Regardless of the recession, a new ecommerce business opens its doors every day to online shoppers all over the globe. From entrepreneurs launching the latest tech to start up retailers looking to sell apparel, consumables and more, we all like to think that we can create a successful online store.
You're not wrong.
It is relatively simple to open an online business thanks to technology and social media. The difficult bit is building your customer base and making it a success.
The consumer's experience online is a complicated process for even the most experienced merchant to understand. It's a constant balancing act between web design and development, retail know-how and top-notch marketing practices, all of which are both difficult and frustrating to master.
Serving the customer
Hyper-competitive and constantly changing, merchants have to create an ecommerce solution that is responsive, adaptive and outwardly social to stand a chance against the big boys.
Whilst there is no guaranteed formula for success, offering a personalised shopping experience can help you to gain a competitive edge.
Image : c/o sambridger.com
1. Think bricks and mortar
If a women walks into a shop looking for a new pair of heels and the shop assistant offers her a pair of men's loafers, she will be frustrated and will probably move on elsewhere. The same applies in your online store.
As consumers our tolerance level is very low. We are fickle shoppers and as such can be swayed by a good or back experience. Make sure to make yours a great one!
The most successful bricks and mortar stores are hyper-personalised; online this is rarely achieved. To recreate this experience online use featured and recommended products, banners and promotions to entice the consumer to browse and purchase.
2. Use responsive design
In a previous post we spoke about the benefits of a responsive web design over static desktop and mobile optimised sites. The same stands today.
The majority of consumers access sites from multiple devices and so responsive design will help you to achieve a consistent design and visitor experience no matter what device they are using. In fact, Forrester estimates that 29% of all ecommerce transactions will take place on a mobile or tablet by 2015, shooting up to 54% by 2018 – so why not make the most of the opportunity presented to you.
Most CMS platforms, including WordPress and Drupal, will make it easy for you to manage your responsive web design. Plus, it is a great way to future proof your content as you will not only be able to create content for current screen sizes but new emerging devices and digital experiences.
3. Usability first
When you start out it is often the case that you spend the first month or so scrolling through award winning web design projects with stunning graphics and buttons that go –woosh. Unfortunately, this will only lead to disappointment.
When designing an ecommerce website, usability is the most important factor to consider. Take for example Amazon. The site hasn't won any awards for ground breaking design and in fact, it's pretty boring and white, but last year they took upwards of 74 billion dollars. Have you ever struggled to find what you need on their site? Didn't think so.
It is important to note that whilst the internet it jam packed with great advice on how to design the the most beautiful ecommerce website, the emphasis is sometimes put on the creative side when usability should come first. At Netmatter we always design new ecommerce sites with user experience at the forefront and design second.
4. Plan for expansion
For a start-up it is important to go with a solution that can offer you room for growth. In ecommerce headroom is an important aspect to consider as you will need to manage an increasing number of products and orders as your business grows.
Whilst you might not have the capital to invest in an expensive solution, make sure to do your research and understand how your chosen ecommerce platform will manage your business. The last thing you want is to find your business is a roaring success but your ecommerce solution just can't cope. Depending on your product range we would recommend starting with a free open source solution such as WooCommerce or Prestashop.
5. Be real
When you walk into your local coffee shop you expect the barista to welcome you; if they are unwelcoming you are unlikely to return. If you're a regular, they'll probably know your name and how you have your coffee. The same idea applies to personalising your ecommerce store. Provide customers with a real and personalised experienced and they will be more likely to return and leave good reviews.
"The companies that are succeeding are the ones who have stopped acting like salespeople and started to partner with consumers to help them solve their unique shopping problem," says Zifkin, CEO of Hubba.
What are customers looking for?
Now that you are off the starting block, it's now time to attract and maintain your customer base. It's important that as an online merchant you remember that you are also a consumer; think from a customer point of view in order to run a well-rounded ecommerce business. Here are 10 things your customers will be looking for when they visit your site.
- 1. Fast loading time
- 2. Clear logo and branding
- 3. Promotions e.g. Free Shipping
- 4. Trusted payment option icons
- 5. Social media icons
- 6. Customer service/Contact details
- 7. Returns policy
- 8. Guest checkout
- 9. Quality product pages
- 10. Reviews and user generate content
Need help designing your ecommerce website? We have a team of experienced web developers and designers who will be able to create a new store front for your retail business. Call today on 0845 467 1221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image: c/o blog.sumall.com