America loves to shop online. The latest numbers continue to show ecommerce sales growing at an astounding rate – evidence that our love affair with online shopping isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. This increases the pressure on business owners and entrepreneurs to create seamless online shopping experiences – web experiences where customers can buy what they want quickly and easily, without any muss or fuss.
Not only should an online store be simple and easy to navigate, it should also be nice to look at, with high quality product images and helpful, descriptive content to guide the purchasing process along the path. Because here’s the thing – no matter how big or small your ecommerce business is, to effectively grow it, you must create the best possible shopping experience for your customers.
You must create a website where your e-shoppers don’t just shop – they thrive.
Here’s how you do that.
Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform
To offer your customers a seamless web experience, you must use the right tools to build and maintain that experience. Choosing an ideal ecommerce platform for your business all comes down to knowing what’s best for the specific business you’re in, and accepting what stage you’re at in your business.
Entrepreneurs who are just starting out and one-man stores run out of small apartments will want to be careful to choose a platform that doesn’t require a great deal of customization. Companies who already have established websites and businesses who anticipate fast, major growth need to keep scalability in mind to accommodate their customers – no matter what.
It really comes down to your business as a unique entity. Every ecommerce platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and no single platform will work for every website.
Pros and Cons of 3 Ecommerce Platforms:
- WooCommerce – a very popular WordPress plugin that turns your website into a full ecommerce store (with the ability to sell anything).
- Pro – WordPress is a user-friendly content management system (CMS) that makes it relatively easy to maintain your website once it is built. Powering your ecommerce store with WooCommerce gives you complete control over your products and how they’re sold on your WordPress website.
- Pro – WooCommerce powers about 1/3 of all ecommerce stores worldwide, so it’s definitely a reliable and high quality option – one that works with a wide variety of design themes.
- Con – You’ll need a WordPress website to use WooCommerce for your online store, and if you already have a website with a different CMS, that might not be a feasible option.
- Con – Very small businesses (solopreneurs for example) might not need a full-fledged CMS for their ecommerce store.
- Squarespace – for the do-it-yourselfers and one-man shows out there, this will help you easily get up and running with minimal effort and maximum results.
- Pro – You can build yourself a great-looking ecommerce website without having to know any code. Simply select a template and get started uploading an unlimited number of products to sell on your site.
- Con – Squarespace offers very limited functionality in the way of search engine optimization (SEO) and other key customizations, like content marketing and customer relationship management.
- Symphony Commerce – advanced software geared toward fast-growing and mid-to-large-sized companies that need a great deal of help building and maintaining their ecommerce store.
- Pro – This is a complete digital ecommerce solution, meaning you can handover the reigns and delegate critical duties to free up your own precious time.
- Con – If you’re still in the process of getting the business as a whole up and running, Symphony Commerce may hinder your growth more than help it, and it might not fall within your budget.
Guide Your Customers through Web Purchases
Listing products on your website is only one part of the battle when it comes to building a successful ecommerce store. Great-looking web design is important, too, whether it’s custom-made or part of a template, but there’s still one big thing that’s missing – and that’s content.
If at all possible, you should be personalizing your website with custom content like relevant product recommendations, strong calls to action, helpful advice articles and spec sheets (depending on your business and the products sold).
These website best practices mentioned above, in addition to strategic user experience design implementations and a streamlined checkout process, are the ways in which you will help your customers move seamlessly through your website and sales process. It’s how you’ll increase your website conversions and sell more of your products online – simply by making it easier and more enjoyable to purchase products on your website.
Imagine you’re making a purchase online, but you aren’t 100% sure whether the item you’re buying will work for the purpose you intend it to. Offering your e-shoppers custom content like an ebook or a whitepaper describing the different ways that very product can be used is exactly what an e-shopper needs to feel safer and more secure when making that purchase.
What’s more, since you’ve provided them with that helpful information, e-shoppers are more likely to purchase that product from you than they are from anyone else.