Operating a successful eCommerce website follows a different set of rules to running a traditional B2B website. Much like a physical retail store, there are a lot of elements to consider in order to make it successful.
In bricks and mortar retail, store owners are continuously improving the in-store experience to entice customers to buy, and the same should go for online retailers, says Kevin Traynor, Service Provider for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme and founder of Ireland’s leading growth agency, Grow Consultancy.
For businesses in Northern Ireland this may seem like a daunting task, especially for those who have just recently taken their products/services online. The good news is, you’re not alone – there are a number of supports available for companies looking to grow their online sales.
To get you started, here are five fundamental tips that you can use to optimise your website for success.
Improve the checkout process
On average, 70% of online shoppers abandon their basket at checkout. Creating a checkout process that is simple and offers flexibility for the customer is crucial to improving your on-site conversion rate.
A study by Baymard found that 18 per cent of shoppers abandoned the process during checkout due to a long or complicated checkout process, and a further 24 per cent abandoned because the site asked them to create an account. Similar to the in-store experience, asking customers for too much information can lead to a poor user experience or lost sales.
To streamline the process, businesses should remove outdated or unnecessary fields – only requesting information that is relevant to the order. To save the customer time, use ‘auto-filling’ where possible and collapse minority fields. It’s also hugely important to offer flexible payment options at the checkout. While some customers will be happy to enter their card information, many online shoppers now prefer to use “single-click” payments such as Apple Pay or Paypal to seamlessly checkout.
‘Buy Now Pay Later’ options such as Klarna or Clearpay are also becoming increasingly popular, allowing price-sensitive customers to split the cost of purchase in a number of instalments.
Enhance product pages
Product pages are the eCommerce equivalent of the in-store sales assistant, and should provide potential buyers with all the information needed to confidently make a purchase. A product page that is poorly designed, has sparse information and low quality product images is unlikely to inspire website visitors to take action and add products to the basket.
Below are just some of the fundamental things every eCommerce product page should have:
- High quality photos & videos – first impressions count. That’s why high resolution images are so important in helping customers visualise the product online. Adding video content to product pages can further entice potential customers to make a purchase and is useful for products that require extra demonstration.
- Informative & unique product descriptions – product descriptions can make or break a sale. Try to enhance generic information about size, colour and materials with enticing copywriting that explains the product’s key features, focusing on how it will enhance the life of the potential buyer. Conducting keyword research before writing will help with site
- Product reviews – displaying product reviews on product pages builds trust and authority, giving buyers confidence to complete the purchase. Try reaching out to past customers via email or SMS to capture reviews after purchase. Consider offering an incentive for leaving a review e.g. 10% off your next purchase.
- Clear calls-to-action (CTAs) – a good CTA makes it clear to the shopper what their next action will be. Common CTAs on product pages include ‘Add to cart’ or ‘Buy Now’ – these should be the largest button on the page and should stand out from other on-page elements to reinforce their importance.
Optimise site speed
Site speed is a critical success factor to eCommerce success. A lengthy page loading time deters shoppers, causing them to drop-off prematurely. Online shoppers are time-poor and have come to expect a super-fast online experience thanks to big players like Amazon, who make online shopping effortless for consumers.
Site speed directly influences your conversion rates and search engine rankings, with Google now using site speed as a key signal to rank pages. Using a tool like ‘Google PageSpeed Insights’ is a great way to uncover errors with site speed.
Adopt a mobile-first experience
Making in-store retail experiences accessible and appealing to different types of shoppers is crucial and the same goes for eCommerce. Online shoppers use a range of devices to discover and purchase online. Having a website that is optimised for desktops, mobiles and tablets is essential to ensure a great user experience across all devices.
As mobile commerce is set to overtake desktop shopping by 2023, it is now more important than ever that eCommerce sites are optimised to give mobile shoppers a seamless shopping experience.
Responsive design across the site improves conversion rates and helps show off products in their best light. This is particularly important during the checkout process. The smaller surface area of smartphones increases the risk of input errors and a poorly designed mobile checkout can lead to a frustrating experience.
Invest in on-site merchandising and seasonal content
Online retail is fast-moving, so making continuous updates to the website is essential to keep buyers interested and ensure alignment with key holidays and promotions.
For example, a Black Friday Sale in November requires fresh banners and graphics on the homepage to appeal to discount shoppers. As soon as Black Friday ends, the on-site content needs to be swapped out to reflect Christmas shopping, with a focus on gifting and seasonal offers.
Failing to keep up with these key dates could see a loss in sales. Pre-planning of upcoming offers, promotions, and website content is crucial to staying on top in the fast-paced world of eCommerce.
If you need support on your journey towards eCommerce success, help is available.
InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge programme can provide companies with up to £2500 fully-funded consultancy support, to help develop online sales and eCommerce solutions. Assistance can be provided in a number of areas including website management, SEO optimisation, online payment systems, products listing/pricing and more.
There’s never been a more exciting time to get started in eCommerce. For businesses who need support with developing online sales and eCommerce solutions, reach out to InterTradeIreland.