Standing out from the crowd in the eCommerce marketplace is challenging, especially if you’re involved in a competitive industry like fashion or electricals.
Your customers are primed and ready to spend their hard-earned cash, but why would they choose your store over hundreds of others? What can you do to stay one step ahead of your competition and keep your existing customers coming back for more as well as attracting new ones?
Well, we know that eCommerce audiences are more receptive – and critical – than ever before, so making sure your site functions smoothly and serves up the right features at the right time can be the difference between sales and stagnation.
We’re going to run through 6 crucial elements you need to ensure your site utilises to build that one-of-a-kind store customers want to buy from again and again.
Of course! Making a good first impression on your customers is key in any walk of life, but even more so in the competitive world of eCommerce – primarily because you may never get that customer back if their initial reaction is particularly negative.
Steve Jobs famously stated that ‘design is not just what it looks like and feels like – it’s how it works.Tweet this now
This is fantastic advice when setting up or amending your eCommerce store. The first page a site visitor lands on is where the relationship can start or end so that ‘landing page’ needs to be easy to use, straightforward to understand and ultimately engaging.
Give your customers what they want – if your store features thousands of products, add a search bar. If your products sell on how they look, make the site visually impressive and use images extensively. If customers are looking to compare the specifications of your products, give them the compare functionality they’ll need. This all sounds like simple enough stuff, but you’d be amazed how many eCommerce stores out there neglect these crucial design elements and therefore alienate their audience from that very first engagement.
The design is vitally important to any website, regardless of what they are trying to sell. You need to strike the perfect balance between impressing the customer on their first visit and ensuring they leave the site with nothing but positivity for your store. Even if they don’t make a purchase first time around, chances are they’ll bookmark your site and come back when they are ready to part with their cash.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that colours actually mean more than just how they look – the psychology of each colour is vitally important when it comes to designing or updating an eCommerce store.
Without taking this into consideration, chances are you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to effectively brand your store and encourage deeper customer engagement. Colours can be used to guide users from one page to another and even encourage clicks on calls-to-action buttons.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the full-colour spectrum for your reference:
Red – excitement, anger, love, comfort, attention
Orange – enthusiasm, happiness, success, creativity
Yellow – wealth, sophistication, adventure, competence
Green – balance, health, money, harmony
Indigo/Blue – honesty, masculinity, loyalty, trust
Violet/Purple – authority, creativity, royalty, mystery
Black – sophistication, intelligence, grief, expensive
White – simplicity, innocence, purity, neutrality
Understanding what colours mean in terms of psychology can help you increase conversions and on-site engagement. Take a look at this article from Practical eCommerce to see some good examples.
Now, this is another big one, and actually, one that many eCommerce stores don’t bother with – which means you can take advantage.
Google has spent the last few years refining what it considers to be great content, and therefore adjusting its ranking algorithm accordingly. Now that it understands the difference between ‘good’ content and ‘bad’ content better than ever before, the likelihood that the stores not working on SEO will slowly see their rankings slide. Outdated strategies like keyword stuffing and hiding content from search crawlers are now penalised by the algorithm, whereas high-quality shareable content with a strong backlink profile will be moving in the opposite direction.
As an eCommerce store, driving organic traffic to your site is a win-win. Traffic from Google search results pages comes at no cost and often converts at a higher percentage when compared to other sources like Pay Per Click via Adwords and direct traffic. If you’re thinking ‘I don’t have the skills to do this kind of thing’, consider outsourcing it to an agency (like us!) or someone that you can trust.
Having a fast site nowadays isn’t just about delivering the customer to the site quicker; it’s about ensuring that every customer has the same experience.
Your audience will be viewing your site on a variety of different devices in locations all around the world, each with different internet speeds, processing capabilities and functionality. Just because your store looks great and loads super-fast when you’re looking at it in the office doesn’t guarantee that your customers will see the same thing.
What’s the solution here? Well, there are generally a few areas you can improve when it comes to site speed, but the two biggest in our opinion are 1) your choice of hosting provider and 2) ensuring all your images are optimised.
Hosting refers to the server upon which your website sits – think of it as the middle ground between you and your audience. A site that loads quickly will have an efficient hosting package, whereas one that struggles to load will almost certainly have a lower end server. Investing in this area of your site is again often neglected by some stores, but it is something that can be changed quite quickly.
Image optimisation relates to ensuring that all your images are compressed to give the best possible quality-to-speed ratio. Sites that rely on their images to sell their products need to pay special attention to this area; for example, fashion retailers that have multiple images per product. Reduce the size of your images, speed up your site – it’s that simple.
The final step of the buying process is often the stage where many eCommerce stores drop the ball. The site is great looking, well-organised, beautifully easy to use and the customer is ready to buy but then disaster – the checkout process is an absolute nightmare!
Not only can usability be a factor here, this also relates to common mistakes like having a limited selection of payment options (no PayPal, no party), or worse forcing customers to make an account before checking out.
eCommerce stores used to slash their product prices and make up for this by bumping up delivery and payment processing fees. This of course did not go down well with the consumer and, whilst still prevalent in some industries, is generally behind us now. Free delivery is the future!
You may think the checkout is the best place to try and collect customer data, but you’d be wrong. When customers have made it this far, they just want to pay and secure their product – forcing them into alternative actions is a surefire way to push them away right when they’re about to reach into their wallet, so resist the temptation.
The differences between online retailers continue to shrink. What worked for your business one or two years ago is unlikely to keep working in the long term – you need to work smarter, not harder, wherever you can.
Utilise these six crucial elements effectively and you’ll be able to create an eCommerce store that is easy to use, profitable and constantly growing its audience.