Are you thinking about starting an eCommerce store but you are not sure how to go about building your website? Or is your already existing digital business not performing as well as you would have hoped? There is a lot to consider when you design your eCommerce website and consequently a lot of things you can do to get ahead of your competitors. Let us take a look at what you need to keep in mind when you design your eCommerce store.
- Learn from the competition
- Your customer comes first
- Polish your web pages
- Provide product support
- Optimize your website tech
Learn from the competition
Before you set up your own eCommerce website you should do your homework. Who is the competition and how do they do things? Take a close look at their websites and take notes. What do they have in common and where do they differ? What are they doing right? What would you improve?
This will give you a good idea of where the bar is at. It is likely going to inspire you as well.
Your customer comes first
It is a simple equation: in order to sell you need customers. And customers have expectations that you need to live up to, or they will turn to your competitors. Give your visitors what they want, be honest, and offer helpful suggestions.
Accessibility and ease of use
Design your website with ease of use and accessibility in mind. In a previous article, we discussed the importance of the colour scheme and the font that you use. Your eCommerce store also needs to function with text to speech programs. Consequently, important information cannot exist only in images.
In addition, it is important to remember that the less work your visitor has to put into the experience, the more likely they are to become a customer. This means that your website should have as few steps between any individual product page and the “Thank you for your purchase!” page as possible.
It also means that your customers should do as little scrolling as possible. Visitors should be able to tell that they are in the right place at once. All essential information must be available above the fold. This includes the title, relevant images, descriptions, price, and, importantly, the buy button.
The design of your website should be consistent. It will be easier for your visitor to navigate if the UI remains the same. Similarly, the colour scheme should not vary overly much from page to page. A customer clicking on an internal link should never have to wonder if they have ended up on a different website.
Finding the product
Finding your products must be easy. However, what is logical for one person might not be for another. It is always a good idea to test your website on impartial users and get honest feedback about their impressions and experience.
Consider: Are your menus well-organized? Is it easy to find a product even if you have never been on the website before? Have you listed all your products? Do you have a filter and sort function? Does the search bar work and is it easy to find?
Make it easy for the customer to find the checkout button. Choosing a different colour for the buy, cart, and checkout buttons can help draw the eye, but make sure it still works with the overall design.
Allowing customers to checkout as “guests” is a great option. This lets your customers skip putting time and effort into creating an account, making the transaction much smoother for them.
The payment options you offer can make or break a transaction. A lot of people are hesitant about giving away their credit card information online. By offering other means of paying you can remove the final hurdle for your customers.
Thank you page
Once a customer completes a purchase, they should be redirected to a thank you page. This will confirm to the customer that the transaction is complete and appreciated. It will also let you track conversions, which is an important part in determining if the ads you are running are working.
Good customer service improves the odds of repeat business. So, take a moment and consider what questions visitors may have about your website and products. Write down an FAQ where you answer those. Also set up an email address specifically for customer support and answer any questions that you get as quickly as possible. Both the FAQ and the email should be easy to find on your website. If multiple visitors ask the same question – put the answer in the FAQ.
Polish your web pages
When setting up the individual product pages there is a lot to consider. Different products should have separate pages. Colour and material variations in an otherwise identical product should be gathered on one page for easy comparison. Remember that visitors should be able to learn all they need to know about the item from its product page.
The title of your product should describe it as succinctly as possible. If the title is longer than 70 characters, including spaces, you run the risk of it being cut short when it appears in search results.
A picture says more than a thousand words. This is certainly true for eCommerce. Nothing will describe your product better than high-quality pictures from multiple angles. The pictures should reflect the product as accurately as possible, to reduce the risk of it being returned. If the item comes in multiple colours, remember to include pictures of all of them. Make sure that these images are easy to go through without scrolling away from the buy button.
Describe the enticing benefits of your product but keep it short and to the point. Mention the advantages of your product and, if you are selling furniture, clothes or the like, describe the material that it is made of.
Dimensions are a very important characteristic for some products, such as furniture, so make sure to provide those. Similarly, clothes are notoriously irregularly sized. A size M in one brand is a size L in another. To make it easier for your customers, and reduce the number of returned items, provide an easily accessible size chart.
By providing relevant internal links you encourage visitors to explore your store and your other products. This includes upselling, also known as “You may also like”, where you list a few products related to the currently viewed item. A customer who is buying a chair may very well be interested in a matching footstool, so make sure they know it exists.
All of the above require that you know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO). Good SEO will help push your website up in search results, ensuring that more people discover your products.
Research which keywords people use when they search for the products you are selling. Websites such as Moz, SEMrush, and Google Ads can offer insight into which keywords are popular. Take notes and plan your website accordingly. Every page should have one main long-tail keyword that you focus on, and no two should have the same.
Don’t waste your time on keywords that have nothing to do with your products. If you try to make a page rank for an irrelevant keyword you will only end up with a lot of instantly bouncing visitors.
Also, consider hiring a professional SEO specialist to help you out with website optimization and ranking.
Show the stock availability on the product page. By letting your visitor know that you are starting to run out of a product you also encourage them to make a purchase decision sooner rather than later.
Nothing sells a product like positive reviews from satisfied customers. Display reviews for your products on the product pages – both the star ratings and the testimonies.
If your customer provides you with their email upon purchase, send them a message once the product has been delivered and ask them to leave a review. If you set up a Google My Business account you can also encourage people to review your company.
Provide product support
If the product you sell requires special care after purchase, set up a page on how to do that. This will highlight that you know your product and provide value to your customers. It will also attract visitors who have purchased such products in the past. This means that your competitors’ customers become aware of you and are more likely to turn to you for future purchases.
If your customers provide you with their email, you can also send them a thank you email when they purchase an item. Include the link to how to best care for their new purchase in this email.
Some products are complicated to use. If yours fall into this category, include short video demonstrations on your website. Remember that you still need to provide a written description of how to use the product.
Optimize your website tech
If your website takes long to load, people will leave and look elsewhere. Large images can slow downloading speed considerably, but so can poor coding. Make sure that your website loads quickly regardless of device or web browser. Partnering-up with experienced developers ensures that your website is built properly and will work without hiccups.
People don’t like to wait, and having access to the whole internet on your phone means you don’t have to. It also means that it is integral that your eCommerce website is mobile-friendly. A bad mobile experience can put your visitors off buying from you. On the other hand, a good mobile experience leaves 61% with a better opinion of your brand.
There are certain times of the year when it is paramount that everything runs smoothly. You are likely to see a spike in traffic during Black Friday and other big sales events. Make sure that your website is prepared to handle the pressure of these events to avoid a loss of sales.
ECommerce platforms, such as Magento and Shopify, will help you set up a digital store of your own. Of course, if you need help to ensure that your eCommerce business is going to run smoothly, there are plenty of professionals that can lend a hand.