A properly designed e-Commerce website can be the difference between a site that is successful in terms of revenues and one that just sits there, unable to convert visitors into paying customers.
What is an eCommerce site?
Also known as an electronic commerce website, an e-Commerce website is a platform that enables visitors to a particular website to select products and or services from said website and purchase them online. Amazon is a primary example.
Designing a well-functioning e-Commerce is not as straightforward as some people might think. In an age where online solutions are aimed at the public at large, with varying degrees of expertise, customers often make the assumption that since there are solutions out there for practically everything, all one has to do to create the ultimate website is add modules for this, and plugins for that and that’s it. The reality is much more different and indeed the aforementioned approach often times constitutes the main reason why e-Commerce websites fail. Here are some aspects that need considering.
Things you should keep in mind about your next e-Commerce Site.
1- Do not underestimate the work that is involved in creating a website.
From concept to design to implementation to propagation, the combined time spent in each of these incremental steps almost alwayssurpasses, by far, any prior time estimations you might have anticipated, or been told to expect from third parties.
If you want to use the etheric world of cyber space to sell your company’s products or services in order to make easy or fast money, think again. These sites require a substantial amount of time and work investment, not only during the designing and implementation phases, but even more importantly, during the maintenance phases.
2- Make sure you have a business plan.
In making this point, I am not referring to the multi pages document your bank manager might require from you in order to authorize a loan for example. What you do need to have is a clear understanding of what it will take for your site to become successful. For example:
- What kind of market you are targeting
- Information about your target customer (age, geographic, income bracket etc.)
- How good is your product and what makes it different than others within your niche?
- What is the nature of your competition?
- How competitive are you going to be?
- What kind of customer service are you going to offer?
3- Do you have a marketing strategies
Here is a real-life example of what a marketing strategy is not:
“I want my site to have exposure to search engines based on a strategy to show up in web searches”
Of course, in an ideal work, this is what every website owner wants. While there was a time when the notion that “if you build it, they will come” was true, this was some time ago and just because you build a great looking e-Commerce website, doesn’t mean that the sales are going to be next.
Here are some points to consider:
- Are you familiar with the concepts of SEO and PPC?
- Do you have a marketing budget?
- Do you understand the increasing role that social media has?
Above any other considerations, if you are intending to rely solely on marketing through organic search engine ranking, be aware that this route, whilst being an extremely efficient one, and ultimate more economical than other marketing platforms will require an initial, and substantial investment.
4- Do you have a preference as to the e-Commerce platform you want to use?
An increasing number of highly successful websites are built around Content Management Software such as WordPress, Joomla etc… For the majority of small online businesses, such platform are sufficient.
5- Make sure your product and or services stand out
In a world where images rather than textual content are becoming the platform of choice please understand that failing to show case your goods and services in a manner that visitors can relate to may mean the difference between a visitor and a customer. Humans are tactile creature. As a whole, we like to touch and feel the product we want to purchase. This behavior can obviously not be repeated online but it is possible to show high quality pictures and videos, from various different angles that will provide potential customers with the next best thing to their habitual tactile reflexes.
6- Do you have the most effective shopping cart design
Shopping carts are essential to e-Commerce websites and should enable a user to add multiple items, revise and or modify orders, keep them active for later use etc.… Well-designed shopping card should be intuitive and easy to use.
7- Easy checkout does the trick
This is the one area of e-Commerce web design where less is more. The checkout process should be quick, easy and unobtrusive. The easier it gets the more inclined customers will be to return to your site.
8- Online payment options
Of course, you will want to obtain a merchant account in order to process online payments, but make sure to give your customers the choice. More and more people use PayPal as their preferred method of payment, if only because they don’t have to get their credit card out and start entering all their personal information. When it comes to online payment, choice is what it’s all about.
9- After sale service and guarantees
Of course, we all want to be able to sell a product and never have to deal with customers who may sometimes wish to return it. Customers will need to be informed as to your own specific terms of sales.
10- If it’s not secure, you’re losing sales
We live in an era where hackers are forever trying to circumvent websites securities in order to steal. One the very first step is to ensure that you online store is secure. E-Commerce sites are subjected to hacking attempts and should offer visitors some form of protections by way of encryption such as SSL certificates.
What you need to remember about e-Commerce is that today’s customers are savvy and as such expect a level of performance that is fast, hassle-free and personalized. If your online store is poorly designed, it could be set for failure, and you could lose out on sales as a result. Considering that by some estimate, online sales will reach and possibly exceed $414 billion by 2018, you get an idea of how costly a poorly conceived and designed e-Commerce website might be.
A well-designed site might give you the necessary tools to avail yourself of an ever expanding pool of customers.
We want to help you make the right choice.