This post covers the unique core aspects of e-commerce sites that make online shopping possible. Customers appreciate the convenience of ordering online, but if a site is cumbersome, is veiled about its pricing and polices, or does not seem to provide personal benefit, they leave.
E-commerce holds the promise of making customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable. They can find things that they otherwise would never come across, and they can order anywhere, anytime, with only a few button clicks. People enjoy the pleasure of the discovery, the simplicity of the process, and the convenience of the delivery. But on many e-commerce sites, customers do not always understand what’s being offered and whether it will be of any personal benefit.
1: Make It Clear Why People Should Purchase from You
It’s important to make clear from the outset what value you’re providing to customers. Why should they purchase anything from your website? Do you offer low prices? Fast shipments? Unbiased, high-quality product reviews? A wide selection of products? A specialized set of products that are hard to find? Ease of use? This is your up-front value proposition, the core value that is woven into the design and organization of the entire website.
2: Provide Many Ways to Find Products
Web sites must provide multiple ways to navigate because customers look for products in many different ways. Some customers know exactly what they’re looking for and want to type the name of the product into a search bar and jump straight to that product’s page. Predictive input can help streamline the product selection process further. Other customers have only a vague notion of what they’re looking for and want to explore lots of browsable content to get a better sense of what’s available.
Find new ways to help your customers scratch itches they didn’t even know they had. Tell your customers what new and interesting products you have by showcasing Featured Products on your Homepage portal. Help them find related or more expensive versions of products by cross-selling and up-selling. Drive more sales by providing personalised recommendations specially tailored to their individual interest and needs.
3: Keep it Convenient
Customers love to be able to search vast stores of information, see many clean product detail pages that provide thorough descriptions, and compare products. In doing so, they can make more educated decisions about the products and services they need. On the flip side, if the information you provide is not easy to find, your customers will become frustrated and perhaps even leave. Finding one thing they like may motivate customers to look for other things they like. A site that facilitates collecting multiple items in a shopping cart can greatly simplify the shopping process.
Keep customers focused on their tasks so that they don’t become distracted when they go through the quick-flow checkout process. Customers might abandon the entire order if checkout doesn’t seem simple and straightforward. Remember, at this point their goal is to finish shopping, and your goal should be to close the sale as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
For an e-commerce business that might benefit greatly from impulse buying, it’s a good idea to create a site that supports as many computing platforms as possible so that customers can act on their impulses whenever and wherever they are. The Mobile Screen Sizing, Mobile Input Controls, and Location-based Services patterns can help you incorporate mobile Web capabilities into your sites.
4: Consider Including Some Advanced Features
After you’ve solved the basic mechanics of shopping and purchasing, you might want to look at some more advanced issues. For example, many people purchase products as gifts for other people. Gift Giving involves numerous details, such as wrapping, receipts, personalized notes, returns, and buying multiple gifts and sending them to multiple destinations.
As another example, some people may be interested in seeing their order tracking and history to check the status of their purchases or see what they’ve bought in the past.
5: Avoid Surprises
Customers want to know what to expect when they start shopping because it will take at least a few minutes to complete the transaction, and they don’t want to have a surprise toward the end. Full disclosure about site polices up front is important to shoppers. They generally have 3 areas of concern:
5.1: Privacy and Security
5.2: Additional charges.
Sometimes, customers find products at a lower price when shopping online, but only discover that the shipping and handling charges erase the savings. Granted, if people factor in the time saved because they’re not personally travelling to and from the store, shipping and handling costs can sometimes be justified. However if the costs of shipping and handling are surprisingly high, shoppers become discouraged. They think the online merchant is trying to trick them and they become distrustful. Providing information about all the costs involved with a purchase early in the shopping experience will build trust.
Although some people may never shop online, more will shop on a site that provides easy returns because they know that, if what they buy doesn’t work for them, they can return it for a full refund.
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