How To Improve Your eCommerce Website in 15 Easy Steps (Updated for 2018)
Reading time: 7 minutes
With so much competition at your customer’s fingertips, it’s important first and foremost that your eCommerce website provides a positive user experience.
This should be an ongoing pursuit and one that I can’t completely cover in a blog post.
But what I will share with you is 15 actionable tips to improve your eCommerce website and start driving more sales.
1. Site navigation
Your site navigation is everything.
If your users can find what they want in the shortest time possible they are more likely to buy something. They are also more likely to return to your site when they want something else.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes; identify an item and try to find it without previous knowledge of your site. Ask your friends and family to do the same, or check out Usability Hub to test the navigation flow.
Any improvement to your site navigation will have a dramatic effect on the user experience and your business objectives.
2. Site speed
Amazon has calculated that if their site took only a second longer to load, they would lose $1.6 billion in sales revenue every year.
Recent research indicates that 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
The online consumer, with more choice than ever before, is fickle and impatient.
If you keep them waiting for even a second, they may leave your site without purchasing.
So it’s best to make sure that your site is fast.
Did you know that Google takes speed into account when ranking sites? No one wants to lose traffic because their site is slow and clunky.
3. Product Copy and Product Images
The advertising industry has known for decades what great copy and images can do for sales.
Product images in an ecommerce environment are super-important, where the consumer is buying from their laptop or mobile, they are not getting to see it and touch it in-store. So they need to find the confidence to buy and this often starts with the images.
Multiple photos of the product, zoom capability and even 360 degree rotations have all proven to convert better than one single image.
As far as the product description, a professional copywriter can take a description of a product and make your customer think they can’t live without it.
Do not simply copy the manufacturer’s description.
You work hard to get someone to visit your site, so don’t waste the opportunity.
If better images and more compelling descriptions can improve your online sales by just 10% each month, what is this worth to you?
4. Seeking Reviews
BrightLocal found in their ‘Local Consumer Review Survey‘ that 84% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
Make it part of your process. For online retailers it can be quite simple to setup automated emails after a product has been shipped, asking for feedback and reviews. Ask for reviews on your site, on your Google My Business listing, Facebook, and other relevant online review sites.
If you’re getting them on your website, then make sure they are being marked up with Review Schema. This will help improve your visibility in Google. Have you seen the gold stars in Google? This is what you can get with Schema.
TIP: Asking your customers to leave a review can be difficult. Get yourself an easy link to share by using our Google Review Link Generator.
5. Fixed or free shipping
Shipping charges are often the biggest obstacle in completing an online purchase, especially when they appear as an added cost towards the end of the consumer’s experience. This extra charge can override the convenience of shopping from home.
You can avoid this by offering fixed or free shipping, which can be factored into your costs. Everyone likes to feel they are getting a bargain.
“Approximately 60% of online retailers cite ‘free shipping with conditions’ as their most successful marketing tool.”
Convincing someone to visit your site and purchase something requires a lot of hard work, so you want to make it worth your while.
One way to increase sales is to suggest a product that complements the one they are about to buy.
If you are selling clothes for example, you can recommend a bag to go with that dress. If you are selling books, show your user titles other customers with similar interests have bought.
Keep an eye out for the plethora of product recommendation solutions for ecommerce. With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, they are going to get a whole lot smarter!
7. Display security badges
The online consumer experiences anxiety just like the brick and mortar consumer. But the difference is, for the online consumer they can leave the checkout without embarrassment.
Think about it; you’ve picked up an item in-store, reached the counter and you’re starting to question the purchase. Chances are you’ll buy it because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself by leaving. This is not the case online. If you hesitate at the last minute, you leave. No one knows any different.
What, exactly will your user be anxious about?
One major concern for the online consumer is security. Are they putting themselves at risk by entering their credit card details on your website? Are you a legitimate business?
The best way to alleviate these concerns is to display the security badge provided by your online merchant so that it is visible throughout the checkout process.
8. Display social proof
Your users will feel at ease when knowing that their peers have purchased products from your site and they have recommended the experience. This is social proof. Displaying social proof on your website will improve your checkout conversion.
So make sure you display customer reviews, Facebook likes, or recommendations. You can also display alerts at the bottom of your page when a purchase is made, or a calculator to highlight how many people have bought a product in the last month.
This is the online version of a sales assistant telling a customer, “This is very popular at the moment.”
TIP: We use Proof. It’s super-easy to use, looks great and will improve your site conversions. Start with a 14-day free trial.
9. Checkout process
This needs to be as simple as possible. If your checkout process involves multiple steps, simply let your customer know. This will decrease the chances of them leaving your site frustrated before purchasing.
10. Install and Monitor Google Analytics
Google Analytics is free and will help you understand how your customer navigates your site and which of your pages are most popular.
It will also help you understand where potential customers lose interest and leave your site, and how quickly they make a purchase.
Most importantly, it will give you a clear understanding of where your online traffic comes from, allowing you to calculate your return on investment for your marketing activities.
11. Clear call to actions
Every page on your website should have one clear objective.
On an individual product page, for example, your objective is to get the user to add the product to their cart. So make sure they understand how to do this. Create a clear call to action – your ‘Add to Cart’ button.
The colour, size, location, and copy of the button all contribute to your customer’s purchase, so it’s important to test each of these before committing to one. We use Optimizely.
12. Implement cart abandonment software
The Baymard Institute has calculated general shopping cart abandonment at 68.06% based on 28 different studies. Imagine if you could get back some of this lost revenue. How much more money could you be making?
If a customer decides to leave your site without making a purchase, you can lure them to stay with software like PicReel.
PicReel allows you to create an offer which is displayed to users when they move their cursor outside of your site, to open a new tab, for example. Encourage them with a small discount or free shipping if they stay and buy something then and there.
If you can regain even just 10% of the people who abandon your cart with a small discount, what would that be worth to you?
13. Encourage customers to come back
If someone has already bought something from your site, you don’t have to spend money telling them about your store or convincing them your products are worth having. So encourage them to come back.
Follow up with an email a week after their purchase. Ask them for feedback, offer assistance or a discount code for when they return.
14. Implement an FAQ page
Users always have questions. Create an FAQ page to answer the majority of these while they are on your site and considering buying something.
If you can alleviate any concerns they have on the spot, they are more likely to stay and make a purchase.
15. Start Blogging
Of course, it’s not a pre-requisite to blog. There are established players in online retail that certainly don’t need to blog.
But if your ecommerce business is not where you want it to be and you want to increase traffic and sales, then blogging might just be the difference for you.
There are multiple reasons why and they include:
1. You attract long-tail keyword searches. Think about the search terms such as ‘What type of running shoe should I buy?’ If your consumer is looking for this info, where are they finding it? Be the site where they find it. Think about the key questions that your audience is looking to answer from the beginning of their buying journey right through to end.
2. The content will help convert. If you have content on your site that helps to answer questions the consumer may have then you are more likely to convert. In the example above, maybe the user was looking to buy a pair of ASICS runners. Not knowing what type of ASICS leaves them with indecision. This generally leads to abandoning the site and delaying the purchase to a later time. But having the article helps them to make their decision right when they are on your site.
3. It gets you social exposure. Your audience is going to be more likely to share a blog post that they believe will provide their network of friends and family with valuable info than they would a product page – Unless your product is ‘remarkable’. So produce valuable content and increase your chance of social engagement and reach.
Be sure to avoid ‘Three Mistakes That Undermine eCommerce Content Marketing’.
Quentin Aisbett is the strategist at OnQ Marketing. He has a specific focus on local and mobile SEO, content strategy, and marketing automation. Blogging all the time, tweeting even more so. Pick his brain on Clarity.fm.