Vintage is trendy – but not when it comes to eCommerce

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Vintage is trendy – but not when it comes to eCommerce

As online shopping continues to gain in popularity and is expected to overtake traditional retail sales in the coming years, it's more important than ever to ensure your eCommerce site is up-to-date.

Whether you're one of the 85,000 new businesses who launched an online store or joined an online marketplace last year or run a longstanding eCommerce business, you'll know that running an eCommerce site isn't easy. Aside from the sales, orders to fill, and payments to process, the first few steps are perhaps the most important – getting customers to your site and then getting them to convert.

So, if you're noticing that customers aren't coming, staying, and converting, it could be time to take a long hard look at your site from a customer's point of view.

Design

Whilst your eCommerce store doesn’t have a ‘physical' location, it's still gives the customer an insight into your brand and therefore your products.

If you've ever walked into a shop that's disorganised and untidy, and then walked into one that's clean and well-ordered, chances are you'd rather spend your time and most importantly your money in the latter. The same is true of an online store.

Whether you're using Shopify, Magento, Square, Wix, or any other eCommerce platform, design matters. A good website design signals to the user that there's a good and legitimate company behind the screen. Thinking of your eCommerce store like it's a physical store may even help give you the inspiration you need.

Speed

Have you ever visited a site only to find it's slow to load so you quickly look elsewhere? Well so too have your potential customers. If your page is taking more than a couple of seconds to load, you'll notice a higher bounce rate – people want everything ‘now'.

Whilst a second may not seem like a big deal, it can mean hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in lost revenue for a business. And studies back this up. Walmart found that for every one second of site speed improvement, they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions.

Product selection

Obviously, most start-ups can't afford the expansive selection of product that online giants like Amazon offer, but that might not be a bad thing. In fact, having too many choices can actually cost you sales. Having a carefully curated selection of products could be the key to your success.

A limited selection allows customers to quickly find what they're looking for, can stop ‘decision paralysis', and therefore increase conversions by naturally limiting the number of clicks to checkout.

If you find that onsite search is a big part of your customer's experience, then make your search box is obvious on both mobile and desktop sites and consider how extended search functionality could help improve that user experience.

Shopping cart and transactions

The shopping cart and transaction are the final hurdle. The customer has visited your website, they've viewed your product selection, and they've chosen the product they want to buy. But what could hold them back making that purchase?

  • High shipping costs – Merchants are now promoting their shipping costs on their home page, product page and checkout to eliminate the surprise of their shipping costs. This allows the user to factor in the total cost before they add to basket.
  • Not accepting certain payment methods – Most merchants stores are able to accept a variety of payment gateways, but it's important you do your research to understand how your target market prefers to pay and ensure your platform can accommodate.
  • Requiring users to create accounts – If you require users to make an account before the transaction, it interrupts the flow of the purchase. Instead consider asking them to make an account after the transaction.

Order completion

Once the transaction is completed, the customer should receive a receipt via the email address provided. This should contain an order number, contents of the order, an email, phone number, and social media links.

And it shouldn't end there. Consider how you can use email marketing to keep in touch with your customers after the order has been shipped. An email from the CEO or the customer service manager asking how everything went or for a review helps create additional touchpoints and opens the door for customer feedback.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.