When it comes to creating a website, for any reason, there’s a multitude of factors that need to be taken into consideration. Eye-catching aesthetics, streamlined navigation and clarity of purpose are important elements in any website that is intended to convey a message from you to anyone who visits the site. And while these are certainly still essential in the design of a site created for e-commerce, where it’s likely that potential customers are interacting with you and your business almost exclusively through your website, you must also consider fine-tuning the ease of use, reliability, and user friendly interface options that are now the expectation of an online consumer.
The Rise of Online Shopping
Online retail business, or e-commerce, is thriving and while it continues to grow more popular with each passing year, the competition for customer loyalty is becoming a fierce and increasingly global affair. The results of the third annual Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Survey, released in October of 2016, showed that out of 94% of shoppers who have made domestic online purchases in the last year, 66% of those shoppers have also made purchases through foreign websites and a surprising 58% of those shoppers reported making “cross border” purchases on a monthly basis. In this guide, we will take a closer look at some of the elements you will need to consider implementing in order to make your e-commerce website stand out and attract customers in an ever-widening marketplace.
We’ll begin with the assumption that if you are at the design phase of your e-commerce website development, you have all of your product and branding details worked out. These will be a driving force for several of the decisions you’ll need to make regarding the look and feel of your website.
A Note on the Presentation of Your Website
When a potential customer visits your website before they read a word, their first impression will be based primarily on what it looks like and the feeling it conveys. Details like colour palette, logo design, and legible, appropriately themed font combine to create the impression you want to make. Consistency in this regard is a must. Every page of your site needs to follow the same aesthetic guideline to make a customer’s experience feel cohesive, but don’t go overboard – concise, minimalist designs work well and also make it easier to provide the hassle free customer experience that shoppers want. Keep in mind that if a new visitor to your site finds your website unappealing in any regard, they can go directly to the site of a competitor with the click of a button.
The Online Shopping Experience: What Matters To Your Customers
Data collected over the last few years has revealed a lot of useful information that can be used to tailor your e-commerce site to the needs and expectations of your customers. Here are some of the things that online shoppers look for specifically when making a purchase:
● Free or low-cost shipping deals
● Reliable, 24-hour customer service contact options
● Clear pricing details and a secure, streamlined payment transaction process
● A choice of delivery times/costs
● A search function that allows them to filter products and find what they want quickly
● Reviews and testimonials from other online customers
Shipping Deals Make a Difference
Always high on the list of what’s important to online shoppers, deals that allow your customers to receive free shipping after spending a specified amount really work. A study by UPS found that 76% of online shoppers will actually add more items to their cart to meet the qualifications for free shipping on their order. If offering free shipping isn’t beneficial for your business, try offering a wider variety of shipping options and more control over the timing of delivery to your customers. 66% shoppers also reported looking up the return policy of a website they are considering making a purchase from, with two out of three shoppers making repeat purchases from retailers that offer simple, free returns.
Good Customer Service, Anyway They Like It
It may seem like a given that consumers expect excellent customer service from any retailer, but online shoppers expect more than one way to get in touch with your business if they need to. Make your customer service options highly visible on your e-commerce site, and offer as many avenues to reach someone friendly and knowledgeable as you reasonably can to cover a variety of demographic expectations. Some shoppers prefer to make a phone call and speak to someone directly, while others prefer making contact through email or live chat. Be sure you have systems in place to keep track of the customer service related interactions that you have with individual shoppers so that your customer service representatives have the same details regardless of the method by which they were contacted.
Make Important Information Very Visible
While minimising clutter in your design is a necessity, it’s also important for your customer to have the information they might need at a glance. This includes utilising drop-down menus for navigation or allowing customers to view the number of items and the current total of what they have in their cart from any page. Make sure that any potential extra costs related to shipping or delivery are outlined clearly. Product pages should consist of a high-quality image of the item, any personalization options, like size or colour choices, a brief description and the price and availability status of that product. If applicable, list or link to product reviews from other customers. Reading other reviews can increase the likelihood that a browsing shopper chooses to buy.
Consider Offering a Mobile Shopping Option
Mobile shopping has seen a tremendous amount of growth in recent years, with consumers making purchases from their smartphones or tablets. According to an article posted on Soasta.com, shoppers utilising mobile apps or just mobile devices to shop do so because of discounts or special deals and digital coupons available through mobile-optimised sources. 47% of surveyed consumers also prefer the “round-the-clock” shopping that’s possible through online shopping, rather than being restricted to the schedule of a brick and mortar location. Many online shoppers also look for some kind of social media presence, particularly Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, from online outlets that offers unique deals to followers.
Make the Effort to Entice Customers to Return
Statistics compiled by the Kissmetrics marketing blog show that customers who have made a previous purchase on your e-commerce site will spend over twice the amount of time on a repeat visit to the site than new visitors will. Offering sales and special incentives to customers that have purchased with you in the past makes them more likely to come back and also more likely to mention their positive experience with your website to other people.
With the endless variety of options available online, it can take some time to build your customer base, but don’t be discouraged. When you make the effort to understand and provide the kind of reliable, informative and streamlined experience that today’s savvy online shoppers have come to expect, you can ensure that your e-commerce website will be successful.