The state of e-commerce in 2016 and what you can learn from it

Hands holding credit card and using laptop. Online shopping

2016 was a great year for e-commerce. According to BI Intelligence, U.S. consumers will have spent a total of $385 billion in online purchases by year’s end. In fact, all signs point to an even healthier increase in e-commerce in the years to come. Here are a few more important numbers online retailers should be aware of:

  • E-commerce spending grew by 16 percent over the first six months in 2016, while it was only 2 percent for total retail.
  • There were 20 million more online shoppers in 2016 than in 2015.
  • There were 115 million more online transactions in 2016 than in the previous year.

While this spells good news for online retailers, this also means that now is not the time to rest on your laurels. With a healthier e-commerce space comes an increase in competition as others move online. So what do you do?

With numbers on the rise now is the time to make sure your e-commerce website really shines. Here are seven ways to optimize your site for a better customer experience—and for an even more prosperous 2017 for your business.

1. Secure Your Site

First and foremost: secure your site with an SSL certificate. Google will penalize unsecured HTTP websites—especially e-commerce sites that accept sensitive customer information—starting in 2017.

2. Check Your Speed

According to Kissmetrics, 79 percent of customers will stop shopping from a website if site performance is lacking. Plan on decreasing site abandonment by optimizing for speed. Use Google’s free PageSpeed testing tool to identify problematic areas on your site.

3. Make It Mobile

A study done by IBM says 53 percent of online traffic stems from smartphones. If you’re unsure as to whether your site’s design is responsive or if it’s running at maximum capacity on mobile, use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to find out. If you have the funds to do it, consider building a completely separate mobile website.

4. Wow Them with Photos

If you’re running an e-commerce shop, images mean everything to your soon-to-be customers. Take high-quality photos of your merchandise and showcase them in the best light. Consider the following:

  • Stay away from stock photography
  • Use photos that play into customers’ emotions
  • Provide alternate views of your products
  • Use colors that get more attention
  • Optimize images for search

5. Update the Navigation

Review your customer funnel (the path people typically take through your site) and see if you can make changes to the navigation that will help them cut out unnecessary steps.

6. Be More Concise

Did you know that 27 percent of U.S. shoppers have abandoned online purchases because checkout took too long or was too complicated? Simpler is always better. Remove the excess on your site and decrease unnecessary abandonment by either using fewer pages (but more steps per page) for forms and at checkout, or use fewer steps per page (but more pages).

7. Review Your Policies

Are your shipping and returns policies easy to find on your e-commerce website? Easy to understand? Since these policies help manage the customer experience and expectations, you’ll want to make sure this information is clear, concise and easy to find no matter where a shopper is on your site.

Retail sales are swinging strongly in favor of e-commerce as we move into 2017. The key to continual success in this space will lie in what you’re able to accomplish with your website.

About Endicia

Endicia is a leading provider of internet-based postage services that make it easier and more affordable to ship parcels through the U.S. Postal Service®. We know that shipping can be complex and our goal is to simplify your shipping operations so you can focus on doing what you do best. Visit us at www.endicia.com to learn more.

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