In today’s digital age, it is critical that all retailers have an online presence. For many small businesses, a website is the only channel from which they operate. With major corporate retailers investing a greater share of their resources into their online experiences, it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller companies to stay competitive. By implementing some best practices of major retailers, online shops of any size can successfully offer a top-notch shopping experience to their customers.
Have Some Standards
Polish up your site through consistency in the way products are presented. While your individual product images might look outstanding, consider how they look collectively on a results page. Differences in the way products are shot and presented lead to a dizzying experience. To prevent this, all images should be shot as laydowns, on mannequins or on models under identical angles and lighting conditions. The same applies to product descriptions; have a formula for product titles and the type of information that is stated in the product descriptions. Take the time to develop a creative style guide and stick to it.
Easy (to Find) Does It
A key component of getting customers to purchase is to get them to the product they want in as few clicks and scrolls as possible. If you are sending out an email or have site assets featuring a particular product, make sure that product is one of the first items featured when the customer clicks on the link. Bestsellers and highest revenue-generating products should be featured towards the top of the page, while lower performing should be pushed lower down on the page. If you have search functionality, manually type in your top search terms. Modify the results or redirect the link if you aren’t seeing the results you expected.
Sell the Sale on a Cell
About half of all web traffic is now coming from mobile devices and tablets. Keep this is mind as you design your site experience. Keep text large and to a minimum, so that it is clearly legible on a phone. Make call to action buttons large so that customers can easily click on them. Spend as much time reviewing your site and emails on a mobile device as you do on a desktop.
Checkout Your Checkout
You’ve wowed them with your beautiful site and are so close to sealing the deal. Don’t lose them with a poor checkout experience. Minimize as many entry fields as possible. For example, a field for phone number should be a single field, not three fields. Enable payment services such as Paypal or Google Wallet. These payment alternatives speed up the checkout process, which is a major plus for securing mobile orders while offering the customer a sense of payment security. And while messages of guarantees and speedy delivery should be communicated throughout the entire shopping experience, nowhere else is it more important than on the checkout pages.
Measure with Pleasure
What you can’t measure, you can’t improve. Educate yourself on web metrics. Most website hosting providers offer basic reporting and there are a number of companies, such as Google Analytics and Piwik, which provide web analytics at no cost. Familiarize yourself key terms such as Visits, Average Order Value (AOV) and Conversion. Understand what drives each metric and how to react to it. For example, if a category on your site is getting an outstanding amount of visits, consider giving it more exposure or breaking it out into multiple categories. Get in the routine of reviewing your web metrics daily and do a formal analysis monthly.