28th April 2015

Make sure your e-commerce website is designed to sell

Do you have an e-commerce site that’s just not selling? Perhaps you’re planning to launch an e-commerce site but you’re not sure where to start?

At H&P Design, we work on a lot of e-commerce websites in Nottingham and further afield and, when we’re not working on them, we spend a lot of time researching e-commerce – so we know what works and what doesn’t.

It’s amazing how many e-commerce sites we hear about that simply aren’t doing their job; they’re not managing to sell.

So, how can you make sure your e-commerce site attracts customers and gets them clicking on that all-important ‘Buy now’ button?

Here are our top ten recommendations as e-commerce website designers in Nottingham:

1. Make the site easy to navigate

When people come on to an e-commerce website, they usually have a good idea about what they want to buy, in much the same way as when they set foot in a shop. Make sure your products can be found easily and are grouped into logical categories. If you sell products for Men, Women and Kids, for example, you might make this clear on the main navigation menu or with suitable images on the Home page. Further sub categories, e.g. Men’s trousers, men’s shirts, men’s shoes, etc. can then be accessed via pull down menus.

The key word is ‘simplicity’. People don’t want to have to trawl through pages to find what they’re looking for. They want to know where they need to be at a glance.

2. Keep the search bar handy

If you think about major e-commerce websites such as Amazon, eBay, ASOS or Next, one thing they all have in common is that the search bar is always highly visible at the top of any page.

By giving people easy access to the search bar wherever they are on your e-commerce website, they can search for what they’re looking for, even if they’re not sure what category it would sit under or how to use your site navigation.

Many people go straight to the search bar as a shortcut to navigating around a website. All they want to see is what you sell what they need, whether it’s in stock and whether they can afford it.

3. Make your charges clear

One of the big reasons that purchases get abandoned is that people hate being hijacked with high delivery costs once they’ve clicked the ‘Buy’ button. If you charge for post and packaging, list your delivery charges on your product pages so they don’t come as a surprise.

If you offer free delivery and returns, let people know by stating that under the price or somewhere equally visible on your product pages – this is a great way of removing the risk of buying from you.

It’s also a good idea to make it easy for people to find your returns policy, and any other terms and conditions. Again, it reassures your customers that you will honour and respect their rights.

4. Use high quality images

This is a biggie. When people visit your e-commerce website, they will expect to see high quality, professional images of the products you sell. One element that’s missing from online shopping is the ability to interact with the purchase first-hand – essentially, online customers must buy with their eyes alone.

High quality images can help to bridge the gap between seeing and experiencing a product, whereas low quality, blurry or poorly lit shots will communicate that your e-commerce site may be of an inferior quality. Not the message you want to get across!

You might want to consider providing lots of images so the product can be viewed from different angles or even adding product videos.

5. Show stock levels

There’s nothing worse than ordering a product via an e-commerce site only to receive an apologetic email saying it’s out of stock. Although it’s better from an SEO (and time) perspective to keep your full product range listed on your e-commerce website, you should also carefully monitor your stock levels and make it very clear when products are out of stock. This will save angry complaints further down the line.

6. Make the shopping cart or basket visible

One bugbear for online shoppers is when, every time they click to add an item to their shopping basket, their shopping experience is interrupted by being taken to the ‘basket’ or ‘shopping cart’. If people are likely to be buying several items from you, it’s better to let them move seamlessly from product to product without interrupting the process.

You can make sure the shopping basket or cart, with the number of items they’ve added, is visible at all times. The shopper then has the opportunity to review their intended purchases at any time.

7. Add reviews

In 2014, a survey of 2000 UK consumers by Trustpilot found that 77% of people (three out of four shoppers) consult reviews before buying online. Other surveys have put this figure as high as 88%.

There’s no getting away from it – social proof has power. People want to know other people have made the same purchase and not regretted it. Effective e-commerce sites leverage the power of reviews by showing star ratings and highlighting reviews so that customers can read what other people have to say before they buy.

Also, it’s worth adding a ‘Write a review’ option next to your ‘Read our reviews’ to make it easy for customers to leave their opinion on their purchase.

8. Make it easy to share your products on social media

Following on from the point above, social media is all about word of mouth between friends and like-minded people. Although all social media platforms offer a potential way of sharing your products (and letting your customers share them), Pinterest is one of the most powerful tools for e-commerce websites. Make it clear that people can pin your product images with one click – this will encourage them to create wishlists or feature your products on their boards.

9. Check your page speed

According to figures from Kissmetrics, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in less than two seconds; 40% will abandon a website that takes three seconds or longer to load. Each additional second adds to the level of customer dissatisfaction and can in a seven percent reduction in conversions for each second.

Mobile users are more likely to wait between six to ten seconds before they abandon a website but, overall, they expect to have the same quality of shopping experience as someone who’s on a desktop or laptop.

When we work on e-commerce websites in Nottingham at H&P Design, page speed and mobile-friendly design – including large enough ‘Buy now’ or ‘Add to bag’ buttons – are an integral part of our approach.

10. Remove distractions and make buying easy

Many e-commerce websites make the mistake of being too cluttered.

We recommend that you keep product pages clean and simple. Complement your high quality product pictures with a relevant product description, the price and reviews, and an easy-to-find, appealing ‘Add to bag’ button. Don’t surround your products with lots of irrelevant clutter.

In this way an e-commerce website works in the same way as a physical shop – you need your products to speak for themselves rather than people having to filter through piles of junk and poorly written signs to get to what they need.

Once someone has added all the items they want to their basket and is heading to the checkout process, we’d recommend eliminating distractions even further. At this stage, you want people to do one thing and one thing only – that’s to complete their purchase. Get rid of sidebars, adverts, anything that will take them away from this path.

Of course, we’ve only just scratched the surface of creating a successful e-commerce website. If you would like to speak to us about your e-commerce website and how we can make sure it does its job and sells, please call H&P Design on 0115 914 0640.

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