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7 Tips for Crafting a Better e-Commerce Site Experience

Selling products via e-commerce sites is competitive business. Rival sites are just a click away, and giant behemoths like Alibaba and Amazon create all kinds of competitive pricing dilemmas.

In order to build a loyal customer base and keep them coming back to your e-commerce site for more products, you need to pay special attention to some very specific site functions.

You could have the lowest prices in the land or the highest quality goods, but that doesn’t matter much if a customer gets confused and bails on your site.

Here are some of our top web development and usability tips for e-commerce sites. These are general, but they apply to a wide variety of industries.

1. Pay attention to buttons and sign-up forms!

One of the big goals of basket-filling and checkout is to avoid “friction.” This is the multi-step annoyance that can push customers toward the dreaded cart abandonment.

Reducing the number and length of sign-up forms helps. Don’t gather information that you don’t absolutely need until it’s time. And when you’re building customer email lists go SUPER-minimal. Ask for an email address and get the rest of their info later.

Also, never underestimate call-to-action button design. A lot of great platforms – like Leadpages and Instapages – have fantastic multi-variate and A/B testing data about what buttons work, in what industries, and in specific contexts. Study these and put the right color, style and shape buttons on your pages. Think about the words on the buttons, too. “Submit” is not very friendly now is it? You can bake benefits into these buttons. “Click to ship” is one example. The faster they click, the sooner the item comes to their door. “Learn more” is another. The benefits are baked in, and there’s no negativity.

2. Offer purchase options without the need to register.

The form below kinda says it all. Online shoppers don’t like long sign-up processes – especially when they’re trying out a new commerce site.

You can always ask for account set-up information in a follow-up email or when the cart has been loaded and you’re collecting shipping and payment data. (Also, notice the words on the button below – “security” as a benefit.)

3. Offer robust search functionality.

Fast, reliable search solves problems, and in the age of Siri and Google Now it’s become a standard behavioral process. People pick up their phones and bark orders. They want to know who, what, where, when, why and how much. And, there’s nothing more frustrating than broken search. You want to use site search functionality that uses Google-style form-fill in “intelligence.” This is the deal where you’re typing into Google, and it reads your mind, giving you popular options after just a few keystrokes.

You’ll also want to offer category, price and other contextual refinement buttons or checkboxes on the left navigation.

4. Show people where they’re headed and where they’ve been.

Customers love knowing their progress in the checkout process. Amazon has it nailed below. Short is better here, of course. This is often referred to as breadcrumb navigation, and customers like to be able to go back and forth when they want to fix mistakes or add to the order, as well.

5. Please . . please . . make sure your transactions are secure.

Shoppers need to feel confidence and trust in your e-commerce platform. You need trust certificates and security measures like Hacker Safe, Verisign, and updated SSL certificates to ensure shopping security.

6. Build up cart totals by cross-selling and upselling.

Amazon does a great job with this. By suggesting related items and items that other shoppers similar to you bought, they’re showing you ideas and solving problems that you might have. Sometimes it’s even as simple as selling batteries with something that might not come with them. Sometimes it’s just selling peanut butter with jelly. It saves the customer time, and shopping is often a “batch” endeavor. Why not load up a cart so they don’t have to come back later?

7. Display all charges transparently . . and EARLY!

Nothing’s more maddening than a shopping cart that seems to cost one total then gets some other charge tacked on at the last minute (shipping, handling, unknown taxes and/or fees, whatever it is).

This goes for discounts, as well. Show them early in the process, so the buyer gets stoked.

Clarity and transparency are key, and they will save you the hassle of having to explain things later. You’ll eliminate cart abandonment, too.

These are just a few of the many e-commerce pointers we talk with customers about. Give us a call or schedule some time with us if you want to explore site development issues further.

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