If you want to keep your online store customers coming back for more you need to give your site the once over with a very objective and critical eye. Remember that 95% of the people who come to your online store are unlikely to buy anything the first time. They have to become comfortable with your site, used to how you do your business and feel secure before they commit their hard earned cash. If you have a reliable site with useful content that also makes them feel safe they will return as loyal customers again and again.
It is important to understand that when it comes to making purchases online, web users are looking for a safe, quick, and easy experience. If the whole experience becomes difficult, or time consuming for people to purchase what they need, they will not hesitate to go elsewhere. The following e-commerce tips should help you create an online store that will lead to contented repeat customers.
Ensure that your pages load quickly
Web pages should always load quickly and e-commerce pages are no exception, so do ensure that your pages load in double quick time or potential buyers will leave your site. Try not to have large images which will slow down your site’s ability to load quickly and keep to just the information required about the product or products listed. Watch the size of your pages and be sure to test your database so that it can feed content quickly and not be bogging down your pages. Speed is critical, and the more pages that are slow to load the more likely you are to lose customers.
Content is important
Take a close look at some of the more successful e-commerce sites which balance good quality informative content with marketing and sales techniques; this helps to get people to not only return to the site, but also to buy. Although at first glance, it appears that these sites are very focused on selling they in fact rely heavily on content to promote return visits and sales and much of this content consists of reviews both by other customers and professional reviewers. Many of their customers return to these sites initially because of valid information and the reviews so do the same as the big boys and use content to promote return visits and customer loyalty.
Make your products easy to findHaving a reliable search capability should make it easy for users to find exactly what they want, but to make the shopping experience on your site even easier, consider adding advanced search features that allow online shoppers to search by category, price, or other criteria. Remember detailed navigation menus are an absolute must as your site visitors should be able to locate all products within a few clicks.
Don't ask for too much information up front
Most online customers will be turned off if they are asked to fill out a registration form the minute they begin shopping. This can be really annoying since these are the same people who buy from brick and mortar stores where they aren't required to register before they buy, insisting people register, just to make a purchase, could be a way to lose conversions. Allowing users to add items to a shopping cart without registering will make for a more pleasant shopping experience; if you must set up a registration, do it at the end and gather registration information at the checkout.
Clearly identify actions
Make sure that all buttons on your site are obvious and easy for users to locate. These include such indicators as ‘add to cart’, ‘continue shopping’ and the checkout area. These items must never appear below the fold and it is worth considering using both icons and text to make actions easily identifiable.
Include plenty of product information
You'll automatically make more sales if you provide plenty of information about your products; the more details you can provide the better your site will appear. Always give online shoppers a product description, as well as a product image. In addition you should include information like technical specs, sizes and weights, colours and materials. Be sure, also, to clearly communicate price and stock quantities early on in the order process, so that customers are not surprised or disappointed during checkout.
Beware of out of date content, if the content on your website is not correct site users won't trust you. Make sure that your content contains as much up-to-the-minute information as you can, especially about stock availability. One thing that is certain to annoy your customers is if the site indicates an item is in stock but when they get to the purchase area they are told that it's actually not available.
Display shopping cart items clearly
Throughout their shopping session, users will want to be aware of which items they have already selected. A good idea is to have small shopping carts that display on every page, these can be positioned at the top of a web page or in a sidebar and may include the number of selected items, a list of the selected items and a running total; then once shoppers proceed to the checkout, a more detailed shopping cart is displayed.
Give your customers attractive options
To accommodate your customers’ needs, you should try to offer multiple payment and shipping options, even offering shoppers the option of adding items to a "wish list." For various reasons shoppers may not feel ready to commit on their first visit, but with a wish list shoppers can save their desired items until they are ready to buy.
Improve your sales by cross-selling
Customers can be indecisive and may not know exactly what they want so consider modeling your e-store on traditional retail stores that group items together so that shoppers can compare similar items or purchase related products. You duplicate this practice on your e-commerce site by displaying alternative and complimentary products to those that a shopper has selected.
A simple checkout process always encourages buyers
In theory people enjoy shopping online because they find it convenient, fast and easy so be careful not to overwhelm your users with required information fields and numerous unnecessary steps in the checkout process. If your checkout system does require several steps make sure you install proper headings and straightforward navigation to help shoppers identify where they are within the checkout process.
Make your customers feel safe
Customers are always a concerned about online fraud, sharing information over the internet and identity theft. It is therefore vital that your site uses security encryption measures to ensure the safety of customer information. It is also a good idea to display security banners on your web pages so that shoppers know that they are protected from the outset.
Show customer reviews on your site
One thing that reassures people is the ability to read reviews from other customers so if you provide those reviews directly on your site, you appear more friendly and honest to your customers. In addition this can help build up a community of loyal customers who will recommend you and help to make your site and your products better known.
Display contact information clearly
Your users should be able to contact you easily, both by email and by phone, for product enquiries and for customer support. Never give the impression that people can only do business with you at arm’s length or they may not do business at all. Be available, quick to answer queries and above all display your phone number clearly on each page.
Customer service is your ultimate key to success
As well as easy to find contact information, at the end of the checkout process include a verification process where shoppers can confirm or edit their order. Once the transaction is complete your site should send a confirmation email, this lets the customer know that their order has gone through and all is well. These important steps will reduce order errors and ensure the customers’ peace of mind and confidence in your site. Aim to consistently improve your service and never be afraid of asking for customer feedback in the form of a short survey.