For many businesses these days, their main sales funnel is their website. As such, it’s important to nail your e-commerce strategy – and these five steps will help you achieve just that.
In fact, experts have predicted that e-commerce will exceed $2 trillion in sales over the next few years. While this is a mammoth figure, it is not necessarily a surprising one: consumers are increasingly foregoing brick-and-mortar storefronts, and instead relying on their phones, tablets and laptops to swiftly make purchases which are then conveniently delivered to their door.
Your e-commerce strategy begins in your website. Just as physical customers will walk out of a shop that doesn’t pique their interest, your website needs to quickly and effectively draw in your users’ attention, nudging them towards making a purchase.
To achieve this, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk through the sales process on their end.
Here are five key ingredients that can take your e-commerce website to a whole new level:
1. Remember that first impressions count
A user will decide within the first few seconds of landing on a page whether he or she wants to stick around. Digital consumers operate at a much faster pace than physical customers, and will quickly bounce from your website if it doesn’t appeal to their taste.
As such, it is imperative that you design your website with the following elements in mind:
• Keep the layout very clean and easy to navigate. Consider using simple monochromatic colour schemes, and build a logical information architecture (i.e. up-to-down, left-to-right).
• Ensure the loading time does not exceed five seconds. Research shows that users tend to bounce from websites that take any longer than this to load.
• Make sure your website is mobile-friendly (you can easily test this). The booming rate at which users are making purchases straight from their phones means it is increasingly important to tailor your e-commerce website to the mobile canvas.
2. Advertise your latest promotions
Just as giant posters displayed in shop windows have the power to entice pavement-pounding customers, digital banners on your website are ideal for getting digital users excited about buying from your site.
Rather than employing pop-up ads, which can frustrate users, try creating display banners revolving around offerings such as ‘flash sales’ and ‘free shipping’. Theming such promotions with on-trend events will add extra weight to your campaign.
3. Give your customer that VIP feeling
Unlike physical storefronts, it can be very challenging to build a connection with your website visitors. Traditional face-to-face interaction is replaced by a screen, which means you need to get innovative when crafting your website content.
Carefully consider the kind of language you employ: while you want to sell your products, the key to forging great relationships with users (and subsequently developing a loyal customer base) is by creating a warm and inviting feeling.
Use words that emphasise a personal connection – this can be as simple as addressing the user directly through second-person language (i.e. “you”). If users decide to take that leap and register themselves as a member of your website, provide them with a personalised welcome message each time they log in.
4. Provide secure transaction tools
One of the major deterrents of e-commerce websites is the submission of credit card details. While the majority of users have now become accustomed to handing over this information online, some will still harbour concerns over where their details might end up.
Hence, it is important to build trust into your transaction forms: include security logos, avoid overloading your user with irrelevant questions, offer once-off guest purchasing abilities, provide money-back guarantees, and ensure you implement a reliable transaction method.
5. Take advantage of being online
The digital world is an endless portal of possibilities. Making the most of your e-commerce website means capitalising on the tools at your disposal, such as capturing customer information and tailoring marketing material towards them.
Consider introducing a submission form when customers sign-up to your website, which asks a few very simple questions and collects their email addresses. From here, you can send out emails and news that targets their demographic and interests, thereby further enhancing that personalised touch while spruiking products that are likely to draw them back to your site.
By being diligent with your design, you can effectively reap the benefits of your e-commerce website. Employing a strategic, well-thought out approach will enable you to maximise its functionality as your business’ core sales funnel and most importantly, give you the foothold you need to keep up with an increasingly online consumer base.
Paul Finn is the CEO and founder of WebsiteDesign.com.au.