An ecommerce site is a website with a catalogue of products and the facility to purchase them, right? Yes, but it should be so much more. More than merely an online shopping channel, more than just a virtual catalogue. In the fiercely competitive world of online retail your website needs to deliver and excel in every detail, providing a rich and seamless experience to customers at every stage of the buying process.
Let’s take a deeper dive into ten important areas of ecommerce website development that are often overlooked during the initial planning and design phase.
- Payment methods. Go beyond a single merchant account and offer your customers multiple ways to pay, from credit card to Paypal. Consider up and coming online payment methods such as Google Wallet and Dwolla (which allows payment directly through social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.) Average transaction size and your typical customer will influence which payment methods will be easier for you and your customer. Dwolla is great for millenials making small purchases, while conventional credit card processors such as Authorize.net and ACH can offer the peace of mind that comes with a more established system for large purchases.
- Advanced social integration. Adding a link to your social profiles in the header or footer of your site isn’t enough to get you real exposure on social media. For a strong foothold in the thriving buzz of social shopping make sure your website developer builds social into each step of the customer journey from registration to sharing through purchasing and reviewing.
- Responsiveness. Ignore mobile shoppers at your peril. If your ecommerce site isn’t easy to use on smaller screens then your online revenue is likely to shrink rather than grow. Both browsing and buying should be easy on a mobile device to ensure a visitor doesn’t click away to your competitor.
- Security. Safeguarding your customers’ information and your business data has never been more important. Over 44% of small businesses have experienced a website hack, making security an important consideration for your website development.
- UX. The experience of your visitors and customers should be paramount when developing a new ecommerce site, yet it’s all too easy to focus on beautiful design and theoretical functionality and forget to test the site with real users. Once you have a working copy of your site, invite your Granny, your kids and your friends to test it out and give you their feedback.
- Upsells and cross sells. Boosting the value of each customer transaction is a cost-effective way to increase profits. By offering customers complimentary products to those already in their cart you can nudge the sales total higher. The process of automated upselling and cross selling needs careful thought though, both from you and your web developer.
- Wishlists. Just because a visitor does not complete a purchase during their session does not mean they didn’t want the product. Perhaps they didn’t have the money, or couldn’t quite justify the expenditure. Or they may be deciding between two products. Wishlists allow visitors to store desired products, either for easy purchasing in the future or for sharing with others who might make the purchase on their behalf.
- Abandoned cart process. Don’t let incomplete sales slip through the cracks. Whatever a visitor’s reason for not buying, help to improve the chances of them making a future purchase by having an automated system that prompts them to complete the transaction. This might include a popup that appears on exit, or a follow up email. Using a “last chance” discount can be just the incentive someone needs to go through with the purchase.
- Anticipate customer questions. Uncertainty and concerns are roadblocks to a sale, but they are inevitable. Be proactive about anticipating common questions and create an easy-to-find FAQ section. Include answers in the copy on your product or sales pages, e.g. noting any satisfaction guarantees offered, including positive reviews from previous purchasers and reassuring visitors how secure your payment processing system is.
- Customer personalization. It costs up to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. Give registered customers an extra special treatment when they come back to your site with a personalized greeting and offers based on their profile. Nurturing existing customers not only ensures their continued loyalty but helps to build a base of fans happy to give recommendations and referrals.
There are many other features that can help to elevate your ecommerce site to greater success, and companies are constantly coming up with innovative ways to make their stores stand out from their competitors. The above list will give you a great start, but always be on the lookout for new ways to improve your sales.