A good e-commerce website attracts visitors and converts them into buyers. The goal may sound very simple, but designing such an online shop is not that easy. While designing an e-commerce website, you must think like a buyer and try to include things that a buyer would love to see in a virtual market.
We have covered some important facets of the online business, which include, driving traffic to the website, being responsive to customer feedback, the importance of being perceived as an expert in whatever you are retailing, converting potential buyers into customers and then inducing repeat sales from these customers.
Here are some really important tips that will help you develop an eye-catching, engaging, sales-oriented and conversion-friendly website.
Target The Right Audience
There is a particular segment of customers for each type of product. For example, if you sell high-end liquor online, your target customers belong to the higher strata of the society but if you sell books, your target customers belong to every age group and every strata of the society.
Shopping is an emotional decision and once you have a fair idea of your target customers, their likes and dislikes, you must design the site accordingly. Remember, there are other e-commerce websites offering same type of products and only better understanding of consumers’ psychology can help you run a successful business.
Maintain Simple Navigation
Users should be able to navigate from one page to other with ease. Provide a drop-down menu for each product category and offer breadcrumbs to help visitors understand their current location inside the site and see the path they followed to reach the current position.
High Resolution Product Images
Always upload the best quality product images to lure customers. Prospective buyers can’t touch the products when they shop online and thus, the images must give them a realistic feel. Make sure the images are zoomable and allow the visitors to view the product from different angles.
Elaborate And Interesting Product Information
Product information should engage the readers. You must provide enough information about each product in your site to make sure buyers don’t have any doubt or question in their mind.
Have A Call To Action
While it may not be very obvious, but a call to action can do wonders in increasing the number of sale conversions on your website.
Use Call-to-action Images
Call-to-action buttons are a must for every e-commerce website, but how about some call-to-action images to grab customers’ attention? Embed some images in the product pages that will encourage buyers to click on the “add to cart” button.
Upload Product Videos
Product videos are even better than product images. Therefore, create short-time videos for each product and tell buyers what benefits they can enjoy by buying those items. For example, if you are selling anti-virus software, use a video to explain the installation process and how such software protect a PC from virus and hackers.
Shopping Cart Visibility
Make sure the shopping cart is visible at all times. Place the shopping cart icon at the top right corner of the site and let users check their attractive shopping cart information in detail by clicking on the icon.
Free shipping can boost sales significantly because customers don’t like to pay for doorstep delivery. However, completely free shipping can decrease your profit margin and thus, you should mention a certain billing amount that would make one eligible for free shipping.
Featured Products On The Landing Page
Some customers have no idea what they need and they only decide what they want to buy after seeing the items you are offering. Therefore, put the featured products on the landing page to help customers take a faster buying decision.
Highlight Offers And Discounts
If you are offering special offers or heavy discounts, feature the news on the homepage to increase conversion rate. Customers should be aware of the special offers as soon as they land on your site.
Display Contact Info
Buyers may have some questions on their mind; they can have complaints regarding the items they bought as well. Therefore, you should make sure that the contact information (phone, e-mail, live chat) is accessible from any page of your site.
Single Page Check-out
Don’t make the check-out and payment process too elaborate. Keep it simple, short and secure.
Several Payment Options
Some buyers either don’t have a credit card or think that sharing credit card details online is not a wise decision. Therefore, you must offer multiple payment options to help buyers pay in any way they feel comfortable. You can offer credit card, online banking, cash-on-delivery and other options for better user experience.
Avoid Hidden Charges
Buyers hate hidden charges. If you increase the total amount of their shopping cart at the time of checkout, by adding “gift wrap”, “express delivery” etc., customers will be frustrated and may leave the site immediately.
Therefore, if you want to make more money, tell customers what they can do and let them decide. Some customers may actually choose “express delivery” and pay the extra amount, but since they are taking a conscious decision, they won’t feel cheated.
Advanced Search Facility
Providing just a search tool is not good enough. You must embed a search tool that offers filtering facility to help users identify the desired product faster. For example, if a user searches for “mobile phones”, he should be able to filter the results using “price”, “OS” and “brand” filters.
The overall content of the website must be catchy. Whether it’s the “contact us” page or the “sign up” page, visitors must find it interesting. Use lucid language and keep the tone informal to make everyone feel welcome on your e-commerce website.
Customers are always afraid of hackers and data leaks when they shop online. Therefore, implement stringent security measures to ensure complete protection of users’ data. Highlighting certifications like SSL help you earn customers’ trust.
It’s a great method to decide how you should present something on the website. For example, you can create the “Buy Now” button in red and green colors and test users’ response. If the result shows that majority of customers liked the green button and the CTR rate was high, you can start using green colored “Buy Now” buttons in your website to increase conversion rate.
Analyze The UI
Before launching the e-commerce website, you should analyze the user interface thoroughly to make sure there are no usability issues. Take feedback from other people in your team and make the necessary changes. The user interface should be simple enough for first-time online buyers.
Present the products in an organized manner and help users get exactly what they need. For example, you can create a broad category named “cell phones” in your site and keep several sub-categories like “budget phones”, “multimedia phones”, “smartphones”, etc. under it.
Attractive User Interface But Simple Navigation
Make the user interface as attractive as possible, but be careful that you do not make the navigation too complicated. The customer’s experience should be as effortless as possible.
Now, when a visitor selects a smartphone model, you can display “related items” with it to increase sales. For example, if someone visits the iPhone 5S page, you can show some cases and screen protectors to help the buyer get all the necessary accessories without additional searching.
Today people share everything on social-media. Everything from one’s location to what one has for breakfast is put up as a post, status or tweet. Use this trend to your benefit by allowing people to share their purchases or their wishlists on social forums. Ask them immediately after placing of an order to share on their favorite social network.
Use Social Login
Why ask users to fill out long registration forms when there’s an easy alternative? Simply let them login with their social networking credentials.
Maintain Social Presence
The internet is fast becoming the most powerful medium of marketing. Besides SEO and social plugins on the website, you also need to keep up a constant dialogue with your customers on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Use Rewards And Coupons
Rewards and coupons are the oldest marketing tactic in the book. However, they still work. Loyalty bonuses and combo offers are some of the other crowd pleasers.
Ask For Feedback
Customer feedback is the most valuable source of information in creating better products and services.
Understand User Behavior
Use analytics and understand user behavior. There are various analytical tools available online which can be used to assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Use Search Engines To Drive Targeted Buyers To Your Site
Google has changed the face of advertising with Pay-per-click advertising. It is by far the most effective way to get traffic to a brand-new site. PPC ads show up on the relevant search pages immediately, and you are in complete control of your PPC ads. This means that you can test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. You can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. This will allow you to distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.
Don’t underestimate the power of SEO (both positive and negative). Invest resources in keeping on top of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and maintaining a good online reputation for the targeted niche.
The Importance Of Content Marketing
Content is king and being perceived as an expert in what you are trying to hawk is as important as selling the product itself. This makes content creation extremely important. Creating articles or videos that are free to be consumed by the masses will put you in touch with newer, potential clients, who if impressed by your content would be more inclined to convert into clients.
Add FAQs Page
A ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page will help in reducing the number of complaints and resolve grievances before they snowball into a bad reputation.
Add Customer Support
The new-age customer is aware of their rights and is used to a higher level of satisfaction than ever before. A good customer support service is no longer just an advantage but a necessity in e-commerce.
Answer user questions. Reach out to the consumers as a brand in order to gain their trust and generate goodwill.
Hassle-free Return Policy
Mention the return policy clearly on your site and do as promised. For example, if you offer seven days return facility, then when someone informs you about a damaged product within seven days, collect the defective item and replace it with a new one. Customer satisfaction is the key to earning loyal customers and by offering hassle-free product return facility, you can get some very happy and loyal buyers.
Take Customer Feedback To Heart:
Being in the business of online retail is particularly fulfilling because you have the chance to learn and grow from people consuming your product. Always ensure that no customer query goes unanswered. If a customer complains about a delivery, don’t get defensive about it, instead, look for a way to make it up to him/her and incorporate the lesson you learn for the experience. Always look at customer feedback in a positive light. Incentivise feedback if you must, but you must ideally get a talkback from every customer.
Show Testimonials And Reviews
Positive feedback from existing customers is very likely to convince prospective customers to trust you.
Harness The Power Of Email
Email is one of the best ways to keep in touch with your customers. Using an email client to send reminders, offers and other tidbits of information with your customers is a very good way to let them know about what is new, or what is going on at the webstore. Work out a frequency that will not be considered spammy or abusive of your customers’ privacy. Remember email marketing is extremely cost effective and is 100% trackable.
Remember these suggestions while designing your e-commerce website and you will certainly be able to convert your visitors into buyers. The internet changes so fast that one year online seems to be equal to about five years in the real/offline world. The basics of any business though never change at all. If you’re just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. Remember, you can’t go wrong with the basics.
Raymond Jefferson is an entrepreneur who runs a specialty home decor e-commerce store called makemyhome. He also teaches a course in internet marketing online.