How to increase Web Purchases to Build Revenue: Beef up the effectiveness of e-commerce strategy using LEAN

shopping-cartLooking to ensure a more successful shopping experience for customers to build more loyalty, trust and revenue? Then take a closer look at LEAN methodologies to reduce or eliminate waste in your company’s e-commerce processes, just as they have improved production processes for years.

Research has shown e-commerce shoppers will tend to return to web sites that are easy to use, provide clear communication, such as visibility to availability to stock, and offer quick, reliable fulfillment cycle times. Proven LEAN methodologies can beef up the effectiveness of your e-commerce strategy.

Waste can cause customers to leave your site

By applying value-stream mapping techniques to the actual processes shoppers use while navigating your web site for placing orders, you can identify areas with waste — such as delays or waiting time due to extra clicks or lack of information — that may cause a potential customer to leave your site.

For example, one of our clients required its customers to conduct a fairly confusing search of a large product catalog to identify specific parts or products by unique, eight-digit numbers in order to make a specific purchase. The catalog was poorly organized and required a remote call to a separate program and database that caused considerable delay/latency in response to the customer inquiry on the site. This delay often caused many would-be customers to drop off/leave the site in search of an easier alternative.

Reduced cycle time can speed up delivery

The solution for this client was to reduce cycle time by also embedding a shorter catalog using abbreviated product numbers correlated to a menu organized by the most commonly searched product categories. By doing this, customers were able to more quickly find most popular products and place them in their shopping cart for check out. The result was a substantial increase in the number of site visitors that actually made purchases versus those visitors who left the site without purchasing.

Applying LEAN to the fulfillment process for e-commerce orders can also help identify areas of waste and speed up the delivery cycle.

Get started by mapping processes

The first step in the process is mapping out the actual processes in a value-stream map. It is useful to bring up the web site and select a “mock shopper” in your company to actually go through the motions of placing several different types of orders.

Pay attention to areas where delays/waiting exist (extra clicks required) and areas of confusion where a lack in clarity of information exists. For example, is a customer required to know and enter a detailed and specific product/part number to conduct a search or place an order?

With your business and IT teams, discuss and analyze a variety of alternatives to solve the problem – eliminate or reduce the waste. Often, simplification and/or better data integration within the web site can eliminate and reduce these wastes to increase the effectiveness of the web site and e-commerce strategy.

Where is the “waste” in your customers’ web site shopping experience?

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