity. This law states that humans see objects in the environment in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible.
Humans prefer simplicity. It’s far easier to process information that presents itself simply, preventing cognitive overload.
The potential problem with many ecommerce platforms is that they too easily encourage retailers to give site visitors cognitive overload.
And the integrations that contribute to this can also have an adverse effect on essential functions such as site speed, which also impact the customer experience.
Aero: Focusing on the Fundamentals
There isn’t a magic bullet that guarantees absolute ecommerce success. But if retailers wish to improve their conversion rates, they should go back to basics.
More add-ons won’t necessarily make things better. But having a platform with core functionality that works for the customer’s benefit will.
Ecommerce platforms are modular, but if these building blocks aren’t supported by a good foundation, when you add more of them, you’re simply stacking up potential problems.
At Aero, we’d like to tell you our philosophy is less is more, but we think you’ve probably heard it before. What we will say is that retail success depends on your customer’s experience, and we’ve put together our platform for the customer’s benefit, first and foremost.
Before you look at your integrations, make sure your platform’s got the right core functionality.
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