Online retail sales aren’t growing at the torrid pace they once were, but they continue to grow steadily. Forrester Research put out a new five-year forecast today predicting that e-commerce sales in the U.S. will keep growing at a 10 percent compound annual growth rate through 2014. It forecasts online retail sales in the U.S. will be nearly $250 billion, up from $155 billion in 2009. Last year, online retail sales were up 11 percent, compared to 2.5 percent for all retail sales.” According to a recent article on techcrunch.com. With the rate that online sales are growing, it’s more important than ever to have an amazing website. Having a great website can greatly increase ecommerce sales, yet having a poor website can decrease sales or even cause a business to fail. So, how does one improve an already existing site to stay on top of the game?
Simplify the design.
Customers want a lot of information, but they need it in a logical, easy to navigate, organized way. If information is not readable, it’s not worth anything. Long explanations, or descriptions that are poorly positioned can be confusing. A website should look clean, organized with obvious titles, tabs, or pages. If a customer is looking for shoes, they should not find them under a page titled, “put your best foot forward,” even if it’s clever, it’s too ambiguous. It should say, “shoes,” in an obvious place, at the top, right or left of the page; not hidden in a paragraph of text, not at the foot of the page or in small text under a photo. Nothing scares customers away like a confusing website.
Test your site!
Have people you know go through and navigate your site. They should be able to hit all of the different pages within a few minutes. If they can’t, ask them where they were stuck, or confused, and fix it asap.
Be sure your shopping cart is easy to locate!
There is nothing more annoying than putting things in your “cart” and then not being able to find it later to check out, save it, or edit it. Customers are shopping online for convenience, so make sure it’s convenient. If it’s too time consuming, there is always another online business with the same products that is more user-friendly.
Avoid a lot of bright colors, keep it clean.
Nothing says, “headache” more than a site with a pink background, lavender font, and yellow headings. Sites that are too “busy” are difficult and stressful to read. You want something clean, and calming, not something that gives heart palpitations after a few moments. Humans have psychological responses to colors, so pick colors wisely. Try to find tried and true color combinations that are calming, and only pick one accent color per page.
Provide visual feedback.
New visitors should be able to see comments from past customers. This information helps customers feel safe which helps build their confidence in making a purchase.
Nobody wants to be a victim of identity theft, or credit card theft. Customers know that website security is important and statistically most won’t give their information to a website with lazy or sub-par website security. You should have your website scanned on a regular basis and have a security seal posted on the front page and on the checkout page.
Respect your customers.
“Surprisingly many eCommerce websites seem reluctant to help their customers. Delivery and return policies are buried. Reassurance about security is limited to a tiny badge or padlock. And most importantly you have to search high and low for a phone number.”-says boagworld.com. Customers want their questions answered quickly, they want to feel important, and they don’t want to chase after you for information. Again, they are shopping online to save time! If they have to spend two hours trying to find an answer to a question, you can assume they won’t be shopping with you in the future.
Use professional images.
For products or services use large, clear, detailed photos. Hire a photographer if you’re not skilled in this area. Sketchy, fuzzy, dark photos of products are not going to build buyer confidence and can make your company appear unprofessional.
Tried and true business advice. Perfect your website and watch your business grow!