Developing and maintaining a profitable webstore can seem like an overwhelming task at times. Each sit is different and presents its own unique challenges. But the one consistent principle that applies across every successful webstore is the need to optimize for conversion. In other words, if your goal is to achieve a positive ROI, make the shopping and purchasing process as pleasant and easy as possible. Just as friendly customer service and a clean and organized environment are critical to the success of a brick-and-mortar store, the same principles apply to your webstore.
What Does Your Welcome Mat Say?
Think of your webstore as the welcome mat for your company. For many customers, your webstore is the first impression they receive about your company, so it's imperative that you're sending the right message.
Some basic questions to ask yourself:
- Does my webstore look professional and trustworthy?
- Is there unnecessary clutter that can be removed to help customers focus on the content they care about?
- How well does my site display on mobile phones and tablets?
- Can my customers easily find the products they're looking for?
- Once customers find what they need, how easy is it for them to complete a purchase?
One of the best ways to test this is to have someone you know and trust give you real, honest feedback after they complete a purchase on your site. Conduct the test in two ways:
- Give someone a specific item to purchase and see how easily they find it; for example, "Find and buy a tension curtain rod in oil-rubbed bronze."
- Give someone a general item to find; for example, "Find a present for your significant other."
In both tests, ask them to describe the steps it took to find the item, and what they thought of the process. These tests will let you know how well you're guiding people to specific purchases and how well you're inspiring them to purchase from you. Remember - you want to choose someone who will be completely honest about their experience so that you can find the areas that need to be improved.
Make Your Webstore Inviting
Now that you've identified potential areas for improvement, how do you fix them?
Here's a list of tips and best practices that you can apply universally across your site:
- Consistent navigation is key. Always include "breadcrumbs," or icons that allow customers to keep track of their location, on every page. Clear navigation is especially important if you send users to a specific page within your site via an ad. Consider including a search bar on every page, as well.
- Customer service should always be accessible. Display your customer service contact information on every page. Buyers will purchase with more confidence if they believe you're willing to take their call.
- Avoid surprises when it comes to shipping fees and return policies. Your fees and policies should be upfront, easy to understand, and as lenient as possible.
- Include brand logos wherever possible. It boosts buyer confidence to see that you provide quality, credible products. Think of it as "trust by association."
- Remove distractions. Does your site feature annoying pop-up windows or frames that appear even if a shopper is hitting the Back button? Do you use flashing promotions? If so, these sales gimmicks might actually be doing more harm than good and driving away shoppers.
Spruce Up Your Product Pages
Once you've cleaned up your website and made it easy to navigate, it's time to focus on the actual product pages. Just like brick-and-mortar stores have strict guidelines for arranging products on shelves, a site's product pages need to incorporate techniques that improve the customer's experience - and actually get them to make a purchase.
Consider the following:
- Don't overlook the importance of buttons. Make the Add to Cart and Buy buttons large and unmistakable, and use a bright and obvious color like orange to help increase visibility.
- Use the three-second rule. Your eye should be able to scan the image, product title, and Add to Cart button within three seconds.
- Keep product descriptions short and to the point. Add more details later in the page, if needed.
- Use large, high-resolution images with multiple angles. If possible, include rotate and zoom options for images, too. These rich media features allow customers to see all sides of a product, which reduces doubt or questions they may have had about a product's appearance.
- Add video. A video showing a product's qualities and actual usage can help customers envision themselves using the product. If product videos aren't feasible, consider allowing customers to upload videos with their product reviews.
- Make the sale price and amount saved very clear. Customers feel good when they know they've saved money, so remind them of their savings both on the product page and during checkout.
- Focus on easy-to-add and related upsells. For example, if a customer is buying a pair of pants, suggest an accompanying belt at the point of sale.
Guide Customers Through Checkout
Now that your customers are feeling good about your site and have found their must-have products, don't scare them away as they're checking out.
Here's what you can do:
- Display all fees up front. Customers don't want to be surprised with last-minute charges. Make sure they know what to expect as early as possible.
- Eliminate distractions. Minimize the amount of information on the page. Anything unrelated to the purchase could interrupt the customer's focus on the checkout process.
- Let them be guests. Don't require customers to register before making a purchase. Always give them the option to check out as a guest. Making a customer register just adds steps and work that could sabotage a sale.
- Provide real-time chat on the site. This feature is especially useful for customers with checkout questions.
- Boost buyer confidence. Offer credible payment options like PayPal, Google Wallet, or Amazon Payments. Don't let trust be an issue.
Is Your Site Designed for Multiple Devices?
Whether or not your webstore is designed for multiple devices, chances are, more and more of your customers are already visiting your site on their mobile phones and tablets. Make your site a pleasant experience for all customers, not matter the device they use.
If your site has not yet been designed for multiple devices, visit our Designing Your Webstore for Multiple Devices page for things to consider - and even if your site is designed for a good mobile experience, visit this page for some helpful tips.
What Do You Know About SEO? Digital Marketing?
One of the most common mistakes retailers make on the e-commerce front is ignoring the steps needed to ensure that customers who are seeking your products can find your site easily. But where can you get started? By incorporating some basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics, your potential shopper base can grow exponentially. Visit our Understanding SEO strategy page to learn more.
But SEO is just a piece of the larger pre-conversion digital marketing strategy. You need to be everywhere your customers are shopping online. Build and enhance your Digital Marketing strategy with ChannelAdvisor - take the first step by visiting our Digital Marketing Strategy at ChannelAdvisor section of the Strategy and Support Center.