E-commerce Best Practices

Converting viewers into buyers is the greatest challenge for your e-commerce site. Online selling requires different strategy than in a brick-and-mortar store. And with the volume of e-commerce sites, it is important for businesses to emphasize the unique value of their offerings and to provide consumers the best user experience possible. Here are some things to consider when evaluating your online store.

Establish pages that are simple and uncluttered with minimal text. Use clear, concise copy that is easy to read and is shown with sufficient line spacing. Include images that reinforce the copy and create a desire for the product or service. Make the most of visual appeal and show the product being used or service being experienced.

Utilize a limited color pallet. A primary color can establish the overall design theme, a contrast color adds some detail, and an accent color is fabulous for your calls-to-action (CTA). All pages should contain a vivid CTA displayed in the same, dedicated color on each page. It also helps to place the CTAs in the same area of the page each time.

Share a strong, clear value proposition. Explain or show why a consumer should buy from you instead of one of your competitors. Provide all the information needed to make an informed purchase and concisely communicate the benefits of your products or services.

80% of shoppers prefer to do their purchasing on their mobile devices. Ensure that your site is device responsive AND mobile friendly. (For a quick reminder of the difference, click here.) In addition, a rise in the number of multichannel shoppers has been noticed. It is essential for your e-commerce site to look and function in a similar manner, regardless of the device being used. From the landing page through the checkout process, optimize your site for mobile phones and other devices.

Intuitive navigation is key. The visual hierarchy on your site should make it easier for consumers to find their way around. Size and color accents help indicate “clickability” and importance. Simplify main navigation options by reducing choices. In theory, this helps consumers embark on their purchasing journey more quickly. Limit the number of choices within each category level. Display images in rows as studies have found that products sell better when presented horizontally versus vertically in columns.

Show prominent links to important information such as customer service, return policies, shipping options, etc. Provide a search field with an open text box. This should be available on every page until the consumer enters the check out process. Utilize bread crumb navigation to make it easy for consumers to return to previously viewed pages.

Optimize your site for quick load times. Aim for three seconds or faster. Pay close attention to images to make sure they load as quickly as possible. Use analytic tools or outsource the task to check speed and make necessary changes. Ensure that the company that hosts your website is doing its part. Utilize browser caching to reduce load time for returning readers.

Images should be relevant to the product, service, or message being communicated. They should tell the story as much as the text does. High-resolution, high-quality images are a must as is a crisp, accurate display of colors. Show items on a white background for clarity and show multiple angles. Provide zoom ability or closeups of important features to allow consumers to view product details. Don’t forget to include simple zoom instructions, too.

Product descriptions should be visible with the items, not hidden and requiring a click. Include product availability with the description. Think about what will matter most to the average consumer – size, color, fit, finish – and make sure your descriptions cover those aspects. Make available a highly visible “Add to Cart” button on all shopping pages. They should jump off of every page. Display clear error messages if product or services choices have not been indicated. Remember that product descriptions should communicate the benefits of a product, not just list its features.

Live chat or chat bots can help close sales, especially if a difficulty is encountered during the shopping or buying experience. Customer service options and information should be easily accessible from anywhere on the website whether it is by phone, email, or live chat.

Security is a top priority for consumers and should also be one for your e-commerce site. Include security badges along the footer of your page, especially on the check-out pages. Be sure to use well known, not obscure, trust badges and security seals.

Other ways to communicate trustworthiness are to include your brand history, press mentions and customer testimonials. People trust testimonials and online reviews more than brand marketing so take advantage of the fact that user generated content (UGC) can help boost your sales. Make available convenient sharing buttons for social media platforms and provide a space for consumers to review your products and services. Display customer ratings and reviews with each product. Set up an automatic email to arrive a week or so after a product is received asking the customer to review the product and their purchasing experience with your brand.

A shopping cart with the current total price and number of items it contains should always be visible. Provide the ability to click the image and link to the cart page for content details. Confirm product, size, color, quantity, availability, and expected shipping and delivery dates. Include an image and a link to the full product description. Provide buttons that allow consumers to easily change the quantity of items or to delete an item. Allow the item to delete automatically instead of requiring the consumer to click an “update” button.

Provide a clear, logical, short check out process. Provide the choices of signing in to an existing account, creating a profile, or guest check out so consumers aren’t forced to create an account in order to make a purchase. Use options such as, “Use billing address as shipping address,” to minimize the time required for checking out. Disable autocorrect during the checkout process to minimize lost packages and customer frustration.

Ensure a hassle-free process with minimal steps. Allow item previews without leaving the page. Single click payments are helpful; minimal effort encourages impulse buying. Offer multiple payment options such as PayPal, credit cards, gift cards, and Apple Wallet. 50% of consumers will abandon their shopping cart if their preferred payment option isn’t available.

All in all, your e-commerce website should provide for your customers an efficient, well-organized experience. For advice and assistance in offering the best online shopping experience possible, contact Strategy Driven Marketing today. We look forward to helping you create a top-notch buyer experience.