You've heard the expression, "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink"? Well, that is sometimes how I feel when discussing e-commerce trading!
You cannot establish a solid e-commerce business without a website that achieves six critical elements, and all too often these are critical elements that so many e-commerce websites don't achieve! Why is this? Often, it's due to lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, too much focus on the potential customer, and too much emphasis on one (important) consideration - making a quick buck!
Below, we've listed the six essential building blocks that any e-commerce website needs to excel. If you've got any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch ;)
- Easy Navigation - You want your visitors and potential customers to be able to easily get around your website and find what they want. Your online store needs to show numerous items at once, while giving your visitors the options to view more information. Allow your customers to enjoy browsing your products.
Prior to any new website being designed, you need a plan. Learn by visiting your competition and analysing their good points and how they are selling/trading online. Sit down, layout your website and then consult with an e-commerce specialist web designer and developer (yes, two or more different individuals). It will be worth it and it will save you hundreds of pounds in the long run!
- Display of the product - Visitors and potential clients want to be able to see what they are buying! Depending on what you are selling, offer different angles, dimensions, videos etc. Set up your product displays so that other related products are included, for example if the product is suits, show shirts, ties, shoes etc.
- Website readability - Similar to how you display the product, readability is a function of design. Readability is concerned with how easy is it to see your descriptions, instructions and crisp clear images. If a visitor cannot read about your product because the typeface or photos are too small or faint, what happens? That's right, they'll leave without taking any action!
- Copywriting - Product descriptions should be well written and interesting. Yes, you need to provide basic information with the features, however the main aim of the content is to focus on the benefits. Why should your visitor purchase your product? The aim is to connect your visitors with your products. To give visitors confidence, clearly explain the ordering process, how products are returned and give detailed customer service information.
- Website build - It is so important that the software you purchase to build your website is search-engine friendly, secure and adaptable. There are so many poor software packages out there on the market that do not provide any search engine or online marketing potential (unless you are a specialist in the programming that has been utilised). Please avoid these - I have seen too many of examples of companies discussing their e-commerce website with pride and joy, only to be told by our specialists that there is nothing that can be done to fix or improve the site and it so it will have to be re-built. The best option is to have your e-commerce website built by a team of specialists in design, programming and online marketing from the get-go. This will again save you money, stress and time!
- Ease of purchasing - It is also critical that you make the ordering and the process of buying from your online store as easy as possible. One of the major reasons why individuals buy online is to save time and it makes life a lot easier. If a visitor and potential customer has to go through five or more steps to complete a transaction, there's a very real chance they might give up. It should take no more than three clicks from one page to another to make a purchase. Carefully research the software that you want to use.
Prioritising on these six elements when building your online store will produce excellent results as long as it can be found. Taking the time to research websites that are consumer friendly and successful in their own markets is a great way to begin your planning.
And one last word of advice - don't forget to make your online store fun and easy to use!