It is now easier than ever to create an e-commerce website for your business. E-commerce is attractive because it is relatively inexpensive. You can have a store that is open any time of day or night every day of the year that is available to a truly global market. You don’t have to hire any staff and you don’t even have to print marketing material. You don’t have send out catalogs and you don’t have to pay for call centers.
The problem is that it’s not quite as easy to create a successful e-commerce website as you might initially think. The great news is that every one of the following mistakes is avoidable. In most cases, it is just a matter of advance planning.
Poor Product Information
When shopping in a brick and mortar establishment, you can look and even touch anything you want to buy. You can read the label information and also browse items nearby. This is not as easy when shopping online.
A well designed e-commerce website has to maximize the shopping experience. This starts with product information. Whenever the customer doesn’t know specifics, he/she will try to find that information somewhere else. You will only end up making sales when you have the lowest price.
Customers will want to know materials, dimensions, weight, size and practically everything that is of interest for the possible buyer. As a simple example, if you sell clothes online, you will want to mention colors, sizes and types available, together with a high quality size chart, thickness or weight. Try to always use descriptive words instead of technical terms.
No Contact Information
Clear and visible contact information is paramount. Customers need to know what company they deal with before credit card information is offered. The important thing is demonstrating there is a human being who can actually take care of a problem in the event it appears. In the event that the site does not offer such contact information or it is hidden and the customer cannot easily find it, a sale is less likely to be made.
The contact information must be in an obvious location and visible on all website pages. Make sure that it is in the header, right on the top of the sidebar or in the footer region. If possible, try to offer more contact means like an email address, mailing address, phone number and contact form. That is particularly important in the event that you sell something that is technical by nature.
Confusing Checkout Process
A confusing checkout process is really damaging and can derail any prospect customer. You need to do everything possible to make the checkout process simple and intuitive. If not, customers will give up and shop elsewhere.
The ideal checkout process should include only one page that would allow the consumer to verify the order and then enter shipping and billing information. Then, a confirmation page is necessary so that it is known that the offer was submitted. If you add other steps, you just end up putting obstacles in front of making sales, thus causing lower profits for your company.
In the event that there is a need to include more pages, you have to make them really easy to be filled out and quick. If possible, combine pages whenever you can and use column layouts in order to separate sections on the same page. This makes everything appear shorter.
Make sure that you do not force the interested customers to get an account in order for a sale to be made. When customers have to sign in or create accounts, this is a huge obstacle placed right in front of a sale. Capturing customer information is never as important as actually getting the order completed. You do not want to lose customers and this is exactly what happens in the event that you force the account option.
Bad Site Search Engine
If a customer knows what he is looking for, the search engine will be used instead of going through filters or categories. Try to make sure that your search engine works well and that it includes as many filters as may be necessary in order for results to be refined.
When a search is conducted and many products are returned, as is the case with larger e-commerce websites, making a choice becomes difficult. Contrary to what you may think, this is not a positive thing. Many potential customers simply leave the page as they don’t want to go through all the results.
Your e-commerce website needs to have a very good search engine. Ideally, the user should be able to search based on keywords and the refine the results based on site categories, together with standard criteria like low price, high price, new item, popular item and so on.
Tiny Product Images
Tiny product images won’t help you sell products online. You need to be sure that you either offer a large image or the product page includes a feature that will allow the user to click on images for zooming purposes.
Site visitors need to see a very large image at a high resolution. Get images that would enlarge to a resolution of a minimum of 1024X768 pixels. At the same time, try to offer at least 3-4 images of the product you sell.
Try to offer product images from various camera angles. Also show products in different colors, on the back, the sides, on the front or detailed shots of some of the features that are presented. That will drastically increase the possibility that someone will buy your product.
Inadequate Customer Service Options
Your customer needs to be able to get in touch with you if there is a question of problem. Ecommerce sites that help customers get in touch with them – offering multiple ways of communication as well as a good FAQ section – are successful. An email address is not sufficient.
Only A Few Payment Options Available
So many e-commerce websites only offer MasterCard and Visa. Some only allow customers to pay with the use of PayPal. This is not a good idea because it makes you look cheap, unprofessional, and short-sighted.
Try to use a good payment service, one that will let your consumers to pay with the credit cards, electronic checkout, PayPal and anything else you could offer. When it comes to making an online payment, offering many opportunities builds trust, which is something you need.
No Related Products
Whenever you go to a store, you regularly see items that are similar or used together being grouped together. This makes it really easy for you to buy something else than what you initially wanted or buy more items. The same thing needs to happen online. For instance, if you sell a mobile phone, you may want to include related products like a battery or even a micro USB cable.
One of the most frustrating things about a poorly designed e-commerce website is not confusing navigation. If your navigation is confusing, without categories or with products that shouldn’t be included in some categories, people will shop elsewhere.
Before you even begin designing your website you need to think about navigation elements and the categories. Every single category needs to include a good number of products.
If you don’t know much about what e-commerce modifications you need to make in order to increase sales, you should seriously consider professional help. The work that a professional can do is always better than what you can do yourself is a good long term investment.
The best e-commerce website is the one that manages to offer a great buying experience. This is the most important thing at the end of the day. You need to actively put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. See what they would like or what they would hate and fix the bad elements.