With the emergence of more and more ecommerce sites doing more and more business within the last within the last year, your site might be in need of a makeover just to keep up. In a study by the US Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, in the first quarter of 2012, retail e-commerce sites accounted for $53.2 billion of sales, with an increase of 3.1% since the last quarter of 2011. To get a slice of this pie, your site will need to not only be functional, but be able to compete with other ecommerce sites in your category AND big box sites like Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com. The following tips will improve the functionality, look and effectiveness of your ecommerce site and help you cash in on this ever growing market.

  1. Navigate Effectively: If your website is not easy to use (meaning: clean, simple and easily navigable)…it’s time for a reboot. Make sure that your tabs are easy to understand, in a plain clear print, and easy to find on the page. If your webpage is a little more creative, you might want to make the ecommerce part of your site, or your shopping section a little more user friendly and save the creativity for the landing page.
  2. Make it Clean: Looks are everything for ecommerce sites. Think about purchasing from second hand sites like ebay.com. Are you more likely to click on a dark, out of focus photo of an item or to click on a clean picture of the item on a white or light colored background? Make sure your products look professional by making each picture internet presentable. An added tip is to present the item in its natural habitat. Show sheets on a bed, show clothing on a model, show hubcaps on wheels.
  3. Search Bar…It’s a MUST: Even if your site only has a couple items and is easily navigable, people will still  want to search for a specific need, instead of having to search through pages to find an item. Make sure the search bar is easily found on each page and is located in the upper right corner of the window.
  4. Keep your Policy Clear: If you do not accept returns, make it known. Don’t hide anything in your policy. Concealing policy info will make customers unsure and extremely frustrated with you later, should they have complications. If they know up front how returns will be handled they can choose to buy or not ahead of time without having to take a step backward.
  5. Be Browser Friendly:  Get your site to work, and look great, on Firefox, Safari, Explorer, Chrome and mobile (at the very least). Testing and retesting this will make sure that customers don’t fall through the cracks and are able to access your site completely.
  6. Offer specials: This is key. People love discounts and sales. This makes your site look professional and makes customers feel like you are looking out for them. Bonus points if you get them to sign up for emails so that you can send them more information about sales, discounts, your company, etc. Use pointers such as “Order Here” or “Have you checked this out” to point your customers eyes around the site to key locations.

Now for the Actual Shopping Cart…

  1. Give details: In the shopping cart window make sure that you list what the item is, dimensions (if applicable), and consider including reviews, how it will be shipped, rules and regulations, reviews from other customers, particularly if you are selling any sort of tech devise or household product can be the difference between a sale and an iffy customer. Be honest with your reviews though, customers will know if you forged the review process and will be turned off.
  2. Shipping Costs: Make sure they are clear before the final check out (i.e. before the credit card information). This helps customers to follow through the whole check out process, instead of leaving items in their cart.
  3. Offer Extras: Extras such as gift wrapping, receipts, customization and packing make your company look more professional and might mean the difference between a brand ambassador and a fair-weather customer. On the check-out screen have recommendations linked to the purchased item, this is ecommerce  “upselling.”
  4. Let shoppers buy WITHOUT registering: Although having people register is great because you get to keep track of them, having customers buy without the lengthy registration is key in the fickle world of online shopping. Many customers may fall off if they feel like registering is taking too much time. If you do have people registering in order to buy, make sure the registration process is simple and consider social integration.
  5. Make sure customers know where they are in the buying process: Checking out tabs that indicate what step of the buying process customers are in make sure they know what is coming next and when their finished. Like jogging, knowing when it’s over is half the battle of getting there. Don’t keep people guessing.
  6. Safety is important: Get a certificate like VeriSign so that people know that the information that they are putting in your site is safe and isn’t going to some hacker in Russia (ahem!).

After the purchase…

  1. Confirmation, Confirmation, Confirmation!: Confirm the purchase in window (“Congratulations, you’re order is confirmed!”), then go to a print ready page option, also email them a copy of the receipt. This shows professionalism and can also be a good way for the customer to keep track of their purchases. This makes their life oh so much easier, and your life easier if they ever have to cross reference their order number or date of purchase.
  2. Follow up with customers: Integrate your email marketing to contact recent customers, especially new customers. This will keep you in their mind, and will make it easier to get feedback. Urge them to follow you on social media and to keep up with your blog in this email. Also ask them if they would like to register (if they haven’t) to get more discounts, coupons and info about the company.
  3. Be Human: Companies like “Zappos” are pros at this. They make e-shopping like being in a real store; except much better because there are no crying babies or grumpy shop-girls and your feet don’t hurt from standing in line for hours.

We hope that you found these tips helpful for re-surfacing and re-booting your ecommerce websites. Please send us any comments or questions about this research summary to info@webconnection.com

If you have any questions related to ecommerce website modifications, building an ecommerce site or any other web related questions don’t hesitate to contact us at Webconnection!