Six Actionable eCommerce Tips for Small Businesses

This blog post is by James Bavington, Technical Director at Creare.

Follow James on Twitter at: @jamesbavington

In the world of eCommerce it’s fair to say that startups and small businesses who sell online are perceived very differently than the big, established brand names. From assumed trust to familiarity, recognizable and well-marketed brands attract and convert customers on a different scale than small businesses.

That being said, any small business or startup with a strong proposition can achieve the same trust and loyalty with customers, but also leverage a few things that the big brands can’t. Having worked directly with small eCommerce businesses at Creare for more than six years, following are five key things I set out to achieve or recommend our merchants do in order to make a big impression online.

1. Define Your Value Proposition And Unique Selling Points

Try writing down three to five things that make your business great. Whether your products are lovingly handmade, award-winning, or simply the lowest price out there, what makes you proud about your business will also be attractive to customers. Ensure that these ‘unique selling points’ stand out on your home page and are reinforced on your product pages.

2. Highlight Universal Aspects

Two universal aspects of eCommerce to highlight on your site are shipping and returns. Provide simple, accessible information both within a tab on your product pages and within a little summary on the cart page. Building this information into the user-journey instills confidence and helps reduce cart abandonment rates by taking away any surprises.

3. Build Engaging About And Contact Pages

Customers like to know who and where they’re buying from. It’s worth noting that when About and Contact pages are available, first-time users will typically visit these pages more often than the cart or checkout. Work with your designer to create an engaging ‘About Us’ page that reassures and connects with customers interested in your products. The history of your eCommerce business, accolades, press coverage, and team photos are all examples of valuable content that will satisfy curiosity and help you better connect with customers.

On your Contact page provide clear, well set-out information such as phone, email, social media, and a contact form. If you have a bricks and mortar storefront or warehouse, add a map with supporting opening hours and a photo. Let your potential customers know you’re a real business on-hand to help, support, and advise them.

4. Provide Security And A Trusted Payment Gateway

Smaller eCommerce merchants are more heavily scrutinized by customers on their choice of payment gateway. Partner with a trusted gateway that’s established either globally or locally within your target country. Aim to have a secure on-page solution available at the checkout paired with PayPal’s Express Checkout. PayPal Express Checkout expedites the checkout process by logging customers into their PayPal account to quickly complete the transaction. When correctly implemented as a checkout option on the cart page, studies have shown an average increase in sales of 18%.

Ensure that your accepted payment methods and gateway logo(s) are clearly displayed within your website’s design. A great place to add these may be within the header, footer, or sidebar of your theme, but always include them clearly on the cart and checkout.

Securing your website with an SSL certificate (when your website address changes from http:// to https://) is always worthwhile doing even if your choice of payment gateway doesn’t require it. Having a fully secure website not only builds trust, but is recommended by Google who announced last year it will give a little boost to your SEO too.

5. Reinforce Trust With Customer Reviews

Over the past few years, customer reviews have become a requirement for online merchants of all shapes and sizes. Well-presented, honest, real-life testimonies contribute towards ‘social proof’ whereby customers can learn and are influenced by the actions of others. Encourage your customers to come back and write a review with a well-timed follow-up email that may also include a little incentive for doing so.

Smaller eCommerce businesses can also take advantage of working with reputed third party review companies like Trustpilot or Reviews.co.uk here in the United Kingdom — all of which integrate seamlessly into platforms like Magento and take care of the follow-up emails for you. Reviews are collated about your business and/or products and aggregated into attractive recognizable badges (also known as widgets) that can be easily added to your website.

If you’re considering using Google AdWords to market your website, star ratings collated by these trusted third parties can also appear in your Ad listings and within the Google Shopping results automatically.

6. Get Your Category Structure Right

Designing your category structure is just as important as the design of the eCommerce website itself. Consider how shopping behavior may differ from customer to customer. Take hardwood flooring, for example. The categories could be set out to allow the same products to be accessed by type, manufacturer, wood species, or even the room they’re suitable for. Limiting the category structure to just one of these verticals may impede customers who require guidance and recommendation.

If you have an existing website with Google Analytics, review your most commonly searched terms to understand what your users are searching for. Or if you already use Magento you can find this data within ‘Catalog > Search Terms’ in the Admin Panel. Analyzing what your customers are searching for is a great indicator of missing or potential new categories.

A correctly structured and labelled category architecture not only enhances user experience, but also creates a wide platform of opportunity for SEO as each category becomes an optimized landing page for buyer-intent keywords.

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Creare is a full service web and digital marketing agency that specializes in working with small businesses. They’re a Magento Small Business ‘Do-It-For-Me’ partner. With a talented creative team and ten certified developers, Creare has a diverse portfolio drawn from more than six years of Magento Community Edition experience. Their solutions include: responsive design, SEO, SEM, social media, video production, and hosting.


Originally published at smallbusiness.magento.com.

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