10 E-Commerce Best Practices to Run a Profitable Web Store
Business owners looking to start an online store often ponder over one critical question – what makes an online store successful? Seasoned e-commerce entrepreneurs know that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this conundrum. There are, however, several solutions that can help your e-commerce store stand out in the noise. All of these result in stellar customer experience as this aspect is central to everything business owners do. This post presents ten e-commerce best practices that will help you make your e-store lucrativ
With the e-commerce space becoming increasingly competitive, it can be tough for new and/or regional businesses to make their mark. This hasn’t deterred the growing number of brick-and-mortar stores from going digital though. They’ve probably realized that the secret to e-commerce success lies in following and making the most of the industry’s best practices.
With the aim to help you boost conversions on your e-commerce platform, this post brings you ten best practices that you shouldn’t ignore.
Enhance Loading Speed
Apparently, 79% of online shoppers who experience trouble with website performance will not return to the site to buy again. Webpage loading time matters. In fact, it is crucial because even a 1-3 seconds load time can increase the bounce rate probability by 32%.
Waiting for web pages to load when customers are looking forward to a flawless shopping experience can be highly frustrating. In order to minimize your e-store’s page loading time, use the following tips:
- Lower server response time.
- Decrease the number of plugins.
- Optimize CSS delivery.
- Reduce HTTP requests.
- Facilitate browser caching.
- Highlight above-the-fold content.
- Optimize page media.
- Enable compression.
- Reduce the number of redirects.
Simplify Site Navigation
A great e-commerce website is intuitive and, therefore, easy to navigate. In other words, it reduces the cognitive load in user experience by simplifying navigation. High cognitive load makes it difficult for customers to find what they’re looking for, leading to high bounce rate.
The following steps can help you simplify navigation based on your web design:
- Keep the end goal in mind – what action do you want your customers to take?
- Ensure your website layout is familiar instead of complex or eccentric.
- Limit the navigation layers. Enable customers to find their product with a couple of clicks.
- Use familiar terms on the website so that the copy is clickable.
- Provide visual clarity when it comes to the aesthetics of the website. Keep things simple.
- Restrict the number of menu options.
- Include ALT text in images.
- Ensure your search box is fully functional.
- Include links to your homepage on each page.
Optimize for SEO
One of the easiest ways customers use to find products is look for them on search engines. Hence, it makes sense to optimize your e-commerce store for SEO so it is easily found and ranks well. Here are a few tips:
- Write and manage unique page titles and meta tags including keywords and descriptions for all pages. Stick to the prescribed character limit.
- Create search-engine friendly URLs for your pages.
- Incorporate XML site maps in your SEO plan to get indexed by the biggest search engines.
- Update page content regularly to enhance the website’s organic search ranking.
- Use 301 redirects to maintain the search engine rankings.
Make Sure Products Are Easy to Find
Some customers know exactly what they want to buy from your e-store. Others, however, don’t really know what’s out there and hence, may decide to window shop to find out your offerings. You, therefore, need to ensure that they can easily find what they’re looking for on your (instead of your competitor’s) website.
This is where product filters come into the picture. They help categorize your products into different sections based on user interests. Using these filters should help customers find items that match what they want.
Consider these statistics:
- Only 16% of major e-commerce sites provide users with a reasonably good filtering experience.
- 42% of top e-commerce sites don’t have category-specific filter types for several of their main product categories.
- 20% of top e-commerce sites don’t have thematic filters despite selling products with obvious thematic attributes.
There’s an opportunity here. E-store owners can gain competitive edge by addressing this concern adequately.
It also helps to include a powerful and ubiquitous search bar on each page of the website to ensure optimal internal website search.
Make Product Descriptions Informative
Simply mentioning the brand and product name on your website are not enough to sell the product. You need to ensure that every product on your e-commerce website comes with a detailed description so customers know exactly what the product is (and isn’t).
After all, because they cannot touch and feel the product before buying it, this is the closest they’ll get to gauging it. Your description should, therefore, be compelling and convincing.
- Emphasize the key benefits of the product to explain how it works. This information (rather than the company history or manufacturing processes) will help boost sales.
- Avoid using huge chunks of text in your copy. Keep the descriptions to-the-point and educational.
- Feel free to use bullet points so customers can scan through the text quickly and easily.
Use Images and Demo Videos That Stun
As mentioned above, online shoppers don’t get to touch and feel products before buying them. Apart from informative product descriptions, they rely on images and videos to understand the item they’re purchasing.
- When arranging for product images, take multiple pictures of the item on sale from different angles. This is necessary to display the product in all its glory and earn customer trust.
- Zoom in and highlight all the best features and benefits of the product.
- Provide video demonstrations to make things clearer for customers. Videos best explain how the product is used and its benefits derived.
Remember, 72% of people prefer video over text when learning about a product or service. Further, 83% of consumers may consider sharing a video they enjoyed with friends, helping to further increase brand awareness, engagement, and ROI.
Offer Free Shipping
A great way to encourage shopping cart abandonment on your e-commerce website is to unpleasantly surprise customers with unexpected costs, like shipping charges, at checkout. But, you don’t want this!
Think from the customers’ perspective. They look at the product price and decide to buy it. They probably expect to pay a little more as tax, but the last thing they want to do is pay dearly for shipping as well.
Multiple added costs can drive customers away. It is better to include the shipping cost in the product price and provide them with an all-inclusive amount rather than charge for it separately.
Provide Live Chat Support
When shopping in a physical store, customers get all their doubts busted and queries answered by the sales agent. More often than not, this results in high-volume sales. E-commerce stores need to replicate this experience on the e-store so customers can get all their concerns addressed instantly.
This can be done by creating personalized interactions with customers through live chats.
- 77% of customers won’t make a purchase on a website if there’s no live chat option available.
- Also, 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
- Customers that engage via live chat are worth 4.5 times more than visitors that don’t.
- There was a 10% increase in the average order value when reviewing the sales from customers who engaged in a chat before making a purchase.
Make Checkout Hassle-Free
Placing barriers in the order-completion process is inviting trouble. It is imperative to get rid of them. Coercing your customers to register with your website before they can order something will only lead to cart abandonment. A streamlined, single-page order creation and checkout page with a one-step checkout process, on the other hand, will reduce bounce rate and cart abandonment.
Here’s how you can make checkout hassle-free for customers:
- Allow customers to checkout without having to log in and entering detailed contact details every time they want to buy from you.
- Identify return customers with the help of cookies.
- Exhibit checkout breadcrumbs on the top of the page.
- Allow customers to create and store multiple billing/shipping addresses.
- Permit customers to select from preferred payment options on file.
- Facilitate shipment of multiple orders or individual items to multiple shipping addresses using different means of shipment.
Display Customer Reviews
Are you looking to add credibility to the shopping experience on your e-commerce website? Showcase solid customer reviews and testimonials.
- Nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
- 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.
- Displaying reviews can increase conversion rates by 270%.
Don’t worry about the negative comments being displayed publicly. They will help add authenticity to your website and help you earn customer trust.
Running a successful e-store takes effort, patience, and a sound understanding of what customers want. Business owners interested in taking their venture online need to do what it takes to drive sales and keep customers coming back. Implementing the above mentioned best practices may seem like a task, but it’s going to be worth the effort. Take things slow and steady as you identify the changes you need to make to your e-commerce website and prioritize the most crucial ones.