In 2017, sales online accounted for 2.3 trillion dollars of business. By 2021, that number is expected to more than double — to nearly 5 trillion dollars. The rapid rise in e-commerce now makes it possible for businesses to connect with new customers across the globe.
If you’re running an e-commerce business, you know that the key to success is optimizing your site for conversions. In this post, let’s look at seven essentials of e-commerce success. We’ll break down why each is important and share practical tips on how to implement these essentials.
1. Have a Clear and Consistent Brand Identity
Building trust in your brand is especially important in e-commerce because many people are wary of being scammed. Creating a clear and consistent brand identity online will help create confidence that your business is professional and reliable. Branding is more than your logo, although design elements are important. Maintaining a consistent look and feel across the site and displaying a professionally-designed logo helps convey the message that your business is legitimate and safe to do business with.
But branding goes beyond design to share your story and your mission. What’s the reason you exist as a company? What is your commitment to a quality product and customer experience?
2. Ensure Your Site Looks Good and is Easy to Use on Mobile Devices
Increasingly, consumers are shifting to mobile devices to make online purchases. In 2018, it’s been estimated that nearly 65% of e-commerce purchases were made using a mobile device. Having a mobile-responsive site that’s easy to use is a must. Simple navigation ensures users can get to the buying stage without frustration. It also reduces the chances that they’ll bail on their shopping experience before making a purchase.
One of the simplest ways to locate and fix potential issues with the mobile version of your site is user testing. Instruct testers, without any instruction, to navigate to an item they would want to buy and go through the purchase process. As they move from browsing to product selection to purchase, chances are you’ll find parts of the process that need some polishing.
3. Make Search Simple
Especially if your site offers a large number of products, it can be a chore for shoppers to locate the exact item they’re looking for. Make sure your site has a search bar displayed prominently at the top of each page (that functions well on mobile devices!). An easy-to-see search bar gives shoppers the ability to type in categories or the exact name of a product and be taken directly to what they’re seeking. Also, make sure your search functionality gives users the ability to filter and exclude products using criteria that make sense based on what they may want to find.
4. Use High-Quality Photography and Video
Buying online is convenient but it comes with the disadvantage of not being able to see the product firsthand. At a brick-and-mortar storefront, shoppers can have a much richer experience that involves multiple senses. You can mitigate this disadvantage by having a variety of high-quality photos of each product from a range of angles to help shoppers feel more comfortable making a purchase. Videos offer an even richer experience, especially when they’re done in a review format where key features are pointed out to the consumer.
5. Make Wish Lists Available
By offering your website visitors the ability to save a purchase for later or add it to a wish list, you give yourself the opportunity to make a future sale. Shoppers are more likely to buy something when they see it in their cart as “saved for later” or in their wish list. Sending periodic email reminders that a product is still stored away on a wish list also allows you to reach out to potential customers at a time when they may be ready to buy.
6. Include User Reviews
Shoppers are much more likely to trust each other than they are to believe what you say about your products. They put real stock behind the experiences that previous customers have had, and many shoppers won’t buy without the ability to see several real user reviews. Giving customers the ability to rate and review products helps to build trust in your brand as well. Giving customers a platform to rave about how much they appreciated the fast shipping and friendly service or how useful they found the product they purchased will pay off increasingly over time, as you collect more reviews.
7. Streamline Your Checkout and Payment Process
Since the goal of all e-commerce sites is generating actual sales, having an easy-to-use checkout and payment process is arguably the most important thing that shopping sites must get right. Start by clearly listing all shipping options and the prices associated with each. Accept as wide a variety of payment options as possible, including all of the major credit cards and PayPal. Some users won’t want to create a user account, so providing PayPal as an option to check out will prevent those shoppers from abandoning their carts. Don’t forget to use trust symbols during the checkout process to reassure users that your company is reliable.
Your process should require as few clicks as possible to get from cart to confirmation. Pre-fill as much information as possible so shoppers don’t have to type in details — especially important on mobile devices.
While there are over a hundred items you can optimize on your e-commerce site, these seven will make the biggest impact.
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