You’ve heard of the 7 habits of highly effective people, but what about online stores? What habits are at the heart of ecommerce success? What do all the best online retailers know that beginners do not?
In this guide, we outline 7 essential traits the most successful ecommerce companies all share. Use these as a guiding model to build your online store into something future aspiring online retailers will want to emulate.
1. Mobile Optimization
Any day now, mobile shopping will overtake desktop shopping, or at least meet it neck-and-neck. Consider Thanksgiving weekend 2018, when 40% of ecommerce purchases were made on mobile devices. On Shopify, mobile shopping is already the leader, accounting for 66% of the Shopify’s Thanksgiving weekend sales.
So to succeed in ecommerce now and in the future, you need to make sure your store is optimized for mobile. If you sell on your own site, make sure it’s appropriately responsively. Check your analytics to see what devices your shoppers use most, and tailor your mobile sites to those.
2. Descriptive Descriptions!
One of the main drawbacks of ecommerce is that shoppers can’t see or touch the product in person. They’re stuck drawing conclusions based on the written descriptions (and photos, explained below).
Writing good product descriptions is a fine skill for ecommerce, one that accomplishes a few different goals:
- entices shoppers to buy with persuasive text
- provides an opportunity to use SEO keywords (discussed below)
- allows you to show off your brand voice based on the tone
- explains any confusing aspects of your product, which can reduce returns from people who got the wrong idea from the pictures
Although a lot of your product descriptions will depend on your brand and where it’s published, here’s a simple, reliable template to help you get started: [descriptive paragraph] -> [bullet list] -> [persuasive paragraph]. First you describe your product, then you list out its best features in a bullet list that’s easy to skim, and then you close with reasons why the shopper should buy.
Once you’re comfortable with this template, feel free to experiment and personalize it.
3. Inviting Promotions
The fastest way to your customers’ hearts is through their wallets — in other words, the more generous your deals, discounts, and promotions, the more loyal your shoppers will become.
And no promotion is more inviting than free shipping. Just look at these statistics from Invesp:
- 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping is their number one incentive when shopping online.
- Orders with free shipping are around 30% higher in value.
- 61% of people are “somewhat likely” to cancel their order if they see free shipping is not offered.
- Online shoppers find free shipping more appealing than percentage off deals.
So if you want to give your customers something a little extra, free shipping is the way to go. Of course, it’s a pricey promotion to offer, especially when you’re the one who likely fronts the bill. You can always try a minimum-cart value option where your customer’s shopping cart has to meet a certain amount to qualify for discounted shipping costs. If free shipping isn’t in your budget, try more conventional promotions like discounts, coupons, or 2-for-1s.
4. High Quality Product Photos
As we said above, ecommerce stores are at a disadvantage because shoppers can’t actually interact with the products before they buy them. Along with product descriptions, you can also show off your products with high quality photos.
For starters, “high quality” means high resolution. An HD photo shows attributes like product texture, shape, and the fine details, making it easier for the shopper to imagine what the real version is like. Just watch your file sizes to make sure they don’t get too large and slow down page loading times.
But high quality also means better photographs in general. You’ll want to pay attention to composition, background, and the actual camera you use. There’s a lot to say about this topic, so if you want to learn more, read our more detailed guide on perfect product photography.
5. Simple Checkouts
Cart abandonment is the great enemy of ecommerce, affecting 69.57% of orders according to Baymard. The same study also confirmed the top three reasons for cart abandonment, in order:
- extra fees like shipping or taxes
- no option for guest checkout
- checkout process was too long or complicated
If you’re offering free shipping (mentioned in tip #3), you don’t have to worry about the first one. The other two, though, can be fixed with better checkout planning.
Although logged-in shoppers tend to spend more, overall, customers appreciate the option for guest checkout. The extra sales you’d make from logged-in accounts won’t make up for the loss in sales from shoppers abandoning their carts because you don’t offer a guest checkout option.
You also want to make the actual checkout process as painless as possible. Get rid of any form fields that aren’t absolutely necessary. If you can’t avoid a lengthy checkout process, at least break it up into separate windows to make it seem less intimidating.
6. SEO-Focused Content
SEO is important to any online business, but for retail it can be a huge help in attracting customers who are ready to buy. If a shopper knows what they want already, they’ll likely conduct a search for it. If you can rank highly in that search, you could land a sale in just a few clicks.
In addition to product descriptions (see tip #2), you can also place SEO keywords in your produce page titles, website copy, and photo metadata. Blogs are one of the best SEO tools, not to mention they’re great for strengthening bonds with customers. If you have a little extra in your budget, you can “cheat” SEO with paid search ads on Google or Amazon — the two top places for product searches. Find out the benefits of both paid advertising platforms before deciding which one to go with.
7. Lively Social Media Presence
Last but not least, a successful ecommerce business is readily available to their customers on social media. Interacting with customers online is the best way to forge stronger, more personal relationships, whether you’re answering questions, addressing complaints, or making them laugh.
Social media is one of the best avenues for keeping your online shoppers up to date on both new promotions and products. Used more strategically, you can also boost underperforming products or host fun social media challenges and contests. The most important thing, though, is that you just participate. Show your customers that you’re just a message away and respond as quickly as possible.
Listing out the habits of highly effective ecommerce businesses is one thing. Achieving them is something else completely. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Using automated software like Ecomdash takes care of the busy work for you: syncing product listings so you only have to edit once, automating stock levels on all your channels to prevent overselling, managing orders from everywhere from one central, easy-to-use dashboard, and plenty of other features.
While your data entry tasks are taken care of, you can focus more on the items listed above to take your business to the next level.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published September 2014 and was updated in October 2019 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.