Valuable information, at your fingertips.
The JVM blog is a key source of free information on design, marketing, and doing better business.
Today it has never been easier to open an online store. There are so many economical and customizable platforms available that you never have to go near a line of code. But while it’s relatively simple to set up, there are still some important details which, if overlooked, can harm your online business venture.
Whether you’re just starting out in ecommerce, or you’re looking to upgrade your current store – avoiding these 6 pitfalls should put you on the road to success.
Your product descriptions are just as important as your images. Not only do they add valuable content and relevant keywords to your site, but they also give your customers a better idea of what they’re getting. It’s good to keep in mind that your customers cannot pick up and touch a product from your site as they could in the store, so your product description and imagery must do all the convincing.
Your product descriptions should be engaging, informative and alluring – they should make it easy for your customers to see how the product will benefit them. The ideal length is neither very short nor very long, but somewhere in the middle. It needs to cover all of the key selling points and in addition answer possible queries about how it works and what it’s made of, etc.
Do not feel tempted to simply copy the manufacturer’s description, as it will do nothing to differentiate you from the competition. Employing a talented freelancer to create content for you is a good investment – see 5 Reasons You Want a Pro to Write Your Website Copy.
Hand in hand with your product descriptions are your product images. Remember that pictures are worth a thousand words. This is all your customer will see of the product you’re offering, so high quality imagery that is well-framed, attractive and taken from multiple angles is a must. Read this guide to taking stunning product photos.
If your images are too small this will put your customers off, as they won’t be able to examine the product properly. You should display large images, or include a zoom function so that people can enlarge them. Try to aim for around 1024 pixels wide. One product image is not enough, ideally you should include several (around 4 – don’t go crazy) taken from different angles or displayed in different environments/scenarios. Whatever works well for showing off the product at its best.
This one can really damage your site if you’re not careful. If you’ve convinced someone to part with their hard-earned cash, you want to make it easy for them. Today’s online shoppers are impatient – the more steps they have to take and the more forms they must fill in, the more opportunities you give them to leave the site before they’ve finished making their purchase.
The best kind of checkout process is one that requires minimal effort. Ideally it should be a single combined page on which you add all of your billing and delivery information, followed by a “place my order” button. Even better, if it’s a returning customer, give them the option to use the same information they entered last time.
Some online sites require you to create an account with them before making a purchase, which adds another “form fill” to the customer journey. Try presenting this option at the end of the purchase process, by which point they have already bought from you and are more invested in your business.
Once you’ve invested time and funds into a platform, you won’t want to start from scratch again. That’s why it’s important to choose the right ecommerce platform for your needs from the outset. Assess what functionality you want, which features and integration requirements are needed, as well as how you want the store to look. Make sure that the payment process is intuitive and that it will work seamlessly across devices. It’s worth doing some research and reading reviews of the different options available. Some ecommerce platforms offer free trials of their service that allow you to gauge if it’s the right one for you.
Getting to grips with social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is a key marketing requirement for ecommerce sites. They will help to improve customer engagement, give your business personality, and make your brand feel more accessible. Be sure to interact with customers and followers, as well as promoting what you do – it’s called “social” media for a reason.
If you’re an ecommerce business in 2016 and not embracing social media then you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to draw in your audience. Certain platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are perfect places to show off great product imagery, much like an online catalogue. Set yourself up on all of these channels (even if you don’t intend to use all of them) and make sure you include sharing buttons throughout your site, particularly on product pages.
SEO is a delicate science, and there are a lot of ecommerce stores out there who aren’t going about it the right way. The impact of SEO optimization can take a while to produce results, as it takes time for Google’s little spiders to reach out and find you. SEO should be considered a more long-term strategy, but an important one nonetheless. Done well, SEO is one of the most effective ways to bring traffic to your site as people search for the products you sell.
SEO is no longer about stuffing as many keywords into your copy as possible. Thanks to search engine updates, the whole thing has become much more nuanced. It’s all to do with how your site it built, how users behave on your site, whether content is nicely scannable and images tagged up.SEO also factors in authority – how many other websites link to you and find you ‘trustworthy’. Optimize your store for SEO from the outset and it will pay dividends down the road.
Many people think that running a successful online store is easy, but the truth is that there are a lot of moving parts to consider, much like a traditional business. No store is perfect when it first goes live, and you should expect to make tweaks to improve its quality and usability along the way. But start by addressing these six sticking points, and you’ll be sure to notice a difference.
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce entrepreneur, coach and writer, sharing ideas on his own blog EcommerceTips.org. On his blog, Patrick shares engaging ecommerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners alike. You can follow him on Twitter here, or add him on LinkedIn.