It’s a fact! E-commerce is growing bigger everyday. According to Statista, the global retail e-commerce sales in 2018 reached US$ 2,842 billion. This number is expected to touch US$ 4,878 billion by the year 2021. On the whole, the e-commerce revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of 8%.
These numbers certainly showcase huge business as well as steady growth for global e-commerce segment in years to come. And when we take a look at the Indian e-commerce scene, the statistics are certainly promising.
According to an IBEF report, India is the fastest growing market for the e-commerce sector. The segment generated a revenue of US$ 39 billion in the year 2017. And the same is expected to increase to US$ 120 billion by the year 2020. That’s a whopping 51% annual growth, the highest in the world.
And if that’s not enough, according to the same source, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to surpass the US by the year 2034. It is anticipated that it will become the second largest e-commerce market in the world.
Therefore, with such a huge potential awaiting retailers, it’s time they do everything to be present online and convert online shoppers.
So, before we talk about the e-commerce strategies that help drive online traffic, we first need to understand what is e-commerce all about.
What is E-commerce?
E-commerce also known as electronic commerce involves buying and selling of goods or services using the internet. It refers to executing a transaction by transferring money and transaction details from the e-commerce operator to the buyer. Usually, e-commerce is considered to involve sale of physical products online. But it also involves effecting a commercial service or a transaction facilitated through the internet.
There are basically four types of e-commerce models that define each type of transaction facilitating through the internet. These include:
- Business to Consumer (B2C)
- Business to Business (B2B)
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
- Consumer to Business (C2B)
And the transactions that take place online take a variety of forms. These may include retail, wholesale, drop shipping, crowdfunding, subscription, physical and digital products and services.
All these forms are either based on marketplace model or inventory led model. According to Statista, the 3 leading e-commerce stores in India in terms of net sales include Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra.
Hence, with Amazon and Flipkart taking over the major share, retailers are certainly getting overwhelmed. So in order to thrive, retailers need to connect with their target shoppers at every point of sale possible. And in this era, it all starts with being present in the ecommerce space.
An e-commerce platform authorizes your brand to create great shopping experiences for your customers. On one hand, it offers convenience to your customers and on the other, it provides global reach to your brand.
Therefore, to take leverage of such an immense opportunity, your e-commerce platform should enable you to accomplish all of that.
If you want visitors to stay on your website and keep returning for more, its mandatory that you have an e-commerce platform that is quite user friendly.
Having a user friendly web design involves making the entire experience of online shopping extremely easy for your customers. Right from navigation, functionality, web copy, aesthetics to checkout and payment, everything should be designed in such a way that it’s quite intuitive for your end users to operate your website.
And to help you build an e-commerce platform that is easy to use for your customers, here are some tips that you certainly need to follow.
E-commerce Website Design Strategies For Your Small Business
1. Create A Mobile Responsive Design
According to a report by Sales force, mobile devices are the number one driver of both digital traffic and orders. In Q4 of 2018, 46% of the total digital orders were placed with a mobile device. This makes mobile devices turn out to be top revenue generating vehicles for the retailers.
Hence to give a great shopping experience to your customers, its mandatory to have a mobile responsive e-commerce platform. When a website is responsive, it means that the layout or the content adapts itself according to the screen size of the device. Accordingly, the website automatically fits to the screen of the mobile device that your end user is working on.
There are various guidelines that can help you achieve a mobile responsive design within no time as a developer. But if you are not a developer or do not want to hire one, don’t worry. You can always invest in an e-commerce theme. And well, there are a host of platforms selling e-commerce themes at quite affordable prices.
Check out theme forest for an ultimate e-commerce theme for your small business
2. Ensure Quick Loading Times
According to a study, one of the major reasons for cart abandonment by customers globally was slow loading time of a website.
As per the report, 73% of the mobile internet users encountered a website that was too slow to load. Such a slow response time of a web page had a great impact on the shopping behavior of the consumers.
Accordingly, 40% of the consumers preferred abandoning a website if it took more than 3 seconds to load. And 79% shoppers dissatisfied with a website’s performance preferred not to buy from the same website again.
The loading time of your website refers to the speed at which your website loads. It is the amount of time your website takes to load when a visitor clicks the link to your website or tries to manually type the URL.
The average load time of a web page across industries and countries is 8.66 seconds. However, the recommended web page speed for 2018 was just 3 seconds. This means that if it took longer than 3 seconds for a web page to load, then visitors abandoned the page altogether.
Therefore, if you want your website to rank higher in Google, it’s important to optimize your website for speed. You can achieve this by undergoing a website speed test.
To help you with finding out the loading speed of your website, there are certain tools for measuring website speed. The best ones include GTMetrix, Pingdom, Google’s PageSpeed Insights and YSlow.
3. Follow F-Pattern For Content
According to an eye tracking study conducted by Nielsen, it was found that the web users had a consistent reading behavior across websites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looked like the alphabet ‘F’.
To elucidate, the users first read in a horizontal motion. Then, they moved down the page and read across in a second horizontal motion. Finally, the users scanned the left side of the content in a vertical motion.
Though, it’s not always the case that the users follow an ‘F-Pattern’ to scan the content on a website. There are a host of other patterns as well that users undertake for reading on the web. But at a general level, the reading patterns of the users roughly resemble an ‘F’.
So, there were certain conclusions that the study was able to draw. First, web users did not read the text word by word. Secondly, the users read just the first two paragraphs. And finally, users scanned the important keywords while scanning content in a vertical motion during the third leg.
Therefore, keeping the study in the backdrop, you must place the content in an ‘F-Pattern’ on your e-commerce website. And, you should certainly follow guidelines enumerated by the study for writing content on the web.
Accordingly, place the most important information in the first two paragraphs. That’s called placing content in the form of an inverted pyramid. Since you have got just 15 seconds to capture the attention of the users, it’s wise enough to place the important information first.
Then, do not forget to use headings, subheadings, bullet points and paragraphs. This is so because the users do not read exhaustively and just scan through the content. Use important words or phrases at the beginning of the sentence as this would give them the opportunity to scan the content.
4. Use Categories and Sub-Categories
It’s important that people visiting your ecommerce website understand the type of products you sell. Additionally, it should be extremely easy for them to navigate and find out the products that they want to buy.
All of this requires a lot of brainstorming. You need to carefully design the path for the users in finding out products. Furthermore, you need to create product categories in a way that it’s quite simple for users to distinguish between each of them as well as products.
To achieve that, your navigational options as well as product categories need to be very clear. These should display descriptive labels that use key phrases instead of generic words.
Descriptive labels on product categories give a relevancy signal to the search engines. Moreover, these help in communicating information about the kind of products you sell to the end users.
According to a study, the human short-term memory remembers only seven chunks at a time. Therefore, if you want users to retain more, consider packing information into useful chunks. This will allow your users not to hold more than a few pieces at a time.
Additionally, you need to augment your product landing pages with sub-categories along with a host of filters. Such a practice would make it easy for users to discover sub-categories and avoid choice overload for them.
Also, you can make use of mega menus on the homepage to display sub-categories.
5. Use Aesthetically Attractive and Optimized Images
Product images can go a long way in increasing conversions and hence driving more sales. High-quality images of your products give an opportunity to the users to get more information about your products.
This is so because users do not have the advantage of touching the products physically on an e-commerce store. Hence, you need to adopt best practices for your product images to attract users.
Firstly, ensure that you upload high-quality images of your products. Give as much image detail as possible as this would help users to know more about the product. To achieve this, you can click product images from different angles. Also, you can consider including features like image zoom and showcasing images of various product variants.
Next, make sure that the product images are consistent throughout the e-commerce store. This helps in maintaining uniformity throughout your e-commerce website.
Lastly, to improve search engine rankings and conversion rates, do not forget to optimize your product images.
6. Use Search Field
Placing an effective search field is quite important for users to interact with your e-commerce platform. It increases the chance of bringing closer the products users have been searching for. Moreover, it increases the conversion rates of your website as it adds to giving great shopping experience to the users.
But there are certain practices that you need to follow in order to improve your site’s search.
Firstly, make the search bar stand out on your website. A prominent search field helps the users in recognizing it at the first glance. There are a host of things that you can do in order to make the search field effective. This could range from contrasting the color scheme, using text inside the search field or using “Search” or “Find” button.
Next, you need to raise the level of your website search engine. Besides giving your audience basic filter options, you need to give them some advanced facets.
And to improve search results further, your e-commerce search engine should be capable enough to understand the user intent. Giving results based on the plain text used by the customer is not sufficient. Your website search engine should even respond to long tail query.
Furthermore, if you add autocomplete feature to the search field, it will help your customers all the more. They can find out the products they are actually searching for within no time.
7. Make Use Of User-Friendly Navigation Tools
Navigation is the most important element of your site design. User-friendly navigation ensures a great shopping experience for your customers. Whereas, a bad site navigation irritates the users and leads to dropping sale numbers.
Baymard conducted a study regarding the mobile e-commerce usability of top 50 e-commerce websites. As per the results, the average site performance for navigation and product browsing turned out to be poor for the sample websites. Only a handful of websites performed well for navigation.
Such poor results mean that the design of the sites did not not match with the users’ expectations. This made the users not find the products that they were actually searching for and abandon the cart.
Therefore, to increase search rankings and conversions, you need to follow certain guidelines with regards to your site navigation.
Firstlly, make sure that there are not too many items in the navigation bar. As per the short term memory mentioned above, human memory cannot hold more than seven items. Hence, there should be enough product categories in the navigation bar so that the users do not overlook the important ones.
Secondly, make use of descriptive labels instead of generic labels on product categories. This is so because generic labels do not communicate well the product type as compared to the descriptive labels.
Next, do not forget to place the items in a proper order. According to serial position effect, items should be placed either at the beginning or in the end. This is so because the ability of humans to recall items is based on an item’s position. People tend to begin recalling items with the end of the list (recency effect). And among the earlier items, they are only able to recall the first few items.
Lastly, use mega menus in place of the drop down menus.
8. Give Detailed Product Descriptions
Getting right the information architecture, navigation and product images of your ecommerce website is not sufficient. Helping buyers in understanding and trusting your products is one of the most important tasks that you have to undertake.
And one of the ways to convince buyers regarding the utility of your products is giving detailed product descriptions. Since users do not get a chance to touch or try the products, good product descriptions help them to know more about the products. They rely on such information to decide whether a particular product meets their needs or expectations.
According to a study by Nielsen, 20% of the purchase failures attributed to the incomplete or unclear product descriptions. Such product descriptions could not answer the queries of the shoppers fully. Hence, this made shoppers abandon the cart as well as the site.
Therefore, in order to avoid losing buyers to your competitors, here are few tips you need to follow while writing product descriptions.
First, you need to ensure that you answer the queries of your target buyers through product descriptions. By answering queries, we do not mean that you have to write in-depth descriptions. But a small product description written according to your buyer persona in mind will help them in making a purchase decision.
Next, since users just skim through the content, you don’t have to use fluffy words for your product descriptions. Ensure that you place the most important information in the beginning of the product descriptions. And keep the least important details for the end.
Then, you can use product comparisons to help users make a purchase decision. You have to ensure that the product descriptions are showcased in a comparable way.
Finally, optimize your product descriptions for search engines, make use of powerful copy and display information in an organized way.
9. Give Customer Reviews
Customer reviews play a vital role in making online shoppers take a purchase decision. According to a research, 61% of the online shoppers checked customer reviews before buying a product.
This shows that in order to enhance the shopping experience of your users, it’s important to have a customer reviews on your e-commerce website.
Besides giving an improved shopping experience to your users, customer reviews would help in increasing conversions. Furthermore, such reviews would also give fresh and unique content to the search engines.
Having customer reviews does not mean that you need to have only positive reviews. A mix of positive and negative reviews helps your users to place trust in the products that you sell.
In a study, it was observed that the conversion rate improved by 67% by having a mix of good and bad reviews on an e-commerce store. However, the advantage of having bad reviews depended on the ratio of good and bad reviews.
Presence of too many bad reviews certainly demotivated the shoppers from purchasing a product or a service.
There are a lot of ways through which you can attract customer reviews. First, you can make use of third party platforms to up your search rankings. Some of them include Trustpilot, Bazaarvoice, G2 Crowd etc.
Then, you can also send an email to your customers asking to review the products after they complete a purchase. Furthermore, you can offer giveaways for reviewing products on your e-commerce store.
10. Use Prominent Call To Actions (CTAs)
Out of a host of tactics adopted by marketers to improve website conversions, improving call-to-action is a relatively easy way. Call-to-action is nothing but placing the action buttons throughout your e-commerce website. These buttons display a copy that ask your users to perform a particular task on a specific web page.
By putting in place a clear call-to-action on an appropriate page, you intend to drive the users to reach a specific point in the conversion funnel.
Hence, it’s important that you have the best call-to-action in place. Now, there are no definite ways that can help you in creating CTAs that convert. However, testing for a few parameters can go a long way in creating CTAs that increase conversions.
First, you need to use keyword phrases that are simple and create urgency for users to act. For instance, on product pages, phrases like “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” work the best.
Next, always use eye-catching colors for CTAs. You can A/B test your CTAs using different colors. The CTA button with a specific color that converts the most is the one that you should use.
Then, try using CTA buttons that are large enough for people to spot easily. Furthermore, ensure that there is a plenty of white space around the CTA button. This will make the CTA buttons clutter free and grab more attention of your users.
Lastly, the placement of the CTA button is also an important parameter to consider. If you intend to generate leads or sales, then it’s always advised to place the CTA button above the fold or near the top of the page.
However, there might be scenario where it will take some more effort in convincing your users to buy your products or services. In such a case, you can consider placing the CTA button at the bottom of the page.
11. Put In Place A Seamless Checkout Process
Beside CTA buttons and product pages, checkout page is another important element of your e-commerce store. The way you optimize your CTAs and other elements of your e-commerce store, it’s important to optimize the checkout page as well. This is so because optimized checkout pages help in increasing conversions.
There are a host of points that you need to remember in order optimize the checkout page of your e-commerce website.
First, ask for email addresses early during checkout. Further, give an option to register as a guest user or register later. Such an option makes it easier for the users not to create an account and still make purchases.
Then, remove all the distractions from your checkout page. The checkout page should showcase just the details that help your users in checking out.For instance, the main header and the footer navigation bar on the checkout page just act as a distraction for the users. Instead, replace the bar with security signals such as a seal of secure payment gateway, reviews etc. This makes the users place trust in your ecommerce store.
Next, give different payment options to your users. Since each user has his own preference of making payment, try giving varied payment options.
Finally, keep the checkout process extremely simple. Include only those custom fields that are extremely important for the user to deal with. Then, provide a brief summary of all the items added to the cart by the users.
Next, make your call-to-action buttons extremely prominent so that easier for the users to locate them.
A well designed e-commerce website helps in increasing the conversions and hence drive more sales to your e-commerce website. Right from making your e-commerce store mobile responsive to putting in place a seamless checkout process, these guidelines will make it easy for the users to find products.