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Building a retail website set up for growth

by Sarah Craig March 24, 2022

Retail e-commerce sales are forecasted to grow 16.1% this year, reaching $1.06 trillion in revenue by the end of 2022, according to Insider Intelligence. With that in mind, how can business owners ensure their e-commerce platform is set up to support a substantial growth in customers? 

We’ve identified three ways companies can prepare for the growth in e-commerce and take advantage of the current online shopping movement.

Find the right customer support solution  

No matter how intuitive your e-commerce website is, finding a scalable customer support solution will be an essential aspect of your e-commerce strategy. Customers will have questions, and with 90% of consumers regarding immediate responses as important, now is the time to consider how you’ll offer support to your customers. 

Luckily, there are a few options for a growing business to explore when it comes to providing quick and effective customer support. One option is to create a support portal. A support portal houses frequently asked questions and answers, giving customers the option to find the solution on their own. This cuts out the manual, tedious work of a human answering the same question multiple times a day. These types of self-service features are on the rise – according to Microsoft, 77% of consumers report having used a self-service support portal. Take a look at TaxJar’s Knowledge Base for an example of how support portals can benefit users. 

Another option is utilizing chatbots. We’ve all seen these grow in popularity in the last few years. They often  appear in a corner of your screen as you navigate a website. In the same study, Microsoft found that ​​30% of U.S. consumers rate chatbot interactions as “very effective” in dealing with customer support problems. However, companies should approach chatbots with caution and thoughtfulness. A poor chatbot experience is common, and finding the right approach is essential. 

Ensure a fast, accurate checkout

Imagine this scenario: you’ve put in the hard work and nurtured your customer to the checkout page. Excellent. But then you lost them because your sales tax engine failed, or timed out. A stalled checkout is a nightmare-turned-reality for some online sellers. 

Speed is important when your customers are buying from your online store, and every millisecond matters. For example, every 1,000 millisecond or 1 second reduction in page load time for Walmart resulted in a 2% conversion rate increase. Every 100 milliseconds for Mobify resulted in a 1.11% conversion increase. 

A slow checkout can lead your customer to a competitor. Worse, your checkout could stall out completely, leaving your customers unable to check out. A lose-lose situation – the customer doesn’t get what they want, and all you’re left with is an abandoned shopping cart. TaxJar’s sales tax API clocks in at sub-20ms with 99.99% uptime, which means that your customers instantly see accurate tax data in their checkout view. Our e-commerce sales tax API and calculation engines scale seamlessly, maintaining the same speed and reliability no matter how many transactions are processed at once.

Explore new payment options and plans

According to Stripe, debit and credit cards are still the preferred method of payment in the U.S. However – for companies looking to grow and expand to new markets, it’s worth considering adding new payment methods to your checkout experience, since 40% of consumers outside the U.S. prefer to use a payment method other than a card, including bank transfers and digital wallets (such as Alipay, WeChat Pay, or Apple Pay). When a customer is willing and eager to provide payment for a product or service, they want the flexibility to pay on their terms. 

On that note, providing payment options such as buy now, pay later (BNPL), or buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), are great ways to give customers the freedom to shop how they want. The BNPL trend has taken off, with the amount of Gen Z shoppers in the U.S. taking advantage of BNPL services growing from 6% in 2019 to 36% in 2021

Conventional wisdom might have said that services like BOPIS or curbside delivery would fade in popularity once the pandemic ended, but the data shows otherwise. Since 2020, 40% of Americans have tried a new shopping method, and almost three-quarters of consumers who have tried curbside pickup, BOPIS or delivery intend to continue using these services post-pandemic. When it comes to payment options and plans, flexibility is the name of the game. The consumers have spoken, and they want to choose how they pay for goods and services and how they receive their purchases. 

Now is the time to plan for the future

The opportunities to better serve e-commerce customers are out there. For growing companies, it’s a matter of prioritizing what will bring the greatest impact to their e-commerce store. 

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