People do not typically start a new business without the dream to make it successful. Still, running an ecommerce business is difficult. There are so many variables that can affect your success: your website, getting your website found, selling the right products, and so on. There really isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. It is time to get organized and stop making excuses. Make a checklist and start tackling these variables one at a time.
This post is going to be the first of a two-part series focusing on improving your ecommerce website. If there is one area that could make a big difference, it’s your website. If you are getting a lot of traffic to your site, but your sales are low – Houston, we have a problem. People are already finding your site; we just need to make it easy for those people to make purchases.
Some of you’ve heard of “user experience” or “UX” and some of you haven’t. For those that haven’t, here is my one-sentence definition: “Is it easy for me to use your site for the purpose you are intending me to use it for?” UX is the most important element for any ecommerce site. You have to build the site for the user if you want it to be successful.
There are two areas of the site I want to focus on in regards to UX, as these are the usual culprits for hindering sales. In this post, I am going to focus on making your site more trustworthy. This is probably the quickest and easiest of the two areas to improve. The user’s impression of your site’s trustworthiness is the first step of the buyer’s experience once they land on your site. That means your site needs credibility factors for the user to see in the first few seconds of landing on your site. Some of these areas will not be easy fixes, but the reward will be worth it. Studies show $1.9 billion in revenue was lost due to a lack of trust. That is a lot of money. Let’s get you a piece of the pie so you can send me postcards from your next vacation spot and make me jealous.
The first impression of trustworthiness is the site’s efficiency. How fast does your site load? Does it seem clunky? If it’s slow to load and cumbersome to navigate, the user will probably not trust your site and make the decision to spend their money elsewhere. This means that you are helping someone else (i.e. your competitor) make money. Unless your competition is bringing you as their plus one to their Bali retreat, you need to speed up your site ASAP.
This could be as quick as fixing a few broken links, or as time-consuming as optimizing every single image on your website. This blog post has a few ideas as to why your site may be loading slowly. Find out what is causing your site to load slowly and get it fixed. This could be a quick win for your business.
When someone lands on your site, you want to ensure they feel safe and secure. Ensure they know that you are a legitimate site and not some creepy person in a basement stealing their identity. Add security badges to your site, especially while a user is checking out their items. Of course, don’t bedazzle your site with these badges – going overboard may seem like you are shouting how secure you are. Usually the people shouting security typically aren’t secure. Show a few badges and still keep your design clean and professional.
While you are at it, add a few awards and certifications. Think of it as the restaurant’s version of a Yelp rating. I know I feel instantly better walking into a restaurant if others survived long enough to leave a Yelp review. Studies show that they do matter, and it is an easy fix if you don’t already have them on there.
Also, you should always have your payment option icons visible on the home page. There isn’t anything more frustrating than spending my time shopping around a store and finding out that they only accept PayPal. I just wasted time shopping around and got all the way to the checkout section to find out that I have to set up an account with PayPal. I start thinking: maybe I don’t really need this Panther’s jersey, maybe it is a bit expensive, maybe I should support local businesses and not buy online, maybe I a need a snack, maybe I should use this to buy myself a more nourishing lunch instead of Top Ramen. Never make a user think. If they start thinking, they aren’t buying.
Last but not least, you should include your social media links. This is another way to show that you are a legitimate business. Now, this could be a double-edged sword. If you are a new business and the only person to like your business page on Facebook is your mom, then you probably don’t want to blast that either. You will have to use good judgement for these types of situations.
A transparent company is a trusted company. One simple way to show transparency is to have your contact information easily found. Customers will instantly feel more secure that you are available for questions and issues. If you do not currently have a phone system in place, the author of this post shares his first-hand experience of adding a phone number to his website along with the pros and cons for his business.
You have to do what works for your business. Adding a phone number for it to ring 100 times and voicemails that land on the desk of Nivens McTwisp’s assistant probably won’t work. If I have to seek advice from a caterpillar and solve riddles at a Mad Tea Party to finally speak with someone at your company, it is probably best to not have a phone number on your site.
Another important addition to your website is a return policy. Even though returns are a hassle for everyone involved, they are a necessary evil. You might as well make it work in your favor. Return policies are the new craze! What used to be the ugly Wicked Witch from the West that everyone would hide in the attic is now the reincarnated Good Witch of the North living front and center on every ecommerce business.
Don’t just take my word: The Journal of Marketing found that customers will increase purchases over the next 2 years between 58% and 357% if they received free shipping on returns. Now that I proved it to you, here are some great ideas for writing return policies and here are some ideas to improve your policy, if you already have one.
Enough blabbing, it is time to take a few of these ideas and get to working. 2016 is ticking on, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Remember, this is part one of a two-part series – I have more tasks coming your way. I am sure you do not want to be that person procrastinating and having to work during your would-be vacation.
Seriously, where are you going to send me a postcard from? Read the second part of this blog for more website tips.