If you have a business offering goods, it has become almost mandatory to make those products available online. In the first four months of 2014 alone, 78 percent of American consumers bought something online through various e-commerce websites. If you do not have an online presence, you are missing out on all of those potential sales through e-commerce. However, as many businesses are discovering, it is not enough to have an e-commerce website; the site must be well-designed and user friendly to stand out among the fierce online competition. If you are in the process of moving your business to the Internet, be sure to avoid the following all-too-common e-commerce website pitfalls.
One frequent mistake among e-commerce newbies is not investing the time and money into taking beautiful, crisp pictures of their products. If customers reach a website with dark, small or confusing pictures, or with only one picture of a product, they are likely to move on. Online shoppers cannot physically examine your goods, so the pictures must display them in the best possible light, highlighting angles and features of the most interest to the customer. Allow customers to zoom in to view the products up close (particularly important for a mobile site). Design by Humans is a good example of an apparel company whose website provides numerous views of their shirts and sweatshirts on and off male and female models, with pictures of both the design and the full product.
There is Never TMI
Another pitfall of many online stores is providing vague or sparse information about their products. With online shopping, customers are unable to read information on packaging or labels, so ecommerce sites need to provide as much information as possible (size, materials, dimensions, etc.). For example, online florist FTD is not only a visually well-designed e-commerce site, but also gives in depth details about each of its products. The FTD product descriptions give both the technical information (size, colors, flower names) and descriptive details that combined have the greatest impact on potential customers.
Make it All About You
In an effort to highlight the products they are selling, businesses often neglect their About and Contact pages. Website analytics show that the About page is usually one of the top three most visited pages on a site, proving its importance to visitors. The biggest mistakes businesses make on their About page are not including a story about the business (how it started, the history of the products, etc.), not giving a location of where the products ship from, and not providing a non-generic email address where customers can contact the business with questions and issues. Cincy Shirts is a store that sells vintage Cincinnati T-shirts both online and at a brick-and-mortar shop. Its About Us website page hits all the important information; a personal story, the address of their shop, and a professional email address and phone number.
Checking out at Checkout
Even if customers get to your e-commerce site, browse your products and decide to buy something, you may still lose a sale if your checkout process is too complicated or intrusive. From the cart or basket screen, there should be one page to collect all of the customer details, rather than multiple steps. One common mistake is to require customers to register an account to purchase a product. Many shoppers will buy elsewhere rather than sign up for another account. One way to keep the sale and still collect valuable customer information is to ask the user if they would like store their personal data with a password after it is entered, but don’t make it a prerequisite to the purchase. The website for TeeFury gives a good example of a straightforward checkout page. The page gives the customer the option to checkout as a guest or to register an account and then collects all the billing, shipping and payment information on one screen. The page also has a sidebar with commonly asked questions about the ordering and shipping process.