If you’ve decided it’s time to build an e-commerce website to increase your business, setting up and implementing an e-commerce strategy is vital. Both marketers and entrepreneurs agree that any set of best practices for e-commerce should focus on creating a user-oriented experience. According to mashable.com, this means designing a service you’d be happy to use yourself.
Before you actually build your online store, you need to make sure the fundamental elements of your future e-store are aligned with your business strategy and goals. This means that the design, structure, and content of your website should be coherent, integrated, and consistent with what you’re selling and how you position your products.
But what exactly does it take to attain this? What does it involve? What are the actual steps you need to take to create a shopping experience users will want to repeat? Below you can find some guidelines on how to create a successful user-oriented e-commerce website.
When you set out to build an e-commerce website always keep in mind that this is going to be your storefront. It needs to be appealing enough to make people ‘come through the door’ but it’s even more important to ensure they have a pleasant shopping experience once they’re in. This means that the design and functionality of your e-commerce website should integrate seamlessly.
When you embark on the e-commerce boat, you have two choices: building your online store by yourself on a domain you purchase for this purpose, or using an established e-commerce platform like Shopify, nopCommerce etc. In the former case, you need to start from scratch. Since it’s uncharted territory, you should be ready to overcome various obstacles and learn quickly. Many small businesses that enter the realm of e-commerce choose the latter alternative because it’s simple and effective. Reliable e-commerce platforms hosting online stores allow you to avoid the technical and infrastructure problems that you may encounter in case you go for self-hosting. They offer intuitive, customizable, and easy to use software, which will enable you to manage your e-commerce store smoothly.
Describe Your Products
Your virtual storefront is everything you have to convince people to buy, so it is vital to strive to put your products in the best possible light. For that, write informative and relevant product descriptions, organize products effectively, enable users to find what they want easily, and use high quality pictures for all the items you’re selling. Product descriptions need to be complete and accurate, and the photos should reflect and confirm them. If you’re selling your product offline as well, make sure you are consistent in product presentation and packaging.
Shopping Cart Experience and Payment Options
These two elements are critical when you run an e-commerce store. They are decisive when it comes to creating a positive user experience. All the steps of the purchase process should be clear and easy to follow, from log in to checkout. Also, see what payment options work best for you and make sure they work on your e-commerce website.
With online services it’s easy to become impersonal, but you want to stay as close to your customers as possible. One important aspect in this sense is customer service. Set up a chat service and/or phone number people can call anytime to get in touch with a person, not a machine, to have their questions answered. This will encourage shopping, as customers will know that they can get assistance whenever they need it.
With these in mind, here’s what to look for in e-commerce platforms to make sure your online store is user-oriented:
- Customizable templates that don’t require expert knowledge. Once you set up your online store, you should be able to change settings and design layouts, as well as edit and create new pages, as you please.
- Use a platform that allows you to control the HTML and CSS of your e-commerce website, and has a built-in Content Management System (CMS). This will enable you to manage content and products without hiring a web design company to handle this.
- Your e-commerce platform should support different languages and currencies if you sell your products internationally.
- Full mobile functionality is essential if you want your e-commerce store to work on mobile devices. As consumers are increasingly relying on smart phones and tablets when shopping online, this should be a top priority in your e-commerce strategy.