Improve Your Customers’ Shopping Experience While Increasing Traffic & Sales
Thanks to its ease and convenience, plus a progressively better overall experience due to greater retailer emphasis, the online buying and selling of products and services — aka ecommerce — continues to increase its share of the U.S. (and global) retail market.
In 2010, less than 5% of retail sales took place online. In the third quarter of 2023, the share of ecommerce in total U.S. retail sales stood at 15.6%. That number is forecasted to rise to 23% by 2027!
A Statista 2023 market data and analysis report referred to ecommerce’s emergence in this way: “The ecommerce market has evolved from a simple counterpart of brick-and-mortar retail to a shopping ecosystem that involves multiple devices and store concepts…the digital transformation is not over yet and is unlikely to ever come to a halt.”
Obvious to anyone who hasn’t just woken up from a Rip Van Winkle-esque sleep, our society is becoming more and more immersed in the digital world, making ecommerce an essential part of most businesses’ overall retail strategy. In fact, some brand’s ecommerce stores are their only stores!
If you sell a product or a service, there are plenty of benefits to having an ecommerce site, tops among them being the ability to better grow your brand and connect more effectively with your audience on your way to increasing revenue.
Maybe you’re looking to start up your own stand-alone ecommerce platform or one to complement a physical store location. Maybe you already have one but haven’t been getting the results you’ve been hoping for and are looking for new ways to make it better. Either way, it’s important to know some of the best practices for designing and running an ecommerce site. This blog post offers a number of proven ways to make your ecommerce site better so you and your business will reach more potential customers, generate more meaningful leads, and create more loyal customers.
1. Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
You’ve no doubt visited a ton of websites in your Internet travels and done your fair share of shopping, so you should have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. You can probably think of some you really like and why — from great product descriptions to reliable customer service. Likewise, you likely can remember some places that you’d rather not visit again, what with their slow load speeds, confusing messaging, or poor navigation.
When approaching your ecommerce site, try to see things from your ideal customer’s POV including what they expect, what interests them, their preferences, and how they like to be spoken to. This is why it’s important to research your target audience beforehand. By anticipating their wants and needs and building your site around them, you can build an enjoyable shopping experience your customers will tell their friends about.
2. Think Polished & Professional
For people to take your brand seriously and feel comfortable doing business with it, your ecomm site should be a reflection of your business’s professionalism. This requires getting the verbal, visual, and strategy just right, including engaging, persuasive copy; high-def, captivating product and lifestyle images; and strong design elements, such as smart font choices and color schemes. You have to maintain consistency across all your pages. Every page has to look and feel on-brand. You also have to ensure links and buttons all work properly, and avoid distracting typos, misspellings, and overall poor grammar which tells visitors you’re likely not committed to excellence in your product or service either.
This will take much effort on your part or having to hire a professional designer and copywriter for that expert touch, but investing time and money into creating a high-quality, polished website is essential to attracting, landing, and keeping customers while building trust with them for years to come.
3. Make Sure It’s Mobile-Friendly
According to Statista, mobile ecommerce sales reached $2.2 trillion in 2023 and now constitute 60% of global ecommerce sales. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices have fast become the preferred option over desktops. People love the on-the-go convenience of mobile shopping, and they’ve come to expect smooth, satisfying mobile shopping experiences from every business they interact with online.
The key characteristics of a mobile-friendly website include pages that load quickly, fonts and images optimized for smaller screens, and content that fits nicely within a phone’s frame, flowing nicely when scrolled up and down. Your site must be easy to navigate by a finger tip and well-designed for the eyes to take in on a smaller level, in order to produce an easy, satisfying shopping process. If your ecommerce site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re likely to lose a lot of potential customers just seconds after they visit your page.
4. Keep It Simple
Few things chase customers away faster than a cluttered, confusing web page, so chock-full of words, images, and graphics that it’s hard to know where to go next. Because people want as quick and simple a process as possible, going on and on about your brand or product through bloated copy or, worse yet, irrelevant copy, is a bad idea. Visually speaking, a ton of different fonts, clashing graphics, and too many buttons and links are also problematic. With too much stuff going on, you have a good chance of losing customers’ attention and, ultimately, the sale.
With today’s short attention spans, you have a very short time in which to grab attention and get visitors to respond to your calls to action. You want the journey through the sales funnel to be as easy to navigate and distraction-free as possible, so clean, clear, user-friendly simplicity is key in your ecommerce site design. Granted, if you have a very technical product or one with many toutable features, you don’t want to leave anything important out that may help nail the sale, but you’ll still want to streamline the experience as much as possible. This could mean everything from incorporating drop-down menus; to keeping paragraphs short and breaking longer copy into sections (with headers); to using bulleted or numbered lists; to providing crystal clear messaging throughout the site including simple shipping options and return policy.
Don’t forget to have strong, clear yet simple calls to action that are optimally placed so they’re seen quickly. Driving your visitors to take action — whether it’s making a purchase, joining a newsletter, reaching out with questions, or learning more — should be your main goal on every page.
5. Incorporate Strong Descriptions & Images
It’s a much harder task to get customers to buy from your online store, especially when they’re not able to physically touch or see the products in-person. Online, it’s your words, images, and videos that must do the selling, which means they have to be extra powerful and persuasive.
You’ve probably experienced ecommerce sites where there’s been little to no description of features and benefits or low-quality, uninspiring product images. And chances are that you’ve left those pages without buying anything. Now, you don’t have to get crazy with your details, especially if there aren’t that many to trumpet, but people want to know what they’re getting, and informative product descriptions are a great way to convince and entice. They must be accurate and clearly stated or you run the risk of disappointing customers, losing them, and damaging your brand’s reputation. Not only that but search engines consider your product descriptions when determining how relevant your webpage is in search engine rankings.
Always try to highlight benefits rather than just the features, e.g. this coat will keep you warm, comfortable, and stylish on those cold winter nights, rather than just this coat is lightweight, made of goose down, and comes in different colors. Keep things short and to the point. Bullet points are especially good at giving customers small chunks of useful, quickly scannable information.
6. Prioritize Customer Service
Whether providing solutions to problems a customer may have after a purchase or answers to questions shoppers may have before, quick and quality customer service is essential to building loyalty and satisfaction around your brand. No one wants to recommend or continue to deal with a business that doesn’t respond, is late in responding, or offers unsatisfactory responses time after time.
Your customer service should be not only easily accessible, but also friendly, quick, and efficient. Giving customers a number of communication options — e.g. phone, email, live chat, text — lets them choose their preferred method which makes them more likely to use it and you more likely to resolve issues in a timely and positive manner. While artificial intelligence is all the rage lately in chats and social media replies, having a friendly, human representative of your business available can be a big differentiator.
7. Practice Smart SEO
Like it or not, search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo involve a system of rules and algorithms that essentially judge the popularity, usefulness, and viability of your website’s content. To increase traffic, or the odds of people visiting your site, you need to play by the rules and use them to your advantage, especially when your competitors are not.
The vast majority of consumers begin their buying process through a search engine, so you want to ensure that your target audience is being exposed to your website pages as much as possible there — which means placing higher in rankings. The way search engines rank your site is by associating it with certain topics, words, and other factors relevant to your product and industry. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quantity and quality of traffic to your website by improving its placement and outranking your competition in the results for various search engines.
By employing SEO best practices such as the use of relevant keywords in your content, writing strong product descriptions, incorporating quality backlinks, and optimizing your website’s built-in tools your website and its ecommerce platform can move up higher on the list of search results which means more exposure and greater likelihood of increased views, traffic, and revenue that should follow.
8. Embrace Analytics
Sure, you can judge the effectiveness of your ecommerce platform by a jump in sales or lack thereof; however, there are a number of other analytics and tools, including SEO data, that are extremely valuable in helping you assess performance and fine-tune your site toward more conversions, better targeting, and an better overall customer experience.
Ecommerce analytics encompass a wide range of metrics along the customer journey, such as discovery, acquisition, conversion, retention, and advocacy. They help you evaluate your campaigns to inform your strategy going forward, better personalize individual experiences, and optimize tactics for pricing, upselling, and more. Regular A/B testing can also help you assess the effectiveness of everything from button size to CTA location.
These are just a few top ways to elevate your ecommerce platform. As your site evolves and you keep incorporating more best practices to make it better, better results should follow. Remember, in the increasingly competitive digital landscape, in order to stand out in the mind of savvy consumers you’ll have to consistently provide a great digital shopping experience.
Creating professional, user-friendly ecommerce platforms is one of the many brand-boosting solutions we offer at M:7 Agency. For expert help building a powerful online presence, from websites and ads to social media accounts, reach out to us today!