What To Include And Avoid Starting Your Ecommerce Site
Starting a business is tough. It gets harder when you have to spend hours of your time figuring out the right platform for your business, how you want to present your business to potential customers, and then figuring out how the heck do you get those customers to your ecommerce store- None of which I am guessing are your particular specialties.
Connecting your business to the customers who need your product is a lot more complicated that you would think. In an actual store it's easy for a customer to walk in, find what they need, pay and go. In the digital world you have to check the spelling of every link, image, description and product because one small error could lead to thousands of lost sales.
Now, I know this may seem daunting, but let's dive into what you really want to know: What are five things to include and avoid in your ecommerce site.
5 Things You Must Include
1. Mobile Responsive Layouts
It might be hard to believe but the ecommerce industry hit $40 billion (yes billion with a b) last year and mobile devices accounted for 80% of that internet traffic. If your site can not be easily accessed by a mobile phone or tablet you just lost 80% of your customers in one decision. There are lots of open source smart grids available for you to use (bootstrap is one of the most popular) that can instantly make it look professional. Remember, quality of your display over the quantity of items is imperative at first glance (the quantity of information comes later).
2. Planned and Organized Pages
If a customer can’t get to what they need in three clicks or less you will lose 60% of your traffic. Take the time to map out how customers are navigating your site and you can start to predict the traffic you will get and improve your sales conversion rate because items are easy to find. A top industry practice is having category pages with brief excerpts helps your customers find what they are searching for fast and makes your product catalogue easy to digest.
3. Thorough Descriptions of Products
This is where you want your quantity of information. A strong description of a product here is important because a customer has clicked on an item and clearly wants more information. Pictures here are worth 1,000 words because studies show we gravitate towards products that have pictures because they seem more real. Sliders that rotate pictures for your customers to see are a huge design trend right now since it allows you to provide multiple pictures of a product without wasting space on the page.
4. Sales, Popular, Low Stock Items
Having two blocks on your landing page that showcase items that are for sale and your most popular items are great ways to upsell your customers. They might not have come to your page for any of the specific items that you have in these categories, but if you display them upfront you might get a few extra items added to carts per day and that can add up to thousands during the course of the month. On the other hand, showing that you are running out of stock on an item can trigger an impulse buy. Highlighting these three categories can greatly improve your product flow and improve your sales.
5. Multiple Payment Options
I saved this for last because it's imperative now. From Apple Pay, to PayPal, to Venmo, to traditional credit cards the way that customers can pay is now almost endless. You want them to trade their money for your goods so don’t limit how they can pay you. I know I have personally stopped shopping somewhere since they didn't accept a form of payment and gave my business to someone who offered the specific way I was looking to use.
5 Things To Avoid
1. No Endorsement or Social Media Platforms
This is a critical piece of any ecommerce website. It can not be emphasized enough that if you do not have multiple social media pages and reviews on those pages that people become leery of your business. You can use these platforms to connect to customers you didn’t know existed through targeted ads and boosted posts and you can use your existing customers to extend your reach. Great service recommendations on these platforms are where most customers start their search for the product they are looking for.
2. No Google Support
This is another huge stumbling block for most business owners, but it is honestly one of your most powerful tools. Google Analytics, Shopping, and My Business are awesome tools to build your brand and understand your customers. Google Analytics tells you exactly where your customers are, how they found your and where they spend time on your page. Google Shopping is a one click buy from a google search (see back to our Planned and Organized Pages for click counts), My Business allows you to post ads for free and generate leads there organically. All of these are powerful tools that if you fail to use properly can absolutely destroy your chances of success.
3. Slow Fulfillment Times
This is another critical item in your ecommerce setup that is worth investing money in to find a plugin or program that will help you stay organized. Slow fulfillment or incorrect fulfillment is the fastest path to negative online reviews (that is the kiss of death for a business). You need to make sure that you are getting orders out correctly in a reasonable amount of time or your ecommerce business will not succeed.
It might be tempting to upsell items a bit to boost sales but be careful how much you embellish your details. Fact checking on the internet is a common practice for customers and they will not hesitate to give you negative reviews if you claim products can do things they can not. Always err on the side of caution and you can then use your customers reviews to help sell your products for you. Trust is almost impossible to gain back in ecommerce once it is lost so being truthful is always a point of interest.
5. Failing to Brand Your Site
Your ecommerce website is your baby, and you want your site to be different from your competitors.You want it to be professional and this is where branding your site comes into play. Think of color schemes, fonts and any other design item that will flow throughout your entire site. A choppy site with mismatched styles and colors makes people question how much time you invested and how it was made. Little details like spelling and location of items on a page can distract your customers from the end goal of sales.
I hope this really helps everyone get a good idea of what is important and dangerous in creating their ecommerce site. While this is just the start of your journey I wish everyone the best in getting their site up and running.