What is E-Commerce
E-COMMERCE! It’s something that has become as common a part of our routine as waking up, being locked down, staying at home, isolating and all. Now more than ever, a quick dash to the mall has evolved into a quick search, a few swipes and et voila, you’ve received a delivery notice and now all you have to do is wait, and maybe finish binging on that Netflix series you’d paused a minute ago.
The simple technical definition is that any buying and selling of goods and the financial transactions that facilitate this qualify as e-commerce. Your website essentially becomes the digital embodiment of your physical shop. In the best of instance, your website invites customers, entices them with your products, closes the sale, handles the transactions and provides happiness to them and to you, and that’s why a good one is very important.
Why is E-Commerce Important
E-Commerce has become a very important element in any business, especially moving forward into post-Covid life. Essentially more and more people will embrace online shopping because of its “social distancing” nature. Wunderman Thompson reports 40% more consumers are now more comfortable with online shopping than they were pre-Covid. In South Africa alone, E-Commerce is projected to generate over USD 4 billion revenue in 2021. That’s a serious figure!
Your website intends to SELL, thus closing that sale is your priority and all focus should be on that. Simplicity will go a long way in highlighting that focus. Keep your page as simple as possible and avoid distracting the potential client from what they came to do, which is to buy. Avoid pop-ups & banners as these will take away the focus on your sale. Show the product, show the price, add the complimentary features if any like free shipping and close that sale.
On a B2C E-Commerce website, most customers are there to buy and leave in as convenient and fast a time as possible. If you have product text or any other text that contains information you wish to convey, keep that text as “scannable” as possible. You want the consumer to be able to read and get all that information with a glance. You don’t want to run the risk of them getting side-tracked by reading a long description or at worst get bored by a long winding paragraph and not go through with their purchase.
Make your website easy to navigate and use. The journey from search to product selection to payment and any detours in-between should be as painless as possible and one click away at best. A well-designed navigation menu goes a long way in keeping customers happy, and happy customers are generous customers.
Make your additional offers as clear, concise and obvious as possible. More often than not these offers like free delivery or discounts are the sale closers, the difference between an abandoned cart and you sending that personalized “thank you for shopping with us” email. Make them visible so the customer knows there’s an offer. Make them clear so the customer knows exactly what’s on offer. Avoid trick words and fine print conditions, these always leave a customer feeling deceived and cheated. That credibility hit will lose you more money than any fine print can save you.
Your website is the digital portal into the depth of your brand, everything you and your products represent should be showcased by it. The customer should get a feel of what and who you are just by browsing through it, does your merchandise cater to those looking for luxury, an upmarket clientele or is it for the average Joe? Are you selling primarily to baby boomers or you’re for Gen Z. whatever or whomever your brand is geared to let your website show it, match your design to your market and let them know they are in the right place.
Your brand and website being relatable and making its target market feel at home make them more comfortable and more likely to purchase. Online shopping is a game of trust and every salesperson knows nothing creates trust more than make a person feel at home.
Colour psychology is a much-underrated element by most in sales. Politicians have seemingly owned this though with the famous red power ties. Colours play a role in most of the human sensory functions influencing psychosocial behaviour ranging from attraction to trust to being susceptible to persuasion. Certain colours like red or orange on call to action buttons will attract spontaneous buyers. Whilst green oft associated with money and wealth will relax buyers. There is a whole lot of gold in using colours as a marketing tool and all of them in singular or as combinations can be used to sell your brand, merchandise and anything else you can think of.
With the advent of drag and drop web builders it is easy for one to be attracted to the lure of a DIY website, but like we said your website is the digital embodiment of your physical shop. There are very few situations when you would build your own building unless you can do it as close to the standard as you would get from hiring a professional. A website that looks unprofessional will affect your credibility and cost you customers and money.
Hiring a web development company like Melsoft goes a long way in ensuring you have the best e-commerce website possible, they handle all the technical elements that most DIY building would overlook or not know of like loading speeds and security features. A lot goes into designing a professional website, a team with different skill sets collaborates to produce the best.
Making sure the content on your website looks professional also goes a long way in increasing your credibility and eventually your conversions. You want to avoid typos, broken links and tacky looking images. The more professional your website looks the more your client base can feel they are dealing with a professional and trust you with their money.
Great User Experience
The user experience of your website is very important. Imagine yourself in a shop where nothing is labelled or products are grouped haphazardly, the bread is next to the soap which is next to hammers which are next to the frozen food. Even worse there’s no one to ask for a specific product or similar alternatives to what you want. 9 times out of 10 you’re coming out of that shop frustrated angry and having bought nothing. The same experience applies to your website, you need to categorize and group product in the most convenient way.
Your website even goes the extra mile of allowing you to categorize the same product into different groups. You can group by price, size, type, colour, function etc., the possibilities are endless and depend on your products. This seems an easy and mundane fix but goes a long way in making the user experience the best. A search bar and filters can also improve the user experience making any customer’s search as precise as possible but also becoming a seamless pleasant activity that makes sure your customer is not the same as that frustrated guy going through every aisle because nothing is where it should be and there’s no one to show he where what he wants is.
For certain products, descriptions and manuals are necessary and cannot be left out, providing these from links on the page or as follow up emails goes further in creating a positive user experience. Having a FAQs page that answers concerns customers usually have about products and product use might convert on-the-fence buyers that just need that extra reassurance to convince them to buy.
Customer reviews are the best indicator of how good your user experience is. Socially we are all wired to follow trends or groups, you having a ton of positive reviews will convince others to buy your product too, so you must show these on your website. They can also serve as a performance benchmark on what you need to improve.
Efficient Checkout and Cart Options
It’s not always that a prospective buyer will complete a purchase on their first go around. A sure-fire way of making sure they never finish that purchase is not having a save cart option. On average 74% of carts are abandoned, sometimes this is because of distractions or the customer has decided to pay at a later time. Having a save cart option whether automatically via cookies or manually via a button on the site or an accounts system. The ability to save a session or cart means the customers that abandoned the cart with intent to come back and finish at a later date do not have to repeat a process they’ve already done before. This also translates to a positive user experience which will enhance your sales.
A very effective combination is having the save cart option with the ability to easily edit the cart and seamless navigation between the cart, checkout and the store. This allows the buyer the ability to change their mind at any point of the process and be able to add or subtract items hassle-free which inevitably increase their chances of completing the buy.
Another way of making the checkout experience better is having a progress bar which psychologically reminds the user of how far they’ve gone with the process and how close to completing their purchase they are.
Security and Multiple Payment Options
The payment section is the last part of the process, you’ve gotten the customer this far in the process, you’ve given them most of what they wanted now is the time for you to get yours, but wait there are a few things you’ve got to make sure of. One of the biggest closers of sales on e-commerce websites is having as flexible a list of payment options as possible. Make sure your site can handle most if not all of the payment methods available to your customer. You don’t want to lose a sale because you only take credit cards whilst your customer is only willing to pay in crypto. Whatever payment options that are available to you, use them and SECURE THE BAG.
E-commerce is a game of trust and so security is fundamental. SSL/ (TLS) is the oxygen for an e-commerce website’s security setup. SSL encrypts data transmitted across the web and thus protect any info shared reassuring your clientele of its safety. Two-factor authentication (2FA) also adds an extra layer of security that boosts your site’s security credibility especially when you have an accounts system. This is where the user has to authenticate their identity via two methods for instance the password/login credentials and an auto-generated code sent to them via text for instance.
Having a sound security setup is important not only for creating the perception of safety to your consumers to convince them to buy but it’s also important for you. E-commerce websites are an attractive target for hackers especially considering the amount and nature of data they contain like credit card info or addresses. A breach could be disastrous leading to losses and even lawsuits, so your security must be top-notch