Building a successful e-commerce site isn’t simply about aesthetic appeal (although that's certainly an important factor). Whether you’re solely selling products online or it’s simply a branch of your overall event service portfolio, an e-commerce website consists of many moving pieces, and it requires both time and effort to ensure that it’s user-friendly for both you and your prospective customers.
Think ease of access
Think about the last time you tried to open a web page and were met with the dreaded loading circle. How long did you stick around to see if it was worth the wait? Chances are you navigated away from it after a brief wait and tried out the next result on Google.
Remember these moments as you develop your own e-commerce site, understanding that many Internet users are millennials who value instant gratification. A simple web analysis shows that pages that load quickly are much more successful than those that require you to take a number and wait.
Unsure of your site’s loading speed or how to improve it? Google has a handy Speed Test that can give you some insight into your website needs. In addition to speed, keep in mind that the majority of millennials are accessing your website on their mobile devices, so it’s key to ensure your site is mobile-friendly rather than a mishmash of random information. Again, Google has a very helpful tool for determining the mobile-friendliness of your website.
Be the user
Surely you’ve experienced websites that were just impossible to navigate. Don’t let yourself fall in the same trap! While a website doesn’t have to be the most dynamic and breathtaking, it is essential for potential customers to be able to use your page without pulling their hair out. This means clear descriptions, simple navigation menus, and intuitive functions.
Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor and explore all of the corners of your e-commerce site. Do all the links lead to the right place? Is it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for? Are you able to quickly find a way to the contact page? All of these components equate to a user-friendly site, so it’s wise not to skip over a single one.
Want a great, unbiased opinion? Ask a few friends and colleagues who don’t usually frequent the site and ask them to send along their feedback on the above.
Remember, the customer is always right
Just because you’re working with customers through a screen rather than face-to-face doesn’t mean customer service can be put on the back burner. If anything, it’s even more important to focus on keeping happy customers since your communications will be the only experience they have with your brand.
A solid FAQ page is one of the best solutions. Not only does it answer questions before customers even think of them, but it also saves you the time of fielding through hundreds of the same questions.
Track your ROI
There’s just no point to making efforts towards improving your brand and incorporating marketing tactics into your business structure if you don’t take a chance to run analytics on your website. Google Analytics is a great program to get a good idea of where your business is coming and how your improvements have affected your rate of retention.
Another valuable (and simple!) method is to include the ever-important question of “how did you hear about us” on your contact page. This will help you track your external efforts if you’re running any public relations or advertising campaigns. Google Consumer Surveys is another handy tool, giving you the ability to add consumer surveys to your site. Visitors then give feedback on their website satisfaction, vital information you can use to better improve user experience.
When it comes down to it, a successful e-commerce site is one that is simple to use, provides excellent services, and makes users feel welcome. There are plenty of ways to achieve this, so be diligent and take the necessary steps to ensure your site is one that you are proud to call your own.
Igal Sapir is chief technology officer of 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights serving wedding and event professionals since 2002.