Top Elements of the Perfect E-Commerce Site
Ever asked yourself, What do I need to do to make my website sales-ready?
In this post, I’m sharing my top tips for creating the perfect e-commerce site that’s not only sales ready, but makes sales while you’re sleeping, without requiring direct input from you. This is an e-commerce website that appeals to both types of buyers: the one who buys on impulse and the one who needs to be nurtured into a decision.
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As you know, the point of building an e-commerce site is to make sales, but remember that making a sale isn’t just about having a shopping cart and a security protocol on your site. Because most buyers won’t buy on the first visit, you need a website that appeals to their psychology and gives you the opportunity to persuade them that yours is the best buy, regardless of price.
That’s exactly what I’m discussing below.
Important E-Commerce Statistics
Before we get into the elements of a perfectly crafted e-commerce site, let’s set your expectations by understanding the psychology of your buyer:
Only two out of every 100 customers buy on their first visit.
The majority of first-time visitors on your site (57%) are either casually window-shopping or deep into research mode.
However, when it comes time to buy, the reason most customers (61%) don’t is shipping costs. If you’re selling a physical product, there’s nothing more powerful than offering free shipping to get customers interested in buying. Slap a “free shipping” banner on the top of your website and watch your sales increase. Even if that means actually charging more for your product. “Free shipping” is an almost irresistible incentive.
Another important factor to consider is visual engagement. For nine out of ten people, visuals affect whether or not they make a purchase. This includes photos of the product and the way your site looks and feels.
Now that we’ve covered those important statistics, let’s discuss how to use those numbers to inform your site development.
Here’s What You Need on Your E-Commerce Site:
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Responsive
First thing’s first: is your website mobile responsive? Around 30% of e-commerce in the US is conducted on a mobile device, and that number is only set to rise. Considering that 20 years ago, no one shopped online, much less on their phones, that’s an impressive number, and that doesn’t include the amount of people who simply browse your site on their phones.
Your e-commerce website must meet the demands on your growing mobile audience. If you’d like to learn more about creating a mobile responsive e-commerce site, check out my post here: The Importance of Mobile & Responsive Design.
Create a Worthy Landing Page
Each product or service that you sell on your site deserves a product landing page. While there are many definitions of “landing page”, I’m using the broadest term here: a page you land on.
On your e-commerce site, this landing page doesn’t necessarily have to be adrift as its own island, devoid of a navigation menu. Instead, it can be a fully connected part of your main website.
The most important part of your landing page is that it showcases the product or service. And each product should have its own landing page.
The landing page needs to be the definitive resource for the product in question. It will include (but is not limited to):
- Product name and description
- Photos and/or videos of the product
- Specifications and other product-specific details
- Product reviews
- “Buy Now” button
Another benefit of a standalone landing page for your product is that you can use it in your ad campaigns. Instead of linking to your home page, you’ll create an ad that links directly to the product’s landing page.
Remember that so many people will find out about your brand from elsewhere. Increasingly, you’ll get traffic from your paid ads. Be ready with a product landing page that answers their questions immediately and satisfactorily, if you want to reduce bounce rates.
Here’s a list resources for creating the perfect landing page to go along with your e-commerce site.
Create Stellar Product Descriptions
Your product description is twofold. Let’s break it down:
Title and Description
Your title should be optimized for search engines. Your title and its supporting description should match the keywords your potential customer would naturally use.
Photos and Videos
Only use high quality images. No blurry, tiny images that not even the Hubble telescope can make out. In fact, include a zoom option, if necessary. It’s usually necessary, if you’re selling physical products.
A final note about images
Remember to include product images in four key places:
- The product page
- The checkout page
- The billing confirmation email
- The shopping cart abandonment email
If you really want to win at life, you’ll also include videos on your product’s landing page. These videos can increase conversion rates by 80%. In fact, up to 85% of users are more likely to buy your product or service after watching a video about it.
Understand Color Psychology
Colors can affect buyers, either positively or negatively. For example, impulse buyers are attracted to passion of red, the classic professionalism of black, and the trust of blue. Budget buyers are also attracted to the color blue for the same reason: Trust.
Gender can also dictate color preference. In general, men love black, green, and blue and dislike orange, brown, and purple. Women also love green and blue, and even purple. They don’t like orange, brown, or gray.
Here’s a handy infographic to help you understand how color affects buyer psychology.
I recommend using colors that match your brand’s identity and correlate with the type of buyer you’re hoping to reach.
Create a “You May Also Like…”
Upselling and/ or recommendations is a thing, and it works wonderfully for increasing sales. For example, if you’re selling a lamp, you should include a “you may also like” section of light bulbs. Alternatively, you can populate these recommendations with similar lamps.
Recommendations are an amazing way to share relevant products with your customer, and they will love you for it, especially if it compliments the product or service the customer is already interested in.
No reviews = no bueno.
People trust other people. They look to other buyers before making a decision to go with your product or service. Sure, there will be early adopters who are willing to try your product without social proof, but most people prefer to invest their money into a sure bet.
Reviews are 12 times more trusted than product descriptions.
Have a place for happy (hopefully) customers to review your product or service. But don’t just hope they leave a review. Actively follow up with customers to leave a review after they’ve made a purchase.
A word to the wise: don’t scrub your reviews. It’s not a trustworthy practice and, trust me, those negative reviewers will circle back around. If they don’t see their negative review, they will call you out for it. Besides, most buyers expect to see some negative reviews mixed in. A good ratio is nine positive to one negative review.
Make Security a Top Priority
People are still leery of buying items online. Although it’s not as scary as it was back in the 90s, the idea of sending money to an unknown entity on the Internet still gives quite a few people pause.
To aid in increasing your online sales, consider adding a security logo to your checkout page.
Security logos such as VeriSign, McAfee, Trust Certified Privacy, BBB accredited business, PayPal Verified help make the buyer feel at ease, and can increase sales by up to 6%.
Offer Ways to Connect
If you have the ability to hire customer service, consider adding a live chat module to your site.
If not, there’s always trusty email. Be sure that you include an email and perhaps a contact form to accept calls, concerns, and questions.
Some people won’t email you (because it’s too slow). If you don’t have the ability to monitor chat, consider getting a toll free number.
Offering three unique ways to connect will further legitimize your e-commerce site. No matter what, always include your physical address, your email address, and your phone number.
Use a Clickable, Colorful Button
Make it easy for your buyer to know how to close the deal. It should be a glaringly obvious, no doubt about it, click here if you want to survive type of button.
High contrast against the background is key.
Include your Policies Front and Center
Or at least at the bottom of your page. Be sure to include frequently asked questions about the product, your company’s return policy, and other relevant terms and conditions. This is a nice place to share your shipping details (because, if you don’t provide free shipping, or if you provide multiple modes of shipping, people will want to know).
You should also include where you’re shipping your product from. It will help build trust with your customers, once they see you as a physical business, and not a nebulous entity that exists only in the interwebs. This applies even if you’re an online-only business.
The Checkout Cart Should Be Immediately Accessible
Don’t make your customers search for the checkout button.
According to web standards, your checkout cart should be in the upper right hand corner of the screen. You don’t have to place your cart there, but it will help from a usability standpoint.
Follow These Checkout Strategies
Once you’ve finally gotten your customer into checkout (happy dance), it’s time to turn it into a tunnel so that there’s only one way to go.
Of course, you should also include a “save for later” option with your checkout because things happen and people leave. But you want them to know that when they come back, the items will still be waiting for them where they left it. This also gives you the opportunity to follow up with an email if they don’t make a purchase later.
Clearly identify any form errors. Forms with generic errors make my skin crawl. Don’t make your customer guess why the form isn’t submitting — explain that passwords need a capital letter and a number, or not to include dashes in your phone number, etc. Make sure that the customer knows exactly what’s expected.
Shorten what’s required. Unless you need it to send the product, don’t ask for it. People don’t want to spend 20 minutes filling out an order form.
Offer a Newsletter Subscription
As I briefly touched on earlier, there will be buyers who aren’t ready to pull the trigger yet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t close the sale with them eventually. That’s why you need to offer a newsletter subscription.
Tease with an instant coupon incentive — something that appeals to both impulse buyers and those who aren’t ready to buy yet.
Follow up with a consistent marketing campaign where you send out exclusive email-only promotions that drive subscribers back to your site. It’s the circle of life: e-commerce edition.
What About Cart Abandonment?
As we mentioned in this post on how to improve your checkout process, cart abandonment is a real problem. It’s estimated that 68% of people add a product to the cart and then leave without making the purchase.
But there’s something you can do about it.
You can fix cart abandonment if you send an email within one hour. Simply asking for an email address at the beginning of the checkout process can help you recover up to 23% of abandoned carts.
Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
I’ve covered everything you need to know about cart abandonment and creating a killer checkout process here. Be sure to check it out.
Need Help With Your E-Commerce Site?
If you’d like to improve your e-commerce site, I’d be happy to help. Shoot me an email and let’s discuss how to create the perfect e-commerce site for your brand.
Here’s a list resources for creating the perfect landing page to go along with your e-commerce site.