The recent pandemic has accelerated the existing trend of moving online, with some studies reporting an increase of over 50% in online sales. This highlights how crucial efficient websites and e-commerce applications are to a company’s survival. Many companies that had not invested in an appealing and functional website lost out to competitors.
Website design and functionality are crucial to the pleasant experience of visitors. Once a shopper has had an engaging experience on an e-commerce site, they will return. Hence, hooking your audience with a website that offers ease of access, new products, and interesting promotions will keep shoppers’ attention and have them coming back.
Many features define an outstanding website, including speed, design, information available, ease of shopping, mobile-friendliness, etc. How can you leverage them to improve your website’s functionality?
Speed is important
Ideally, your website should load within 3 seconds or less. The longer it takes for your website to load, the higher the chance that clients will leave. There are so many competitors out there that people feel certain they can find a website that both downloads fast and can provide them with the goods or services they require.
Review the load time of your website on platforms like Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom Website Speed Test. Research suggests that if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you risk losing about 40% of your online shoppers.
Resize your photos and media
When testing your website’s speed, also check the page size of your web pages. Media, like photos and videos, increase your page’s size the most and often require optimization.
According to Shopify, the optimal sizing for product photos is 1024 x 1024 at 72 dpi. If you have a WordPress website, you can automatically resize photos via a plugin such as WP Smush or reSmush.it. If your website is not hosted with WordPress, you can resize images with Adobe Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, IrfanView, or various online applications prior to uploading them onto your website.
Find a good hosting service
Your website hosting plays a big part in the speed of your website. Find a hosting platform that offers good hosting speed.
Efficient customer service is also important—and undervalued. Most big hosting companies use ticketing systems, online reports of problems that often require several hours for someone to respond. Ideally, you want to pick the phone and reach someone who can help you within seconds.
Optimize your website’s code
Lastly, optimize your website’s code. Various WordPress cache plugins can help with this by compressing your code automatically. Your website’s code should be lean and only contain what information your website needs to run smoothly.
Websites have now moved from mobile-friendly to mobile-first. Google is prioritizing websites that have been designed primarily for mobile users. Therefore, if you want your website to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), you need to optimize it for mobile use.
Your website should load and work efficiently on a mobile device using a so-called responsive design that adapts to the medium used to view the website. There are many tools that you can use to review the mobile-friendliness of your website, including Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test.
We all judge a book by its cover. Few want to buy from a website that is clunky and unappealing. Even if you offer the best discounts, many people will leave before discovering them if they dislike your website design and the way it presents information. Besides, an unappealing website can make your business look untrustworthy.
It’s good to review your website’s content regularly: it can save you money and help you make more sales.
Is your business the same as it was last year? How about five years ago?
Remove any outdated promotions, products, and coupons from your website as soon as they become irrelevant. A change in a phone number, address, or personnel should be reflected immediately on your website.
This can help keep your website fresh. Outdated information can frustrate people who might call the wrong phone number or be looking for a person who has left the business 6 months ago.
Also, remember that online design trends change, just like clothes fashion does. A website design that was stylish five years ago will look outdated today. It’s the reason car industries renew their models so often. You want to show you are following trends and are keeping ahead of your competition by being informed and aware of the world around you.
It is crucial to take good security measures on your website: you will be collecting sensitive information such as names and addresses. If possible, avoid collecting credit card information as this will make you a target for hackers. Use a bank’s payment system to avoid having to constantly worry about someone stealing that information. Your customers need to feel safe and that their data will not be breached.
Invest in website security features such as SSL, website scanning, and regular backups. If you don’t know how to secure your website, hire a professional—your clients’ peace of mind will be well worth the investment.
It makes no difference whether you are selling shoes, cosmetics, or flowers: your website needs to be secure, and your clients need to know about the security measures you are taking.
Email subscriptions/Loyalty programs
Email subscriptions and loyalty programs are great ways to retain your customers. Loyalty programs offer a way to reward them for staying loyal to your brand while enticing them to make further purchases.
Email subscriptions remind them of new offers and discounts. Businesses often use exclusive discounts for email subscribers, thus making them feel special and privileged. Small gifts also work wonders: everyone loves a gift!
Offer discounts, features, and sales to encourage customers to come back to your store to shop.
Amazon’s 1-click checkout feature is the epitome of quick and easy checkouts. Though you may lack the security and customer information to properly implement this on your own website, keeping your checkout process short and simple can secure sales that might otherwise be dropped along the process.
It is a good idea to invest in ways to obtain customer information ahead of time and save them for future checkouts. Autofill options are practical; similarly, registered clients will appreciate having all the required information already stored on your website.
In addition, remove any questions or fields that are not absolutely necessary for your checkout process. Make as many fields as possible optional. The easier and faster it is for customers to finish their purchase, the better they will feel. Besides, you can always get additional information from your customer, if necessary, in a follow-up email. This may even be an opportunity to upsell your products or services.
Increase overall cart value with website upsells
Have you ever noticed how major e-commerce websites suggest items or services that match the one you are purchasing?
Many businesses use this technique to entice people to make further purchases by adding a “commonly bought together” section or a popup based on other shoppers’ experiences. These may recommend items that match the one you are buying. They may also suggest complimentary services that perfect your purchase. A shirt and a tie, shoes and socks, a plane ticket and hotel accommodation: these are just a few examples of products and services that go hand-in-hand.
Another way to use this promotional section is to upsell your products. Entice your customers with a low-budget product, then suggest a better, more expensive one. This is the perfect opportunity to increase the overall cart value of your customers’ purchases.
Website promotions such as bundles, free shipping, and coupons
Many retail stores have sales for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The same ideas apply to an e-commerce store. In fact, if your store has no sales during these times, your customers will likely shop elsewhere.
While it’s important to be constantly innovating with different deals, bundles, and coupons, there are many traditional sales promotions that businesses can take advantage of.
A common psychological trick is to make your offers time-sensitive, giving people a sense of urgency. Most people will react positively to a special offer that lasts for only 24 hours, and you will have piqued their curiosity. At the very least, they will check the offer and see whether they are interested in it.
Discounts and bundles
There are many promotional ideas such as buy-one-get-one-for-free, discounts, or bundles of goods and services sold together at a discount. For instance, a flower shop can sell a plant, some fertilizer, and a pot as a bundle at a discount.
By experimenting with similar ideas, you will see which ones work best for your business.
The importance of free shipping
Businesses can also opt for coupons redeemable on the next purchase. A particularly useful website promotional technique is to offer free shipping. The cost of shipping is the number one reason for people abandoning their shopping carts: 63% of cart abandonments are due to the extra cost of shipping (Statista, 2019).
Even if your business can’t afford free shipping permanently, you could offer it for purchases above a certain level or during particular times of the year.
You can reward faithful customers with a pre-launch discount that is valid for a limited time and is only available to them. This will help you promote new products, generating instant interest in them.
Regular weekly or monthly deals
Another useful approach is to establish a business tradition whereby you will be offering some items or services on a discount on a weekly or monthly basis. For instance, you can advertise that your business will be offering discounts on the first Monday of each month.
You can vary the discounted items to make this interesting and fun. One Monday could be a discount on all jeans, while the next one may offer a discount on all white T-shirts.
No matter what the deal offers, you should also build up customers’ expectations with social media advertising, using social media as another way to get the word out.
Give your customers wish lists
Most customers can’t buy everything they want at once. Most shoppers like looking around, checking items and services, and bookmarking for the future.
A wish list is a smart way of hooking your clients to your e-commerce website. As your shoppers are browsing, they may come upon something they like but can’t afford. Or they may want it for a loved one and need to check with them. These shoppers will put the item in their wish list and most likely buy it a later date.
A wish list is also practical for people buying from the same shop on a regular basis. People tend to buy the same cosmetics and foods. With a wish list, they can tick the items they want week after week or month after month. That way, they do not have to browse the whole website looking for the one item they are looking for. It makes their purchasing experience quicker and more pleasant.
When not buying in person, shoppers need to know they are buying something valuable. In a recent Nielsen survey, recommendations from people we know are the most trusted advertising form, followed by branded websites and online reviews. That is why shoppers often check user-generated reviews.
User-generated reviews are not just valuable because they help prospective shoppers make up their mind. They also give clues about the items or services and answer common questions you may have failed to address in your product description page. For instance, previous shoppers might point out that a pair of shoes is great, but future shoppers should order a size bigger than their usual. This will both avoid frustration from your clientele and save you time and money in returns.
Design your e-commerce website to grow your business
Customers have become more demanding when it comes to online shopping. They have high expectations and are bombarded with information and new offers. Your website needs to stand out from the competition by being mobile-friendly, easy to use, and filled with innovative discounts and offers.
Shoppers need to feel secure when they are buying from your e-commerce website. Recurring shoppers like to feel exclusive and to be rewarded for their loyalty. Implementing various discount policies, time-sensitive offers, and coupons is a good way to attract new clients and keep existing ones satisfied.
Finally, including user-generated reviews will give customers more confidence to buy from you.
For more e-commerce tips, check out our 5 tips to sell more products online!
Website design requires professional care and knowledge. Contact KCV Strategic online or call (913) 717-6222 to make your website more appealing, safer, and more enticing!