There are certain times of year that are naturally beneficial for different ecommerce businesses. Spring can be a boon for sporting goods purveyors, Summer’s a great time for swimwear specialists, January may bring customers resolving to get fit to online stores that sell workout equipment, and the holiday season is good for just about everyone.
In order to succeed, however, you can’t be solely reliant on a single busy season. You need a winning strategy to attract visitors and retain customers year-round, and that strategy should include an alluring website that makes the buying process easy for visitors.
Try out these 4 best practices to help your business succeed any time of year:
1) Have a Theme
Your website is a reflection of your brand, and if your business is entirely based on ecommerce it could be the entirety of your brand. This is one of many reasons why your site should maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout each and every page.
The color scheme, font style, and types of images you use all affect visitors’ perception of your business, so choose a theme that fits your brand and stick to it. Applying a chic look to a clothing website can reinforce the image that you’re an expert in fashion, and a more rustic appearance on the website of a coffee house can convey a sense of warmth and coziness.
By having a consistent theme you give your website a personality, and you also give your visitors a sense of reassurance. A site that lacks thematic unity can look disjointed, disheveled, and unprofessional, none of which are the sorts of qualities a shopper is looking for in a site that’s going to be handling sensitive information like their names and credit card numbers.
2) Have Quality Pictures
This is a simple, but important point. If you’re selling physical products you can bet people are going to want to see what they look like before committing to a purchase. It’s really one of the few advantages brick and mortar stores still have over ecommerce sites, so compensate for the fact that customers can’t pick up and hold your products with quality photography. After all, it’s going to be tough for anyone to be confident in your products if the only images available are small and blurry.
3) Have a Clear Organizational Structure
People like organization. It makes it easy to find what they’re looking for and understand what they’re looking at. By implementing an intuitive navigation structure on your site you can help visitors move from Point A to Point B, and eventually to the Point of Sale with as little hassle as possible. Think about the sort of items you carry, and start grouping them together in broader product categories.
If your inventory is large enough you should also use subcategories, like a clothing site which breaks its inventory down into Mens, Womens, and Kids departments, then offers different sections for Pants, Shirts, and Shoes under each of those. A man looking for new shoes isn’t going to want to have to scroll through pages of kids’ pants to find them, so don’t make him do so.
You can even employ a similar logic to individual item pages to boost your sales. That man looking for new shoes probably doesn’t care about kids’ clothes, but he might need new socks or insoles. Providing recommendations for related products on your individual product pages can make your site more apparent as the one-stop solution for your potential customers’ needs, which encourages them to not only buy from you but to possibly buy more than they originally planned. Just make sure your recommendations make sense (e.g. don’t suggest that man buying himself shoes should pair them with a girl’s dress).
4) Have an Easy Checkout Process
The last hurdle to clear before you complete a transaction is your checkout process. It should be simple, intuitive, and quick–the less time a visitor has to second guess his or her purchase in this phase the better.
You’re going to need to collect some vital information such as the buyer’s name, address, email, and payment method, but don’t overcomplicate things by going beyond the basics. You should give buyers the option to use the same data for their delivery address as for their billing info so they don’t have to type it all out twice. Try to accept as many payment methods as you feel is reasonable, don’t require customers to create an account before checkout, and you’ll provide a smooth purchasing experience where it counts most.
Regardless of what you’re selling, there are certain best-practices that can improve the performance of almost any ecommerce site. By catering to the needs and expectations of your customers, you can set your site up for year-round success!