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Apr 22, 2019
As a business that sells products online, you need a clear approach to achieve success whether starting a new shop, optimizing a current store, interested in growth or diversifying over some time period. We have witnessed what works as well as what does not work. Therefore, we have developed a list to help you accomplish favorable results. And the purpose of this guide is to provide pertinent information so that you can build and grow an exciting e-commerce business.
A strong online presence is required to sell tangible products over the Internet. However, the eCommerce market is already filled with a great deal of competition. Thus, it may be difficult to carve out some space for yourself. International companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Target are just a few of your competitors, as local and regional brands are also competing for your customers. For these reasons, it is paramount that your focus is on every single detail concerning your eCommerce website or mobile app.
Utilizing this guide gives a variety of details to help you contend with competitors and establish your online presence. So, it does not matter if you are a retailer who operates a brick and mortar business seeking to expand online, a business that operates only online, a startup interesting in engaging with consumers online, or somewhere in between, these tips are quite beneficial to reaching your objectives.
Whether you are constructing a totally new site or just making some modifications to an existing one, it is imperative that your website attracts the appropriate visitors to consume your products. The following best practices are very beneficial to increasing the conversion rate for your eCommerce operation. And also, these proven practices can help you generate more leads with additional sales revenue, adding to your net profit.
Websites with simple eCommerce designs achieve higher conversion rates. This actually matters because it may take less than five seconds for visitors to develop an opinion about your site. However, a poorly designed website or mobile app will not get your business recognized or recommended by most consumers. Simplicity here is referred to as the easy of use and layout of the site, including elements like the navigation and call-to-action.
Organize your eCommerce website to make it easy for your audience to find whatever they are looking for. Think about what you able to live without or better ways to organize the content. Also, ensure that there is some contrast between your headings, body copy, buttons, links, and other content. This helps your prospects with quick navigation.
Prioritize your most important content and sell it well. You may be tempted to include a bunch of links on your home page driven by concerns that potential customers may not otherwise be able to locate what they are seeking. The flaw with this approach to web design is that visitors can become so overwhelmed with the content on the home page, they decide to leave the website completely. Some helpful solutions to reduce a staggering number of links are:
Getting your prospects to take the actions that you would like upon visiting the site is your call-to-action (CTA). And therefore, you want a clear focal point that draws the eyes of your visitors directly to it. However, too much clutter distracts from them being able to identify your CTA. So, make this easy for potential customers to quickly locate it.
A great way to stay organized as well as grouping what you are selling is to use menus. However, too many menu categories can be confusing to your customers. This can prohibit site visitors from locating whatever they are trying to find. Your menus do not need to be incredibly specific. Rather, use broad category terms for your items.
For instance, if your e-commerce website sells items such as:
Instead of utilizing five separate menu options for the selections above, consider grouping them into a single category like “footwear.” Then, if you still want to further divide product offerings, subcategories or submenu choices can be applied. A great way to furnish valuable information about the products you sell is to add faceted search with proper filtering. This is an easy browsing format that makes it simple for your shoppers to filter, browse and shop, relative to their particular preferences. This is an example where customers can easily sort their shoe choice via the following options:
It is important to note that building faceted search along with proper product filtering into your navigation helps to skyrocket your sales. But as a warning, improperly setting up filtering to sort on color or price range could cause some SEO issues where duplicate URLs may be created, in which search engines may take somewhat longer to crawl updated or new content. Also, some pages may not get indexed correctly.
An aesthetically pleasing and well-designed site is a must have to create new opportunities, while expanding your business growth. While developing various elements, consider adding a search bar to your list. From the customer’s aspect, it often proves to be very important in satisfying the demand to quickly search for items. Amazingly, this simple rectangular search box makes an incredible difference in your website’s performance, given that customers of eCommerce websites have an affinity for utilizing the search bar to find what they are searching for.
Improve User Experience: A search bar truly improves the user experience by producing high-end results with a single click. This helps visitors to easily find items and services from your catalog while helping you to understand whatever customers are seeking to find and determining if you offer what they want.
Find New Keywords: Definitely, customers are different and have their own demands, giving rise to entering different keywords to locate items or services they desire. These search results allow you to find targeted keywords to include in your SEO strategy. This can be helpful in understanding the associated name or phase of the product or service which visitors mainly type into the search box to discover what they want.
Time-saving: The addition of a search bar enables visitors to check if your site offers what they want or need to buy, often resulting in saving them lots of time. The availability of a search box eliminates the need for customers to surf throughout your site, allowing them to easily land directly on the page they really want. There, it is imperative to utilize a search bar on your eCommerce website.
Although some sites have minimal choices, some of you have e-commerce sites with a great number of selections. You do not want to force users to scroll through the various choices randomly, as this will not enhance sales or improve conversion rates. As such, the best solution is to implement a search bar.
Web hosting should never be an afterthought if you run any part of your business online. Thus, consider investing in a quality web hosting service for your eCommerce website.
Security and Monitoring: Utilizing security and monitoring methods are necessary to project your eCommerce site from hackers. Looking at some numbers:
Although hackers are not always interested in your site, they are interested in hacking. It is common for hackers to set up complex search programs that are automated to detect any vulnerabilities and then use these unguarded entry points just to cause disruption or destroy your site. Utilizing a premium hosting service provides strengthened firewalls as well as built-in-server-side security that can thwart attacks and security breaches. Additionally, the service should provide proactive security monitoring where scanning is done continuously to discover attacks and vulnerabilities. If something goes wrong or your website is compromised, you will be notified, but you may need to find someone to fix it.
Better performance: Several premium web hosting service companies have developed proprietary caching technology enabling sites to load faster. Also, they have created content delivery networks (CDN) which are large distributed systems composed of servers deployed in numerous data centers spread across the Internet, which delivers the content of your site to users with speed and high availability. This is crucial in attracting and keeping visitors. Furthermore, this is helpful to your business and good for SEO purposes since load speed is a critical factor in the way that Google ranks web pages.
Speed is surely an important element for any successful e-commerce website. To yield high conversions each page really needs to load fast. However, if you try to save money by purchasing a budget web hosting plan, this will be costly in the long run. Having a website that loads pages slowly is not good. However, it is worse when your site glitches, produce error reports, or crashes. This is why it is worth the investment to spend on a premium web hosting service now, to avoid having to deal with these headaches later.
Creating an account issue: Having to create an account is the top reason that customers abandon the checkout process. Even some top e-commerce sites start their checkout with a simple question such as are you a new customer or are you a returning customer? To have the best checkout design, you want to avoid putting up barriers at the very start. Sometimes, having a customer start by creating an account or remembering an old password causes cart abandonment. Remarkably, about 37% of cart abandonment is affiliated with customers needing to create an account in order to check out.
Frequently, users tend to rebel against the requirement to sign up for online accounts, as they have needed to do so on many other sites. Some notable reasons are wanting to avoid giving out personal data or information too freely, concerns about receiving junk emails, or just being disinterested in taking the time. All of these factors contribute to lost sales. Permitting customers to check out as guests are enormously helpful and convenient in presenting the best type of checkout design.
Consider leaving a register/login link as an option that is above the checkout, but you want to avoid using it as a staging or gating process. If preferably, you may actually want to leave this option at the very end, similar to what Lowe’s does. With this approach, you will have already captured the information that you need for an account to be created anyway.
Remember that the key is to only get the essential information that is needed by the buyer. So, avoid requesting personal information that is not needed such as the maiden name of their mother or other information like their favorite place to vacation or their favorite movie. Request their shipping address and billing information, which is generally all that you need to actually process a transaction.
Checkout length issue: This is the second most contributing issue. Many eCommerce website owners neglect this essential aspect which is very significant in the checkout process. Frequently, customers find the checkout to be a primary choke point where a considerable quantity of them do not go beyond the first step. At a rate of 28%, U.S. online shoppers have chosen to abandon a shopping cart because the checkout process was complicated or just too long. This is a huge issue for numerous eCommerce checkouts.
A practical rule for checkouts is to simplify the process, meaning the fewer pages, the better. Some distinguished websites like Apple and Bonobos have their whole checkout process on one page. However, sites that extend their checkouts across multiple pages can easily add a progress bar to substantially contribute to customer retention. A progress bar contributes to your customers feeling like they are more in control while providing a sense of transparency and progression.
Certainly, you want buyers to get through your eCommerce website checkout process as fast as possible. This is the very reason why you really need to offer customers a guest checkout option without forcing them to create a profile. Once visitors have added items to their shopping cart, provide an opportunity for users to finalize the transaction by offering a guest checkout option. However, you can still encourage customers to create a profile.
For instance, during the checkout process where some sites allow the consumer to review the order, guests can actually see the express checkout button. However, they are unable to use it. That is because the option is reserved for those visitors who set up profiles. Thus, users with profiles can get through the checkout process much faster, because all their information has been saved in their account. These types of subtle features help to encourage profile sign-ups with almost no pressure or annoyance.
Whenever a user sets up an account or profile, even if nothing is purchased you are able to tell when an item is added to their cart. Do not ignore this because you will miss out on making sales. Quite often, visitors are just one click away in completing the transaction. Obviously, these customers were considering purchasing the item since they chose to add this to their shopping cart. As a reminder, send an email to the shopper about the item, which may be the push needed to finalize the sale.
For this reason, an abandonment cart email campaign happens to be one of the most valuable marketing resources. Around 77% of Internet shopping carts get abandoned annually, which provides an opportunity for eCommerce businesses to recover lots of revenue. Also, a slow website may increase cart abandonment by 75%, while dropping customer loyalty to about 50%.
Although there are some variables that you can tweak to get the most out conversions from “shopping cart abandoned” emails, the most important trigger is to get the timing process right. The fundamental point is to reach these customers when they are the most receptive based on consumer buying behavior. Just like you can send an email too soon, it is possible to send an email too late. There are optimal time windows when people are most receptive to receiving an abandonment cart email. Contacting these individuals too soon often leads to lower conversions, while waiting too long produces even worse results.
Sending a “shopping cart abandonment” email an hour after a customer’s last interaction increases conversion rates the most on your eCommerce website. That is because the timing does not interfere with visitors who were planning to return without encouragement and your email is sent to consumers before they choose to purchase elsewhere.
Although the first email has the highest effectiveness, it does not capture all of the sales revenue left by shopping cart abandonment. A significant amount of revenue is recovered when you follow up with visitors who do not buy the item after the first email. Thus, the most effective “shopping cart abandonment” email campaign is composed of a series of emails, which sustains contact with these customers until the order is finalized. For continued results, send a second email 24 hours later, and then a third email three days later to those who still have not completed the purchasing process.
It is not always easy for customers who desire what you are selling to navigate their way directly to your eCommerce website. Notably, 46% of consumers begin the purchasing process via a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If your website is not in the top search engine results, consumers are likely to buy from a competitor of yours. Hence, it is imperative that you use a focused approach to search engine optimization (SEO). So, put in the required effort to get into the top rankings of Google and other search engines to help with selling your brand or anything else.
For websites, search engine optimization is considered as low-hanging fruit, even though SEO and content marketing potentially have the highest return on investment (ROI) relative to any eCommerce marketing campaign. Despite this fact, most online sites are built with little, if any consideration of optimizing for the search engines. Most online businesses rely on paid ads or social media. They are certainly great marketing strategies, but these avenues require continuous effort and a constant stream of funding.
The impressive thing about SEO is that it only requires initial effort up front, and once you rank, sales are practically made on autopilot without recurring expenses. SEO may sound somewhat simple, but it takes lots of meticulous work. But think about the recurring, free, high-converting traffic.
Most likely, even the people that visit your e-commerce website frequently are not purchasing something on a daily basis. However, your best customers may only shop on your site a few times a month. But the more visitors you have, the more chances exist for users to spend money. So, in addition to running your e-commerce site, you can operate a blog, which is an excellent way to develop a strong following. Having a blog can give consumers the rationale to visit your site more often, even daily or weekly, presenting the opportunity to make more sales.
Blogging has turned into a significant marketing strategy, which may be characterized as “content marketing.” Content creation such as blog posts are very effective in driving traffic to your service or product pages. This is really helpful because content:
Running a blog on your eCommerce shop can be like a full-time job. But remember that blogging content can deliver great benefits where the primary benefit is search engine optimization. As stated earlier, the idea is to utilize content which helps with rankings in Google’s top results. Although traffic can come from many sources, some well-known digital channels are search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as social media, and building email lists generated from content on your site and other campaigns. By blogging, this can help consumers find your product when they search online.
To ensure that your e-commerce website is successful, you need lots of consumers who are ready to make purchases. Building an email list is an excellent option that can be used to help drive traffic to your site. After you have gotten subscribers to sign-up with their email address, now you may contact them while offering special discounts and promotions where these enticements create an urge to buy.
A fantastic way to add subscribers is by collecting email addresses as customers checkout. Within the checkout process, add a default box that is already checked. Your shoppers will have to uncheck this option if they prefer to avoid being added to your subscriber list. After these individuals are on your subscriber list, this presents a good opportunity to send personalized email offers, permitting you to drive traffic to the site, leading to increased sales. Also, you may want to offer some kind of incentive for consumers to sign up to receive emails, perhaps offering a discount on their next purchase.
Whether or not visitors have a Visa or MasterCard, customers have their preferred method of payment. Actually, alternative payment methods or credit card preferences may be due to having better membership incentives or maybe those cards are maxed out.
Sure, some credit card companies do charge somewhat higher merchant transaction fees than others. But you may still want to consider accepting other credit cards such as American Express and Discover. Additionally, your e-commerce website will benefit from accepting alternative options like PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.
At the start, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out the best ways of accepting credit cards online, while selecting the payment processors that are right for your eCommerce site. If you accept credit cards, this can be a major part of the lifeblood within your online operation, which is a necessary cost you need to consider when selling over the Internet. If you are unable to properly take online payments, your business is generally over before you even get started.
It is important to properly take payments online because:
Aside from fees, fraud, and conversion issues, it is possible to squander your ability to expand into international markets depending on your credit card processing choice. So, take some time to do comparison shopping to allow yourself to make the best choice as a solution in accepting debit as well as credit card payments. In any case, also consider alternative payment options like Stripe, PayPal, etc.
Your product descriptions are written explanations to market the items to consumers to inform them why a specific product is worth buying. The goal of product descriptions is to supply visitors to your website with pertinent information that is akin to the benefits and features of the item in a brief way that compels them to buy.
Product descriptions may seem somewhat like minor aspects of your eCommerce website relative to the encompassing scheme of conversion optimization. Unfortunately, many brands brush this aside as though descriptions hold little value. But when production descriptions are well-written, this is a superb way of sprinkling some brand personality where most consumers are pleasantly surprised.
Therefore, every product on your site should have an informative description since it is nearly impossible to something only by its name. Keep your descriptions short and get straight to the point. So, avoid having huge chunks of text clumped together. There is no need to discuss how the item was made or its entire history, as sales are not driven by this. But it practical to explain how the item works, while highlighting key benefits. Consider using bullet points, which will allow visitors to quickly scan through and read the description.
Avoid using your e-commerce website as a digital stage where other brands are allowed to buy advertising space. Of course, you may obtain some additional income, but note that those ads are unappealing to visitors and may turn a large number of them away. Generally, popups and sidebar ads look spammy. Being fearful of getting redirected to some untrustworthy site, customers are often afraid to click anywhere on your site because of these sponsored ads.
Consumers all across the globe view sponsored ads negatively. In the United States, 82% of consumers state that these ads are disruptive and devalue their online shopping experience. So, to help improve your chances of increasing sells, remove all ads. Having this additional blank space will also reduce clutter on your site.
By the way, it has been documented over several years that online advertising is a burden to the user experience. Many online advertising techniques are found to be extremely annoying to site visitors, an attitude that remains constant year after year. Users have developed “banner blindness” since online ads can be vastly irritating, which is a defense mechanism that helps to lessen this annoyance. From a web design point of view, ads are like poison that destroy the honest nature of designers looking to display their elegant visual designs and highly useful page elements.
Quality customer service is a must for companies in all industries. Certainly, that rings true for e-commerce. It can be somewhat challenging to build an eCommerce business that is really successful. In succeeding or not, customer support can make such an enormous difference.
As you probably know, all transactions that take place on your eCommerce website will not go as smooth as preferred. Anticipate that customers will ask questions and need issues resolved. When a user is having some problem like locating an item or troubleshooting a previously purchased product, you want to ensure assistance can be provided relatively quick. Thus, providing support via readily available customer service options can show consumers some high-level comfort and quality experiences through delivering responses by:
Also, these options enable customers to contact your brand via their preferred communication method. Furthermore, make sure your accessible customer service options are welcoming and friendly. Moreover, encourage your staff to resolve matters efficiently and effectively by addressing training needs and introducing practical policies that detail appropriate customer service etiquette. And avoid keeping consumers on hold.
The best way to tell if your e-commerce website is set up to convert into sales at the highest possible rate is to run tests, and then analyze the results. By running A/B tests regularly, a better understanding is achieved concerning what design elements work best. For instance, you can adjust your call-to-action (CTA) placement, the button color, or its phrasing. To mention another initiative, you can determine which landing pages drive the most sales. According to the outcome of the test, the necessary adjustments can be made to increase your probability of success.
It is common to struggle with setting up A/B tests initially, even if only one element is changed and compared to the original element. This is usually due to not knowing how to set up the test, what tools to use, or knowing when the test is over. Generally, A/B testing is run over one business cycle. That may be a week or perhaps a month, which depends on the way your operation is set up.
Mobile e-commerce, also called m-commerce is continuing to rise. As a result, several retailers have integrated some type of mobile technology into their system, which includes mobile sites and apps. A vast number of North American retail executives have reported through surveys that indeed their companies have implemented a mobile website or mobile app. In fact, 60% have deployed a mobile site where over half of the remaining executives are planning to build one.
To get some idea of the way mobile eCommerce is taking hold, buying through tablets and smartphones actually accounted for about 34.5% of total sales regarding eCommerce in 2017. And this number is expected to rise to 53.9% during 2021, surpassing desktops as the preferred device that consumers use to shop online. As such, it is paramount that your e-commerce website is mobile-friendly.
Due to faster Internet speeds and better technology, consumer expectations are constantly growing. Sellers who are unable to keep pace with this changing environment are likely to see their sales suffer as a result. So, the longer you wait to optimize your website in terms of making it mobile friendly, the chances increase that you will be worse off given the likelihood of declining sales.
Additionally, your e-commerce site should be optimized to seamlessly integrate with mobile devices because, in 2018, 62% of consumers who owned a smartphone or tablet made online purchases. Therefore, you do not want to exclude mobile shoppers since they make up a large percentage of the buying population. To extend upon your mobile presence, you may want to consider creating a mobile app for your eCommerce company as well.
Adding a mobile app to your business is a great way to personalize the shopping experience for consumers. Plus, you can still save user information like their shipping address and payment options. Saving this information allows customers to get through the checkout process and complete purchases within a few clicks without having to enter credit card information for each transaction.
Try to avoid charging shoppers for shipping items that they purchase from your eCommerce website. Unexpected costs top the list as the rationale for shopping cart abandonment. When consumers see a specific price on one page, but during checkout additional fees appear, this causes pause, and many shoppers will bolt from your site.
Of course, shoppers know they may have to pay taxes, but having to pay shipping costs too is what tends to drive customers to abandon the purchase. To minimize this concern, offering consumers free shipping is definitely one of the best ways. As probably suspect, someone has to pay. Therefore, shipping is never free. If you choose to provide free shipping, there are some options:
Perhaps, you may also consider offering free shipping on orders that total a set minimum amount. Using this strategy helps offset shipping costs by increasing the average order size, although you are the one paying the cost of shipping out of your margins.
Partnering with “brand influencers” is an excellent way to drive traffic and increase sales to help make your eCommerce wesite a success. Brand influencers such as celebrities or someone that has a strong following on social media can help establish credibility by endorsing your site, making it seem more legitimate. Obviously, this particular marketing strategy is not free. However, it can lead to high returns.
If you are a recent startup or a business that has a small advertising budget, most likely your company cannot afford to have a celebrity endorse your product. However, social media has enabled new classes of influencers to gain marketing power. Social media influencers are not quite as expensive as celebrity endorsers.
Influencers will feature your brand or products within their posts, allowing you to reach a larger audience through their followers. They usually have specialties and well-defined niches that contribute to getting your brand recognized by consumers who are most interested. Just be sure to work with a social media influencer related to your industry.
Site visitors of an e-commerce website cannot touch and feel items in the same manner as they experience when going to a physical store. Patrons of online stores rely heavily on the images presented to them in determining whether to buy a product or not. For this reason, you should take high-quality photos from all angles of every product that you have to sell. This is a tedious but necessary process. Also, add functions that allow shoppers to highlight and zoom in on top benefits and features.
So, the days of posting just a single photo, a price tag with a few bullet points are gone. Consumers like viewing products from different angles and being used in different environments. As stated earlier, customers like being able to zoom in and out on an item to get a better feel.
Additionally, technical considerations are crucial for images. According to Adobe, sites that have photos which do not load properly or too slow will experience an average customer drop-off rate of 39%. Although text helps to sell the product, high-resolution images close the deal. Furthermore, your product photos need to be optimized for page loading.
High-quality images and product descriptions are great at grabbing the attention of buyers. But this is not always enough. Depending on what your eCommerce website is selling, a demonstration may be required, and adding a video is an excellent way to illustrate the use of products.
It is worth noting, 90% of consumers report that videos are instrumental in determining whether to purchase a product, according to Forbes. In addition to high-resolution photos and product descriptions, added imagery and information in video can make it much easier for shoppers to see how your product works.
Furthermore, e-commerce retailers that are not utilizing product videos as a component of their multimedia and marketing strategy in our current digital age are falling behind, while competitors are gaining technological advantages. There are several benefits that eCommerce videos offer. Aside from generating larger profits through higher conversion rates and product sales, videos are very effective in helping to improve search engine optimization, and also customer engagement and visibility on social media, websites, and advertisements.
Moreover, videos regarding e-commerce may captivate the attention of shoppers differently that photos, especially the coveted demographics of Millennials and Generation Z. Video has always been part of growing up for these individuals and they relate well to it.
Although eCommerce videos may be perfect for product illustrations, you can use them to highlight various aspects of your business, such as special sales, promotions, and events. Videos that are produced for the purpose of eCommerce may differ from videos created for other niches by requiring specific techniques or approaches.
It is imperative to include reviews and testimonials on your eCommerce website. Adding these are wonderful ways to provide credibility and trust to your brand and products. Consider sending a follow-up email after a shopper makes a purchase, requesting that they review the purchased item. But remember purchasers need time to use the product, so allow them some time before asking for feedback.
Products that people are likely to use immediately, ask for a review 2 or 3 days after the delivery date. Phones and chargers are a couple of examples since they are often replacement items or purchased as backups. Lifestyle products such as headphones take a little more time to experience to determine if the user likes the sound or battery life. So, solicit some feedback 5 to 7 days upon delivery. Health and beauty products such as supplements or make-up require longer evaluation times, so waiting 2 to 4 weeks is appropriate before asking for a review.
Not every customer will like your products, which may seem somewhat scary. No one really likes negative comments, especially when they are on public display and could potentially damage your brand. Virtually every brand receives a few bad reviews. One significance of negative reviews is they really make your positive reviews stand out.
And positively speaking, this shows shoppers that the testimonials and reviews are trustworthy and legitimate on your eCommerce site. So, a small number of negative remarks may actually make the positive reviews appear more powerful and genuine.
It takes considerable commitment and effort to run a successful eCommerce website. However, there are several tasks that can be done to greatly improve the amount of traffic your site receives to increase conversions and drive sales. It is unlikely that you will be able to implement all the above strategies instantly. Be patient, keeping working, and get web design services to help where you need it from a qualified web design company or web development company.