Making an ecommerce site has never been easier. Whether you want to add an ecommerce capability to an existing brick-and-mortar business or if you want to start a small dropshipping operation, there are plenty of solutions and services available for everyone.
Even with these tools, however, competing with the likes of Amazon or Alibaba is no easy task. On the other hand, businesses much smaller than those ecommerce giants do make headways. You’ll always find several smaller players duking it out with them on search engine results pages. This just goes to show that there’s always room for more ecommerce businesses.
While we can’t give you the secret sauce that will make your ecommerce site unique or compelling, we can share the things those smaller companies do that make them competitive online. If you want to start your own ecommerce business the right way, we have twelve tried-and-tested tips for helping you hang with the bigger names out there.
1.) Use a clean site design
Clutter can make it difficult for customers to make a decision. In worse case scenarios, it can even cause them to leave your site. Work with experienced and best b2b website designers and developers to ensure that your site’s structure has a clean look and a logical hierarchy that makes it easy for customers to find what they want.
2.) Don’t force users to build a profile
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ask site users to build a profile — this can be essential for encouraging repeat purchases. However, you should be aware that by nagging or forcing them to build a profile can annoy them and make it less likely they will visit your site again.
3.) Focus on shortening the checkout process
Don’t make customers stay in your checkout process longer than necessary. The more steps you add, the higher your cart abandonment rates will get. By continually simplifying the checkout process, you can quickly improve your sales because you’re getting customers to buy before they have time to change their mind.
4.) Invest in SEO
SEO or search engine optimization is the practice of doing recommended actions that help a site get found on search engines. Most customers use search engines to look for items they want before they purchase them. Most of them will only check out the first page of search results. This means you want to make sure that anything you want to sell is in the top spots when potential customers look for it.
While there are plenty of free resources for learning SEO online, a lot of the stuff you’ll find is either outdated or liable to get you blacklisted. This makes it important to team up with an experienced SEO expert right from the beginnings of your ecommerce project.
5.) Have a usable internal search function
Google and Bing aren’t the only search engines that matter. You’ll notice that many ecommerce sites have an internal search function intended for browsing products they have on offer. Having an internal search bar doesn’t take much work and can do a lot to help improve the overall site experience. It can be a great way to help discover customer habits and give them relevant product recommendations, which can, in turn, lead to even more sales.
6.) Automate emails for cart abandonments, wishlists, and more
Using email automation makes it simple to remind customers of items they have in their cart or wishlist. This can trigger a purchase that may not have otherwise happened. Email automation is also useful for helping customers track their purchases, which is important for creating a better customer experience.
7.) Have an assortment of payment options available
It can be a huge mistake to assume that everyone has a credit card or that they prefer to use them. Markets outside of the US and Europe, for instance, have very low credit card adoption rates. There are also countries, such as Japan and China, that have relatively high adoption rates but prefer cash for most transactions.
In any case, it’s important to have different payment options available so that customers can easily items buy from your site. PayPal, Apple Pay, COD, debit cards, direct bank transfers and other options that don’t require credit cards are always good to have. This is especially true if you plan on reaching a global market.
8.) Improve and leverage your site content
Product descriptions and photos have immense value in driving customers to your site and convincing them to buy. Site content can be used to engage and inform customers but they can also improve your site’s SEO-friendliness.
Be sure to implement a system for managing the content that goes on your site so that it maintains a specific purpose and a uniform tone. A content management system will ensure that you continually keep the site SEO-friendly as well.
9.) Make customer service more accessible
Customers will trust your site more if they have an immediate means to contact you with their questions and concerns. Customer service chat, email addresses, and phone numbers should be accessible regardless of the part of the site the customers are on.
10.) Partner with good logistics services
The logistics providers you use can make or break the success of your site. When something goes wrong with your outsourced warehousing, payment, and deliveries, it’s not just the logistics service that customers pin their negative feelings to but your business as well. If you want to provide the best possible customer experience, having a good logistics team on call is mandatory.
11.) Use social proof
Customer testimonials, influencers, and expert reviews all serve to improve your trustworthiness and add value to the overall site experience. Even if the reviews are less than stellar, they can stimulate interest and make your site more trustworthy.
12.) Don’t bait and switch the customer!
One of the most common reasons for cart abandonment is unexpected fees being passed on to the customer. Even if customers do expect certain fees to be tacked on to the list price, this can make them dislike your site, regardless. When possible, the list price on the items offered should be the only thing the customer pays.
All the things we outlined are foundational to the sustainable success of any new ecommerce operation. While there may be other things your business can do to succeed, following these tips can be enough to keep you on par with some of the bigger players out there.