Running an eCommerce website is not always easy. There are sales to make, orders to fill, and payments to receive. This is why it is essential to make sure you have your bases covered when it comes to running a well-rounded website.
Here we will look at things from a visitor’s point of view. We’ll start at the very beginning, when the user visits an eCommerce website, and work through to the very end, when that user places an order. We’ll go through how a business can excel at every step of the way.
We won’t be getting into every detail of an eCommerce site. Instead, we are going to give some tips that will lay a strong foundation for your eCommerce business.
Let’s look at the first step, when the visitor gets his or her first impression of a website.
Have you ever walked into a store that is disorganized, smells, and has a very uninviting atmosphere?
On the other hand, have you ever walked into a store that is clean, spacious, and has a very comforting feeling, such as an Apple Store?
I’m sure you’ve been in both types of businesses. Which one gives you the impression that it’s well-managed, cares about its customers, and offers better products?
It’s probably the business that cares about its appearance.
Now think of a physical store as your eCommerce site. Design matters; and good website design signals that there’s a solid company behind the screen.
If visitors aren’t saying “wow” (in a good way) when they visit your site, it still needs work. Do not cut corners on design. Every pixel, every picture, and every word matters. Hire a good designer if you can afford it and make design a priority.
Here are a few resources to help you with improving your website design:
If you want to get some external feedback on your website, check out a company like Usertesting.com.
If you would like more information about web design, read our article: Does Website Design Impact The Bottom Line?
If you’re looking for a list of what to avoid with websites, read 9 User Experience Pitfalls That Repel Website Visitors.
If you’re looking for a good site search tool, check out Google’s Site Search. It’s relatively inexpensive and provides a quality experience in terms of site search functionality.
If you’re like me, you notice when you’re visiting a speedy website. Everything feels different. Pages take no more than a second or two to load, and information is delivered to you sooner. The site just feels better when you navigate it.
Apparently, it does more than just deliver a warm tingly feeling; it also increases sales for businesses.
Dave Garr of User Testing has said that increasing site speed improved his conversion rate by 78%.
A second may not seem like a big deal, but it can mean hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) in lost sales for a business. Don’t underestimate the impact of speed.
If you think your website isn’t up to speed, you can look into getting a content delivery network (CDN).
Obviously, most startups cannot afford to have a product selection like Amazon or Zappos. However, having too many choices can actually cost you sales. So don’t think that having an enormous selection of products is the key to success. Sometimes limiting your selection can:
Allow customers to quickly find what they are looking for.
Keep customers from having “decision paralysis”.
Increase conversions by naturally limiting the number of clicks to checkout.
What this means is product selection should be carefully thought out and strategized. And always remember: trying to source TONS of inventory can have its own logistical nightmares that can cause order delays and customer frustration. Definitely consider chopping down your selection.
Startups should look at a business like Ecomom as a reference. It services a niche, and is quite successful at doing so. It has a good product selection that competes with the Amazon baby department and reasonable prices. The question becomes:
How do you help your visitors find the products they are looking for quickly and easily?
Many eCommerce websites let users choose by brand or category:
This helps users who aren’t sure what brand to look for, but know what they need. For example, an auto parts eCommerce site can sell a lot of products. If a user knows they need an oil filter but aren’t sure what brand, the category function helps.
Finally, the obvious helper in this arena is to provide awesome search capability. Don’t underestimate this part. Generally, your run of the mill, default on-site search engine may really stink. Invest time and money into providing and excellent search experience that provides:
Useful results that match your customers true intentions.
Clear and easy to read results. Consider using product image thumbnails in your search results.
An optimal number of search results. There is an optimal number of results that helps your customers when they perform a search on your site. Your job is to test this and figure that number out.
A lightning fast return of results. This is usually not a problem, but if your search results are slow to load – then they become effectively useless.
If you find that searching is a big part of your customer’s user experience, then make your search box bigger and more obvious. Testing placement, box size, fonts and colors of your search box can all have effects on your customer shopping experience.
I’m going to give you 10 seconds to pitch a product to me. I already know a little bit about the product. I understand the category the product fits under, the makers of the product, and the price, but no more than that. You give me a 10 second pitch on why I should buy it.