Ecommerce basics: best practices

Ecommerce basics: best practices
12
Mar

Want to sell abroad? Start with these ecommerce best practices.

Ecommerce is the new name of the international sales game. The world of electronic commerce—online shopping, electronic payments, internet banking and other online financial transactions—has entirely reshaped the way we do business. It has allowed us to bridge geographical distance, eliminate middlemen and lower operational costs. But if you want your online store to be successful, it’s got to stand out from the crowd.

We’ve put together some best practices to help you optimise your ecommerce site and increase your international reach:

SEO

In order for customers to want to buy from you, they’ll have to find your ecommerce site first. You want search engines to be able to associate your company with the products you sell, and direct users to the pages most relevant to them. Make sure you integrate product key words into your URLs and text, and select the most effective industry keywords to integrate throughout your main page. You want your keywords to include both highly-searched terms and terms specific to your product, as that increases your online visibility while specifically driving the right type of traffic. Metadescriptions here are particularly important, because users should be able to identify from the search results page that your website is what they’re looking for.

Another often overlooked element of SEO optimisation is image optimisation. Given that one-third of all Google searches are now done in images, correctly optimising your images can drive a significant amount of traffic. Image file names should use important keywords, and image descriptions should draw on popular related terms.  

User experience

A straightforward and efficient user experience will drive conversions. The first step to building an ecommerce page that caters to the user experience is to recognise that different users have different needs. Some users will visit your site looking for a precise product in a precise colour, and some will think they may want something from your company but are completely unsure of what. Address both needs by providing a keyword search bar at the top of your home page, along with general categories like “gifts for her”, “gifts for him”, “new this season”.

No matter the user’s particular needs, everyone wants a quick online shopping experience. A case study by Radware found that 67% of UK shoppers and 51% of US shoppers said that site slowness was the top reason for abandoning a purchase. It also found that a 2-second delay in loading resulted in purchase abandonment rates of up to 87%. Consumers in these countries have come to expect loading times of a fraction of a second, and don’t have patience for a slow, antiquated site.

Page design

Make your pages aesthetically appealing by using high quality images and keeping text to a minimum. Image carousels and short videos on your main page can be a good way to introduce new customers to popular products. Your main page should focus on these popular products, as they are your brand’s main selling point—it is not the place to boost sales for products that haven’t caught on, it is the place where you bring in new customers by putting your best foot forward.

Your main page should also address customer reservations by advertising your flexible policies—if you’ve decided to offer free shipping, free returns, a low-price guarantee or discount codes, announce it loud and clear. A banner at the top of the main page is a good way to do this. But do take care to also make any caveats obvious—it’s better to be upfront about free shipping on orders of over €100 than have your customer unpleasantly surprised at checkout.

Product pages should clearly show all of the colour, sizing and quantity options for each product. Professional-quality thumbnails of each product in each colour should be available for scrolling through. Product descriptions should use copy that is short, snappy and fun. If item stock is running low, the product page would be the place to announce: “Only 3 left in stock”. Product pages are also an optimal place for user reviews and comments.

Checkout process 

The checkout process is perhaps the single most important aspect of your ecommerce store. From the selection of an item, to discount codes and payment and shipping options, each step must be transparent and efficient. A study by Monetate showed that 75% of shopping carts are abandoned before checkout—failures in this process can lead to hugely significant sales losses. In the second part of our ecommerce series, we will break down how to minimise losses by optimising your online store’s checkout process.

Ecommerce is the future of international sales. Deck out your online store and maximise your conversion rate domestically and across borders.

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