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Building an E-Commerce Website

Shopping on-line is now a way of life for most people. Off-line shops (built of bricks and mortar) need to utilise resources that are available to keep up with this ever changing environment.

With the explosion of e-commerce (even big names such as Google have entered the market), businesses need to ensure that the product they're using to sell goods, is of top quality, simple to use and works efficiently. It was reported in an article, that studies conducted by both Forrester and MarketingSherpa, concluded that shopping cart abandonment rates were higher than 50%. That's a tonne of lost revenue for businesses. This abandonment of the shopping cart can be due to a number of reasons, but here are a few tips on effectively creating an e-commerce site to produce sales.

A solid, simple and clean website design and structure, will communicate to your shopper that there's a professional company behind the site. Your shopper doesn't want to be bombarded with ads that they're not interested in. They also don't want to be filing through pages and pages to get to the checkout, or to have to fill out multiple forms just to purchase one item. Keep it simple for the shopper. Clearly display your 'checkout' button on every page to allow them to make their purchase efficiently before they change their mind. You will also want shopping cart certificates and secure payment system icons that are integrated with your website displayed visibly on your website to improve the trust, credibility and authenticity of your business to the shopper.

Product description's shouldn't be much longer than 200 words and should contain the most appropriate details about the item. Important details should be included such as the products features, weight, size and shipping cost of the order. If a link to the manufacturer's specifications is available, post this below your description to allow the buyer to delve into the technical details of the product. A buyer also doesn't want additional fees to be added to the total cost of the order once the product has been added to their shopping cart. Make all costs of the order transparent on the product page.

Search functionality through product categories is vitally important for customers to find the item they are looking for. By determining popular search terms and common spelling mistakes that shoppers may make, you can optimise the metadata and keywords of your listings to ensure they find what they are looking for. Consider the different American and English spelling styles and factor them into your search terms also.

No buyer likes to purchase a product only for it to appear in the mail looking shabby or completely different to what was displayed. Ensure high quality photos are available for shoppers and make sure they can be enlarged without reducing or distorting the quality of the image. Multiple angled photos of the product should also be available to remove any doubt in the consumers mind about the product. This will reduce the need for questions or shipping returns.

To decrease the number of inquiries from visitors to your site, ensure your businesses policies and contact information are easily visible. This should include information on customer service hours, estimated delivery dates and times, FAQs and shipping and return policies.

Ensure that when a product is out of stock, it is clearly stated in the product description or removed from its category altogether. With Expert's Content Management Solution MoST, product management and e-commerce is easy. MoST has the functionality to send alerts to the administrator when stock levels are low, take orders, handle shopping carts, order forms, a transaction system and more. This makes product management simple, effective and efficient. At present, a new version of MoST is currently in the pipeline and will be complete with increased technical functionality and features.

The abandonment of shopping carts is not solely due to the functionality, design and structure of an e-commerce site. A customer may have purely run out of time to continue shopping, found another online store with a cheaper offer or decided against purchasing the product. Either way, an abandonment email should be sent to the customer. The email could contain an incentive or promotion to encourage the shopper to return to your site and purchase the products in their shopping cart. This is not a desperate effort to win that purchase; it is merely promoting a sense of urgency and ensuring that nothing has happened at the customer's end that has prevented them from completing their purchase. Of course to restrict customers repeatedly abandoning shopping carts to receive incentives and promotions, shopping cart abandonment records should be tracked and analysed.

When designing your e-commerce site, keep in mind the positive and negative experiences you have encountered when shopping online. Think of ways you can incorporate the aspects of an efficient e-commerce site into your website.

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