Launching an online store (ecommerce) is cheap and simple.
You choose a clever domain name, pick a beautiful theme, get a membership on your favorite e-commerce platform, and……You can launch. But here’s the thing: anyone with half-a-brain can start an e-commerce…but only a few can do it successfully. You can’t just launch, pray, and hope to succeed; you can’t take a mediocre approach nor do what everyone else is doing – you need to stand out.
Running an eCommerce website is not always easy. There are sales to make, orders to fill, and payments to receive. This is why it is essential to make sure you have your bases covered when it comes to running a well-rounded website.
Here we will look at things from a visitor’s point of view. We’ll start at the very beginning, when the user visits an eCommerce website, and work through to the very end, when that user places an order. We’ll go through how a business can excel at every step of the way. We won’t be getting into every detail of an eCommerce site. Instead, we are going to give some tips that will lay a strong foundation for your eCommerce business.
Let’s look at the first step, when the visitor gets his or her first impression of a website.
Have you ever walked into a store that is disorganized, smells, and has a very uninviting atmosphere? On the other hand, have you ever walked into a store that is clean, spacious, and has a very comforting feeling, such as an Apple Store? I’m sure you’ve been in both types of businesses. Which one gives you the impression that it’s well-managed, cares about its customers, and offers better products?
It’s probably the business that cares about its appearance.
Now think of a physical store as your eCommerce site. Design matters; and good website design signals that there’s a solid company behind the screen. If visitors aren’t saying “wow” (in a good way) when they visit your site, it still needs work. Do not cut corners on design. Every pixel, every picture, and every word matters.
Have you ever notice when you’re visiting a speedy website, everything feels different. Pages take no more than a second or two to load, and information is delivered to you sooner. The site just feels better when you navigate it. Apparently, it does more than just deliver a warm tingly feeling; it also increases sales for businesses.
A second may not seem like a big deal, but it can mean hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) in lost sales for a business. Don’t underestimate the impact of speed.
- Product Selection
Obviously, most startups cannot afford to have a product selection like Amazon or ebay. However, having too many choices can actually cost you sales. So don’t think that having an enormous selection of products is the key to success. Sometimes limiting your selection can:
- Allow customers to quickly find what they are looking for.
- Keep customers from having “decision paralysis”.
- Increase conversions by naturally limiting the number of clicks to checkout.
What this means is product selection should be carefully thought out and strategized. And always remember: trying to source loads of inventory can have its own logistical nightmares that can cause order delays and customer frustration. Definitely consider chopping down your selection. The question becomes:
How do you help your visitors find the products they are looking for quickly and easily?
Many eCommerce websites let users choose by brand or category. This helps users who aren’t sure what brand to look for, but know what they need.
- Shopping Cart and Making the Transaction
The customer has come this far. They’ve visited your website, viewed your product selection, picked a product they want to buy, and put it in their shopping cart. How could the eCommerce website screw up now? A few ways — unexpectedly high shipping costs, not accepting certain payment methods, and requiring users to create accounts before they place an order. Let’s break down how to avoid these three hiccups:
- Unexpectedly high shipping costs — Many websites are now posting their shipping costs on the product page or home page. This eliminates the surprise of a high shipping cost and lets the user factor in the total cost before adding it to the shopping cart.
- Not accepting certain payment methods — Most shopping cart software products accept a variety of payment gateways. This lets sites accept credit cards and PayPal (if they use them as a gateway). Many eCommerce sites still accept checks and money orders.
- Requiring users to create accounts before they place an order — This does not benefit the user. It’s best to let users create an account after placing an order.
- After the Transaction
After the user has completed the order, he or she should quickly receive a receipt via the email address provided. Generally, most receipts contain the order number, contents of the customer order, an email, phone number, and social media links to contact the business.
What most businesses don’t include are links back to the website. If your eCommerce site has content, you may want to consider adding banners to your latest content (educational videos, blog posts, or even coupons) in your email receipts. Many eCommerce sites have a web based order management function. Customers can see their order, its status, and a tracking number from the freight carrier. The majority also send out an email once the order has shipped. The email contains the expected delivery date, the contents of the package, the tracking number from the shipping company, and a thank you from the company notifying them once again of the contact information for the company.
1 – 2 Weeks after Order
About 2 weeks after the order has been placed, the CEO or the customer service manager should email the customer personally asking how everything went. Even if you don’t get a good response rate, you’re still opening the door to customer feedback, which is never a bad thing.
2 – 3 Months after Order
If the customer hasn’t ordered again in a couple of months, you can send them an email asking them why and offering a discount code.
E-Commerce sites are not easy. They require constant iteration, keeping up to date with the latest and greatest products, and competing with Amazon, which is no small task. Hopefully, these tips will help you gain a little advantage.
We can help drive new customers to your online shop, help them find what they are looking for, and make sure it is easy for them to purchase. Don’t wonder any more about whether it could work, or work better – Book a free consultation with us to see how we can help you take over the Internet!