When you decide that you wish to begin selling online it is important that you take the following points into consideration to give the best possible chance of making your e-commerce website a success.
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Remove Fear & Create Trust
- Get to know your audience and address their needs, wants and uncertainties.
- Make sure you have a secure certificate (SSL) installed. This added level of protection not only helps develop a greater level of trust with your audience, it can also have a positive effect on your ranking within Search Engines.
- People will always pay more attention to feedback about a product or company from their peers who are not associated with the company, than they will the company itself. Therefore, reviews, testimonials, case studies etc. are essential.
- Provide supporting information such as privacy statement, delivery & returns in the main navigation. This information helps address any uncertainty or doubts a user may have of buying from your website, e.g. can I trust this site, is it safe, what if I want to return it etc.
- Always show your contact details, address, telephone number & email to help make it clear that you are a legitimate business.
- When asking people for information, keep the forms short and only ask for what you need. The more elements you have in a form, the more “friction” you create, the less likely it is that a user will complete the form. As the forms are short and the elements deemed essential, make them mandatory - in the majority of cases, no one really completes the optional information.
- There may be lots of other websites out there that sell the same product as you, so make sure you communicate clearly who you are, what you do and why the user should choose your site to buy the product.
- When planning the navigation, think carefully about the order and consider the Serial Position Effect. This effect highlights that we have a tendency to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst.
- Charging for delivery will have a negative effect on your conversions, however, if you really need to do it, be open and honest, keep it simple and place it upfront.
- Create high quality product descriptions that do more than just list the features - it needs to provide all of the information they need to make a decision, addressing the needs, wants & doubts that the visitor may have. Use the “so what” idea or keep asking “why?” Why would this make the user want to buy it, why would they deal with our company, and so on… Address their concerns and they will become confident that they are making the right decision.
- Most users scan when reading content on webpages. Therefore, split the content into manageable and digestible chunks by using titles, sub headers, short sentences and lists.
- Everyone likes a good bargain so make sure you have a dedicated sale or special offer section and make it easy to find.
- When a user adds an item to the basket, you have the perfect opportunity to entice them with related items. When doing this, however, make sure that the value of the related item does not exceed 60% of the value of the item just added.
- When a user begins the checkout process, remove unwanted distractions such as advertising.
- Allowing users to create accounts is great and will save time if they become a returning customer but do not force the account on them, allow them to checkout as a guest.
- When the user begins the checkout process, show clear progress indicators to keep the user informed on what they have left to complete the transaction.
Test & Measure
- Integrate Google Analytics and enable the ‘ecommerce feature’ as well as ‘goals’ and ‘events’ and more importantly, map out the purchasing process. Doing this will allow you to identify which areas are working, which areas require work and ultimately tackle shopping cart abandonment (when someone leaves the website after adding something to the shopping basket).
- After you have reviewed the data from Google Analytics and decided on a plan of action, remember, don’t change everything in one go because if you do, you will not be sure which change, or combination of changes resulted in the improvement.
- In the majority of cases, most of your website visitors will visit a small number of pages or perform a small number of tasks (The Pareto Principle). Use Google Analytics to identify these pages or tasks and then work on making them easier to complete which will improve the usability of your site overall.
- When designing your website, keep the look simple and straightforward so that the user can clearly see what you want them to do. In the majority of cases, the design that requires the user to make the least number of assumptions when using your website is usually the best choice (Occam’s Razor).
- Keep the design and layout consistent. Without this there is the potential for a user to feel as though they have moved to another website and/or feel uncomfortable and therefore unlikely to purchase from your website.
- Make it easy for the user to do what they want to do (Keep It Simple Stupid). Use elements such as clear navigation, breadcrumbs, search bar & filters and a clear visual hierarchy (making the important stuff stand out) to support the user through their journey.
- Present the website in a way that will match what the user is expecting, e.g. high quality product requires the website to have a high quality feel. When presenting the information, also take into consideration what the user would expect in the real world (mental model) in relation to the phrases used as well as the visual impression.
- High quality images, the more the merrier (from every angle). People want to see what they are getting for their money & as they say, a picture says a thousand words. If you wish to go the extra step, think about doing a video of your product.
- Mobile responsive is a must - 50% of all searches begin on a mobile device.
- With only 7 seconds to make an impression it is vital that your website loads quickly to prevent you missing out on a sale before it has even started.
- Make sure your website takes the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) into consideration by being accessible to blind and disabled users, e.g. text associated to images for those using screen reader technology, ability to use the tab and enter button to move between elements on screen, strong contrast on colours etc.
- Make it easy for users to find what they want quickly. As well as a clear navigation that is split into the main categories, provide a website search or better still a search with available usable filters and an auto-suggest feature.
- The more options you provide users, the more time is required to make a decision (Hicks law) and the easier it is to choose nothing. If you have a lot of options, having a high quality filter system is essential to help mitigate this issue and make the decision making process easier.
If you have any other points that you believe are required to make ecommerce sites a success, please let us know below.