With so much competition out there in the ecommerce space, online retailers need to be increasingly vigilant as to how they present their website – the offers, service and payment options – to those who visit their online store. After all, you usually only get one chance to make a first time customer loyal to your brand!
Here are 6 essentials to keep in mind when building and maintaining an ecommerce store that’s intent on getting the maximum number of sales/leads possible.
1. HTML5 (including CSS3) protocols are a must for RWD
There is still a boatload – a metric crap ton – of ecommerce sites that aren’t totally mobile “Responsive Web Design” compliant. This means your site might look good from your end, on your PC or devices, but yet look about as terrible as a pre-2007 acai lander to potential consumers on theirs. HTML5 protocols, including CSS3 language should be used on your main and support sites to ensure the best visitor experience possible.
Sites that don’t render well on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are more likely to be abandoned because of layout issues such as poor navigation and other key elements being left out of the fold.
2. Contact information needs to be immediately accessible
Not only will this frustrate users who have an issue with a purchase, it will also turn off potential customers who’re web-savvy and been through a bad situation or two with other online vendors.
Companies who provide a navigation tab or direct email or callable telephone link to contact them at both the top and bottom of the page will fare much better against their competition. A business address is also a plus. Even if it’s just a P.O. box, that’s still better than no address at all.
3. Tell your story but make the CTA clear from the get-go
Calls to Action are just as important, as you definitely want to tell your story, but in the end need customers to fulfill their (ie., your desired) purpose while on the site. In the end, your key purpose should be to get the lead/sale.
- “Call us now for a free quote”
- “Sign up to get great deals”
- “Buy now, risk free.”
4. Embed a social feed directly on the site
Having a feed to your company’s most popular and effective social platform can help users to immediately start engaging with your brand. Consider how much more effective an auto-updating feed of your Twitter account activity is for someone who is considering making a purchase through your site, over a simple “follow us” that’s very likely to be ignored.
As soon as they’re onsite, they can instantly see the types of content you post, and testimonials from customers who’ve made a recent purchase raving to their followers about “Product X” or the amazing customer service and shipping times your store offers.
All businesses typically find that specializing in one or two social platforms is best, while cross-platform posting tools help to bridge the gap between that which works best for your brand and the users who don’t frequent them (ie., your company finds Instagram most effective, but you still want to engage with users on Facebook, etc.
5. Multiple payment options are a must in 2020 and beyond
Here’s the thing: PayPal is still a popular payment gateway and certainly easier and less expensive to use than setting up a merchant account to accept debit and credit cards directly. However, some clients don’t like PayPal and don’t want to use it, even though they now allow credit card processing without the consumer needing an account on their platform.
Another issue with any outside payment processor is that the user is often directed away from your site in order to make a payment. This can create immediate concerns when let’s say, a customer is sent to a shopify checkout page when they clicked the “Buy” button on your website. It comes across as cheap and tacky, and cheap and tacky businesses aren’t necessarily regarded for having the best service on the planet, are they?
ETF’s or “Electronic Fund Transfers” are becoming an extremely popular option to offer alongside PayPal, as funds are immediately credited to your merchant account and all that’s needed is for them to provide a security answer (that you choose) when they issue the payment through their banking institution.
6. Don’t force customers to make an account
The notion that you must force-feed offers via email to keep customers loyal is becoming increasingly antiquated in this day and age. Some customers simply don’t want your follow-up emails, and may in fact get turned off at the checkout page if you don’t give them a “guest checkout” option. In most cases, they’re a new customer – build a relationship before inviting yourself into people’s lives!
These and other tactics to embed your brand in customer’s minds have been going on for years. Almost 8 years ago now, Smashing Magazine was reporting what a turn-off forced account sign ups were for users – citing that users expect to be bombarded with emails after doing so, and also can’t get a grip on why brick-and-mortar retailers don’t force them to do the same when making a purchase.
That said, some customers, especially returning customers, who you’ve established trust with, will appreciate the option to save their information to speed up future checkouts, and may then want you to keep them updated on offers via email.
Takeaway: offer both account sign up and guest checkout options for the spam-weary folks (and don’t email anything other than a purchase receipt to those who choose the guest checkout option!)
Nobody will ever say building a successful commerce site is easy – it’s not. However, a healthy balance between a brand getting what they want and being able to deliver the most seamless customer experience possible is key to your continued success this year and all that follow after it.