More than half of Americas (51%) now prefer online to in-person shopping. Since people are buying increasingly online, the competition in the market is also tightening. Implementing best practices is increasingly important if you want your business to perform well and continue to grow at a steady rate in the years ahead.
Best practices for ecommerce include the following:
#1. Establish your key performance indicators (KPI).
Strategizing through a formal plan helps guide your forward motion and embed decisions in larger purpose. All that you perform should be in pursuit of tangible goals. While that is the case, noted an Econsultancy report, ecommerce outfits do not always clearly define their objectives. If your ecommerce company does not have an up-to-date ecommerce plan, then optimizing the way you conduct online business could require you to first “work with rest of the business to come up with the framework into which ecommerce activity can fit,” said the report.
KPI, quantifiable performance metrics, must be determined during this process. As you conduct an overview of what your goals might be and how your KPI assessment might proceed, you want to consider potential for updating the way you operate. Assessing KPI data is about checking how simple it is to complete tasks effectively. In order to improve your ecommerce capabilities, you may need to modify your site and the systems that back it in diverse ways.
As you think about changes, noted the report, consider control in who can actually take the necessary steps. It is necessary to assess which of your personnel – product managers, merchandise managers, etc. – have access to the site and can make edits. Similarly, you want your user experience (UX) staff to be able to test quickly and effectively, without running into access issues.
To be clear, access controls are key to security and compliance. PCI compliance requires the formal adoption of access and data control policies and procedures, as indicated by the Stanford University PCI Policy. However, ensuring the removal of obstructions to your ability to improve the site should be carefully considered.
#2. Get rid of clutter.
You will convert more visitors to your site if you make your design as simple as possible. When you look at the homepage, it should be clear where people’s attention is being directed. A person’s eyes should be moving toward either a product you sell or a call-to-action (CTA) button. When the page is cluttered, there is a less straightforward movement through a CTA.
Clutter is an incredibly common issue with ecommerce sites, according to Neil Patel of QuickSprout. Patel cited statistics that it took users more than 3 seconds to locate the CTAs on more than half of ecommerce sites (53%).
Removing clutter is a reminder that you want people who come to your site to buy from you. Cleaning up the sight eases their task of making a purchase. It also could minimize support requests.
#3. Polish your about page.
Many people will look at your about page. Often shoppers will decide if they want to order from you based on how they feel about that page. Statistics cited by web developer Thomas G. Bennett suggest more than half of visitors will see the page (52%). The visibility of the page is also clear in the success story from WordStream Blog: when the publication upgraded its about page, it saw a 13% rise in conversions.
Bennett suggested the following ways to improve this critical page:
- Rather than thinking about this page describing you, think about it describing you solving customer problems.
- Give the visitor a sense of your organization’s personality, but do not get so loose with the page that it becomes unprofessional.
- Write a short snippet about your complete company. Discuss how you were prompted to start the store, if applicable. Talk about why you wanted to be your own boss. Talk about why the business is important.
- Consider including reviews and testimonials. Reviews and testimonials will help visitors vicariously understand the experience of a satisfied customer. These statements are great because they establish your products working without you having to promote them.
- Differentiate yourself. If your organization provides free consulting or monthly informational PDFs to your customers, let people know. Differentiate yourself and describe that difference.
- Show imagery. You can feature a photograph of your staff together – or individual shots of employees to pair with quick bios.
- End with a CTA. The way you describe yourself on the about page and position yourself as your customer’s problem-solver will make them likelier to want to make a purchase. Leverage that opportunity with a call-to-action.
#4. Get fast web hosting.
In many contexts, the desire for speed is reduced naturally by the desire for quality; for instance, we don’t expect fine dining to be delivered in 5 seconds, whereas we may be frustrated if a vending machine does not dispense in that window because the product is low-quality. In the context of the internet, on the other hand, speed is simply a bottom-line factor that will impact your success. A fast site leads to more sales.
In fact, the impact of speed has been clear for 10 years. Even back then, an Aberdeen Group report (no longer online but available via email here) found, “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”
It is noteworthy that Patel, a marketer, lists web hosting performance – quality of infrastructure – as a core ecommerce best practice. However, speed is a broad issue. While web hosting will solve many performance issues, ecommerce firms should be aware that downtime and slowness of a site are often not caused by the host. Almost all situations in which there is a performance issue on a site arises out of a member of your staff “blindly troubleshooting,” per Aberdeen’s Ryan Arsenault. A 2015 Aberdeen analysis looking at challenges for business web performance determined that nearly half of companies (46%) did not have web app performance monitoring tools implemented, while 1 in 5 (21%) did not have web performance monitors in place.
#5. Optimize for mobile.
In today’s environment, you need to specifically assess mcommerce – with a specific plan related to building that part of your business. Strengthening mobile seems obvious when you consider that close to two-thirds (62%) of traffic through ecommerce sites is via mobile.
Notably, mobile might be used for research, while the order is placed by the user through desktop. This jumping from one device to another by users is part of the basis of cross-device targeting. Nonetheless, a large portion of online shopping is now through mcommerce: overall in 2017, mobile device purchases accounted for $18 billion of the $78.6 billion that went toward online retail. Furthermore, more than half of people (57%) said that they do not recommend an ecommerce store if its mobile site is poorly designed.
#6. Have high-quality support that is easy to reach.
Support is absolutely key to online differentiation. Some shoppers will inevitably run into challenges when they try to order from you. When someone is trying to solve a straightforward issue, whether it’s prior to sale (such as finding an item) or after (such as troubleshooting a product you sent them), fast resolution will create greater immediate and long-term sales.
Your high-performance ecommerce solution
While more people are shifting to making their purchases online, ecommerce is no less challenging – particularly as competition continues to build. Fundamental to ecommerce success is building best practices into the way you do business. One best practice is to improve your performance through infrastructure. At Total Server Solutions, our hosting plans can accommodate everything from small, static sites all the way up to large enterprises. See our high-performance web hosting for ecommerce.