Web Design Blog

12 E-Commerce Must-Do’s from an E-Commerce Expert (me)

So you would like to sell your exciting products or services online! You are about to enter the toughest type of business there is; online sales.

Before getting started, read through these important must-do’s first, so you will start out the right way. All too often do I get new customers who already own an e-commerce site but have no sales and come to me for help.

So I will go over each element with you to teach you how your e-commerce website should be created and how you can make money.

There is a lot to it, so let’s get started!

1. What type of products to sell

Depending on your products, if you are selling known brands, profit margins can be very low in order to compete with the bigger websites that can buy in high volume and get a lower buying price than you.

Sell a niche product

That is of course the best so you have little or no competition and can keep profit margins reasonable. Another good product is one where the manufacturer request you don’t sell it below a fixed price. What to do in those situations to get a leg up on your competition is to offer free shipping if it’s affordable and doesn’t eat up your entire profit margin.

Sell high-priced items versus low priced items.

I had one customer once who tried to sell candy bars online that were $2.95 a piece. he did sell some but never made any money. Remember, it’s the same amount of effort to process and ship a high priced item as it is for a low priced item. Unless you are selling downloadable goods and you are going for high volume, choose a product that you can make some good money off.

Create packaged products

If you must sell very low priced items, such as my customer with the candy bars, consider packaging them up into packages of maybe 6 or 12. Be creative here also, consider mixing and matching products into one package.

2. Know your customer!

I can’t stress this enough. Before you get started you really need to know exactly who your target market is.

Are they men, or women, or both?

What age group?

What education level?

What income level?

Once you know, you can design the website, and display your products accordingly. Women look for different information than men, so if your target market is mostly women, maybe refrain from only showing technical details about your products, play on the emotional side instead.

3. Functionality

The biggest deterrent to online sales is a website that malfunctions or is simply too confusing to use and to order from.

Products need to be displayed properly (more on that later)

Products need to be easy to find with as few clicks as possible

Checkout needs to be fast and flawless, no room for confusion or errors here!

I recently came across a new customer and together we tested the checkout process and we were unable to place an order because the process was so incoherent and confusing, we just couldn’t figure it out. Believe me, if I can’t figure it out, your customers can’t either! No wonder that after one year he’s had no sales. Funny that he never bothered testing it before, but I think some people put their complete faith in the web designer and assume that everything works as it should. Don’t assume anything, web designers make mistakes and aren’t perfect or don’t test the system themselves ever. Be pro-active always!

4. Most important elements on home page

1. A call to action.

Too often I see this is missing from a website’s home page and it is so very crucial. In fact, in my opinion all your pages should have a call to action and it should be located somewhere visible at first glance, without having to scroll down first.

What is a call to action?

It’s something that encourages the visitor to take action on when they arrive on your home page. Ask yourself, what or where would you want a new visitor to go next? Then create a nice big button that makes the customer go that way and you achieve the result you want from this visitor. For example: Start Shopping now, Read More!, Next, Call Us, Contact Us Now, whatever you want them to do.

2. The layout

The layout, including the navigation menu, should be simple and clean, not be cluttered, confusing or draw your eye in too many directions

3. Welcoming

Your hem page should have a welcoming and warm feel to it, where people will literally feel right at home. Make use of great photos, stock photography if needed, to draw the visitor in and to make them curious about what you have to offer.

4. Keep a personal touch

Often with stock photography, the personal element can get lost. This is a fine balance, the page needs to look professional yet warm, welcoming and inviting and have a personal touch to it. If you know your customer very well, step into his or her shoes and “speak” directly to them. Words are very important here, the use of the proper words can make all the difference!

Make your website stand out from all those generic looking ones out there and come across helpful and friendly!

5. Trust and credibility

People will not puchase items from an online store that looks untrustworthy.

How to instill trust and credibility?

» Have your phone number clearly stated on all pages
preferably at the top right of your website. Again, something I often see missing! If you don’t like your potential customers calling you, then either get a dedicated phone number for them, or don’t open an online store. This is a must!

» Have a contact and customer support page

» Have a policies page

» Have a professional looking website, without blinking elements or funny fonts and colors.

6. Displaying products

It’s very important to display your products in a fashion that they are easy to find

Have very good pictures, hire a photographer if needed, well worth the money! If your product has many details in it, take close-ups of those as well.

If you’re selling downloadable products, have a graphic designer create product images to represent the product. Pictures help sell!

7. Describing your products

Too often people don’t write good product descriptions. They are either lacking information or they don’t contain a sales pitch of any kind, by pointing out only the (technical) features, without describing the benefits. Be creative with your descriptions and write towards people’s emotions rather than only their knowledge! Specs are not a description, they should be there but you are not describing the product.

8. The Buy Now & Checkout button

Make this intuitive and easy to spot. People shouldn’t have to search for a button to add the product to their cart or to checkout.

Scenario: you’ve spent a long time on a website, read every review,, have finally decided on a particular product and have added it to your cart. Now you suddenly decide you would like to read the About Us page or the Policies page, before you commit. So you go ahead and do that. Ah, now you feel well informed and you are ready to take the plunge, except the My Cart or Checkout button is nowhere to be found, you go from page to page but nope, it’s just not there and you can’t figure out how to get back to your cart content. Isn’t that frustrating? It’s happened to me more often than you know, and each time when this happens, I get so mad so I decide not to buy the product after all. I abandon the website. Not good!

Don’t use text on these button that doesn’t say what it does.

Add to Cart, order Now, Buy Now are all good and simple examples that most people are familiar with.

Make the color of your buy and checkout button red or orange. Studies have proven that people are much more apt to click on a button in those colors than on a brown button, for example.

9. Remove any doubt

When people have questions about a product, or have any doubt, they will most likely not buy it.

Ask your friends to see if they have questions by having them text your site. Try to answer any question that might come up and answer them beforehand by including it in the product description.

10. Make use of reviews and/or customer testimonials

It’s a really good feature to have on your website that with each product or service, there are reviews displayed, and the option to add a review for that product. Just look at Amazon, they heavily rely on customer product reviews. If you’re selling a service, maybe dedicate a special page with testimonials. Truly, they do help sell!

11. Shipping

Another deterrent is when you offer products with high shipping prices and people can’t find out beforehand until they have started the checkout process.

A good idea is to calculate a part of the shipping price into the product price and then offer lower shipping fees or free shipping even, most people love free shipping!

12. Make use of social media

Not only have a Facebook page that gets followers and contains links directly to the products on your website, but on the website display your social icons, have a Facebook Like button and the ability below each product to share it on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Final Note:

You’ve implemented all 12 points yet still no sales? Just because you’ve done everything right it doesn’t mean people will flock to your website and start buying like crazy. Just like any other type of business you have to drive traffic to your website by marketing it.

Soon I will write an article about that, so stay tuned!



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