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Ecommerce plays an increasingly integral role in both our online and offline lives. Whether we’re purchasing electronics, books, clothing or groceries, chances are we at least occasionally use an ecommerce platform to do so.
Related: The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform
So, have you ever thought about what makes some ecommerce websites more appealing than others? If you’re running a business, you need to do just that. Here are proven steps any ecommerce entrepreneur can take to optimize his or her storefront window.
Steve Jobs famously said that, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
So, follow Jobs’s lead: The first page of your website that most of your customers will see is your “landing page.” That’s why it’s important to make a good first impression there. Keep the navigation bar simple and straightforward. If you have a variety of different products, make sure you provide search-bar functionality so customers can find what they need quickly.
Meanwhile, resist the temptation to clutter your landing page (or any page) with too much information and ads that blink on-and-off like strobe lights. Think about the ecommerce sites you buy from — what works for you? What kind of experience do you want your visitors to walk away with? Even if they don’t make a purchase on their first visit, your job is to not scare them off from bookmarking your site for later.
Design is of extreme importance to a successful ecommerce business. Many platforms emphasize ease of customization, giving a merchant the ability to create a unique customer experience. Services like Volusion allow for engaging, responsive design — without coding — for burgeoning ecommerce websites.
You can dive deeper into ecommerce design best practices here.
2. Color psychology 101
Perhaps you think the color of your website should reflect your personality. But if you don’t take color psychology into account, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to brand your ecommerce store effectively and drive customer engagement. Here’s the psychology breakdown of the color spectrum, ROYGBIV, plus a few bonus colors thrown in:
Related: Will a Specific Color Change the Behavior of Your Website Visitors?
Red signals: attention, excitement, anger, love, warmth, comfort, life
Orange signals: enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement
Yellow signals: adventure, happiness, competence, enthusiasm, wealth, sophistication.
Green signals: Balance, good taste, health, money, harmony
Indigo/blue signals: Honesty, corporate, high-quality, masculinity, competence, loyalty, trust, reliability
Violet and purple signal: Creativity, authority, rower, royalty, respect, mystery
Pink signals: Love, compassion, sophistication, sincerity, romance, gentleness
Brown signals: Friendliness, ruggedness, sadness, comfort, organic, natural
Black signals: Grief, sophistication, expensive, intelligent, slimming
White signals: Simplicity, order, innocence, purity, cleanliness and neutrality
Gray and silver signals: Timelessness, practicality, neutrality, refinement and the quality of being contemporary
(these descriptions courtesy, Practical Ecommerce)
Now that you’ve got the colors’ message under your belt, next think about your ideal customer and the brand message you want to convey.
For instance, if you have an extreme sports ecommerce, you’ll probably want to stay away from pink.
Plug-ins and apps for eccommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento can greatly enhance the performance of your websites. Using those platforms as an example, here are three handy plugins for Shopify and what they can do to supercharge your sales:
MailChimp For Shopify: Easily integrates your email marketing campaigns
Yotpo: Builds social proof for your ecommerce business by allowing customer reviews on your site. Got a rave review from a happy customer? Yotpo lets you share it with your social media followers.
Aftership: Integrates all your shipping methods (USPS, UPS, FedEx etc.) into one interface. You can track packages and respond quickly to customer queries, all under one roof.
Here are plug-ins for Magento merchants:
4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Practices like keyword stuffing have led to Google developing more stringent algorithms to “sniff out” good content from bad.
Quality content is the single biggest driver of organic search traffic to your site. It is also vital, for a successful social media strategy, that you have relevant content on your site to link back to. If you don’t have the time or skill-set to create engaging content yourself, consider outsourcing.
5. Full speed ahead
The loading speed of pages on your site is too often taken for granted — particularly by entrepreneurs and developers with lightning-fast internet connections. Keep in mind that your customers will be shopping on a variety of devices, with varying processor and network speeds. So, a good first step is to make sure every single image is optimized.
This means compressing images to give you the best-quality:speed ratio. Doing this for image-heavy sites, like those of fashion retailers, can greatly improve any latency issues you might have, simply by making images smaller and faster to load.
6. Checking out
So, let’s say that you’ve succeeded at getting your customer to the very last stage of your conversion funnel. The customer may even be fumbling for a wallet, to type in credit card details. What could go wrong? A lot.
In the early days of ecommerce, retailers would often slash prices and “make up for it” by adding exorbitant “shipping and handling” charges to the cart at checkout. This tactic is increasingly frowned upon, particularly by consumers. It alone can be enough to slam the window shut on a sale.
Other common mistakes include accepting only one or two payment methods (no Paypal account? Goodbye!) and forcing consumers to create an account before they place an order. Ecommerce companies have a natural inclination to try to gather as much valuable information as possible at this stage in the checkout process. But don’t be one of them.
Resist the temptation. Collecting customer info is great way to scare those customers off just when they’re about to pull the trigger on a sale.
Related: Shopping Cart Throw-down: Which Ecommerce Platform Reigns Supreme?
It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd in today’s ecommerce ecosystem. In order to outpace your competition, consider implementing or improving on the above customer experiences on your site.
Address these six points effectively, and you’ll be well on your way to building an optimal ecommerce website.