3 Steps to a Successful eCommerce Website

3 Steps to a Successful eCommerce Website

Kristin Eastman, M.S.

The three building blocks to eCommerce success will come as no surprise for anyone that has designed, developed, or even shopped on an eCommerce site.

Design, content, and management are the pillars that can burn or brighten a website. These three factors are all driven by, you guessed it, consumers.The main purpose of an eCommerce website is to convert visitors into consumers. There are a multitude of aspects that go into encouraging this conversion. Starting with the most obvious—design.

Website Design

Ever judge a book by its cover? All the time! Same goes for websites. There are certain ways to entice your visitors to come, stay, and pay.

  • Create high quality photos with zoom capability for detail. Make certain any images you post are big enough users have no trouble seeing them. “A picture is worth a thousand words” translates into a thousand bucks in the eCommerce world.
  • Use multi-media to support your photos. Think product videos, sheets or guides. You might have additional information or a better way to show that information, aside from what the description field will allow. Users are all different and some like to digest information in different forms. The more media types, the better chance your consumer understands your product.
  • Have consistent branding. Your product photos should all have a similar look and feel. There should be consistent imagery themes, color palettes, and style throughout the website, including the check-out process. This is called “scent.” The consumer should feel like they can easily find their way straight to their goal. They don’t want to be interrupted by the Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion on the journey. Make sure your “scent” is consistent through your entire website so your user doesn’t get lost, distracted, or scared off.
  • Ensure your site is mobile friendly. According to an article from Business Insider on commerce shopping trends, most people start their research on their phone and once they’ve made a decision, will move to a desktop to purchase. Aim to make that transition as seamless as possible for the consumer.
  • Implement a simple shopping cart. Not only should your shopping cart carry the same aesthetic of your website, but the fewer the clicks the better. Creating a step-by-step process from shopping cart to end-purchase is important. Break up form fields and input required steps that make shopping on your website feel like a natural progression. Speaking of progression, progress bars are a great way to let the user know where they are and deter exiting the process.
  • Make your site navigation as clear as the Tahiti ocean. Hansel and Gretel should have nothing on your breadcrumbs. Make sure the user can get to and from different products without getting lost. Breadcrumbs are a great way to make the user aware of where they are.

Website Content

We all know that Google + Content = Search Love. But the main reason Google loves content is because web users do too.

  • Content for Consumers: Create your content from the consumer’s point of view. Think about how you shop for something—what types of wording, descriptions, and summaries draw your attention?

Make sure you aren’t using business-speak or internal language to sell your product. The consumer doesn’t work with you. The content should be understandable from a new and fresh perspective.

  • Quality content: each product description should be unique to not only that particular product but to the placement of that product.

If your products are listed on an affiliate site or distributed on other retailers—the description needs to be different in each place. Also, make sure to include relevant keywords in the product description. This is how people will find the page from their search engine.

  • Customer reviews: nothing sells better than word of mouth. In this day and age, word of mouth happens at the speed of light. You find something you are interested in, text or share it with a friend for advice/approval, and boom, you are done. Or maybe you like to read a million reviews to make sure you are buying a quality product. Either approach, make it easy for your current customers to sell your products.
  • Credibility elements: let your website visitors know that you are a legit business. Can you offer warranties or guarantees? Did you have any awards or credible press release information? Do you offer multiple ways to purchase?

Offering credible payment options like Paypal or Stripe can give a consumer more confidence if they don’t know your company or brand. These are all signs that a consumer can trust your company.

  • Value propositions: we all want our company to stand out from others, especially in the eCommerce realm. Posting value propositions in the consumer’s path to purchase is a great way to ensure a conversion. Things like free shipping, fast shipping, easy returns, or—a new trend—offering monthly renewal services are great ways to entice a new visitor into becoming a customer.
  • Communication: you can use every part of your website real estate to ensure long-term engagement. Over-communication is key to a good user experience. At each step, confirm that step and then give the consumer the next step in the path. Lead them down the path you’d like them to take. Confirm an addition to the cart and then offer the checkout at the same time.
  • Site search: if a consumer can’t find your product they can’t buy it. Site search is one of the most important functions on an eCommerce website. It allows visitors to find what they are looking for quickly, which increases the chance of a conversion. Make sure your search is easy to use and provides relevant content & keywords.

eCommerce Management

Now that your website looks and feels great, it’s time to make sure it stays that way. You’ve done everything you can to your design and content to maximize sales. Now what? Engagement and testing. And this my friends, is a never ending tale.

  • Testing: this can be a bit overwhelming when you look at the big picture. Take it a little step at a time. Start with what you’re offering for value propositions. Take a look at conversion rates, are they starting to slip? Did a competitor start to offer the same value? Take one offer and leave it up for a month, then the next month, change it out. Monitor which preforms better.

Photos are another place to look. Maybe a certain photo isn’t quite capturing the essence of the product. Maybe it is a poor quality image. Maybe there is a better angle. Test different images over a period of time.

  • Engagement: Lead generation is the key to engagement. You want to collect visitors that don’t convert, as well as active customers, to offer them similar products, discounts, etc. Start by figuring out the best time to ask for an email. For example, if you wait until the checkout process then you’ll only be collecting customers. Is there another point in the customer progression you’ve created that would be more effective for a wider segment? Think about the multi-media we discussed earlier—you could gate a video on how to use your product, or perhaps the first chapter of an anticipated book.

Use your email addresses to further engaged with your website visitors. Newsletters, coupons, and offers are all great ways to continue bringing visitors to the website for another chance to convert.

Hopefully we haven’t overloaded your brain with all the cool things you can do to achieve eCommerce success. Take it one step at a time. Review your goals, then glance over this list to find your best starting point. You’ll be selling things off the shelves in no time.