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14 Essentials For eCommerce Strategies

Clear Branding

Many new visitors to your site will be looking for something distinct to easily remember your company, often with the intent of returning at a later date. Generally this will be either your website address or brand name and nothing prevents this more than not having a clearly branded site with a logo and company name at the top of the page.

Benefits, Promotions & Free Shipping

Online shoppers are quickly looking for reasons to disqualify you and move on to the next site. If they do not feel that what you have to offer is compelling they will immediately move on. One of the largest mistakes I often see is not showing your company’s benefits on every page. Many visitors will land directly from Google onto a category or product page of your site and you want your best selling points to be clearly visible.

Featured Products

Most companies have a select number of products that account for a large majority of their sales. Be sure to put images that link to those products in a highly visible location, namely your home page. The more impressive the product content – the more likely you are to drive social media sharing and sales.

Product Search & Filtered Navigation

Functional product search can be time consuming but if done properly will lead to huge return. At least half of the serious buyers on your site know what they want and the faster your take them directly to their chosen product, they less time you give them to second guess their purchase decision.

Customer Account

Encourage your customers to return and repeat their orders through individual customer accounts in which they can view their order history, set alerts, and store payment information.

Payment Option Icons

Many potential customers may quickly disqualify you if they feel their shopping experience on your site is going to be a hassle in any way. One simple yet effective method is to place icons showing your accepted payment methods. Particularly icons for various global payment processors such as UnionPay and Alipay are of particular importance if you sell and ship internationally.

Community / Social Media

Having a community aspect to your eCommerce store fulfills two basic functions. First it encourages people to spend longer amounts of time on your site, which in turn increases the chance they will purchase an item and remember your brand. Second, the longer time visitors spend on your site the higher ranking your site will get on critical search engines.

Instant & Accessible Contact

Serious shoppers want immediate attention, and these are the types of shoppers that will purchase quickly, with minimal objections, and without the need to drastically discount. Having phone numbers, live chat, and other methods of contact that are highly visible is essential as these customers will just as quickly leave your site as they will purchase from you.

Endorsements & Trust-marks 

One objection that is less frequent, although still relevant is fraudulent merchants, phishing sites, and customer trust. While Google has to be applauded for the substantial contribution to ridding the internet of these criminals; consumer confidence still needs to be addressed. The most straight forward way to alleviate this fear is to place “trust-marks” in a conspicuous location. Trust-marks include organizations such as: Verisign’s SSL Encryption, local media awards, Better Business Bureau logos and other third party designations to provide relief to your more cautious visitors.

Physical Location Integration

If your business includes retail or brick & mortar sales of any sort, it is imperative that you have at the minimum a store locator. If you are primarily a walk in retailer I suggest using virtual tours such as Google’s Business View; particularly if you have an extensive showroom.

Bread Crumbs & Filtered Navigation

As an avid online shopper, nothing is more frustrating to me than eCommerce sites that do not include fast and direct methods of getting to the product and easily backing up to browse additional selections. eCommerce designers often place more emphasis on the aesthetics of the site than on navigation leading to the product which is one of the easiest ways to eliminate a great deal of your online sales. Adding a left bar filtered navigation as well as a bread crumb trail in the header is essential to ease the customer experience.

Site Speed

Never has site speed been more critical than it is today. Why is that? In the old days of eCommerce shoppers were nestled comfortably in their homes with high speed internet and plenty of patience. Today your are more likely to encounter a visitor on your site that is on their phone, inside of a large mall, struggling to even connect to 3G, and simultaneously haggling with a store clerk that is resentful of your discounted prices. If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load you just lost 25% of your visitors, 6 seconds and there goes 50%. Not developing a lightweight and quickly loading site is the same as locking the door and flipping the closed sign on every other customer that approaches your store… an experience that leaves a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth.

Responsive Layout

In a mobile first world you really have no idea what device or screen size a potential customer will be on. Phone, tablet, laptop, Samsung smart camera, HDTV, etc. You can’t afford to lose a single sale, and the only way to be sure of that is to have a site that conforms to any device.

HD / Retina Capable Product Content

As screen resolutions become increasingly crisp it is a challenge to provide a quality visual experience without drastically slowing down your site. Unfortunately the alternative is that your site will look blurry, unprofessional and untrustworthy compared to those with a crisp images and user interface. I suggest the use of “lossless ” images such as Vectors and PNG files as well as CSS styling wherever possible.

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