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Top 10 Must haves for your Online Shop

We’ve been building online shops for a long time and, based on this experience, the list of what makes a really good eCommerce website is almost endless. But we’re all time poor and so, instead of an endless list, I set myself the task of distilling this down to just ten. The question was ‘If I only had time to do ten things, what would they be?’. Here’s the list:

  1. Build Trust
    No matter how perfectly your product matches a browsers desires they won’t buy anything if they don’t trust your site. Building trust is a broad topic but here’s a few things that you simply must do:

    • The old saying goes ‘people buy from people‘, how true this is. Have a phone number answered by a human-being at least during your local trading hours. Live chat from tawk.to starts from ‘Free‘ – think seriously about installing it.
    • Make sure your site works and you have no broken links, missing images, typos or live products that are out of stock. For the record we have a pre-launch programme that sorts all this out for you.
    • You MUST have an SSL installed – don’t think of trading online without this.
    • Start building an online reputation with organisations such as trustpilot, trustedshops and google reviews
  2. Think Like Your Customers
    One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to try to shoe-horn their customers into doing it ‘our way‘. It may seem like good sense to structure your products in SKU order, alphabetically or in the order you most like them, but this is unlikely to be how your customers want to view them. Think about the most logical structure for your shop categories, not based on what’s convenient for you or some personal hunch, but on how customers buy them. If you are in any doubt, check out how the best business in your competitive set does it – it’s almost certainly the most sensible way to present your products.
  3. Make It easy to:

    • Search your site – the search field is usually the first thing a browser will go for. Don’t just rely on the default search that shipped with your package – there’s so many refinements that can infinitely improve the user’s experience and make them much more likely to buy.
    • Pay – Nothing grinds my gears more than people who won’t take such and such credit card because they ‘charge too much’. Like 2.5% of your sale is so punitive that you’d rather not have a sale at all?! TAKE EVERY CARD ON THE MARKET and every online method of payment you can think of. Then, make sure your shopping cart is really simple. We’ve all done it haven’t we? Sworn and cursed and then abandoned the site and shopped elsewhere as all the the entire form gets wiped when you get the date of your credit card expiry wrong . Test, test, test your check-out procedure to see if you can break it. If your 90 year old grandad can use it you’re probably on the right track.
  4. Fabulous Photography
    When you ask someone what websites they like the look of invariably it’s the photography that’s behind their decision. Furthermore, as we buy with our eyes, it’s beholden on online shoppers owners to make their products really sparkle. It’s so important to build good quality photography into your budget. Having great shots of all angles of your product will dramatically increase your chances of a sale. A quick google of ‘pack shot companies’ shows pricing starting from £6.99 an image – your investment in this will pay you back handsomely.
  5. Site Speed
    There’s nothing more likely to drive customers into the arms of your competitors than a sluggish site. Slow page and image loads are a crime and need to be addressed. You can check you site speed here. Warning – checking your site speed with gtmetrix can be alarming! Don’t worry too much about the grades, what you’re looking for is the results, the most important of which is the ‘fully loaded’ time. Anything above 3 seconds here and you need to be thinking about what’s loading on your site.
  6. Inform the Sale
    A wise copy-writer once told me that you can never be too long, you can only be too boring. Don’t be fooled into thinking that people don’t read your content, especially if they are thinking of buying something. The fact is, the more information you give the more likely the sale. Again – think like your customers; what are they likely to want to know about your product or service? Make sure there’s something in there for all the decision makers.
  7. Reverse Risk
    So much of successful online sales is about convincing the potential customer that you can be trusted. One of the most powerful strategies for doing this is called risk reversal. In most instances this is a money back guarantee. In simple terms, what a money back guarantee says is ‘Don’t you take the risk – let us take it’. It may seem alarming but for the very small number of people who may take you up on it (and it really is small, providing you have been honest about what you are offering), the increase in sales will more than justify the returns.
  8. Get Really Mobile optimised
    Far and away the largest entry point to your online shop will be via a mobile device. What I mean by getting ‘really’ mobile optimised is that just having your desktop site ‘collapse’ to fit a mobile screen is not being mobile optimised. Make sure before you launch that the mobile experience is as perfect as it can be and not just a mini version of your desktop site.
  9. Customer Reviews
    All too often online shop owners shy away from customer reviews for fear of anything less than 5*. This is a shame – there’s nothing more likely to drive a sale than the reassurance of a review from a previous buyer. There’s plenty of ways to moderate reviews but in my opinion a bad review well answered is better than a set of reviews that are all stellar.
  10. Upsells
    In the competitive world in which are all attempting to make a profit, success often comes at the margins. Think about the effect of adding just £1 of profit to every sale you made via your shop. A heavily discounted extra, offered at checkout, known as an upsell, can have a dramatic effect on your profitability. From batteries to gift-wrap, upsells are simple to implement, add to your margin and increase customer satisfaction – what’s not to like?

Finally, armed with the advice above, take a good, long look at those companies that are doing e-Commerce really well and see how many of these strategies they have implemented and, most importantly how they are doing it. They’re not the best for nothing and the great thing about the digital world is that, however big or small your organisation, there’s seldom anything you can’t do that’s not being done by the best.

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