It goes without saying that every retail business owner naturally wants to increase their sales, and online stores are no different.
Whether you’re new to the world of e-commerce, or your site has been around for a few years, there are always things you can update and tweak to improve your results. More people are shopping online today than at any other time in history, and that means a great opportunity for you to make more from your store than ever before.
In this post, we’ll look at some effective techniques for levelling up your e-commerce website and encouraging more visitors to make a purchase.
1. Sort out your security
If your e-commerce store is experiencing slow sales, it might be worth taking a moment to check out its data safety credentials.
One of the fears new customers may have about using a relatively unknown site (compared to a well-known site such as Amazon or Walmart) is that their card details might get leaked. After all, in a world where even seemingly-reliable companies such as Apple, Capital One, Sony, and dozens of others occasionally struggle to keep users’ credit card information under wraps, new users to your store have every reason and right to be wary about giving out their data.
Therefore, any suggestion that your store might be lax on security should be treated as a major issue and remedied immediately. Make sure your SSL certificate is up-to-date, and be sure to put numerous safety badges and icons around your site (especially the checkout areas) – Verisign, McAfee Secure, Trustwave, Paypal Verified, anything you can use. If it’s got a picture of a padlock on it, so much the better!
It may sound silly, but it’s almost impossible to over-sell the safety and security of your shop. If you make sure there’s no reason for your customers to doubt your site’s security, they’ll feel comfortable using their plastic to make a purchase.
2. Get better images
It may be worth taking a critical look at the imagery across your store. Is there anything you’d improve? If your product photos could be less blurry, better lit, higher resolution, or otherwise technically more impressive, it’s probably time to replace them.
Depending on what you sell, there may also be value in getting some more emotive imagery. Anything with a fashion or lifestyle theme, for example, could seem even more appealing if your imagery includes people using the products – or if you’re offering toys, pictures of happy children playing with the things you sell could have more impact than just neutral product photos.
Plain product images offer little more than just straightforward information (‘this is what the item looks like’). However, we also want to encourage the viewer to have an emotional gut response – and we need to think about what they want.
The economist Theodore Levitt once famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Do your customers want to buy a frying pan, or do they want a plate of beautifully cooked food? Do they want to own a new black dress, or do they want to look great at a party?
In other words, if your product is something that facilities another end goal, consider adding some imagery of that, too. The more easily your users can imagine themselves using the item to get what they want, the more you’ll sell.
3. Upgrade the site
There’s no way around it – for an e-commerce business, having a substandard website is a major obstacle.
For example, slow loading times are a common stumbling block for many online enterprises. They might be tolerable for a user who knows exactly what they want and where to find it – but for the customer who likes to browse through dozens of pages of products before they buy, navigating a sluggish site can easily become a chore.
Slow speed can also affect your shop’s position in search engines, as Google takes page speed into consideration when ranking websites on its results pages. Simply put, given the choice between a fast website and a slow website of otherwise equal value, Google will assume the speedier one offers a better user experience and rank it more highly.
Other important upgrades could include overhauling the site’s navigation and making user journeys more intuitive. Does your store have a search function, and does it work correctly? Can the user filter the product pages to find the things they’re looking for? How quickly can a first-time user with no prior knowledge of the layout find the exact item they want?
The better the shopping experience you’re able to offer, the more customers will enjoy using the site – and the more likely they’ll be to return at another time.
4. Optimise for mobile
Many customers like to do their shopping on the go, and if your site isn’t smartphone-friendly you could be missing out on potential sales.
It’s probably an underappreciated fact that mobile devices are now the world’s preferred way to use the web. With Statista reporting that well over 50% of web browsing now takes place on small screens, it’s not a good idea to treat your site’s mobile experience as an afterthought.
Make sure that everything displays well at the smaller resolution, that links and buttons are well-sized for portable screens and that images are well-optimised (because customers aren’t going to be too thrilled about having to pull down 20MB of product photos using their mobile data allowance).
You can also cast a critical eye over your payment process. Imagine a customer is trying to buy something using their phone while standing on a crowded bus – asking them to type in their debit card details might be an inappropriate action to perform at that moment. Accepting an easier electronic payment method (such as Paypal) instead could mean the difference between getting the sale or not.
At the end of the day, there are always improvements that can be made to any e-commerce website to reduce user friction and encourage purchases.
By making sure your store’s security is top-notch, images are of great quality, and the technical aspects of the site are up to standard, you can make your store a pleasure for customers to use – and a successful business for you to run.