You’ve decided you want to sell online. You already know what products and you’ve made your business plan. Now you have to move to the next stage, which is designing your e-commerce website. Some brands invest all their efforts into their products, marketing strategies, and advertisement. This is a mistake. Why? Because you can have the best products and the catchiest advertisements, but once people visit your site and discover that it doesn’t quite live up to their expectations, they will lose trust in your brand, and you will lose revenue. To succeed in this sector, you need the whole package.
On a global level, retail is a $20 trillion dollar industry, but online retail accounts for only 20% of the market. As much as we’d like to believe that e-commerce is the future, we can see from these numbers that the majority of people still do their shopping in physical stores. But statistics also show that even though consumers prefer making purchases in physical stores, they begin the process by researching products online. So how do we get them to make more purchases on e-commerce websites? We recreate what they like most about shopping in a digital format while highlighting some of the inherent benefits of online services.
Website Appearance and Functionality
Let’s start with first impressions – appearance and functionality. If you want to go into e-commerce, you need to know that you will face a lot of competition, which means that any potential customer has a lot of options to choose from. They will not spend their time trying to navigate a website with poor design. Maybe your first instinct will be to make everything pop, to come up with something original, and set yourself apart. Again, this can turn out to be a mistake. You need to find a balance between visuals and content, and your products should take center-stage.
You can visit other successful online retail platforms, and you’ll notice that the focus is on simple, intuitive design. The goal is to help the customer get all the information they need quickly and easily so they can make a purchase. An original design might impress visitors for a few seconds, but if they’re not used to the layout, and they don’t understand what to do to complete the purchasing process, they will take their money and go elsewhere. Instead, work with an experienced web design agency that offers quality services and knows what features and aesthetic details provide the best customer experience.
You can design a stunning website, but if it takes too long to load, visitors won’t stick around long enough to appreciate it. And if they don’t stick around long enough to appreciate it, it also means they leave before making a purchase. One of the main advantages of shopping online is convenience, so prospective customers expect the process to be much more efficient than in a physical store. Your goal should be to keep the load time under two seconds, maximum three. Anything that surpasses this threshold will make visitors grow impatient and leave the site.
This also means that you need to be cautious when integrating third-party applications. They may provide additional benefits, but you need to make sure that they don’t slow down your website. In that case, any benefits might be outweighed by the sales you lose because customers hit the back button and try a different online store.
Make It Simple: Search, Add to Cart and Pay
As we mentioned, customers expect online shopping to be quick and easy. Nothing is worse than creating a website that confuses them. To make the process as seamless as possible, focus on these three main steps: search, add to cart and pay. When people visit your website, in most cases, they already know what they want. It’s not like shopping at the mall where people go just to pass the time. So they want to search for the product they want, add it to their cart, pay, and leave. This should only take a few minutes, so you’ll want the buttons for these steps to be immediately visible.
You also need to provide all the necessary information in as few pages as possible and avoid sending them to the FAQ section. Likewise, don’t force them to register in order to complete a purchase. You can offer them an incentive like a discount, but your goal should always be to make the process short and sweet. Another thing to keep in mind is that many customers will abandon their shopping cart if you surprise them with high shipping costs as they’re about to complete their purchase. If you can’t offer free shipping, make sure they know about it early on, or you’ll not only lose customers, you might also get some bad reviews written in frustration.
We’re going to focus a bit more on site search because it’s an often neglected aspect of e-commerce website design. Like we said, most people opt for online shopping because it’s more convenient. There are some people who enjoy browsing through hundreds of products. They’re not looking for something specific, they just want to see what’s new, and it relaxes them. However, most people already know what they want, and they want to get it online precisely because they don’t have the patience to look for it in a physical store. Make sure your search bar is visible on your landing page because if they have to search for the search bar… it’s not really in the spirit of efficiency.
You also need to invest in good search technology with advanced search features. Otherwise, you risk losing sales because potential customers leave thinking you don’t have the product they’re looking for or because the search function is giving them irrelevant results. Keep in mind that the search function not only improves customer experience and, therefore, revenue, but it also gives you valuable insight into what products people are most interested in. You can use the information you get from search queries in your future marketing strategies.