Electronic Commerce – An Overview

As e-commerce continues to grow in Canada, and be a staple in the States, it’s important that you get the most out of your e-commerce site, especially if you’re a small business.

Here are 8 tips guaranteed to increase your e-commerce site. How do I know? They are best practices I’ve implemented with my clients and seen tremendous results.

TIP #1 | MAKE YOUR E-COMMERCE SITE VISUALLY APPEALING

This first tip connects to branding and making a first impression. An e-commerce site that isn’t cluttered, has a great home page and professional images, and a logical flow communicates quality and professionalism. This “halo effect” means customers will associate your product with quality and be more likely to purchase.

An easy way to determine how effective your home page is through Google Analytics’ Visitor Flow chart. If you see that customers are landing on your home page and then immediately leaving (shown by the ‘drop off’ %), then ‘Houston, we have a problem’.

TIP #2 | MAKE IT EASY TO NAVIGATE

A great user experience means easy navigation and easy navigation means more sales. Make sure your product categories are logical and comprehensive. Make your logo clickable and redirect to the home page. Top vs. side navigation is more common and more effective. Don’t get caught up in what’s easiest for you as the merchant and the backend, think about what makes sense for your customer.

TIP #3 | USE UP-SELLING AND ADD-ONS

This is something big retailers do really well. By simply featuring complementary items such as “You may also like these products” or suggesting pairings like “People that purchased this product also purchased these items”, you not only expose the customer to more products, but you make it easy for them to purchase. Remember, time is money for both you and your customer. The more time you save them, the more products they’re likely to buy.

TIP #4 | MAKE THE SHOPPING CART HIGHLY VISIBLE

This is one of the most important components of any e-commerce site but it’s often overlooked by small business owners. Position the shopping cart in plain view (normally in the upper right hand corner), ideally show a shopping cart icon and at the least visually show the number of items currently in the cart. A best practice is to show the actual items in the cart. And be sure to make checkout easy with a simple click of a button.

TIP #5 | MAKE IT EASY TO CHECKOUT

In reviewing one client’s e-commerce analytics and visitor flow, I noticed that customers were spending a lot of time between the shopping cart and help, ultimately abandoning the cart. It became obvious that they couldn’t figure out how to checkout. After a few minutes of frustration they simply left the site. Once a customer has a less than perfect user experience with your site, they are highly unlikely to come back.

Another sales killer is asking the customer to set up an account before they check out. Again, this goes back to “time is money”. By simply removing this one step from a client’s site, their sales went up by 55% within 3 weeks.

TIP #6 | COLLECT E-MAIL ADDRESSES AT CHECKOUT

Making it mandatory for a customer to provide their e-mail address at checkout ensures three things (1) that you can easily contact them if there is a problem with their order; (2) if they abandon their cart you’ll have a way to possibly finish the sales and (3) your customer database grows. A lot of e-commerce platforms pre-populate the checkout fields, make sure that the e-mail address is a mandatory field.

TIP #7 | SET UP A CART ABANDONMENT PROGRAM

The industry average cart abandonment rate is 65% but most e-commerce sites have a rate of 80% or higher. Think about it, that means that out of every 10 customers who start to purchase a product from your site, only 2 will complete the transaction. What does that mean in terms of sales? Calculate your average sales per transaction and multiply by 8 and then by the number of days your e-commerce is open and well, you get the picture. Most cart abandonment programs boast a 15% retrieval rate and it’s as simple as sending an e-mail to those lost customers asking if there was something wrong with their experience, if there is anything you can help with and providing a link to finish their order.

TIP #8 | SET UP A LIVE CHAT Clothes Buy Now Pay Later

Most newer e-commerce platforms already have this function built-in. If you’re using an older platform you may have to buy the add-on, but it’s well worth the money. There’s a multitude of live chat programs out there, from the simple call-to-action (CTA) button to pop-ups after a customer’s been on the site for a specified amount of time. Live chat helps to humanize your site and the customer’s shopping experience, avoid any potential negative user experiences and close sales.

So if you want to increase your e-commerce sales easily and quickly, try implementing one, several or all of these tips.

Have more tips to add? Let us know in our comment section.

 

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