Once upon a time, a useful and appealing e-commerce site was nice to have. Digital transformation trends in retail have made an attractive online storefront a bare minimum.
With a larger percentage of sales likely to shift online over the long term, many retailers will need to retool their websites to maximize utility and make it as easy as possible for visitors to make a decision and place an order.
"Most retailers with roots in brick-and-mortar simply try to replicate their in-store experience online, but such efforts are fruitless and misguided," Denise Lee Yohn wrote in the Harvard Business Review in July.
Though some brick-and-mortar companies, such as Walmart and Target, have successfully cracked the top 10 online shopping sites, few retailers have the resources to match those giants. They might be better off focusing on strategies like the ones deployed by Glow Recipe, which uses its website to inform shoppers about the finer points of skincare.
In addition to a user-friendly website, first-class mobile apps are important for e-commerce. Most buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and curbside delivery customers don't ever enter the store; they place orders at home or even in the car en route to the pickup point. Retailers must also tighten security to keep customer data safe as retail transactions increasingly move online. A data breach could have devastating impacts on customers and on a business's brand image and bottom line.