10 Really Important Tips for Your Ecommerce Store to Succeed in 2009 and Beyond

By: Josh Goodman


The Ecommerce world is one of the most lucrative industries to be involved in and lot of people endeavor into starting up their own online store or business. Ecommerce website owners often ask "what does it take for a web site to succeed?" There are many factors but here is a list of 10 most important areas to concentrate on.

1. Clear Storefront Layout and Navigation - Design cannot be overlooked. A user should instantly feel like he or she knows what to do and what is being asked of him or her to get to a preferred destination. An ecommerce web site should home page almost always must include a search bar, a navigation bar with browse by category, special offers via a colorful rotation banner such as deal of the day, merchandising boxes that work together to offer popular items, security and confidence building purchase icons such as contact phone numbers with customer service links, SSL and secure experience icons, shipping and credit card/payment option logos, and a clearance or discount section.

2. Significant, Useable, Filterable, and Actionable Product Information - First, provide an easy to filter navigation and the option to compare items. This puts a user in charge of his or her own shopping destiny and encourages buying by increasing participation in the selection process. A good amount of content in each section and about each product allows users to learn more about your categories, products, your company, and the experience one can expect, building the consumer confidence needed to make a purchase and be happy about his or her decision.

3. Product Photos - Product photos are a big deal! Many users need to see, in good detail, the quality of the product he or she will receive. Include zoom tools so users can see the detail, even if you think this is not important. If your product warrants multiple angles or light shots, show them. Your users will reward you with a confident purchase, one less likeley to be returned. Best practice would be to find the best competitor out there and make sure your site has better or "as good" pictures as that site.

4. Calls to Action - Invest in features that will help customers interact with your site and understand your products better. Investment ideas are to go with some leading trends such as expandable interactive images, flash, interactive tours, videos, live chat with customer service, professional looking slideshows that show high level technical prowess, and the list goes on. The idea here is to provide a user an experience eh or she cannot find elsewhere.

5. In Your Face Product Promotion - When you go to a store are all products set up the same? Most likeley, no. A store's objective is to push viewers to see many items in a way that is fashionable and exiting to the customer. Many stores forget that cross selling suggestions, product reviews, featured products sections, clearance areas, coupons, and any interactive presentation is seen. Push viewers to more interaction, and to buy today! Additionally, merchants that now provide advanced, exceedingly fast shopping experience tools such as AJAX can now gain a competitive advantage via site speed increase, earning customer loyalty and additional revenues.

6. Pricing - Low prices will attract customers. No matter how your products are sold (online or off) your price point matters, especially on the web where the next store is only a couple clicks or search queries away. Research your competitors to make sure you have a chance.

7. Customer Service and Shipping – Be Sure to help customers through the checkout process and offer a progress indicator. Show a receipt before an order is placed and let the customer change anything in the order. Action buttons should be clearly labeled. Often "place my order" is more clear than "submit" and "search" is more clear than "go."

Keep your shipping and return policies at the forefront. Free shipping does work, but is not necessarily a problem solver since not every product has fat margins to subsidize UPS or USPS. One can handle shipping in a very impressive way by offering free shipping but also up-selling "rush processing" which does not offset UPS rates, but at least you can recoup something. Customers will take this up-sell, pleased that the order would be given priority. Do not forget to provide all order confirmation emails, shipping emails, and timely delivery. Try to lower your shipping prices as best as you can and offer free shipping as much as possible. Free Shipping does work!

8. Search Engine Optimization - Ecommerce search engine optimization, the art of moving your web site to the top of search engines, is more advanced than ever and now a "must have" for an ecommerce web site to compete online. One's web site must come up on Google and other engines for search keywords and key terms related to your web site. Keys to SEO success are search engine friendly web design and development using searchable text and code, usable action reports and statistics to prove the work is paying off, buying web site traffic via pay per click management or alternates such as blog links or affiliate marketing ads, social bookmarking (Twitter, Face Book, Linked In, Etc.) and html rewrite for all cart/product detail pages generated dynamically via database applications (also called HTML mod rewrite).

9. Marketing and Public Relations – The art of managing your business reputation through media engagement is often overlooked and extremely important in ecommerce marketing communications. Map out a plan and make the time to execute. The aim here is to build relationships with conventional outlets with wide audiences such as conventional TV and Print, but also turning online to bloggers and other unique, targeted online distribution, equally as effective with more measurability than ever before. Whether your products are tied to a charity or are organic, let them know! Further, in the event that something negative should be reported, a strong public relations team with good relationships can mitigate any damage to your company's reputation.

10. Elevate A Brand Via User Experience Tracking and Strategy Evolution; Get an Edge with Advanced Customer Service! - The idea is to beat the competition, right? Google Analytics (free) to track your user experiences and search engine placement. Review all of your competitors site’s to make sure your features are better, your content is better, your photos are better, your customer service is better, your shipping strategy is faster and cheaper, your PR campaign is stronger, your newsletters and coupons are easier to read and find, and more. A web site cannot be left alone for 6 months. A good web site is one that is always changing with the market and with the times. Read online blogs and trade magazines to stay on top, incorporating all of the features user's expect so a store keeps its edge.

If you follow these e-commerce programming and website design standards, you can make an effective online presence of your business in Ecommerce world.

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Here the author Josh Goodman briefs about important areas of Ecommerce web design and E-commerce programming to make an effective website to succeed in the ecommerce world. For more information visit www.atakinteractive.com

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