It’s fairly simple now to become an online entrepreneur, thanks to technology and social media. Making a profit, on the other hand, is not always simple. There are small details that could greatly affect how your business thrives on the Internet — you can’t just put up an ecommerce portal and expect customers to come rolling in.
Building the smartest (and most successful) business website requires a lot of consideration. Online retailers must balance web design and development with marketing practices to successfully drive sales.
To add to the balancing act, your website and business will benefit when you consider what your customer wants and needs. Most are looking for a simple, straightforward shopping experience. Think about it — when is the last time you felt that way in a mall? There’s a reason shoppers are flocking to the web for their commerce needs — everything is tailored to them.
We’ve gathered a few tips for a successful ecommerce platform in the gallery below, some of which were suggested by Sucharita Mulpurur, an analyst at Forrester, and Ben Zifkin, CEO of Hubba.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an online shopper — as a customer, what features do you appreciate when you’re purchasing something on the web? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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1. Keep Easy Navigation
In order to get customers to purchase your product, they must know how to get to it first.
Mulpurur suggests that your site be simplified so that customers can maneuver with ease. Each category and subcategory should have a clear title, and they should be in a prominent location on each page.
Need Supply Co. has a minimal, yet appealing, website. The tabs are organized, upfront and self-explanatory.
2. Get a Great Search Bar
Even if your site is easy to navigate, nearly every sucessful website has a search bar. It’s a quick and convenient way for customers to find exactly what they need.
Mulpurur suggests making sure each search yields relevant responses specific to what the customer is actually looking for.
Fashion website Refinery 29 has a large search bar that’s separated from the rest of its tabs. The search engine is more than just nice to look at, though — it has a rapid-search mechanism that makes it easy to search for the brands the website features.
3. Keep it Simple
Mulpurur recommends an easy payment system. Consumers are more likely to purchase your product if the checkout is streamlined and straightforward.
In fact, an A/B Split Test study determined a 20% improvement rate when users were able to checkout in one click.
Amazon is known for its one-click checkout, and there’s a reason its the best. Take a note from their playbook and make your payment system as simple as possible.
4. Extra Features
Though the payment process should be straightforward, users shouldn’t feel like their options are lacking.
Keep in mind that some are purchasing your product as a gift. So, offer services like wrapping, receipts, personalized notes and returns. These features give a customer more reasons to buy, whether it’s for them or someone else.
5. Looks Are Everything
You’ve likely spent a lot of time on your product — why not show it off in the best quality possible?
Showcasing your products in visually appealing and interesting way is a great way to grab potential buyer’s attention.
Blik is a site that sells wall graphics, yet the photos incorporate the entire room, giving users an idea of what it would look like in their home.
Great pictures don’t require a professional photographer. There are several ways to improve the images on your ecommerce site without breaking the bank, too. Pretty pictures and smart design are always a factor in customers clicking “Buy."
6. Give Details
Data-sharing has evolved the retail world, says Zifkin.
Basic information like sizing, color and availability are necessary, but it helps the consumer to know things like how the product was made, how it will be shipped and what others are saying about it.
“Good product information is the most critical part of the purchase decision-making process," says Zifkin.
Make sure your shipping costs are apparent before the customer’s final checkout. The earlier they know about additional charges, the less likely they are to abandon their cart.
After the purchase is made, some customers might want to check the status of their purchase. Order tracking and history will help automate a lot of customer service calls.
8. Be Honest
No one likes to feel tricked after they’ve made a purchase, especially one that they’re not happy with.
Make sure that your policies are upfront and in plain language so customers know exactly what they are in for.
On a similar note, customers will appreciate a site that provides easy returns. So, understand that your product isn’t for everyone and make it simple for unsatisfied customers. Your consideration will likely not go unnoticed in sales.
9. Be Human
Customers may like the anonymity of online shopping because it provides privacy and trust. But a personalized experience will likely bring good reviews and recurring shoppers.
“The companies that are succeeding are the ones who have stopped acting like salespeople and started to partner with consumers to help them solve their unique shopping problem," says Zifkin.
10. Be Browser-Friendly
Sites that run smoothly on multiple browsers will drive more sales. Online shoppers are not going to wait around for a slow site to load or purchase something they can’t see because the image is broken.
Storyville‘s website lets the user decide which version they want to view, depending on the Internet connection.
Remember that not everyone is using just Google Chrome or Safari. Test your site on multiple platforms and make sure it’s operating across the board.
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To anyone who’s shopped online lately, it’s no secret that more and more commerce is done via payment gateways such as PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe.com and Checkout from Google. One of our largest customer segments is eCommerce and we happen to collect not only performance data about these customers’ custom apps, but we also report on the performance of their connections to payment gateways. And while we are agnostic about which payment solutions people use, we thought these customers might benefit from seeing just how well the top payment gateways are performing in the context of overall application performance. So we put together a graphic display that sheds some light on which gateways are the most popular and how they are performing within our customers’ app environments.
In a nutshell, according to the performance snapshot we took across our 21K accounts, the most popular gateway isn’t necessarily the fastest…