Online stores can be cheaper to run and manage, but how do you make sure it's a big success? Here's some advice for the online entrepreneur.
Mobile devices and tablets have greatly changed the shopping process and the path to purchase. These days, you can buy anything from a pizza to an island from your favorite chair. Due to this simplicity, new online shops are constantly popping up to cater to different customer segments.
It seems so easy to set up an online shop; just combine a domain, good hosting, content management system and theme. Low overhead makes for very little barrier to entry- you don’t need to pay high rent if you don’t have the need for a physical store.
But in reality it’s quite hard to create a good online store, and it’s even harder to make it successful and user-friendly. Below are useful tips to will guide you through the obstacles to becoming a successful online store owner.
Related Article: How to Create a Powerful User Experience on Your Ecommerce Site
The homepage is a face of the company; therefore it should be easily read and clearly understood. Your customers value their precious time, so they won’t spend a few minutes trying to figure out what you sell or which services you provide. Be concise and direct in conveying the most important info to your customers (it will also be useful in a variety of other situations). Don’t tell the customer when your business was found or how many sales managers you have, save that info for the About Us page. Of course, there are some exceptions, but I’m talking about general situations.
Here’s a screenshot of a homepage (the area above the fold, to be exact). There is neither extensive text nor irrelevant info here. You can understand what the store offers in a few seconds.
A good homepage also links to the categories to ease site navigation and make user experience seamless. There are may also be banners with special offers and promotions.
Sometimes you also need to place contacts or even online chat to answer all customers’ questions quickly. Live chats have the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel with 73%, so you should consider using it in your store.
Think of your online shop as an offline store for a moment; your category pages are like smaller departments within it. So show customers what you have on the shelves: place pictures, add to cart option and maybe some more useful info (short description, rating, etc.). You can also add sorting options (by bestsellers, reviews count, price, newest, etc.) or ajax scroll. If you decide to go for sorting, make sure you set all the canonicals and navigational tags properly not to bother Google with duplicate content. If you choose infinite scroll for your categories, remember to comply with Google guidelines on this. Yes, Google will influence many decisions you’ll take about your website, just accept it.
For example, in this store, customers are given a plenty of sorting and other options that help find most suitable products quickly.
Some stores use quick views which also work great. However, they decrease the number of viewed pages per session as a customer doesn’t need to open each product in a separate tab.
Choose what works best for you by testing different approaches. Everything depends on your product range and customers you cater for.
A customer navigates through your site to land on a product page. His intention is to find something interesting and possibly make a purchase. The final decision greatly depends on the quality and quantity of information you provide. But it doesn’t mean you should write a 1000-word description (you can save the words for a user guide or even a blog post about the product); your goal is to show all the relevant info as quickly as possible, so it should be organized in a user-friendly manner.
Here are must-have product page components:
I’m sure you’ve seen how people choose products in supermarkets (and you are not an exception). They carefully study the product, its color, shape, packaging, and they try on clothes, study its material, etc. But they can’t do that in your online store, so you should fill that information gap to provide good user experience.
Use high-quality images with zoom and a color picker, the latter is relevant for configurable products.
You can provide a short description for quick scanning and a longer description with technical details. It’s up to you which formatting and display options to use, but it should look natural on the page. Moreover, you will have to work hard writing product descriptions; they must be unique.
Most online stores show prices and there is no wonder, people prefer to know what to expect from you. It’s especially true when it comes to money, nobody likes taking unfounded risks with their hard-earned assets.
If it is a discounted product, promote that info; compare the sale price with the current one.
Add to Cart
Let’s be honest, your main goal not to show off your design, pics or anything like that. Your main goal is to sell. So make an option to buy prominent and salient; this is your primary call to action that should be heard.
Additionally, you can display “Add to compare” and “Add to wishlist” options.
That’s great if a customer buys a product, but he could have bought more! So your goal here is to offer more products that match your customer’s taste. You can show related products and/or “Customers who bought this item also bought”. This technique can increase an average order value in your store.
Related Article: How to Set Up an Ecommerce Website Without Any Tech Skills
Special Offers & Promos
Ok, let’s imagine you already have a site with perfect homage, categories and products pages (you do have it, right?). Now you need to attract new customers and make old customers come back. You should develop a marketing plan and launch promotions.
If you launch a new collection or a special category in your store, you can make it quietly… or create a promotion and make it loud! You may need a good landing page for that; for example, here is a screenshot of a page with a countdown (it’s a good solution for creating feeling of urgency):
The design and message that conveys your landing page greatly depends on your business and the goals you need to achieve.
You can give your customers discounts on different occasions and holidays that may be global (e.g. Christmas), local (e.g. St. Patrick’s Day) or even personal (birthdays, N orders, etc.)
Gamification is playing a more and more important role in eCommerce and you should learn how to use it. You can create different games that help customers earn points or coupons. People like being entertained; you just need to find the right approach. This classification can help you:
Tracking & Analyzing
When you invest much time and efforts in marketing and in your site in general, you want to know how they influence your users and see customers journey through your site. The easiest way to get that info is to set up your Google Analytics code. Once it’s done, here are some more important things to do:
- Create 3 views: 1st with raw data; 2nd with different filters (like IP restriction); 3rd is for testing new things (filters, grouping, etc.)
- Set up goals: adding to cart, purchase, newsletter sign-up, etc.
- Set up ecommerce tracking.
Default Google Analytics reports cover almost everything you need. But if you have some special questions, you can create custom dashboards, reports or take ready-made solutions from GA Gallery.
So, is it worth all the effort?
There is one simple answer: yes. Your store is like a sprout; you should take care of it, water it and nourish it. One day your hard work will result in a flourishing tree which will bear fruits regularly!