13 Tips For A Better E-Commerce Website

E-commerce has its own dynamics when compared to the standard shopping experiences. It:

  • is faster
  • requires collection of data
  • includes shipping more frequently
  • has different ways of supporting users
  • & more..

E-Commerce Tips

If the product sold is not something unique, then it probably exists in 100s of other e-commerce websites. So, to differentiate your stores from others, here are 13 tips for a better e-commerce website:

 

Software


1.- Use A Well-Tested Software

Many websites / applications can handle the risk of "developing while online". E-commerce is not one of them, at least the core parts.

You may be using a ready-to-go software or built a new one from scratch. In both cases, test how it works very well on every level: browsing, cart functions, payments. and make sure they work. It’s important to implement bug tracking tools to keep track of any issues that come up. A bug in payments or a product that can’t be added to basket will not only result in un-completed sales but also lost future customers and bad word-of-mouth.

2.- Have Scenarios In Case An Unexpected Thing Occurs

E-commerce has its own risks like:

  • communication problems with payment processors
  • hosting / server problems

In such situations, rather than offering the customers a buggy usage, you must be able to take an action with a "click" & display friendly notifications like: "for a short time we can’t accept credit card payments, we can let you know when it will be available or you can use these payment methods".

Simply, show the customer you’re aware of the problem and have an alternative solution.

 

Presentation


3.- Adding To Cart Without Registering

Sign-InForcing users to "register first then start shopping" is probably one of the best ways to lose them. Many users who add products to their shopping carts are still not sure to buy them. They want to see what the sum will be, if there will be shipping fees, etc.

Rather than placing barriers in front of them from the beginning, easing the ways to explore the website/products and collecting any information when needed is much better.

And, don’t forget, there is always a risk in losing a customer who didn’t pay yet.

4.- Reaching To The Product With Less Clicks

There are multiple ways to help users reach the products with less clicks:

  • well-planned categories where sub-categories can be viewed just by hovering them
  • ability to narrow products by price, product features (like screen sizes for monitors), brands, etc.
  • an easily reachable product search form

5.- There Is Never "Too Detailed Products"

In contrast to the famous and funny Microsoft Re-Designs the Ipod Packaging video, providing as many details as you can on a product is a great thing.

You can always make this uncomplicated by presenting the basic information as a standard and having a "detailed information" as an option.

6.- More And High-Quality Photos

CameraSeeing is believing. As users won’t be able to touch the products, the more photos provided is the easier they decide if that is the product they need.

And, always use high-quality images as it will be perceived as "sloppy" if otherwise.

7.- Show Related, Alternative And Complimentary Products Better

A widely seen mistake in e-commerce websites is showing both the alternative and related products all mixed up. But they are not the same thing and will be confusing to the customer as well.

If you’re about to purchase a camera:

  • an other camera
  • the dock that is built specially built for that camera
  • case for cameras

are all different stuff and a better presentation will be displaying them under their own titles.

8.- Use SSL In Every Page When Collecting Critical Data

When collecting information such as:

  • registration forms
  • editing account details
  • credit card details

make sure you switch the website to the SSL URLs as it is measure of security and shows that you pay attention to your data.

P.S. Check SSLmatic.com for RapidSSL, Geotrust and Verisign certificates with much cheaper prices.

 

Order Processing


9.- Notify Users On Every Level

With the good ones, many people also have bad experiences with e-commerce specially on the delivery part.

Due to the nature of e-commerce no or few stock is kept and a sold product can not be delivered because it does not exist anymore or delivered later than expected. Also, specially for international orders, payments need to be approved manually. To sum up, there are various things that may go wrong from the users point of view.

So, it is a "must" to notify users on every level like:

  • when the payment is approved
  • a delay occured
  • when the product is shipped

10.- If Something Goes Wrong, Contact With Phone Besides E-mail

PhoneLike mentioned above, things can go wrong. The product may be no longer available, the system didn’t write the "shipping address to the database" & more.

In a such position, contacting the customer is a must but e-mail is mostly not enough. A customer, who doesn’t check e-mails frequently, waiting the product to be delivered yesterday but have a notification in the inbox saying "there is a problem with the order" is not a good experience.

Using phone or SMS is a better choice to make sure customer knows what’s going on.

 

Support


11.- Detailed Knowledgebase

Whether the website is a fresh one or not, a knowledgebase covering the most required titles is a must. These can be the "shipping & handling" & "refund policy" in the beginning.

A detailed knowledgebase shows that there are procedures within the company & is a sign of trust.

12.- Provide Live Chat Support

E-commerce customers generally require a help instantly & online as they are about to buy a product, their sessions may expire, etc.

Live chat support, which exists on every page with a clear link or image is a great way to meet this need. And, it is better on the administration side as you can already see "in which page the customer is", "what browser, OS they use", "their country/city", etc.

Also, every chat can be recorded for reporting & analysis. Besides the paid ones, there are various free live chat softwares which can be found in WebResourcesDepot’s "Customer Support"category.

13.- Do Your Best To Prevent Support Calls But Have A Phone Number

Thinking that "this is an e-commerce website" and no phone support is needed is mostly not true. At the end, it is a business & from the perception of users, a business requires a phone number.

But, do your best to prevent support calls coming in like the options mentioned above as telephone is a time killer and there is always a risk that no enough number support personels exist at a given time.

 

Have your tips / experiences? Please share them.

  • http://www.selectwallpaper.co.uk/store/index.php Will

    #12/#13 are the best tips on the list :) As soon as we offered live chat on our website we found the number of phone calls dramatically reduced overnight.

    You should never force a customer to create an account. You can easily make it optional and still provide all required necessities a customer may need. For example on our site we don’t require customers to login to check there order status, all they have to do is enter there Order Number on the homepage. Doing so gives the customer only the very basic information they’ll require (i.e Has the order been shipped yet?), however they can view some additional details such as the Shipping address if they correctly confirm the email address that was entered at the time of placing the order :)

  • http://www.mimiboutique.com Ed

    Tip #1 should always be “Make it fast”. Make sure your server or hosting provider is up to the task and delivers your Web site crisply (is that a word). Make sure the cart software you go with is fast. Get users to the products fast (repeat customers are the ones who buy) — hence, due away or at least cookie splash pages.

  • http://www.tophost.co.il Yossi

    a great article

  • http://perm-estate.ru dirs

    Thanks for the information. It will be useful for many.

  • http://www.avidbiometrics.com biometric

    Good advice. Cross selling products has helped our business grow significantly.

  • http://makoweb.com Mako Web Design

    Thanks for the great info. I have spent many hours working on Zen Cart to include your tips!

  • http://www.promodirect.com Promotional Products

    Thanks for the post! It was very informative. However as per my point of view creativity is required to create and maintain any e-commercial portal. It should be simple, easy to understand and user friendly for the customers. That’s more important because it will save time of the user to find anything online..
    Cheers,
    Susan Smith.

  • http://bcwebpros.xca Dave

    Just working on an e-commerce website right now. I found this very helpful while in the middle of my web design, thank you kindly!

  • http://www.speeda.co.uk Ecommerce Website Builder

    Completely agree with live chat support and the rest of your points. High quality images are extremely important too.

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