Recipe for a successful e-commerce website
As the barriers to entry to create an e-commerce site have decreased, the number of online stores has multiplied. But just because it’s super easy to set up your online store, it doesn’t mean the revenue will immediately start pouring in.
Think of your e-commerce site like a physical store. You want people to be happy being there, which means being engaging and fun. You want people to be able to find what they’re looking for, which means making it easy to navigate the store. You want them to have a good experience, which means the checkout process needs to be clear and easy.
Follow the recipe below to cook up a successful e-commerce website that drives more sales.
It should be easy for visitors to get to where they want to go on your e-commerce site. Make the navigation experience intuitive. That means labelling menu items clearly, and not trying to be too clever. Bonus points if you do some user testing to ensure your idea of easy navigation is the same as your visitors’.
Have you ever gone on to a site looking for something in particular only to realise you have no idea where to find it? This is why a search bar is so important. The last thing you want to do is make it difficult for your potential customers to find all your amazing products, so always include a search bar (and make sure it works).
What value do you offer your customers? What makes your product or service unique? Is it that other businesses don’t or can’t? Including a concise value proposition on your homepage makes it very clear to your customer why they should purchase from you.
Top categories or best-sellers section
What are the main categories or best-selling products your customers are purchasing? Including quick links to your best-selling categories or products saves your customers the hassle of digging through your website to find them.
About us section
Include a bio section on your homepage, as well as a dedicated ‘about’ page. Telling your visitors who you are and what you do helps build trust with new customers. Include some information about where you’re based, how many years you’ve been operating and an overview of your brand values to start building an authentic customer-brand relationship.
Great product categorisation
Categories are designed to help consumers find the products they are looking for, so keep them as simple and straightforward as possible. If you need a lot of categories, think about incorporating breadcrumb navigation* into your sub-page designs.
*Breadcrumb navigation is a secondary navigation system that shows the visitor’s location in a website. They are often shown as text links separated by the ‘>’ symbol.
High-quality product images
Potential customers need to be able to see what they are buying. High-quality images convey high-value products and increase customer trust. If you’re selling physical products, we recommend showing both studio shots and ‘in-situ’ imagery. Even if you are selling a digital product, imagery can still convey plenty. You can show the cover of an ebook or screenshots of an app, for example.
Writing compelling copy is important on every page of your website, but is absolutely essential on your product pages. Product pages are the final touch point before the user decides to either purchase or abandon. Highlight product USPs and how the product provides a solution for the customer, where they would use it and how it works. Include any guarantees you provide, along with customer reviews to assure your visitor they are making the right decision by purchasing.
A stand-out ‘add to cart’ button
The primary function of your e-commerce site is to get customers to purchase your products, so ensuring your ‘add to cart’ button stands out sufficiently from the rest of the page is essential. There’s no magic colour for the ‘add to cart’ button, as long as it’s in a contrasting colour from the rest of the page. Make sure it’s in an obvious and clear location, as well.
Ratings and reviews
Unless you’re a very well-known brand, it can be a leap of faith for a customer to purchase from a new online shop. Will the product match the description? Are you a trustworthy vendor? This is where ratings and reviews can be so powerful. Hearing from past customers can help make new customers feel comfortable enough to click the buy button. Even negative reviews can build trust if you respond empathically and work to make things right. The flip side is encouraging customers to leave reviews. Ask for a review in your follow up emails and even offer a discount on future products in exchange for reviews.
If a visitor is interested in one of your products, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll be interested in other products too. Including a ‘related products’ section on your product page gives you a chance to upsell associated items.
Visual progress indicator
With attention spans dwindling, it’s vital that your checkout process is as quick and streamlined as possible. People get bored or fed up with lengthy checkouts, so having a visual progress indicator simplifies the process by allowing the user to understand where they are in that process, assuring them that they are almost finished.
Make sure your checkout process includes an order summary. Order summaries reassure shoppers that they are buying what they intended to buy and help reduce cancelled orders.
Secure checkout badges
People often abandon a purchase when they’re unsure of the security of the website. Including a secure checkout badge and using HTTPS can help assure shoppers that your business is legit and that all payments are secure.
Multiple payment methods
What payment methods are you offering? With so many different ways to pay for goods and services, it goes a long way to ensure you’re covering all bases. You don’t want to lose someone at the very last minute by not offering their preferred payment method, so do a little research into your target market and make sure you’re giving them the option to pay with their favourite ones.
As of March 2018, an estimated 1 in 4 online purchases were made through a mobile device (source: Statistica). So, if your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you can assume that you’re going to be losing out on at least 25% of sales. What’s more, Google now use mobile first indexing (as opposed to desktop-first as was the former standard). That means Google looks at the mobile version of your website first. Unfriendly mobile sites are penalised with low rankings.
If you’re keen to optimise your mobile site, read these 8 tips for optimising your mobile site design. If you’re unsure whether your site is likely to be penalised, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
Boost your subscriber list with a sign-up form
Growing your email list allows you to build a database of interested prospects that you can nurture over time. A great way to do this is to provide an incentive to sign up to your database. This could be something as simple as 10% off or a free gift.
Just add a popup to your site asking for an email address in exchange for your incentive. Make sure the popup doesn’t appear the second the site is loaded, however, or you’ll come off as annoying. Add a 10-second delay.
Welcome email series
Build a stronger customer relationship by welcoming them into your community and giving them something in return to say thank you. A good recipe for a welcome email includes a gift, clickable product or category links, a little about your company and social media links.
Abandoned cart email series
A warm lead is easier to convert than a cold one. Creating a series of automated emails can help convert people who added a product to their cart but didn’t complete checkout. Successful abandoned cart emails include content like social proof, ratings and reviews and discounts.
And that’s it!
While it might seem overwhelming, including these things into your e-commerce site will set you up for real online success. If you’re keen to boost your sales through a better e-commerce site, but don’t feel confident in doing it on your own, our team can lend a hand. To chat more about your site, give us a call on 07 5576 7841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.