Across the country, major retailers like Macy's and RadioShack are closing hundreds of storefronts, but online, small and mid-size businesses are thriving. Thanks to eCommerce, businesses that were once limited to local customers are expanding their reach across the country, and around the globe.
Whether you're a storefront taking your business to the next level, or a startup trying to keep overhead costs low, eCommerce should be a vital part of your sales strategy. And just like a traditional storefront, your website needs certain elements to make it successful in the ever-crowded digital landscape.
Whether you're just starting to sell products online or simply looking to improve your current eCommerce website, here are five key elements of websites that convert.
1. Quality Homepage Design
In the world of eCommerce, your website is your virtual storefront. What do you want customers to see first? A new product? A coupon or sales promotion?
Decide what's most useful for customers, and be sure to feature it prominently.
Consider the best way to draw in potential customers and design your homepage to do just that. Additionally, make sure your homepage creates a positive branded experience. As soon as customers land on your page, they should know who you are and what your website is about. They should intuitively know, just by visiting your homepage, that you're a leader in your industry.
2. User Experience Optimization and Navigation
Where can customers find your company's story? How easily can users browse products? If a customer has a complaint or needs a refund, where can they get help on your site?
The more clicks it takes users to get the information they need, the less likely they are to convert.
Also, remember that mobile optimization is key. Most people browse websites using a mobile device. Check your site on several devices to ensure customers are getting a quality browsing experience however they choose to log on.
If you haven't already, you can also ask your web development team to create accelerated mobile pages (AMP).
3. Eye-Catching Imagery
Think about what customers want from a storefront shopping experience and bring that to your online store.
Provide quality, high resolution photos of your product from a variety of angles so customers can have a 360-degree shopping experience. Similarly, lifestyle shots are great in addition to high res product shots.
A quality photographer is not the place to cut costs when it comes to creating an eCommerce website that converts. If your budget allows, you can even incorporate videos to give users as close to an in-person experience with your product as possible.
Bottom line: don't skimp on the visuals if you want to make sales.
4. No Hassle Payment
A poorly designed payment portal will frustrate customers and result in lost sales. Carefully consider the user experience and work to make it as simple as possible.
For example, giving customers the option to set up a profile and securely log into your website saves time and encourages repeat sales.
Ensure that the customer can pay quickly, easily, and securely, and offer several options to make payment.
5. Social Media Links
If a website is your virtual storefront, social media is your vendor fair.
Set up a business page to connect with customers in real time. This is your chance to not only engage customers, but also provide quick customer service. Your social profiles should also be featured prominently on your website's header or footer, so they are accessible from every page.
The type of social media you need depends on your business and audience, which is a topic for another day, but here's the SparkNotes version: If you plan on creating a lot of video content, you should set up a YouTube page. Instagram and Pinterest are best for photos and hashtagging, and Facebook is the go-to option if you want a one-stop page that can aggregate a variety of content. And if you're a local business, don't forget Google+ to help with local SEO.
Finally, keep in mind that customer experience is now a part of customer service, and your website should make it clear that you've prioritized UX to serve your customers.
Whether they're walking through your front doors or browsing your website, customers expect and deserve quality service. Treat your online customers with the same respect and professionalism you'd provide face-to-face. Your customers will thank you, and your conversion rate will delight you.