Not long ago, one of the biggest obstacles e-commerce sites faced was convincing customers it was safe to shop online. Fears about identity theft, fraudulent sites, and stolen credit card info were rampant–and the very newness of the sales forum made many would-be buyers suspicious and concerned. Today, however, shopping online has become so commonplace that people no longer think twice about it; and the ease and security of online payment services like PayPal have done much to increase confidence in the online marketplace. But now, in a web landscape rife with opportunities and overflowing with competition, e-commerce sites face a new set of challenges. Understanding what they are, and knowing how to cater to the unique (not to mention constantly changing) expectations of cyber shoppers is the key to doing business on the web today. Here’s what every online business needs to succeed in 2013:
Photography That Sells
When getting to know your products online, customers have nothing to go on but images. They can’t pick up the item, feel its texture, turn it in their hands, or see it from every angle. But if business owners are wise, their customers can nonetheless come close. By now, high-resolution photos ought to be an obvious necessity. But easy-to-navigate photo galleries and 360-degree photography are fast becoming just as essential. Photography sells. So don’t lose your edge over the competition by allowing a poor visual experience to slash your conversion rate.
A Video Boost
Videos are easy to upload, cheap to make, and extremely informative. Give visitors a taste of your company ethos, a glimpse of the people who make your organization great, and a view of your products in action. If you haven’t incorporated video into your site yet, you simply aren’t living up to today’s consumer expectations.
The Need for Speed
As Google recently proved, speed is everything when it comes to building site traffic. By increasing load times by just 1/10th of a second, they saw a massive 30% decline in overall traffic. With so many options on the web today, if your site doesn’t load in the 1-2 seconds users have come to expect, they simply click away.
According to econsultancy.com, 61% of online shoppers read reviews before making purchases on the web. And why not? It only takes seconds when customers are already online. So if your eCommerce site isn’t conscientiously cultivating positive reviews, you are losing sales—plain and simple.
Understand that online sites sell information. Until the product arrives in the hands of the consumer, visual and written information are the only selling points. So it should come as no surprise that improving the written content on your site will increase your conversion rate. It works. So hire a pro.
The Right Design
Well-designed eCommerce sites outperform the competition. Users love it when links are in the right places, information flows lucidly, images are strategically placed, and the overall site aesthetic is appealing. They stay on sites longer, click more links, and spend more money. Never underestimate the value of good design.
To excel in e-commerce, companies need to move fast. They need to evolve, innovate, and constantly refine user experience. To this end, user testing can prove invaluable for assessing and improving business sites; and every wise business owner should understand the importance of keeping a close eye on the competition. To put it simply: the bar for online business has been raised. Consumers today expect more, and businesses who can’t deliver (or choose not to make the investments necessary to do so) are quickly being left behind.
About the author: Kirsten works within online marketing for Letterbox. Customers can purchase wooden toys from Letterbox through their e-commerce website. Kirsten works hard with the Letterbox team to ensure they provide the best user experience possible for customers to encourage sales.