It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day business dealings — even to the point where other vital things fall by the wayside. The good news is: with the right resources, you can capitalize on a few key productivity tips to streamline your workflow and rake in more revenue. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks — this reference will teach you the pitfalls and best practices for building and maintaining a successful e-commerce website. We’ll help you put your brand’s best foot forward.
What Makes a Good E-Commerce Website?
For starters, make sure you have the right product. A lot of market research is required before you decide which products to list in your e-commerce store. If you’ve already developed your products to your liking and selected the best of the best, it’s time to think about who you are — or want to be — as a company.
That’s where brand strategy comes into play. Your brand is your business’s personality. It’s how you present yourself to your target market, from colors and fonts to taglines and tone of voice.
If there is a certain way you’d like your company’s image and reputation to exist in the minds of current and future customers, you need to feed that message to them. It’s your job to make sure it all comes across clearly and professionally, so you make an impression on your audience.
Good design is a perfect start. Your design should invoke a feeling in the viewer — it might be trust, calm, excitement, or even amusement. Decide what you want this to be and have professional graphic designers and developers carry out your vision, so you know it will be clean and impactful once it’s time for a live launch.
Prospects are quick to judge. In fact, it takes only about 0.05 seconds for site visitors to form an opinion about the look and feel of your site, and these views will determine whether they’ll leave or stay.
So make that first interaction a great one.
If you do a quick analysis and notice your e-commerce website has a high bounce rate, it could be due to poor design or a less-than-ideal user interface. For instance, slow speeds and confusing navigation could frustrate visitors and drive them away, rather than convince them to keep them looking at your products.
You should also make sure your site is compatible with the various devices your audience is likely to access your site on. If you’re not optimized for mobile, you could be losing customers.
It’s vital that you show an understanding of their wants and needs and respect their time by meeting them where they are. Make things as easy as possible — which includes minimizing the number of clicks required to get where they want to go. See to it that your product pages are very organized, that you have a quick path to payment, and that you have a well-defined return policy.
You should also strive to collect good customer reviews — and collect minimal bad ones. When the inevitable bad review crops up, reply thoughtfully and empathetically. This is another thing that can make or break your reputation. New customers will look for social proof when determining whether they want to become a customer or go to your competitor instead.
Dos and Don’ts
The following tips will give you confidence that you’ve done your due diligence to ensure you have a great e-commerce website up — one you can be proud of and that customers will love.
Use High-Quality Images and Videos
Use high-quality images that show your customers you mean business. Low-resolution product photos will look sloppy, and onlookers may get the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing. Or arguably worse — that you don’t care. After all, if you didn’t bother putting in the time, why should they?
Investing in a quality camera, hiring a photographer, or signing up for an account with a stock image service will give your content a professional sheen.
Speaking of cameras, don’t forget about video. Product videos are a great way to make prospects stop in their tracks while scrolling and spend more time on your website.
Social Media Presence
A social media presence is critical. These days, many website visitors won’t think much of a company if they don’t include social proof. A lack of social media activity can quickly tarnish your authority and make you seem outdated, so get social and interact with your audience!
Product descriptions are important, too. This is a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily. Simply having product descriptions isn’t going to cut it. They need to be well-written, search-engine-optimized, and made to look like they revolve around your target.
People prefer a personal touch. They like to feel as though they’re being spoken to directly — that they’re not just one of the masses. Show you understand them and their daily challenges by providing details they can relate to.
You can also build trust by ensuring you have shipping information, warranty information, and a money-back guarantee reference on your website in easy-to-locate spots.
Now let’s cover some things you definitely do not want to do when creating your e-commerce website.
Don’t Forget About Your Calls to Action
Don’t miss a call to action — they’re critical. Every piece of content that connects back to your business needs to have one. If it’s missing, customers won’t know what they’re supposed to do, and you risk wasting money on inefficient marketing efforts.
Be sure to make your chosen CTA visible. It should be front and center, not buried. Customers want things to be made apparent for them so they can get back to their day.
Be Intentional, Not Random
If you have a “Featured Items” or “Recommended for You” section on your website, don’t recommend random products. The items in that feed should be directly related to the main product.
Cross-selling can be valuable, as it can lead to higher average order value — but only if done correctly. So be careful and enlist the help of an outsourced marketer if need be.
Another thing: never over-promise and then under-deliver. Enticing customers with false promises and guarantees is bad for business. Same thing with additional hidden fees. These things break the customer’s trust and all but ensure they won’t return.
Getting Started: Steps to Creating a Successful E-Commerce Website
Now that you know what to aim for and what to stay away from if you want an exceptional e-commerce website, try implementing these steps when you’re ready to get started.
- Purchase a domain name and an e-commerce website hosting platform. If you’re using a website-building platform instead of customizing with a developer, beware: some platforms give you the domain for free in exchange for advertising on your site (or even in the domain name itself). It’s always best to get your very own domain.
- Choose a developer or a website-building service. This is what we recommend, but of course, the decision is yours in the end. Go about your project as you see fit, but know there are experts who have been doing this a long time — they’re a great resource.
- Get your business paperwork done. Register your business, get a vendor’s license, learn about sales and use tax, and start looking into legal business issues so you’re secure if any issues should arise.
- Personalized outreach. How will you get a following? With sound marketing and advertising tactics, of course — but the key is making everything feel personalized. Each conversation should include the person’s name and make them feel as though you already know a little bit about them. This way, they’ll be more confident that you can help them.
- Use search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is crucial to your marketing efforts. If you don’t optimize around the right keywords, your ideal customers might never find you. The internet is saturated with content and ads from other businesses. Don’t get drowned out in the crowds. Make noise and get noticed!
- Get a payment gateway. Payment should be made simple for both you and your customers. If they have to struggle at all through the purchasing processes, they may abandon their cart.
- Take advantage of Google and Facebook for e-commerce. Set up a Google Shopping campaign and a Facebook product catalog. Ensure your product images populate correctly when users search for relevant keywords.
- Order packaging and figure out shipping and storage options. This might not seem big, but it’s still a touchpoint you’ll have with your customer. It might be the last one in the process, so make it a good one. Your packaging should secure and protect items, be cost-efficient for you, and be filled with your branding so your materials have an easily recognizable and consistent look.
E-Commerce Website Builder Tools vs. Custom Development
There are a lot of tools around today made for creating e-commerce websites that work to make this process easier for you and your staff. A couple examples are Shopify and SquareSpace. You might decide to use a website-building service rather than working with someone who can provide custom development, but before making this choice, consider some of these key differences to see what’s right for your company:
- A platform can be relatively easy to use, but your site won’t stand out like it would with full customization.
- You might save money in the short term with a site-building tool, but a better long-term investment might be a custom e-commerce website-building specialist — there’s a higher likelihood of driving more sales.
- There’s a much higher time investment involved when it comes to making your own site using a platform, but a professional will be happy to do it for you so you can focus on other tasks. Keep in mind that with custom development also comes a higher price investment in most cases.
Amplifying Your Content With Pay-Per-Click
Getting more traffic to your e-commerce website is always the goal, and you can propel yourself to the next level faster by using pay-per-click to extend your reach.
PPC offers easily measured and tracked results and quick entry — plus, it works seamlessly with your other marketing channels. It’ll provide a wealth of valuable data, impressive control, and precise targeting options. If you’re trying to get a better sense of how this can benefit your business, check out this helpful article on PPC optimizations that goes into even more detail on how to improve your campaigns.