Last month’s issue of Internet Retailer included a feature on GourmetGiftBaskets.com, which ranked as the fastest-growing web-only merchant in the annual listing of the 500 largest online retailers. GourmetGiftBaskets grew 172%, from $4.4 million in 2007 to $12 million in 2008 – pretty impressive for what was a tough year for most companies.
Interestingly, they don’t credit this surge to expanded marketing, but rather to improvements in customers’ online experience. These include:
Improved navigation. More intuitive organization, a “shop by category” section and a better internal search tool all combined to make it easier for customers to navigate the site.
Sharper photography. Hero shots of every product and a zoom feature made it much easier for customers to see what they were getting.
Comprehensive product information. For instance, at customers’ requests, serving or package sizes were added to every item.
Speedier checkout. Enhancements were made to minimize the number of steps required for checkout.
More customer control. New tools allowed customers to specify delivery dates and select the lowest cost shipping option for that date.
I’m not suggesting that you rush out and copy these changes. I am suggesting that making it as easy as possible for customers to browse your site and buy can make a far bigger difference in your bottom line than you might ever imagine. Before ramping up your prospecting efforts, make sure that you’ve fine-tuned what you’re already doing, or you could be leaving a lot of cash on the table.