An ecommerce website is more complicated than a standard brochure website. This also means there is the potential for more errors.
If you are responsible for an ecommerce website, these are the top 5 mistakes to avoid:
1. No clear value proposition
A value proposition communicates why customers should buy from your site and not your competitor, such as Amazon. If you do not have one, or your value proposition is poor, then many potential buyers will head for your competitors instead of you.
The essential elements of an effective value proposition are:
- A simple and clear headline that has a promise of value
- Content that explains why your company is the best choice and what distinguishes you from the competitors
- Benefits such as free postage, fast delivery and guarantees
- Images that reinforce the value proposition
Think about what makes you different. Why do you do what you do? Why should someone choose you over a competitor? Once you have these answers, make sure your website has them too.
2. Bad product descriptions
Research by Amazon showed that text descriptions were more important than images. For example, on a page showing images of flat screen TVs, eye tracking revealed that 18% of a viewer’s attention was for images, and 82% on reading text.
This research highlights the value of text descriptions. Do it badly and sales are lost. People want to know what they’re buying, what the features are and what the benefits are. Don’t assume a customer knows everything about a product; no matter how simple or obvious it may seem, give them enough information in the description to make an informed purchase decision.
3. Fuzzy images
Whilst the Amazon research highlighted the importance of text descriptions, this does not mean that images should be ignored. Fuzzy static images create bad impressions that can turn visitors away.
A study by Visual Web Optimizer found that images that magnify on ‘mouse over’ increased sales by 9.46%.
One online store improved conversions by an impressive 100% by including images in the search bar. This can be done using an instant Ajax search that displays product images as the customer types keywords into the search. It’s a simple trick, but one that can pay dividends.
This will reduce the speed of your website however, so you need to balance the pros with the cons.
4. Site does not look trustworthy
Following many high-profile security breaches on well-known websites, people are less trusting of submitting their personal information and handing over their money.
If there is nothing on your ecommerce website to persuade people to trust you, then they won’t.
Trust is not just to do with the checkout process where secure SSL pages are the norm. A variety of payment options including credit cards, PayPal and Amazon payments is helpful. Some people will trust PayPal and Amazon to safeguard their credit card details, whereas they may not be so confident about giving credit card numbers directly to the ecommerce site. You should give people the option, as different customers look for different things.
Away from the shopping cart, trust can be gained through testimonials and product reviews. To further increase trust, reviews can be administered by third parties such as Trust Pilot, which independently verifies reviews.
If you can get your products featured on high-profile publications such as Forbes, CQ or Vogue, this will also help establish trust.
5. Hiding things
Visitors expect transparency, so keeping details hidden away is not a good strategy. For example, they need to easily know what the shipping costs are. It is frustrating for a buyer to arrive at the point where they need to enter payment details before realising that large shipping costs have been added, or VAT has not been calculated until it’s time to pay.
Guarantee and return policies also need to be clear, and be seen to be fair.
Customers need to be able to contact you. It is annoying if a customer finds it difficult to find out how to communicate with you. They need clear telephone numbers, email and a physical address contact details. Amazon is not very good at this. Have you tried to find a telephone number to talk to Amazon? However, it has the trust offered by its brand so can overcome the absence of a phone number and clear physical address. Most retailers don’t have this luxury.
Developing an ecommerce website is complicated, but a well-designed ecommerce site that avoids the above mistakes can be a profitable business.
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