Today’s online shoppers are more demanding than ever. As ecommerce experiences become more sophisticated and multi-channel, user expectations have soared. Not only do they want fast, low cost, reliable shipping, they also want the option to return products, leave reviews, and received a personalised service with excellent customer care. Successful ecommerce entrepreneurs must cater to the modern user’s feverish impatience, if they are to keep them wanting more.
On that note, here are eight mantras that every ecommerce entrepreneur should live by to run a successful and popular online business.
1. You’ve got to start with the customer
Everything else is secondary. User experience (UX) should form the cornerstone of your online business, just as it would with a traditional brick and mortar one. Today’s online shoppers are highly intolerant – they do not have time for slow-loading pages, bugs on the site, confusing navigation or poor presentation. A website that frustrates your users is a real buzzkill for your brand. The best online experiences are those that are carefully constructed to make it easy for users to find and understand the information they are seeking, and to follow the process necessary to make a purchase. Check out these ecommerce websites that are nailing their UX.
2. Content is king
Content forms one of the most important aspects of your website. It is the reason search began. It allows you to describe, explain, direct, persuade, embellish and add value. Your content is what speaks to the user, and it needs to be good.
Think about what you would expect to read as you make your way through an ecommerce store. You want a good sense of the company and the products available, and you want to get a feel for the brand personality through the tone of voice. Use an active voice (not a passive one) and above all else avoid marketing jargon – customers hate it and will see right through it. Build a human connection by writing like a human, and ensure that your content is broken up and scannable. Nothing is more offputting that a great solid wadge of text to wade through.
If writing’s not your forte, employ a good freelancer to assemble the copy for you, and make sure you give them a full and clear brief. Try this free guide on how to brief a copywriter.
3. There is beauty in simplicity
That’s right. Embrace big fonts, white space and simple menus, and steer clear of clutter. Complexity is off putting for users and will hurt your conversions. What you want to do instead is make it as easy as possible for them to get from A to B. Keep your navigation basic and intuitive, upsell where appropriate, avoid huge flashing banners and keep advertising small and to a minimum. Do not hit your customer with too many distractions all at once – remember that the option for them to leave is just a click away.
4. A picture is worth a thousand words
Good quality imagery is very important in the world of ecommerce. People are already buying products they can’t touch and feel, so they are making purchase decisions purely based on words and images. And if the images are poor quality – well, that doesn’t leave a great impression.
Your product images are what will help your customers to evaluate whether or not they are interested in buying. So aim for clear, well-framed, attractive imagery that shows your products off at their best. Remember to optimise your images for web so that the file sizes are small, otherwise your web pages will take longer to load and your customers will lose patience and leave. You should also label your images with the appropriate tags, to help search engines identify what they are and improve your page relevance.
5. It’s all about the journey
This refers to your customer journey. Nowadays, the customer journey takes place across many devices, often starting on one device and ending on another. As a result, having a seamless, multi-channel buying experience is more important than ever. Offering an omnichannel consumer shopping experience, regardless of where the customer is, or what device they are using, is not only expected, but will hold you back if you fail to embrace it.
An order made through omnichannel commerce could start on a mobile, continue on a tablet, and finish on a desktop. It should ship promptly, arrive within a few days and be in perfect condition on arrival. To achieve this requires building an ecommerce store that is optimised for mobile, with streamlined processed like fast, automated billing and shipping procedures.
6. People trust what they know
Online customers are pretty familiar with shopping online and how it all works. There are certain features customers will expect, and fulfilling their expectations will make them feel comfortable and safe. By sticking to known conventions and symbols, your site will be more intuitive and easier for your customers to understand. Don’t throw in any surprises that could create confusion. Build trust through consumer trust signals and secure payment gateways.
7. Live life in the fast lane
40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load (Kissmetrics). That’s the level of impatience we are dealing with in a world of super-fast Wi-Fi. Mobile users are very slightly more forgiving, but not by much, and remember that your users will likely be coming from all channels. If your site frequently displays slow load times, chances are those users trying to access it will never come back – their time is valuable.
● To ensure that your ecommerce website performs at top speed, make sure you are working with a good, reliable hosting company who can handle everything that your site will need.
● Another tip is to make sure that you haven’t uploaded full-size uncompressed image files (as mentioned previously) as these can add several more seconds to your page’s load time. Read how to reduce image sizes for web.
● Check your site’s databases frequently to make sure your code is still healthy and that your database hasn’t got bloated.
● Check any redirects and make sure that they aren’t impacting the user-experience negatively. Remember to redirect any out of stock products back to appropriate pages.
8. Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat
To make a great website, you must embrace the art of testing. Even the smallest of details can make a big difference to the usability of your site – and to the user experience. Small hiccups such as broken links, errors, typos and clumsy navigation will all contribute to a negative impression of your brand. You might think that your site is operating perfectly if you’ve yet to receive a customer complaints, but chances are that rather than complaining, dissatisfied customers will simply leave the site and look elsewhere.
This is where usability testing is really useful. It can uncover all kinds of faults in your site, both large and small. A/B split testing will help you to measure how different features are impacting your site and affecting everything from conversions and bounce rate to page views and form fills. Common areas to test include search boxes, banners, product presentation, targeted content and hero images.
Ultimately, all of these points redirect back to point 1: maximising the user experience. Consider it a rule of thumb to make everything on your site as easy and appealing as possible, and continue to make ongoing changes and improvements based on what your testing reveals is working. Do this, and you will convert more of your visitors into customers, and more of your existing customers into loyal brand evangelists.