Things customers expect from an Online Store.
E-commerce can be complicated. Your company needs to balance sales, filling orders, processing payments, shipping and returns, customer service and maintaining stock on hand. Keeping your site up to date and user friendly is vital to online marketing and sales.
Look at your site from the customer’s point of view starting with their point of entry through the final sale and ultimate delivery of the product. A source that conducts a full survey is available from Mystery Shopper. Make sure your e-business excels at every step. Here are some of the major areas that influence customer shopping opinions of your web store front and their purchasing decisions. In many cases a Web Manager or Web Consultant can be helpful in handling these issues for your business.
Is your site trustworthy?
Over ¾ of internet shoppers in one study rated trust, privacy and data security as their primary concerns during online transactions. Start with professional website design that gives customers a positive first impression. Include security badges, store badges, a physical address and mailing address on the home page and elsewhere on the site.
Craft a strongly worded privacy statement for your site and make it easy to find. This is a legal requirement in many countries. As a small business, many new customers may not consider you a household name yet, so they are naturally distrustful. Shoppers are more cautious today when shopping on-line due to scams and prevalence of data theft online. Find ways to help them feel at ease doing business with you online.
Some of the best ways to ease customer’s minds include offering secure checkouts and displaying well known logos such as VISA, MasterCard or PayPal. Providing a phone number for contact indicates your business has a physical office where dedicated customer support representatives are available to handle any questions or concerns. Host your website on a server with https encryption. Google states this will be the new standard of trust and is likely to result in higher page rankings
Home Page Shows a Product
Customers prefer to see at least one product featured on your site home page. This might be a best seller or a new featured item. You might also have a rotating presentation or slide show of products featured deeper in the site. The goal of your home page is to engage customers and entice them to click deeper into the site. Shopping visitors are more likely to make purchases the longer they stay on a site.
Designing and merchandising your home page is also essential to visitor engagement. Providing customers with ideas about what to investigate on your site helps with this. One method with good results is having categorized mini-menus above the featured products. Tests showed this improved conversion rates and average order amounts.
Functional, Visually Appealing Site Design
Customers must like the look and feel of your e-commerce site. Just as a well-managed, quality store is organized, clean and looks great, your online site must also convey the same qualities. Good site design and function indicates a solid company on the other end, ready to fulfil orders with quality merchandise and top-notch customer service. The site must be user-friendly so visitors can easily find products they want and purchase those items with minimal hassle.
Customers often abandon shopping carts when the check out and payment process is too complicated. They are quick to leave an online store if the site is complicated or difficult to navigate. Never cut corners on site design and functionality. Every picture, every word and every link matters.
Great Search Functionality
Site search is important to your e-commerce success in correlation to the size of your product catalogue. Every site, regardless of size, needs some search box and it must be highly functional. Experienced web shoppers are familiar with the “suggest” feature on Google search. Many online retailers use similar auto-complete options in their search tools to improve user experience. They improve the relevance of user search results and minimise the “no results founds” search returns.
Website shoppers expect to be able to narrow their search results with a series of filters by product attributes. These may include price, size, brand, availability, ratings and so forth. Wish list and add to cart buttons seem popular, and large gallery of product images certainly improves customer experience.
Searches must return results quickly or they lose their effectiveness. In fact, speedy responses in all areas of your site increase user satisfaction. Pages and search results should take no more than a second or two to display information. One user testing site reported that increasing site speed increased online business conversion rates by 78 percent.
Your website must be optimised for Mobile Devices
There is a difference between mobile-friendly and optimized for mobile devices. Design your small business website to have Responsive Web Design (RWD), which allows browsers and phone apps to detect screen size and automatically display appropriately on all devices. Most online shoppers search for businesses within their local neighbourhood or town and then act on those search results quickly. Mobile traffic can be one third or more of your site traffic and most small businesses cannot afford to lose that money.
Testimonials and Reviews
Study after study shows ratings and customer reviews greatly improve conversion rates and sales for online retailers. Even negative reviews show the seller is an honest broker by being forthcoming about customer experiences. Customers like product reviews because they help them purchase items that others have found helpful. The content of reviews also boosts your site’s search engine page rank because more keyword phrases appear on the page. Similarly, testimonials give customers more confidence when dealing with your business.
Online shoppers appreciate being able to choose from a wide variety of products. Of course, no one expects a small or local business to have a selection like Amazon. Sometimes too many buying options may actually reduce sales when customers simply abandon the search because they become overwhelmed. Limiting your product selection has benefits:
- Customers can find what they are looking for faster
- Customers can easily search by brand or category
- Customers are less likely to feel overwhelmed by options and choices
- Search results more likely to match the customer intentions
- Clear and easy to understand results.
- Include product thumbnail images with search results
- Conversions increased as the number of clicks to check out decreases.
- Product selection is carefully curated and strategized.
You should experiment with placement and size of the search box. Simple things like the location of the search box or the font and colour of the search box may make a significant difference in finalized sales.
Your online shopping site should describe products clearly and concisely. Explain why customers should buy the item, what customer problems it solves and what it can do for your customers. This increases organic traffic and page rankings on search engines, too. Unique descriptions for each product should be a standard part of your product listings.
Using the Shopping Cart and Checking Out
Your online store needs to make it as simple as possible for customers to finalize their purchase. Allowing customers to check out as “Guest” rather than forcing them to become registered users is one method. Offer the “Create Account” option throughout the site, but do not make membership a requirement for finalizing the sale. Make sure the item price is easily found for every item
Shipping costs that are unexpectedly high turn off buyers. Clearly state your shipping costs on the product page and offer free or reduced shipping whenever possible. Include a shipping and tax calculator on-site for the convenience of your visitors. Accept as many payment methods as feasible for your sites. Of course, accepting major credit cards is a must in today’s online shopping world. PayPal and similar online options are welcome benefits for customers.
After the Sale Contact
Online shoppers appreciate an email confirmation that their order has been received and processed. If there is a problem such as credit card rejection, they want to know ASAP so they can make adjustments. Many businesses encourage visitors to sign up for new release information, sales, discounts and the company Newsletter. The customer must agree to join as this is now a legal requirement to prevent spam. This puts them on the seller’s contact list. The business then makes email contact with the customer by using an auto responder email service. Consider including banners or links back to your site for additional content or related items.
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