So you have a product or service that you can sell online. Quick put it on the web with a PayPal buy it now button then sit back and watch the money roll in…
Errr, no, sorry!
It’s in our nature: we all want a quick fix, but the old adage of “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly” really does apply here. The possible investment that you will have to make can sometimes be large, but the rewards can be huge. Here are a few tips and tricks that any budding ecommerce retailer should bear in mind.
Keep it clean is the general maxim here, it all depends upon your product but if people are going to part with their hard earned cash then you need to ensure they can see the product in all its glory.
Put it this way: you walk in to a shop it looks like a jumble sale, the price tags are missing and the till is not manned. The result? You walk out. The same applies online. Ensure that the customer can immediately see what it is you’re offering and invite them in.
Make sure you know who your site is aimed at and engage your user by ensuring that your product page is well conceived. The images and information should compliment each other. Some people will want to read all the ins and outs while others just to check the price and buy quickly and easily. Consider the benefits of video footage, additional images of both lifestyle and product close-ups.
You may want to offer alternatives in the form of a ‘related items’ section on the product page. It’s a great way to let the customer compare similar products, your site will be more honest about all the wares on offer and will reassure the user that you know your subject. It also gives a great opportunity to upsell to your visitors.
This section comes in two phases –
The Shopping cart: users must be able to easily add (and remove) multiple products and change quantities at a click of a button.
The check out: this process must be completely transparent; it needs to break down all the costs showing shipping rates and taxes. It should include as few steps as possible and should reassure the user that they are using a secure payment gateway.
The underlying message of all the above is 'Create Trust'. Clearly if the site does not evoke this basic feeling in the user then you have failed and your site will under perform as a result, which brings us back to understanding the target market we are engaging with.
Of course sometimes your budget will be limited so you will need to carefully consider which of the features above you will start with, and these are just the basics, so ensure that your final design will allow for expansion of both products and functionality as the business grows.
Ten do’s and don’ts of the ecommerce website.
- Do consider your product and the best way to present it
- Don’t buy an off the shelf template and hope that it will work for your products
- Do consider the future of the site and your business expansion
- Don’t build yourself in to a corner and have to re-engineer the site when you add a new range or product
- Do include multiple images or movies and think about the best way to showcase your product
- Don’t lose out on any number of sales because of the cost of one professional photo shoot
- Do have a transparent, simple structure to the shopping cart process
- Don’t make the purchasing so long winded and convoluted that your customer loses the will to live half way through
- Do make it secure – it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Let established reputable payment gateways take the strain. The average user is used the using these and it’s no big deal
- Don’t be afraid to tweak over time
(or you may have taken the plunge but fear that some of the don’ts above apply to your site. We won’t judge, but we will show you how it can be turned around)