Being involved in Ecommerce for a number of years I have learned that “the only thing constant is change”. A successful Ecommerce website is always a work in progress. It is always businesss hed and is subject to change at all times as you continuously try to improve and refine it without blowing up your marketing budget.
However, although things are constantly changing there are, I believe, some key ingredients that are needed in every successful shopping cart.
SPEED OF YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSITE
Website speed and performance is probably never more important than it is on an ecommerce shopping cart site. It is one thing for a visitor to be browsing your site, it is entirely different if they are actually trying to buy something and give you some money. I cannot emphasize enough how simple and quick this process should be for the customer. Customers hate to wait, and usually will not wait, for slow-loading pages, and now slow sites also get penalized in their search engine rankings since Google started using page speed as a ranking factor.
Most Ecommerce sites have lots of content, tons of images and a large database containing information for all the products contained in the shopping cart. All of these factors can have an effect on both speed and performance. The good news is that they can all be “tweaked and optimized” to achieve maximum speed. Make sure that your Ecommerce webmaster does everything necessary to keep those pages “zipping” along for your paying customers. Also, if you saw my last blog post I talked about the importance of the company that is hosting your ecommerce website.
SIMPLIFY THE CHECKOUT PROCESS
Once you have a “window shopper” that has added a product or two to their shopping cart you have a reasonable chance of converting them into a paying customer. The process of moving them from the cart through the checkout steps to the final receipt page is known as the checkout process. Most shopping carts contain multiple pages in this checkout process and the key is to make it as simple as possible reminding each customer where they are in the overall process with the use of clear graphics affectionately known as “breadcrumbs”.
The form fields that you require each customer to complete should only contain the information you absolutely need. The more fields that need to be completed the more nervous the buyer will become. Along the same lines, never make a field required if it does not need to be. Remember…simple, logical and quick will insure that more shoppers complete the checkout process and become buyers.
TRUST AND COMMUNICATION
Recognized “trust marks” are an important way to remind customers of the protection and privacy you place on their personal information and payment details. Trust marks come in a number of forms. The easiest to include is the security badge offered as part of your SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certificate. All of the major SSL certificate providers offer such badges – you’ve likely seen VeriSign, GeoTrust, Thawte, and other security badges on major e-commerce sites. IMPORTANT: make sure these badges are easily visible throughout your site.
I do not believe you can communicate with your customers in the world of Ecommerce too often. Think about it. Most people doing business with an ecommerce website have little or no opportunity to ever create a relationship with you. Imagine the incredible amount of trust it takes to place an order and give money to someone you have never met, never spoken to and then hope they will ship you what you ordered. Imagine how easy it would be to lose that trust if you never heard from them. Keep your customers informed throughout the entire process, either email or phone. My suggestions..