Shopping online is a different beast than shopping in a store. If you run an e-commerce business, you likely look for ways to improve your bottom line and keep your business growing from one season to the next. While there is a ton of advice out there about how to accomplish this, sometimes going back to basics is the best choice available.
By the year 2021, experts predict retail e-commerce sales will hit $4.5 trillion worldwide.
1. Implement a Three-Second Test
The three-second test asks you to put yourself in your customer’s place. What is your impression in the first three seconds on your website? Do you immediately know where to go and how to take action, or is the layout frustrating and clunky? By putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, you will see your site through their eyes and make any structural changes necessary.
Although different experts cite different lengths of time, three seconds is a good middle-range number, so aim to make that impression in that time span. If your visitors hang around longer than three seconds, that is a bonus.
2. Focus on the Product
Home in on the product or products you’re selling. If someone lands on your homepage, they should immediately know what you sell and get a feel for your company philosophy. If your product is fun and lighthearted, your overall design and the way you present your product should reflect that.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your company story and history — both of which are important — but when a visitor searches for a specific product on your site, they often just want the quickest route to completing their purchase. Don’t distract them with other information at this point.
Pinpaper Press is a good example of putting the focus on the product. They sell different types of wrapping paper, so a gift wrapped in cute paper and tied up with a bow is the focus of their homepage. They keep their content simple with a big, bold call-to-action button that reads, “GET STARTED.”
3. Accept Multiple Currencies
Users in different countries prefer different types of payment options. Globally, credit cards are the preferred way to pay, but in China and Western Europe, users prefer a digital payment system, and in India, they appreciate cash on delivery. If you want your e-commerce business to be truly global, offer a variety of ways for your customers to pay.
For example, do you take cryptocurrency? If not, this is an option you should look into. Some companies will convert your cryptocurrency to cash, if your concern is how to spend the cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Ultimately, you may choose to stick with other payment options, but don’t overlook new methods of payment or other options that might appeal to a wider market.
4. Highlight Sales
It’s important to clearly show site visitors what is on sale and what your specials are. If you offer seasonal-based products, then ensure you highlight those during the proper season. If the focus is more on a discount or free shipping, highlight that instead. Online consumers are savvy. They love a good deal and will hunt around for a site that gives them the best price and most perks.
Note how the Amish Outlet Store highlights their June savings for consumers, explaining the different ways people can save money based on their payment method or purchase amount. They also show a couple of pieces of furniture the site visitor might save money on to further entice consumers to shop their June savings event.
5. Improve Customer Experience
Customer experience (CX) is a vital part of whether consumers stay on your site and return to it for future purchases. Since 86 percent of consumers say they’ll pay a bit more for a better CX, focus on making your CX the absolute best possible. That starts the minute the consumer lands on your page, and goes all the way through how you follow up after you’ve made the sale.
CX is about more than how your site looks — it is also about how your site makes consumers feel. That includes everything from how easy your site is to navigate to how well you execute an order. To test the experiences consumers have on your site, do polls and get some beta testers to try out various aspects of ordering from your website. Make any necessary improvements along the way.
6. Add Live Chat
Consumers prefer live chat over other methods of contacting your company. More than 50 percent say they’d rather use live chat than a telephone for support or to ask a simple question. They even prefer live chat over email and social media for communication with companies. Live chat shows you’re engaged with your customers and ready to fulfill their needs.
Petplan offers customers several options on how to contact them. While the focus of the landing page is on starting a quote on pet insurance, you’ll also notice a chat bubble in the bottom right you can click on at any time for a live chat. Also, if you click “start my quote,” you go to a page to fill in information, and to the right is a box with options for how to contact Petplan, including live chat as one option.
7. Focus on Trust
Consumers are a lot more likely to purchase from someone they feel they can trust. Put a face and philosophy behind your business. If you belong to any groups or have certifications, such as through the Better Business Bureau or an industry organization, be sure to list those at the bottom of your landing page.
The more site visitors feel they know you and have a guarantee you’ll fix anything that goes wrong, the more likely they are to give you their hard-earned dollars. If you want to keep those same visitors coming back again and again and get them to tell their friends about your business, ensure their entire experience is positive.
8. Personalize the Experience
Creating a personalized experience for your site visitors is important. Anything you can do to make things as specific as possible for those you’re trying to reach will improve your chances of gaining new customers. There are many different methods to personalize their experiences. Collect data from them, and greet them by name, for example.
Wine.com ships quality all over the country. They personalize the site by state, showing you approximate shipping times or if they ship to your ZIP code. You just choose the drop-down menu at the top of the landing page to set it to your state and see which wines are available to you, as this can also vary by state.
9. Turn Customers Into Loyal Fans
It costs five times more to gain a new customer than to keep a customer you already have. Current customers are also more likely to re-order and spend more on average. It makes sense to focus on turning your customers into the most loyal fans you’ve ever had. As a bonus, they will spread the news about your great customer service, and word of mouth will continue to grow your biz.
There are several ways to accomplish this feat. Outstanding customer service is a start, but you should also develop a customer loyalty program that rewards customers for repeat purchases or referrals.
Creating an Amazing E-Commerce Store
If you want your e-commerce store to be the best it can be, never stop improving your processes and offers. Continue to look at your store through the eyes of your target audience. Over time, your site should offer new features and improve old ones, constantly changing, growing and becoming better than the year before. Only with this type of dedication will you see success and overcome the competition in the marketplace.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.