Successful online businesses take inspiration from of retail sales principles in building their eCommerce website. The most successful retail stores have great curb appeal with a simple entrance, easy checkout process, knowledgeable and available floor associates etc.
To run a successful online business, you need to understand what successful bricks-and-mortar businesses in your industry do and apply those strategies online.
To get you started, we’ve put together these 5 rules of eCommerce success to get your website visitors actually shopping online.
1. Have a simple design
Typically, we want to use new technologies and latest design trends on our website to impress our customers. But over-designing can be overwhelming and even scare away your online customers. Your website’s goal is to generate sales and the best way to do that is to ensure your customers get the information they need in the quickest way possible. In the case of a checkout, use a flow that is quick and easy. The last thing any online shopper wants to do after finally choosing what to buy is to go through 5 steps to pay for it and get it shipped. Doing this will drastically drop shopping cart abandonment. A simple eCommerce website design can include:
- User-friendly navigation
- Easy to use search bar
- Quality product images
- Detailed and unique product description
- Easy to find contact and support information
- Readable terms and conditions, return policy, shipping FAQ
- Easy to access “Contact Us” section
2. Don’t redirect to pay
One of the worst things you can do on your eCommerce website is redirecting your customers when they’re ready to check out. Your customers choose to shop online because of convenience. Adding the extra step of an off-site checkout makes it more difficult for them to complete their purchase. Shoppers will not wait. A redirect to pay process also brings up security concerns. Switching domains and seeing a new page for checkout can cause confusion for less tech-savvy customers and lead them to bail on their purchase.
3. Streamline the checkout process
The instant killer of eCommerce sales is a checkout that has a million fields. Skip the distractions on your eCommerce website and focus on a simple customer checkout experience by only asking for necessary details at checkout. If you’re taking customers through four or five steps in order to purchase, you’re asking for too much information. Your goal is to get your customer to complete a purchase. You can ask for additional info after the payment is complete. These are the main elements of a successful checkout:
- Shopping cart/bag review
- Billing and shipping
- Payment information
- Confirmation/Thank you
In addition to a quick and seamless checkout process, ensure that your eCommerce website is fast. Nobody likes to wait, so don’t make your online customers wait. Amazon reports “every 100 milliseconds in loading time results in a 1% loss in sales.” According to Compuware, every 2 seconds of load time on your site equates to an 8% abandonment rate. By dropping load time from 8 to 2 seconds, you could increase conversion by 74%. Once it becomes a pain to shop online, your customers will go to a competitor with faster page load times.
If you’re working with a website developer, have them do a code cleanup on your website. Complicated code, especially from overly designed website themes, can cause slow page load times. De-clutter your code of unnecessary scripts and you’ll have faster page transitions that help you generate more sales.
4. Know and reward your customers
As an eCommerce business, you won’t have the opportunity to interact with your customer in person you have you work a bit hard to get to know your customer base. Figure out who your customers are and what they’re buying. Talk to them, ask them why they buy from you and ask them what else they want to see you sell. Knowing your customers intimately is a huge competitive advantage. By knowing your customers and involving them in your business process, you get a better understanding of what they really need.
Beyond getting to know your customers, engage with them. Reach out to your customers in other forms. Connect with your audience by sending them emails about new products, promotions, and events you have in store. Remember to always keep your social networks updated with the latest information and ask your followers to share your business with their friends. Be everywhere. Create a plan to engage your customers on a regular basis through a newsletter or seasonal promotions and start building a relationship with them. An engaged audience will be more loyal. Which brings us to the next point: loyalty.
Offer a discount or free shipping to a new customer, or to one who spends more than a certain value. The sky is the limit on ways you can reward your most loyal customer. Loyal customers mean repeat customers which mean more sales.
5. Ensure that your site is secure
The biggest hurdle of an online business is to convey trust and security to your customers. The only thing you can do is to make sure you constantly communicate security assurance at all stages of your website from product pages to checkout. Your website’s security message can be communicated in many ways using:
Security badges and icons
A simple way to gain your customers’ trust is to display security badges and icons. Security and protection of sensitive card data are extremely important to online shoppers. Your eCommerce website can appease customer’s security concerns by showing security badges and certification information. Things such as SSL certificates, PCI compliance, and other certifications will show your site is verified by security companies are.
Easy to find contact information
Having easy to find company and contact information will give your customers confidence in your business. Sharing your company story, what you sell and why builds a relationship with your customers and lets them get to know you a little better. The better they know you, the more likely they’ll trust you enough to make a purchase on your site.
It’s also important to make it easy for customers to get a hold of you on your website for assistance. You can do this by having a dedicated Contact Us section with your phone number, mailing address, email, customer support line and links to your social media networks. Some businesses even include a Contact Form directly on their website to make it even simpler for web visitors to leave a note.
One of the essential requirements for trust on your eCommerce website is sharing your return policy. A return policy is important for online shoppers because they can’t try on a product or test it out like they can in-store before making a purchase. A simple and clear return policy makes it easier for customers to commit to a purchase because they know it can be returned if the product doesn’t meet their expectations, want to do an exchange or they receive a faulty product. It’s a definite must-have.
Product ratings and reviews
According to Search Engine Land, 72% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Enabling product ratings and customer reviews on your website can make a huge impact on sales, showing visitors that other shoppers have done business with you and that they approve your products.
By following these 5 rules for eCommerce your business will be set up for success.