As a new e-commerce business owner one usually has the enthusiasm to have the best website with cool features which would make users keep visiting the website repeatedly. Although having cool features gets people’s attention they often take time to build.
Advanced features like reviews, comparison and social shopping and one-click checkout offer a great addition to customer convenience but the utility of these features are maximized only when you fix the basics of having a good enough e-commerce store first. Also, these advanced features eat up a lot of development time which will further delay your time to market.
An e-commerce entrepreneur should realize that web development is an ongoing exercise and a website should go through multiple iterations based on budget, time availability and current technology before actually building a website of their dreams.
Make It Mobile First
A large part of the internet today is consumed on mobile web and apps. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and all the other major online sites have a number of people browsing on mobile than on desktop. Having a high focus on getting your mobile e-commerce website right at the start of your online store will help you capture customers on multiple devices.
There are 3 options to go with when you want to have a mobile-friendly online store.
- Have a separate mobile website – Here you will be building a different mobile site. This will eat up extra development time and needs analysis of long-term consequences like marketing, SEO, management and URL hiccups. If you persist to go this way be sure you implement right the SEO right using this official guide by Google.
- Have a responsive website – With responsive web design your desktop, mobile and tablet versions of the site sit on the same page/URL.This is a good approach as this does not need extra development effort. Pick an e-commerce theme which is responsive and you are good to go.
- Have an adaptive website – an Adaptive website is where few aspects of design and content are loaded from the server for optimal performance. All though this doesn’t cause any SEO or marketing problems it will need extra development time.
Recommendation: Stick with responsive e-commerce theme. The idea of your first iteration of your website should be to be live as soon as possible. To see if your theme is mobile friendly use this tool by Google.
Have A Clear Navigation
For a new online store, clear navigation is more important than the search bar. For a new online store, the chances are that the number of products listed is very less. In such cases, navigation is fast and easy for the user to browse through. Also, it is easier to design and develop a navigation menu than crafting the whole search experience.
On the other hand, breadcrumbs help the user understand the category or the subcategory of the product he is currently viewing. This gives her an option to move back and forth between relevant pages.
A clear navigation gives users a quick glimpse of all your offerings and products. It makes your products discoverable and is an important step in making your website conversion friendly.
Make Your Online Store Load Fast
Slow websites are the surest way to lose the e-commerce business. Customer’s expectations are going higher by the day when it comes to website performance. With top players in the space doing their best to deliver peak website speed matching them up as a small player is always a challenge. However, by doing few basic tweaks right you can have a website speed which is faster than the most of your competition. Run your website/theme URL through Google page speed insights tool and pass the recommendations on to your developer.
Tip: While buying the theme for your online store make sure you test it for speed. Themes which are bulky and not minimized well would mean you have to do all the heavy lifting.
Have An Impeccable Listing
Make sure the product listed on the website is the same product in your inventory. This is inventory management basics. Nothing can be more embarrassing than a user ordering a product which never existed and you putting up a sorry tone on the call while they go ballistic at your failure. In the initial stages of the business, the process and the quality checks are still in its nascent stages. Double check your inventory for product type matches. Check if the colors, size and the designs you put up on the website is exactly what is present in your warehouse. Use an real-time inventory management tool or use an e-commerce platform which has inventory management builtin to reduce such errors. If you have tied up with a drop shipper you will need to sync their inventory with your online store software to prevent communication hassles.
Have Clear And Detailed Product Photos
Having clear pictures of your products is a foundation to drive sales. A picture can instill the desire and evoke emotions. With mobile and social playing a strong force in e-commerce having large, clear and high-resolution pictures is critical. There is a lot an online store can do to take high-quality photos. For a new e-commerce store doing good enough with photography is good.
- Hire a local professional photographer
- Use the right lighting
- Do away with models if you have to pay for them. If you are just getting started it is an extra load on your budget.
- Take pictures up close
- What They See Should Be What They Get – Wrong lighting sometimes affects how the color looks like on the web vs the real color of the product. Make sure this pitfall is taken care of.
Pick A Trusted Payment Gateway
Getting a trusted payment gateway is of high importance. The trust factor when people are purchasing from a new online business is usually low. Fear of fraud, theft, and privacy is a barrier to conversion. Using a popular and trusted gateway and mentioning the same during checkout will give the user the assurance of a safe transaction.
Have A Shipping And Return Policy
A store owner should be very clear about the shipping and return policy which his business and product type can afford and deliver. This needs to before mentioned to every user on the product page or before he or she places the order. Letting the user know about the policy upfront will set customer expectation right and will prevent customer frustration and apprehension. Also, you will have to communicate the same terms with your drop shipper, supplier and your fulfillment provider to ensure that no communication hassles happen in the complete e-commerce loop.
Let Customers Create An Account
Having a customer login account will help users track their past orders and shipping progress. This removes panic from their minds. Having customer accounts will also help them become a part of a marketing automation cycle which will be an added benefit for the user. Most open source shopping carts and hosted e-commerce solutions have this feature by default.
Have at least one proactive customer support channel
You might be just a day of your business and still be trying to figure things out. Your customer expects his order to meet his expectations on time nevertheless. You should have at least one channel for customers to reach out to you right from day one. The channel could be email, phone, chat or ticketing. Choosing a channel depends on how big your team is and how many orders you expert per day in the initial few days of your business.
As an e-commerce entrepreneur, you must use your time and resources very wisely. You need to scale features along with orders. You are still figuring things out and your team is still small and new. Ship things which are fast to execute and which are an absolute must for your audience. The absolute basics. Stick to features which you can’t do without. With every feature, you add to your online store prioritize on how much impact it can create to a customer’s experience on your online store.