It’s predicted that the year 2015 is going to yield as much as $2.2 trillion dollars in total global transactions over eCommerce networks. As previously reported by eMarketer, the expectancy of that amount was to be reached by 2018, but as more people are gaining access to the internet (with as many as 1 billion new internet users in the following two years), eCommerce has managed to outgrow quite a few, if not all, of the predictions made.
To launch a successful eCommerce store, the only few requirements are a reliable hosting company, a reliable piece of software/platform that can act as the actual storefront, but most importantly — an idea, a product, a vision upon which to strive and build for the future.
If you have managed to arrive at the point of completion, it might be a good time to look into some tips and ways of how to improve our eCommerce store experience, not only for ourselves, but for our biggest assets, which is the customers and consumers. Sometimes it’s enough to throw a few pages together and list some products, however these days a lot more goes into creating a seamless shopping experience.
1. Focus on User Experience
Any eCommerce store out there is built for the customer, and for the customer alone. Just like you walk into a bank, and expect soothing background music and free sweets to indulge in, your eCommerce store should strive to provide the same exact experience, it should feel as if people are browsing a real physical store, which can sometimes be a tricky thing to achieve.
An eCommerce store built on the principles of User Experience, will easily convey trust, loyalty and ease of mind; things that go a long way for the user to make the final decision of completing a purchase or not, these days there are no shortage of alternatives for products online, even if yours is quite special.
Things to consider implementing:
- A clear and visible user interface that naturally explains what the page does.
- Easily accessible menus and navigation bars.
- Clean and organized product pages; photos, review, prices, and descriptions.
- An easy way to access the customer support portal/platform.
- A clear indication of social media presence.
- Fast loading pages, popups to the bare minimum, focus on seamless.
2. Invest in Mobile Experience
Last year, one-third of the total internets population spent time browsing eCommerce stores using a mobile phone, in fact — that one-third of those people actually made a purchase using their mobile devices, and this number is expected to increase significantly over the coming two to three years. Sooner or later, mobile will be primary shopping experience for anyone.
On top of that, having an eCommerce store that doesn’t provide a mobile-first experience is going to scare away the majority of people who browse your store from a mobile device, it has been a proven twice over fact that is based on simple principles of a good user experience.
How to optimize for mobile user experience:
- Keep the mobile experience as simple and straightforward as possible, and that includes a responsive design experience.
- Utilize icons, larger fonts and text-boxes where possible.
- Important notices and announcements to be kept above the fold.
- Easily accessible buttons that don’t overlap with the design.
3. Click and Buy
In other words, don’t make the check-out process for products a nightmare. The last thing people want to do is spend more than 10 minutes trying to actually purchase something that they clearly are ready to pay money for. The hard part is to get them to actually get to this page, don’t make it a miserable experience once they do.
Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers, according to BI Intelligence estimates. — Business Insider
That is a lot of money to be leaving at the table, so here are some tips to improve the check-out experience on your eCommerce store:
- Allow multiple payment options: PayPal, Credit Cards, Gift Cards, Direct Deposit.
- Free shipping on big orders.
- Clearly state all the costs before the check-out is done.
- Allow customers to purchase without having to signup for an account.
4. Optimize the Photo Quality
In an online store, there are no physical products to touch, to feel or to observe. Your images are the only way of really conveying what the product looks like, and how it works. There are, of course, exceptions where video uploads are also useful, but not everyone can afford or have the time to produce high-quality videos for all of their products. Visual content is simply easier to remember, easier to understand, and makes for a much more likely chance of a completed purchase.
The best way to display photos:
- Try to show at least 2-4 high-quality photos of all of your products, and do it in a way that shows all the angles and aspects of the produce. This should be done throughout the whole store.
- Outline what are the benefits/advantages of each product and have specific images for that. If you’re selling Unisex T-Shirts, show pictures of both a girl and a boy wearing it.
- Provide the option to see what all the colors that you offer look like, it’s a shame to choose a bright pink, but have it arrive shallow. Make the customer experience as physical as possible.
5. Optimize for Search Engines
If you have done all of the above, and follow it with your full focused attention, then all that is left to do is do some Search Engine Optimization integration, since eventually — you want to arrive in a place where majority of your traffic is organic, coming from direct search engine queries. You can find plentiful of SEO guides on the web, but here are some outlines to focus on:
- Have a mobile site ready. Now a Google ranking factor.
- Have HTTPS (Secure Browsing) enabled. Now a Google ranking factor.
- Create a content marketing strategy for your blog to attract new visitors.
- Immerse yourself in inbound marketing to create links, news headlines, etc,.
If you can successfully implement all of these tips, what comes beyond will be patience and the ability to maintain these little strategies to keep pushing your eCommerce store forward, and beyond.
Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.