Ecommerce sales last year totaled more than $1.2 trillion. And according to retail forecasts by eMarketer, global internet retail sales are expected to reach close to $1.6 million this year. If you are looking to cash in on the ever-growing internet shopping industry, your e-commerce site must be completely up-to-date and relevant. This means responsive design, mobile friendly, easy to navigate, secure payment process, and excellent customer service—to name just a few elements.
The bottom line is that you need to reach your target audience, engage them on your site, and provide them with a pleasant shopping experience. There are endless features that you can incorporate into your website, of course, but for now here are five areas to improve your e-commerce site and grow your business:
1) Provide an excellent user experience
Brick-and-mortar businesses are experts at creating tangible touches—gentle background music, pleasing scents, friendly and attentive sales associates, well-arranged displays—in order to appeal to a customer’s senses. Today’s e-commerce sites must find a way to foster a similar emotional reaction rather than simply be a means of fulfilling orders.
A user-oriented e-commerce site encourages brand loyalty. In other words, users will be more likely to complete a transaction—and, more importantly, come back—if they not only get what they came for, but have a positive experience as well.
Checklist to create a better user experience:
Clutter-free interface that states clearly what the business does
Well-organized products with clear descriptions, photos, and prices
Effortless way to contact customer service—who respond quickly
Obvious social media “like” or “share” buttons
Minimal pop-ups and fast page loads
2) Make it mobile friendly
Your out-of-the-box desktop site builder from five years ago doesn’t cut it anymore. Even if it is reliable and easy for you, today’s customers are likely going to come to your site from their phones or tablets—and your site may not work as well as people expect if you don’t have a mobile version. 88 percent of users say they won’t return to a website after having a negative experience the first time. With the many devices in use today, you never know the screen sizes with which a user will be viewing your site, so it’s important to make your website design responsive.
Checklist to make your site mobile friendly:
Keep your website design simple
Use large fonts
Place important information above the fold
Buttons that are easy to use with your finger
Responsive design that automatically adjusts the display to adapt to all screen sizes
3) Make check-out easy
Do you ask for too much personal information or do you require ten screens to complete a purchase? There’s a fine line between confirming an order and turning a purchase into an obstacle course—and that’s precisely the point where people say “enough!” and leave your site. People abandon the shopping cart before completing a purchase 68 percent of the time. Some of the reasons include extra charges, a long check-out process, and too much effort involved. Your shoppers expect purchases to be quick and easy.
Checklist for easy check-out:
Include a progress indicator of the buying process
Provide several payment options, including various credit cards, PayPal, and gift certificates
Offer free shipping for purchases over a certain amount
Indicate shipping and handling costs before check out
Include the option to sign in for a simpler purchasing transaction—but don’t require a lot of personal information
Allow purchases without having to sign up
Provide a direct link to customer service in case the transaction goes wrong
4) Include high-quality product photos
We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and yet many e-tailers are not using large, clear, appealing photos of their products. Studies show that people remember 80 percent of visually-based information compared to only 20 percent of text-based information. Images are powerful, and the better the quality of your product pictures, the better the chance you will make a sale.
Checklist for product photos:
Choose 1-3 photos for every product in order to give as detailed a visual overview as possible, and keep the number of pictures consistent for all products
Showcase the product’s benefits—for example, include close-up pictures of a luxury blanket, photos of people wearing it, or shots of a slim laptop next to a magazine to illustrate how thin the laptop is
Show all colors or styles rather than just one with a written mention of the others
5) Optimize for search engines
You can have the best e-commerce site in the world, but if nobody knows about it, you’ll never make a sale. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting people to your website from the results of their search in Google, Bing or Yahoo. You need to tell the search engines how to find you and what you do so that they can direct potential customers to your site.
Checklist for optimizing your site:
Regularly create content by updating your product images, descriptions or web copy, and posting to your blog
Include relevant keywords, so if you’re selling luxury baby blankets you’ll want to ensure that those words appear on every page of your site, in the URLs of each page, and in the alt text and file name of your images
Link to or from other authoritative sites
Ensure that all your pages have fast load times
If you can check off all of these features as part of your site, you will be set up to attract more visitors, provide them with an excellent and seamless experience, and drive more sales!