In today’s world, customer convenience is one of the most important services you can offer shoppers. Customers want a smooth shopping experience with options that go beyond product selection. By streamlining the online shopping experience, you can inspire more web sales and ensure customers will come back again.
We have collected five best practices that will help you improve your online customer experience.
5 College Store eCommerce Best Practices
- Responsive web design
Without responsive web design, it is nearly impossible for shoppers to have a great experience on your site. We live in a mobile world. Most shoppers will not only experience your site from their desktop or laptop computers. Many will use tablets or phones for their online shopping. If the site doesn’t adjust to fit the screen, then customers can easily become frustrated with the site and leave to look elsewhere.
“Responsive web design is huge. Some of our students don’t have a laptop. They will look at our site from a device. That user experience needs to be good or they will get frustrated. The quality of the technology MBS provides really helps us have clear communication with students and provide them with the level of service they expect from the store. I would suggest looking over every inch of the technology you have and use the tools available to you,” said NWTC Bookstore and The Buzz Coffee Shop Manager Gretchen Bonnema.
Read more about how the NWTC Bookstore prepared for the fall term by updating their college retail eCommerce site.
- Order fulfillment options
Customer shopping preferences vary. To improve customer convenience, many college stores have expanded their order fulfillment options to give shoppers the ability to choose the best method for them. Shipping orders to customer homes, dorm delivery, in-store pickup, curbside pickup or any other variation of delivery give every customer the option to pick what is most convenient and comfortable to them. This level of thoughtful service helps demonstrate how college bookstores put the students first.
“We will offer a form of free shipping, curbside assistance and in-store pickup. We are going to add all of these extra services so students can choose what level of interaction they are comfortable with. They can come into the store to get their books directly, have them delivered to their home, order and pick up the books, or drive up and have us bring them out. I think the variety of services will be well received by students. It’s really all about convenience. This whole situation has evolved the services we offer,” said Southeast Technical College Bookstore Manager Jason Skiff.
Read more about how the Southeast Technical College Bookstore adapted to improve student service and convenience.
- Payment options
Another way to improve student convenience online is to ensure that they have the same payment options as they would in the store. By streamlining SFA usage online, students will choose to shop on your eCommerce site rather than with competitors. Look at how you can expand student payment options to make it simple for students to purchase from you.
“About 80 percent of the students on our campus receive financial aid or assistance with their books. We had to evaluate how we continue to operate our business and serve students that are receiving vouchers. We worked with MBS to add that form of payment on our website. A student can pay with a credit card or now they can pay with a voucher,” said Delta College Bookstore Auxiliary Services Operations Supervisor Michael Williams.
Read more about how Delta College Bookstore strengthens campus relationships.
- Get creative with online events
Limited store capacity doesn’t mean you have to abandon the bookstore events you hold every year. Look at your traditional yearly events and make a plan for how you can still offer them online. By utilizing preorders, promo codes or live social media events, you can build web traffic and increase sales.
“Well, as you know, most stores are closed to foot traffic. We still wanted to do our annual Apple® event, but in order to do that, it had to be through online order pickup, or we could ship orders directly to customers’ homes. We found a lot of people still wanted the store experience. Even though they weren't coming inside the store, they liked that they were able to drive up to the store and talk to someone. It gave them a chance to ask questions like what adapter they needed. We were able to help them outside,” said University of Utah Campus Store Associate Director Alex Parra.
Read more about how the University of Utah Campus Store brought in more than $1 million in sales with their curbside bookstore event.
- Abandoned cart reminder emails
One challenge for online shopping is it is easy to get distracted and forget to complete your checkout. Set up a system to help convert those abandoned online shopping carts into sales. With an automatic email reminder, you can give those hesitant customers the extra push they need to make a purchase. Also, consider offering customers an extra incentive in the abandoned cart email. A promo code for 10% off or free shipping might be enough to significantly increase abandoned cart conversions.
“The email is automatic. We don’t have to do anything. It is set to send after one week. Just a single email reminder that says ‘Hey, you put this in your cart and never came back,’” said UMBC Bookstore Director Erin McGonigle.
Read more about how the UMBC Bookstore increased their online sales with savvy marketing.