Let me say from the beginning if you are looking for a lot of design advice about how to lay out your UI, what colours to use and whether you should use floating this or a static that then this article is going to be a disappointment to you.
All of those things are important and you should put a lot of thought into how you want people to perceive your brand and what your website’s design says about you and by context your products. However, this piece is about what really matters in an e-commerce site, making sales.
As devastating as it may be for some to hear, the truth is that some of the ugliest sites on the internet are money makers and there are some out there that are true works of art and have enough bells and whistles to make an astronaut scratch their heads that lose money on a daily basis.
I’m not saying you should aim for creating an ugly site. I’m just saying be sure and get your priorities straight if you want to make money with an e-commerce site and to help you get off to a good start or straighten out a felling site here is a short list of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind.
We’ll start with what is the most important of all considerations; product presentation. All else being equal, this is what will separate the winners from the losers and the wish they were, from the are. After all, your products are the reason you have a website and hopefully why people are visiting it. So, pay attention.
Send your customers into product overload. It is much better to showcase your best or most popular items on your homepage than to try and sell everything at one time. Pick a selection that is indicative of your full range of product categories but keep it simple.
Skimp on product presentation. This is the one area where appearance does really matter, invest in good quality, original photos and product descriptions that answer any questions your customer may have. Key points to include at the product level are materials, widths, heights, size charts, and delivery information.
Make search and categorisation your top priorities. The easier you make life, for your customers, the more they will reward you with their business. Your search window should be prominently displayed snd easy to find and your search function should operate flawlessly.
By the same token, if your products are not sensibly categorised, clients will become frustrated and shop else ware. Moving from one category to another should be intuitive and as simple as possible.
Prompt customers with similar products. Having a ‘related item’, ‘others also bought’, ‘recently viewed’ or ‘you may also like’ section is a great way to up sale customers and make it easier for them to navigate around your site.
Pop-ups – but correctly.
Pop-ups are one of the most controversial of all conversion rate optimisation tools. Even though they are an annoyance, the fact is they do work when properly employed. If they didn’t they would have been abandoned by now.
Open a pop-up as soon as a user lands on your page. Data shows that bounce rates increase dramatically when users are hit with a pop-up as soon as they land on a site.
Present a blanket offer that is without context. The best offer is not going to trigger the desired reaction if people don’t know what you are all about. Why would someone sign up for a newsletter before they even know if you have the products they are interested in?
Trigger pop-ups with events, if you offer a discount or other deal when someone has placed an item in their cart, then you would have a much better chance of grabbing that all important email address and if you trigger your offer if they start to abandon a cart you might just save a sale.
Use inline messaging in place of pop-ups, when possible. A single line of highlighted text will be much less annoying than pop-up and greatly improve your user’s experience. This is especially important during the checkout phase of a transaction.
Let people checkout quickly
Now it’s time for the payoff. You have gotten your customer to your site. Wowed them with your beautiful pictures and sold them with your detailed product descriptions and it is time for you to get paid for all your hard work.
Distract from the purchase. Take any sales training class and after all the closing strategies and sales theory you are going to hear the same bit of advice. When the customer has said yes, don’t stop on the deal.” The same applies to e-commerce. Make your checkout process as quick and simple as possible. One extra step could be one too many and cost you in sales.
Try to hide shipping charges. Be as upfront and open about all charges as early as possible. If you make a customer fill in all their information and then hit them with a huge shipping charge, not only will they leave and never come back, they will slam you to all their friends and on every review site they can find.
Make purchasing easy. We covered this above, but I will say it again. Keep your checkout as simple as possible. It is nice to be able to collect all kinds of information about your customers and build your mailing list but this isn’t the time to do it. One field or one click can be the difference between making the sale and losing it.
Make paying easy. Different people have different preferences in how they handle online payments and the only person’s preference that doesn’t matter is yours. Accept every payment method that is practical for your business. Start with all major credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers, if you can. The point is to get the money.
Prioritise security. Online shoppers have become more and more security conscious. Make them as comfortable as you can as quickly as you can. Show off those Security Badges loud and proud. Stress your security measures at every opportunity, not just during checkout but from your homepage onward.
Do – provide instant satisfaction
If you take nothing else away from reading this remember this one point. People today want instant satisfaction and they don’t want to have to work hard to get it. Make the customer shopping experience on your e-commerce site as simple as possible and they reward you with their business. Try to get too much from them or make them work too hard to buy and they will bounce to the next site faster than you can hear a mouse click