The internet is a platform that allows even the smallest business to compete on a global scale and for a relatively small budget SMEs and sole-traders can trade blowswith the biggest retailers.
But whilst everyone has access to the same products and there are no universal features or design options that will guarantee your shop unrivalled popularity, there is a list of general essentials and even desirable options that cannot be ignored; as you will see, most are the fundamental building blocks of non-commerce sites, the only difference is the requirement to deliver an almost immediate return on investment.
Make navigation through the site easy.
It doesn't matter whether your prices are very low or whether you have the best products in the market, if visitors get confused they are likely to leave your site. The objective of the site is of course to get users to purchase your products right? Wrong, the objective is to provide a memorable user experience and to make the buying process as quick and easy as possible and if this is achieved, users will return time and time again.
Throughout the navigation experience and hopefully subsequent ordering process, it is imperative that users know where they are in the overall purchasing cycle. This can be achieved through a simple breadcrumb navigation that tells a user where they are on the site and or how many stages they have to go to complete a purchase. Without this simple process a user if far more likely to abandon their purchase.
With junk email on the rise and privacy constantly in the news, avoid lengthy sign-up forms that can alienate visitors initially. A simple email address and username should suffice and only if there's a benefit for the user i.e. ready to purchase a product, sign-up for newsletter, discover discounts available etc. This approach is known to increase sales, improve customer loyalty and reduce cart abandonment (NB: make sure your shop has an in-built abandoned cart function - this will make you money!).
Make sure your mobile experience allows for a easy route to purchase. Using a quick checkout process, clear product information and call to action to allow speedy add to cart will improve your mobile conversions. After all, nearly half (48.9 percent) of all UK ecommerce transactions now take place on mobile devices - Read Digital Magazine article.
If your store has a wide variety of products, make sure that you provide a comprehensive search facility with category refinement where possible. This prevents visitors from having to navigate from one page to the next to find what they are looking for. To assist the experience further, suggest related items not only are you helping to save a visitor's time you are more likely to increase retention and revenue.
Nobody likes surprises, least of all hidden charges. Unfulfilled price promises can often cause irreparable discontent so make sure you're upfront about any taxes and shipping charges early on in the process and this includes any volume order or loyalty discounts available.
Trust signals are a hugely underused and under-rated marketing tool and should be apparent throughout the buying process. Recognised payment gateways, secure certifications icons, warranties, vendor relationship status symbols and of course customer reviews will all help speed up the buying process by reducing the number of customers pre-sale help requests.
Social Media Links
Many online purchases are completed after surfing through social media sites; users are now more inclined than ever to take in public opinion and seek the feedback of relative strangers. Social media is almost a must for online shops, as it allows customers to keep in touch with the latest offers and news through less invasive channels.
Still struggling? Let Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos give you a little inspiration, "We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better"
Whether you have an existing, under-performing eCommerce site or are looking at a new eCommerce project, we can help plan your strategy for the best possible results.