One of the biggest growth areas in business is through online sales. While high street stores are closing down every day, signalling the death of the high street, many businesses are succeeding with ecommerce websites. The competition amongst sales websites is fierce, which makes it vital to design your ecommerce website to maximise sales.
Unfortunately many ecommerce websites contain design errors that can harm sales, lose business and threaten the future of the company. Let’s look at some of the most common issues face by ecommerce websites.
Slow loading pages
Many ecommerce websites access a database of product data that contains information on numerous products. This can result in a page taking several seconds to load. A study in 2008 found that 47 per cent of people expect a website to load in two seconds. 40 per cent of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. What this means is that a one second delay can mean a seven per cent reduction in visitor retention – and visitors leaving equals fewer sales.
Optimising page loading, especially on the homepage is one key to retaining visitors. Page loading speed is also a ranking factor within Google, so a slow loading website won’t just put off your visitors, it will stop them finding you website in the first place.
No clear call to action
Call to actions can be requests to buy, or they can invite signing up to mailing lists so that an ongoing relationship is developed with visitors. Many websites have the call to action at the bottom of the page, which means that visitors must browse the whole page before they see it, scrolling down the page.
Make the call to action visible at, or near, the top of the screen.
Pop-ups grab attention and often include call to action buttons. Whilst pop-ups can be effective in some circumstances, many people are annoyed by them if they obscure the text of the page, or are difficult to dismiss.
If you do use pop-ups you should delay their activation for a few seconds so that visitors have chance to know what your site is about, and they should have clear exit buttons on them so that they can be easily closed. Cookies can be used to make sure that pop-ups do not appear on return visits, and they don’t reappear on every page visited.
A recent survey found that 93% of visitors stated that visual appearance is a key factor when deciding to buy from a website. A website that is poorly designed looks unprofessional and won’t convince people to make a purchase. The Amazon website is a great example of a clean, well-designed, user friendly website.
When deciding on a purchase people want as much information as possible. Videos are great ways to show off products. Videos explaining how a product or service works help to increase sales. Having a video instead of images on a landing page has been found to increase conversion by 12.6 per cent.
All the above factors are to do with the design of an ecommerce website, but attention needs to be made to the content, particularly when it comes to how sales are processed.
At the checkout purchasers are put off by hidden charges that they were not expecting, such as tax or delivery. Unless you are a business to business website, VAT should be part of the purchase price quoted, and not added on at the checkout.
Many people expect free shipping and could abandon a sale if an unexpected shipping and packaging charge is added at the checkout. The ‘free shipping’ message is an extremely powerful message when it comes to swaying a customer’s decision over who to purchase a product with.
A successful ecommerce site starts with getting the design right. You then need to pay attention to checkout, payment options, customer service and an easy returns policy. Businesses that get the formula right can earn substantial revenue from online sales.
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