Tips for Mastering the Fundamentals of E-Commerce
There’s a lot to focus on when it comes to running a successful e-commerce business. It’s easy for store owners to get overwhelmed by the various aspects of their website, social media profiles and more. Below are simple explanations of the main things to focus on to increase sales, order values and customer satisfaction.
Your site’s design is arguably the most important factor in succeeding in the world of e-commerce. Customers simply won’t shop at an online store that’s confusing to use, especially since there are so many other options available to them. Therefore, your site should be easy to read and browse. It should load in seconds, use navigation that’s easy to understand and contain relevant information toward the top of the page.
Design your website to support a great, intuitive user experience.
Designing for the user experience also means your site should make it easy for customers to submit online payments. Accepting a wide variety of payment types allows customers to make purchases according to their preference, and a simple checkout process makes things even easier. Both of these attributes combine to increase your customer’s satisfaction and, as CIO.com noted, can reduce your cart abandonment rates. In a conversation with the website, Kateryna Topopl, senior art director at Architech, mentioned the checkout process is where businesses tend to see the highest number of abandoned carts. This is mainly because they force users to go through too many steps or do not provide convenient options for submitting electronic payments.
There’s no question that every e-commerce website should have a few social media accounts, but determining the right ones can be tricky. You want to maximize your return on investment, and knowing your product and audience well is the best way to do that. As Practical E-commerce noted, some social sites are better for certain products than others. Pinterest and Instagram are great for lifestyle products like home decor and fashion, while Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent for software and business services.
Another way to incorporate social media is to let shoppers log in to your website using their networking accounts such as Facebook or Google+. This makes the process quick and efficient, and customers don’t have to remember yet another username and password for your website.
While social media is the cherry on top of your marketing sundae, your website’s content is the ice cream that makes up its substance. Great content – blog posts, list articles, white papers and more – keeps people on your website after they’ve clicked through from your social media. In addition, the search engine optimization benefits of certain topics and keywords bring even more people to your online store through Google and Bing.
“Content for e-commerce mixes relevant information with a call-to-action.”
Creating great content for e-commerce is tricky, as CIO.com mentioned in another article. Make it too promotional and you’ll lose customers instead of gaining more. At the same time, the goal of your content is to promote sales. The trick is to mix relevant information with a call-to-action designed to get users to convert. For example, say your website sells kitchenware and you want to promote a line of cast-iron skillets you just added. You can write a blog post filled with tips on properly seasoning and caring for cast-iron cookware, then link readers to the brand in question. What’s more, you can fill the blog post with images of the product so readers can see how it looks and picture themselves with it in the kitchen.
CTAs don’t always have to be sales-oriented. They can direct readers to sign up for your newsletter, follow your business on social media, read more blog posts or increase engagement in other ways.
Offering customers a great deal on shipping prices keeps your business competitive, especially against e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart. Free shipping in particular leads to increased average order values and possibly higher sales overall, according to a Practical Ecommerce report on the subject. If you can’t provide free shipping for all sales, consider offering it only to customers with orders above a certain price.
While mastering the world of e-commerce isn’t easy, a good handle on the basics helps you grow from a small business to an international e-commerce competitor.