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How to help sales on e-commerce sites.
E-commerce websites have one specific purpose – to lead the customer to make a purchase. This makes the user experience particularly important. By keeping the customer happy throughout the process, you shouldn't give them any reason to leave the site, and get them not only to place items in their cart but most importantly through to the final goal of making payment.
According to a recent e-commerce study by MarketingSherpa, at least 59.8% of potential customers abandon their shopping cart (SeeWhy put it at 83% and MarketLive at 62.14%). To ensure this doesn’t happen on your e-commerce website here are some tips for the planning of e-commerce sites, minimising abandoned shopping carts and getting those all-important sales.
- The site should be simple and easy to use.
- Clear and consistent navigation helps users find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Include breadcrumbs so that the customer knows where they are within the site and can easily move around it.
- Trust seals convey security and safety to customers. Display any relevant trust seals and supplier logos such as SSL logos, shipping logos, PayPal and credit card logos.
- Prominently display contact information. Ideally, include the phone number in the header.
- Include a high visibility search in the same position on every page. If there are a large number of products, it is a good idea to add category refinement into the site search and allow customers to filter results by colour, shape, size etc.
- Provide multiple ways to find products. For example: browse by category or browse by brand.
- Show clear call-to-actions e.g. “Add to Cart”, “More Details”, or “Buy Now”. Ensure these buttons are easy to see and click on.
- Include social media icons and an e-newsletter signup to open lines of communication between store and customer.
- Always display the product price, shipping costs, taxes (and money saved if applicable) as early as possible to avoid frustration.
- Use a rotating feature billboard at the top of the homepage to display new products or special offers.
- Photos are the best way for customers to interact with the products. Include as many high quality photos as possible and include a zoom feature. When relevant, show photos of people using the products.
If possible, include videos as well as photos of the products.
Show stock availability of products as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Product reviews/ratings are a strong way to convert customers. The information gathered from customer ratings can also be used to feature the highest rated products across the site.
Suggest related products to give the shopper an opportunity to see other similar products on offer.
- The shopping cart should be featured and visible at all times, on every page (as well as having a dedicated shopping cart page).
- Show all items that are in the shopping cart (ideally include thumbnails).
- When a new item is added, visually show it being added to the cart without taking the customer away from the page that they are on.
- A ‘proceed to checkout’ button should be positioned inside the cart.
- Let the customer update and edit their cart directly from the shopping cart page.
- Allow customers to save items or add them to a wish list rather than adding to the cart.
- Getting a customer to the checkout stage is only half the work. It’s critical that the checkout process is as quick and easy as possible to see the sale through. Don’t give the customer any reason to abandon their cart - remove distractions including ads, navigation and offers that might take them from the checkout process.
- Avoid featuring other products at this stage. It can be done effectively on the product page or shopping cart page. But distracting the customer or encouraging them to choose something else is an invitation to abandon their cart.
- Don’t force customers to register to make a purchase. Instead, allow guests to check out, and once they have entered their details, encourage them to save their account information for placing future orders and tracking their current order.
- Consider how much information is needed from the customer - in reality it’s very little. Avoid lengthy signup forms that can deter customers. All that’s required is an email address and a password. Usernames are unnecessary - email addresses are more memorable and unique than usernames.
- A one page checkout is preferable – many usability tests have confirmed that a one page checkout converts more than multiple page checkouts. If using a multiple page checkout, make sure to include a progress bar or breadcrumb so the shopper can see where they are in the process. Avoid multiple column layouts within forms.
- Offer as many payment options as possible and emphasise the security of the site by showing trust seals and other applicable logos. For example, include Visa and MasterCard logos next to credit card fields.
- Include easy to find shipping options with pricing.
- Confirmation reassures customers. At the final step in the order process, customers should be asked to confirm all their details. Once the order has been placed, the customer should be presented with an official order confirmation, complete with order number, which can either be saved or printed. A copy of this confirmation should also be emailed to the customer for their records.
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