More and more purchases are being made online as websites become increasingly more convenient than brick and mortar establishments. In order to remain competitive, online stores need to step up their game. Online consumers are a discerning bunch and they’re not going to entrust their payment information to just anyone; you need to earn their trust as well as their interest in your products and services.
To do this, you’ll focus on the three critical criteria of successful online stores: usability, visibility, and conversion. In this article, we’ll take an in depth look at usability.
How to Make Your Site More Usable
You’re going to increase the usability and appeal of your shopping cart in four specific ways:
- Presenting your products in the best possible light visually
- Categorizing your products intuitively
- Fine-tuning site navigation
- Offer one-on-one customer service channels
Perfect Your Product Presentation
Brick and mortar retailers have a marked advantage over online stores for two reasons: 1) customers can try out the physical product before purchase, and 2) making returns and exchanges is typically easier and faster to do. Your job as an online retailer is to provide a shopping experience that is as close to the “real deal” as possible. The task is making the digital representation of your product nearly tangible.
This will require making professional photos from a variety of angles, videos of your product in action, sizing charts, and customer reviews available for your shoppers to peruse, for example.
Make Your Product Categorization Intuitive
In order to strategize appropriate categories for your products, you’ll need to put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. How do your products interrelate with each other? What do your buyers tend to buy together? What recommendations can you make based on this data?
Anticipate the information your users are going to want about these products and have it readily available and obvious.
Streamline Site Navigation
As you design your website, you need to make the desired path of travel clearly outlined and obvious with visual cues and calls to action. In your sitemap (every website should have one, since search engines love them), organize your pages into high level categories that break down into relevant sub categories.
This will make browsing easier for your visitors as well as make your site more appealing to the search engines.
Make Your Customer Service Unparalleled
What’s the most frustrating thing about shopping online? It is undoubtedly the post-purchase frustrations that involve delayed shipments, backorders, shipping errors, defective products, or simply product dissatisfaction.
In all of these situations, the recourse is seeking help from customer service and the frustration of this experience is compounded by the necessary time and distance barrier that comes with working with people online. Your job is to make the experience as painless as possible. Good to fantastic customer service experiences will make or break your site.
Bending over backwards for your buyers should be at the top of your list of priorities as an online store owner.
Follow these tips to create a highly competitive online store, rake in conversions, and impress the search engines. What type of features have you appreciated the most as you’ve shopped online?
Honigman, Brian. “10 Best Practices to Improve Your E-Commerce Website.” http://blog.sumall.com/journal/10-best-practices-improve-e-commerce-website.html. (December 18, 2014.)