During the last years the number of new web shops has raised sky high. With the free open-source shopping cart solutions, a beginning merchant is able to start an online business without spending a lot of money for the eCommerce website. After the eCommerce script installed and the website is “online”, the website owner can start to enter the products. Normally it’s only a matter of time and a new web shop was born.
After a shop is online a merchant needs customers, while most real stores are more or less visible for real people, a web shop is just one of million others. Google will send you traffic if your website is valuable enough for Google Search or if you pay for visitors using Google Adwords. You don’t have enough sales if your traffic is low!
Okay, enough from what we already know, here are the tips:
Content is King!
There are so many web shops on the Internet showing products which doesn’t have more information than a name and a price (and maybe a photo). Would you buy a product in a nearby store if you can’t see it or touch it?
Optimization tip #1
Write for all your products unique descriptions, tell your customer the unique selling points. Wrong is to write a whole book and also to use only a few words. There is the same rule for the product photos, do you offer more than one for each product?
Optimization tip #2
Don’t forget people have to buy a product without the possibility to touch it, show them instead as many photos as possible. If you sell products which people use actively, show them action photos as well. Use different sizes of pictures, offer also detail photos and and maybe a zoom function. Optimize your shopping cart template if needed.
Categories and product search
Categorize your product assortment! Many shops offering product categories but if you select one, you didn’t see all the products because the shop owner forgot to “connect” all the products with the right category. Just imagine that your store has only one big table with all your products on it! Maybe some customer will start crawling through your products, but how can he find what he is looking for? The same is for web shops, you need to offer a structure which people helps to find the product they are looking for:
Optimization tip #3
Create enough categories, but use a smart structure; don’t make a category to small or to big. 10-50 products for each category is a good number. Use sub-categories if you have a lot of products. Don’t forget to tell your customer what they can find in each category, offer a description and also a related photo.
Optimization tip #4
Even the best category structure is sometimes not enough, people need a search function too. Sad enough in many shops people can’t find the products because the product doesn’t hold the text they are searching for. Think about which search terms people might use for each product, use these terms in the product description and if your eCommerce solution offer extra search keywords, use them as well to enter those terms you can’t use in the description.
Some customer needs more information
There are different customer types, you need to offer information and shop features for all of them. Some buying customer only need a product photo and the “best” price and some other need to know what other people think about a product.
Optimization tip #5
Product reviews are a great sales tool, but real reviews are very difficult to get. After a product is delivered to your customer there is not a big chance that he will come back to your store and will enter a product review. You need to “help” him, offer a small discount for writing a review about the product he bought. Try to put a card or leaflet into the package with information about the “review discount” or send an e-mail message with the request for a review a few days after the product was delivered.
Optimization tip #6
There are customers which need to be 100% sure that they choose the right product. If you have similar products, your shop need a comparison feature, let people compare two or more products. Even if the difference is maybe only the color or the price, it’s important for these type of customers.
Checkout, payments and delivery
First of all, DON’T hide information like payment types, possible handling costs and shipment information. If your visitor can’t find this information easily, he might leave your web shop before he visited one of your product pages and this is a clear sign that your current e-commerce solution is becoming a problem. Offer simple information related to the buying process, don’t build walls.
Optimization tip #7
Once the customer has the shopping cart in front, you need to be sure that there is NO reason to leave the check-out process. Account registrations are good for after-sales and for returning customers, but don’t push a new customer open an account. I have seen web shops where I they asked me to confirm my e-mail address (from my e-mail account) before I was able to finish the checkout process. Keep it simple, a sale is more important than creating an user account!
Optimization tip #8
Offer more than one payment option. Not every customer like to pay by credit-card, you need to offer alternatives. If you’re not sure which payment method is needed, check the web shops from your competitors. Do you already offer PayPal as payment option?
Optimization tip #9
At the moment that your customer is just one step away from the payment, you need to show him a last time what his order includes: A summary of the shopping cart, the shipment or handling costs, a total amount and if possible a delivery date. Don’t give him the chance to leave the current screen just because he need to know something related to the order.
Overall optimizations and SEO
If my customers ask my how much time does it take to build a web shop, I answer: “It depends on how much products you have.” The setup for a shopping cart script is often not related to the product catalog. The biggest job is to enter the product and product category information in the right way. I understand if you offer 1000 products or more, that it’s not possible to enter the information for all of them.
Optimization tip #10
Start with the most important products and continue with those products which need to be sold more often. Don’t stop entering more content because people start buying your products, in a real store you need to work on the product presentation every day and it’s the same in a web shop! Every information you enter will help your shop to reach a better listing in Google as well. Because there are so many shops, most on-site optimization is also Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I’m sure that many eCommerce solutions doesn’t offer the freedom to change anything you like. The most important optimizations from this article are related to the product presentation and product search, if both of them doesn’t work as needed you should think about some better eCommerce solution.