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The customer is king

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Kotex's awesome Pinterest campaign
Kotex's awesome Pinterest campaign

One mantra throughout much of the SuiteWorld 2012 conference in San Francisco — its e-commerce track at least — is the vital importance of user experience. If a user doesn't like your e-commerce site, they're not likely to buy. It's that simple.

This morning, NetSuite announced SuiteCommerce, an e-commerce platform that is usable for both b-to-b and b-to-c companies.

Then, during one afternoon session, Eric Johnson, a vertical markets expert for e-commerce at Netsuite, said that something as simple as how quickly a site loads greatly impacts whether a customer wants to buy something from it. Citing a Forrester study, Johnson said that 47% of customers expect a site to load in fewer than 2 seconds, while 40% of online users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Johnson said that through SuiteCommerce, retail e-commerce sites should take about half of a second to load. And that, he claims, is pretty darn quick.

During the morning keynote, it was noted that shoppers prefer guided navigation over keyword searches. Why? Because guided navigation, which includes selecting sizes and colors of items during discovery, for example, gives customers a way of finding what they think they already want, while still giving them (hopefully) lots of options. From there, it's possible to up-sell them, and to market to them based on their purchasing history.

Since starting work as the e-commerce reporter at Direct Marketing News, I've found my beat to be a particularly compelling topic. Online shopping is something all of us have experience with on a personal level, so it's interesting to hear the stats. Three seconds? I sure hope that my attention span online is longer than that! But, when I reflect, there are many of my abandoned shopping carts littered throughout the Web.

User experience really is key, and NetSuite claims that SuiteCommerce will put this topic front and center. Although time will tell how successful the platform is in terms of connecting CRM with e-commerce sites, it certainly seems a worthy investment.

Marketers, tip your developers and designers. They may be driving e-commerce even more than you think.

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