Ecommerce is a highly competitive space and success isn’t determined solely by the display of a fancy range of products in a beautiful layout. There are other critical factors that bolster income in an ecommerce business, including ‘user-experience’. According to Statista, retail e-commerce sales globally amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars in 2017. A similar study conducted by them in India shows that the industry is worth 20.059 billion US dollars.
Despite these demographics, e-commerce giants such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal have suffered huge losses. This implies a huge blow to smaller businesses. A quick look at the survival rate of e-commerce businesses globally will tell you that it’s only around 20%.
Shocking, isn’t it?
So, how do you build an impressive, profit-turning and sustainable ecommerce site? Let’s find out!
1. Identify your niche
It all begins with answering the question ‘what should I sell?’
Sounds simple? Great!
Every successful business starts with figuring out the ‘what’ and the ‘who’. Instead of selling a wide variety of products, you should try to narrow your product portfolio down so that you can focus better on your target audience. This would also help you build your brand and image in the market.
One pitfall you should consciously avoid is having a generic business plan. For example, a generic online store that sells apparel and accessories may not garner customer interest, especially when a dozen other sites are selling the same or similar products. Instead, your site could focus on a niche segment within fashion, like ‘eco-friendly fashion’ or ‘customized winter wear’ etc.
2. Select the right software to run your business
Choosing the right platform is one of the early decisions an ecommerce business has to make. A few details that you need to consider while making this decision are site security, scalability and usability as these will affect your business in the long run.
Once that is sorted, incorporating routine checks to identify broken links, keeping an eye out for site downtimes, slow loading etc. will help keep your website functioning smoothly. This would have a direct impact on your site rankings too.
Therefore, the use of inappropriate software could prove to be detrimental to your business.
3. Display high-quality product images
Did you know…..?
- 92.6% of online shoppers say visuals are the top influential factor affecting a purchase decision.
- 58% more web sales was observed when they were given multiple product views and alternate images.
- 57% of them have more confidence in purchasing a product after viewing product video.
Considering the above, you now know the importance of having prominent images of products on your website. Since customers can’t physically see or touch your product, you have to entice them with fantastic images.
In today’s scenario, the value of visual advertising is limitless. Leading sites are doing more than just putting up product images. Check out some innovative ideas that you could try:
Have 360-degree product visuals
Invest in high-resolution photography
Visual search and a video of your products – See how –
Use emerging technologies such as the use of augmented reality (AR) or the use of 3D solutions.
4. Work on developing intuitive navigation and clean design
Ecommerce is constantly evolving from a user experience (UX) perspective. The visible trend is towards a simplified primary navigation and a neat webpage.
A University-led Research in Spain affirms that a website’s design plays an important role in nurturing its success. It also highlights that good design is not limited to beauty and appeal. Usability, it says, is an equally important element. A few factors listed therein to achieve clean design are:
- Well-defined ‘shopping categories’
- Minimal text
- Appropriate use of visuals
- Extensive filters
- Non-intrusive promotional content
Take a look at how Macy’s website is structured. There are neat drop-down menus for various categories, it contains large images and also has adequate white space. One thing that stands out here is that it lets visitors customize their search by categories they might not have thought of themselves.
5. Narrate a story
Marketing your product to the customer also involves marketing your brand. How do you make your brand interesting to attract more buyers?
Through storytelling, of course!
Narrating your brand’s story to potential customers is a great way to get their attention and engage them in the buying process. This is particularly important for businesses that deal in customized, creative, or handmade products. A good example is Gaatha – an ethnic crafting website that sells Indian handicrafts. They use the art of storytelling to bridge the gap between faceless artisans and curious consumers.
But not every business may have such a compelling story to tell. In that case, here’s what you could try:
Tell your story – Build a narrative about why you do what you do.
Ideas include: who you are, how you started your business, highlight your experience, your inspiration, and so on. Just ensure honesty & transparency as being genuine can attract potential customers. It’s recommended that you use the ‘About’ page for this section.
Put your picture – Seriously, we mean that. Your visitors can relate to you a lot more if they get to see who works behind the scenes.
Focus on your values: Inform visitors of your mission and vision statements. Emphasizing on your ethics can create an emotional connection with your target audience.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. You could try your own style and see what works well. In either case, it’s interesting to note that people buy products from a business, but they follow a brand. When you invest in storytelling, you’re more than just ‘selling a product.’ You’re essentially building your brand. This approach is more likely to give you an edge in today’s hyper-competitive ecommerce market. So, remember, a great story tells!
6. Ensure customer security
One of the most crucial aspects of ecommerce shopping is payment security. There has been a massive rise in fraudulent activity across the internet. Signifyd conducted an in-depth study of global ecommerce fraud. It studied an eight-quarter period: Q1 2016 through Q4 2017, across eight major ecommerce sectors. Their key findings are that the total fraud losses increased 7% between 2016 and 2017.
Most fraudulent activities start online as perpetrators turn to internet forums to exchange and sell information. In such a scenario, it becomes critical to ensure and sustain the reputation and credibility of your ecommerce website. You cannot afford to put your customers at risk at any point in time. For this reason, it is best to make use of well-known services like PayPal, Paytm or InstaMojo which make your customers feel safer. Invest in security certifications such as an SLL to build better trust. Also, avoid redirects whenever possible.
7. Draft a detailed returns policy
8. Ensure smooth checkout
Imagine this: You see a product. You fall in love with it. You click further to checkout with absolute glee. You are now greeted with a slow loading page or errors that look like this:
Your next move? *Abandon Cart*
This is probably what 75.6% of worldwide online shoppers do too.
A hassle-free checkout process is imperative to creating better online shopping experiences. However, that’s easier said than done.
Here are a few ideas to help you iron out your checkout process:
- Create a clear and reasonably large ‘checkout’ button.
- Avoid adding any hidden/surprise costs when the visitor is checking out.
- Allow visitors to ‘Checkout as Guest’ – forcing them to create a new account could lead to cart abandonment.
- If you must, allow them to use a social sign-in.
- Optimize your website for load time, especially on mobile devices.
- Ensure that shipping details are clearly displayed.
- Make it easy for visitors to add/remove items from the shopping cart.
Food for thought:
E-commerce is a booming industry and staying on top is essential for the growth of your business. Taking the time to understand and follow the simple recipe outlined above would streamline the initial process considerably. If you’re looking to get into ecommerce, there is certainly no better time than now.