5 Strategies for Using Market Research to Improve E-commerce Sales

By the Editors

The rate of innovation, transactions, and evolution in e-commerce is largely unrivaled. Digital commerce moves at a speed unknown in many other retail formats. The customer experience is a central part of a successful e-commerce operation. If a single detail is off, a customer can simply open another browser window and make their purchase with a competitor. Market research helps merchants understand customer expectations and break down a customer’s experience to stay ahead of trends, build loyalty, and convert buyers time and time again. Here are 5 areas to help you get started with using market research to improve your conversions and your profits.

Strengthen your differentiation: Health businesses are a great example of why differentiation is key in e-commerce. The market is saturated with major players in distinct segments ranging from fitness to nutrition to supplements. Tens of thousands of players battle for customer attention. Building a brand and customer experience that immediately conveys to a visitor how you are different and better than the competition is critical. Test elements of your brand with potential customers. When they land on your page, do they immediately understand the products or services you’re selling? Can they articulate what makes your products or services different from the competition? (Hint: You should be articulating that for them, and making it easy for them to find).

Upgrade your marketing: A/B testing can help you continuously refine your marketing and messaging to increase conversions. Different headlines, layouts, color schemes, pricing models, offers, and copy can have a dramatic impact on how customers perceive and purchase your products. Developing an ongoing, site-wide A/B testing program is an important cornerstone of an e-commerce marketing plan.

Simplify your check-out process: When a potential customer lands on your site, is it immediately obvious to them how to take the next step and buy? One of the biggest complaints in e-commerce transactions is a complex check-out process. Live testing of your process with shoppers can quickly surface areas for improvements, and regular customer service satisfaction surveys will keep your performance metrics fresh.

Check-in on your selection: It can be easy to assume that you are offering a full product selection. But do you know what variations your customers are looking for? Would expanding the size, model, or color selection you offer convert to more sales? If you specialize in a specific niche, would expanding the brands you carry attract more customers? Use market research to more thoroughly understand the marketplace and maximize your sales through carefully selected product offerings.

Develop deeper customer archetypes: One of the advantages of a brick and mortar operation is that you can see your customer; you can interpret subtle clues as a result of face to face interactions. You learn a lot through idle chitchat, can silently observe shopping behaviors, and ask critical follow up questions at any time. E-commerce is a far more impersonal experience. Market research can help put you in touch with the concerns, demographics, and important trends of the audiences you’re trying to reach. For example, if you serve working moms, it’s easy to assume that they are focused on how difficult it is to achieve balance. But more in-depth research may reveal unexpected benefits for that segment that can be incorporated into your marketing efforts. Take the time to touch base with your customers (or potential customers) and learn more about them, how they use your product, and perceptions that influence buying behavior.