Competition is always a factor, regardless of which type of business you are in. But, e-commerce can be particularly competitive, since a potential customer can easily access another ‘store’ in a matter of seconds. Issues like a poor layout, low-quality design, difficult navigation or questionable security will quickly turn people off, and have them moving onto the next site with little hesitation. Here are just a few helpful hints for putting together and profitable, e-commerce site.
Don’t Require People to Register Before Buying
I can’t tell you how many times I was turned off from making a purchase online because I needed to register beforehand. Does it take that long? Not really, but many see it as kind of annoying. Remember a competitor is just a click away. Allow customers to make purchases as a ‘guest’ with the option afterwards to create an account for faster check-out the next time. This one step has been shown to significantly boost sales, improve customer retention, and reduce incidences of people abandoning their cart.
The Right E-Commerce Software
When it comes to choosing e-commerce software, you are certainly not lacking in options. The first thing you need to consider is your level of personal knowledge about this type of software program—some programs take care of everything for you, while others are more appropriate for people who have a bit of technological savvy, and want to create a more customized experience. Secondly, be careful about choosing a program that relies on using ‘cookies’ to track the path of visitors to your site—many people turn them off while browsing, meaning they won’t be able to buy from your site. While it is standard for most sites, still double check about the availability of a virtual shopping cart and the ability to transfer data securely using SSL. Choose programs that offer a variety of payment methods to maximize sales. Another important consideration is the administrative aspects of the program—you want maximum flexibility and ease as far as making changes to the site and uploading data. Look at the type of information provided in the reporting—you want something that gives you as much information as possible. This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few core considerations that are particularly important.
Make Sure Final Costs are Known before the Last Stage of Checkout
The customer should know the total cost of the item he is going to purchase before he even begins the check-out process. Going all the way through, and not finding out about shipping costs, sales tax or a fee for using a credit card until the last stage of the purchasing process will increase the chances of abandoning the order . You can tweak your software to make these calculations for you, and have them show up on the product page.
Keep the Search Bar Easily Visible
If you have ever visited mega-online retailers like Amazon, you will notice the search bar is very prominently featured. You can’t miss it. Follow their lead. Easy navigation is crucial for e-commerce sites, and if a visitor is having trouble locating the search function, your site will be in trouble as well.
Keep the Pages Clean
Just like clutter in a real store can turn off potential customers, a cluttered website can have the same exact effect. While you want to make sure you have the important elements on the pages, like call-to-actions, subscription buttons and the like, avoid putting too much. A good amount of white space helps these elements, as well as the products stand out.