The internet has revolutionized the way we pay for products and services. It has given birth to entire industries that didn’t exist merely a couple of decades ago. The world at such a point in time now that not being able to order something online seems like a foreign concept.
Such is the level of convenience that the internet has brought to our lives. We can now order everything from groceries to cars from the comfort of our own homes. That has proven to be all the more important in the age of the pandemic when venturing outside or staying inside can be the difference between life and death.
It’s not only just the big companies that have been able to ride the eCommerce wave to success. If anything, eCommerce has proven to be an amazing equalizer. It provides startups with the same level of opportunity as it affords multinational conglomerates.
The platforms are the same and the barrier of entry for advertising and marketing is much lower than conventional mediums like print or television. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to have an eCommerce strategy and an eCommerce website is certainly going to be at the heart of it.
There are a wide variety of solutions available for businesses that want an eCommerce website. Some are easier to set up than others. The sheer number of available choices can often be confusing for business owners that are just starting.
Should they opt for a self-hosted solution or pay a monthly subscription fee for a software-as-a-service solution? What would be the best solution for their particular business?
Understand your target market
An eCommerce website is different from a conventional website, in that you’ll actively be selling products through it. The website won’t be a standard online presence where people come just to get information about the business or find out how to get in touch.
You already know what you’re selling and who you want to sell it to. First, understand if it’s a niche product that a selected group of consumers will likely buy. Then see if they do tend to purchase things online.
If your product is aimed at a demographic that’s known to prefer buying things in store, for example, then an eCommerce website may not provide the kind of return of investment that you’re looking for.
On the other hand, if your product is aimed at a younger demographic, you can be sure that they’ll be more inclined to buy it online. Since they’re more used to it, they will also be more discerning about the eCommerce website. A poorly designed and ill-optimized store will not win them over.
Pick the right development platform
It's very important to choose the right eCommerce website development platform. Keep your business requirements in mind when making a choice. The platform you choose should ideally be compatible with other services and tools that allow you to increase your conversions.
It should be highly customizable so that your online store looks different than your competitors. A customizable online store is also how you project your brand identity. The platform should also focus on responsiveness and mobile-friendly design as a vast majority of online purchases are driven by mobile devices.
Marketing is a very important part of running a successful eCommerce business. The platform you choose should offer integration with popular analytics software, social media networks, promotional tools, and more.
The right hosting platform matters
Picking the right hosting platform for your eCommerce website will pay dividends in the long run. Users tend to have a very short attention span. Even if they land on the store via a highly effective ad, if the store takes a bit too long to load, they're likely going to exit the page before you've even had a chance to put your products in front of them.
The hosting platform should provide exceptional page load speeds so that you don't end up losing customers because of a slow website. The same goes for uptime. If customers are unable to access the online store because the server is down, it's going to hurt the bottom line.
They should also offer great support. If there is an unexpected problem with the servers or there’s just too much load, the hosting platform should offer a great deal of support that helps you get your store up and running again in no time so that there’s as less of a chance of missing out on sales as possible.
Opt for an intuitive layout
The layout matters a lot. Customers should be able to navigate through the eCommerce website with ease. A clean and intuitive layout is going to make it easier for customers to find the information they’re looking for.
Whether they want to learn about the brand’s story or check the shipping and return policies, they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get that information. This is even more essential for product information.
If the products have multiple variants or different sizes, the layout should easily guide the customers to that information. This makes it easy for them to make an informed purchase decision.
Pay close attention to the product pages
Product pages will drive your sales so you must pay close attention to them. They should provide all of the details that are essential for the customer to understand the product. The price needs to be mentioned prominently along with any discounts or offers that may be available as a way to incentivize the customer.
It’s very easy to get carried away at this stage and provide too much information. That should be avoided. A balance needs to be struck so that the customer can get just the right amount of information to make their purchase decision without coming across as a hard sell.
Pictures are essential. Invest in great product photography that highlights all of the best attributes of your product. Customers will want to see great product pictures before deciding if they’re going to buy them.
Incorporate social proof
It’s amazing how so many eCommerce businesses still forget about incorporating social proof. Reviews matter online. Many studies have shown that social proof positively influences purchase decisions online.
If a visitor lands on your eCommerce website and reads positive reviews from customers who have already bought your product, they’re more likely to go ahead and buy from you.
This is particularly important when trying to convert visitors that haven’t purchased from your business before. It’s always much easier to convert existing customers than it is to convert a fresh lead. Using social proof can be a great way to provide peace of mind to customers who may be on the fence about buying from you.
List payment methods and product policies
There are so many payment methods that people use online and most customers need to know if their preferred method is accepted on an eCommerce store. Whether that’s a preferred card network, mobile payments network, or even cryptocurrency, listing all of the accepted payment methods is always good.
The same is also true for product policies. Customers would want to know what the shipping and return policies are for your products. Whether they get free shipping or if returns need to be sent in before a set number of days have elapsed.
At the end of the day, it’s all about helping customers make an informed purchase decision. Providing them with these details front and center is a good way to build trust. The more trustworthy they consider an online store that they’ve never visited, the higher the chances of them making a purchase.
Don’t forget to test your eCommerce website
You’ll be surprised how many business owners make the mistake of not thoroughly testing their eCommerce website once the development work is finished. Some errors or bugs may need fixing and simply going live without testing things first is sure to be a recipe for disaster.
Imagine you’ve launched a major ad campaign on all social networks now that your website is ready. The campaigns may already have burned through thousands of dollars before you realize that something is wrong with the shopping cart integration of the website.
So all of the visitors that you paid dearly for landed on the website but were unable to purchase because of a bug. That may also reduce their confidence in the brand and they may not return to make a purchase. This is an unnecessary risk that can easily be avoided by properly testing the online store to make sure everything works as it should before going live.