So you are going to build a new ecommerce site, or upgrade your existing site! There are a thousand things to do right. Here are few random tips. Think about these as you plan e commerce sites.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Many a white paper have been written on this topic. The biggest thing to remember here is that this is an ongoing process and not a one time item. Here are a few places to start:
- Create a sitemap.xml and robot.txt files for search engines to index.
- Set up product feed to the major players (Google, Bing, TheFind.com and MSN shopping are a few).
- Create a URL and category structure that is Search Engine Friendly.
2. Create a navigation and search structure that is easy for the customer to use.
Not only does this help with Search Engine Optimization but if your customers can not find what they are looking for easily and quickly, they will quickly move on to a competitor.
Make sure the search functions well, returning relevant results. An AutoComplete in the search term box is helpful.
Custom search functions make searching through many product choices easy. For example, in Magento we created an Auto Parts filter that searches a database of over 3.1 million parts by searching the year/make/model to show only the correct vehicle parts.
3. Checkout and Add to Cart buttons must be easy to find and clear.
This is an area you do not want to get too fancy with. You want the customer to be able to find the Add to Cart buttons on every product and quickly find the Checkout button. You do not want to lose customers because they can not figure out how to purchase an item.
4. Have updated photos and descriptions.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let the consumer know what the product looks like, the more photos the better. Photos are becoming extremely important as more and more purchases being done via mobile devices
Keeping photos and descriptions current also helps with Search Engine Optimization.
6. Use a Merchant account to take payments
This will help with the security issue discussed above. Make sure to use a service that accepts the big three credit cards. Also several ecommerce platform have them built in. For example AbleCommerce and Magento have Authorize.net and PayPal built in.
7. Know what works and what does not!
Using a program such as Google Analytics or Smarter Stats gives you the ability to track visitors on your website. Monitor if you are getting more or less traffic over time. What times and from where? Analytics also enable tracking of email marketing, showing where visitors go when you make site changes and promotions. This allows you to focus your efforts on areas that produce the most traffic, and review and rethink areas that don’t produce traffic.
8. Email Marketing
Client communications is important as you plan e commerce sites. Email marketing gives you an opportunity to reach out to your customers about sales, discounts or promotions. It can also give you a chance to reclaim sales that are not completed when customer abandons the checkout process. Many of the email marketing programs sync with Magento and AbleCommerce, such as StreamSend and MailChimp. These programs also help keep your email white listed on mail servers by offering opt out options and deleting invalid and expired email addresses.
9. Select a hosting package that will grow with you.
While having a lower priced hosting partner may seem like a good idea but if they can not keep up with your site’s traffic you will run into issues. At Web 2 Market we have tier hosting plans that grow with your site. While they increase in price, it is based off of your site’s traffic so it typically a worthwhile investment.
10. Make getting help easy
When a customer needs help with a product or has a question make it easy for them to reach you by offering an email address, phone number, or live chat. This way you are able to answer their question and keep them from going elsewhere to someone who will answer their question.
11. Show the shopping cart
There are several ways to display the shopping cart. Make sure customers can see that they have products in their cart and let them easy review it.
12. Checkout should be easy and well structured.
This is the most important part of the sale. If your check out is over bearing or difficult to figure out people will and can just go elsewhere. Make sure your check out page is easy to follow and not over crowed with options and fill in boxes. Also make sure to have a confirmation page and email sent after the order is place to avoid customer service call and emails.
13. If you have having a promotion let the consumer know.
Make sure you are highlighting any sales, promotions, or discounts you are having. Do this on the landing page and also as they search items. If you are offering free shipping let them know on what products or what amount they must spend to receive it. You are offering the promotion to drive sales, so why hide it!
14. Press Release
You are investing in a new site in hopes that it brings in more business and to make it easier for customer to buy with it. So let them know about it. Use social media, email marketing, and any other outlets you have to advertise your new site and invite customer to come and take a look (hopefully buy something as well).
15. Thoroughly test your site BEFORE launching.
Here at Web 2 Market we know the value of testing and spend hours thoroughly test our client’s site BEFORE they go live, saving countless headaches and missed sales. When we plan e commerce development processes, testing is always a critical part of development.
What happens if you don’t plan e commerce upgrades
We had a company call us in a panic about 3 weeks ago. They had launched a site that previously was doing over $1,000 a day in sales. Since the launch (they called me 2 weeks after the launch) the sales had plummeted to $10 a day. We found that about 90% could have been caught by doing some basic testing. They had no testing process. Now a very successful company had to rebuild credibility with its own client base, had a customer service nightmare, and lost thousands of dollars all because the site was never tested before going live.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact us. We will work with you as you plan e commerce upgrades, making sure you the tools to be successful.
Keywords: plan e commerce upgrades