Attracting customers onto an ecommerce site is a significant undertaking, often involving costly online advertising and targeted marketing campaigns. Once a potential consumer arrives on a homepage or product page, the next step is clearly to persuade them to make a purchase. And yet, achieving this is far more difficult than many companies assume, with numerous obstacles to clear before that payment is successfully banked.
Market-leading retail websites encourage ecommerce transactions by seamlessly guiding people from one stage of the process to the next. They’ll preemptively answer common questions by publishing detailed FAQ pages, alongside relevant company information. Collectively, this ensures the process of completing a purchase is as frictionless as possible.
Below are some of the ways today’s market leaders maximize ecommerce transactions, starting with an obvious suggestion that many firms are still failing to acknowledge or tackle:
#1. Use a mobile-optimized template. Mobile ecommerce spending lags far behind in desktop usage, even though most internet content is viewed on smartphones. Responsive site frameworks should deliver a consistent user experience on any device. Compress large files, host video clips on third-party platforms, and prevent auto-playing content.
#2. Ensure the site loads quickly. People start abandoning webpages three seconds after summoning content, and loading times are a key metric when search engines are ordering results. Combine minimalist page design with reliable web hosting, ideally outsourcing to a company offering rapid servers and plentiful bandwidth.
#3. Describe products in detail. One product photograph and a bullet-point summary won’t cut it anymore. Today’s consumers demand photos from every angle or 360° videos. They want detailed tech-spec sheets to download as PDFs, plus lists of compatible accessories. Product descriptions should avoid technical jargon wherever possible.
#4. Break up written content. In today’s attention-deficient climate, people skim written content rather than studying it. Break up paragraphs with subheadings and bullet points, and highlight key points in a large font or bold text. Ask colleagues or friends to glance at a page for five seconds, and then tell you everything they remember.
#5. Use dynamic images. From still photography to video clips, high-caliber images are critical. Pictures should be enlargeable, yet compact enough to load quickly. Position a ‘hero’ photo centrally on the page, above a row of clickable thumbnails. Even a humble smartphone can take great product shots, with a little practice…
The checkout process is often regarded as a foregone conclusion, but many potential sales have been lost at this critical stage. For any firm wanting to ensure ecommerce transactions generally enjoy a happy ending, these are the factors most likely to scare customers away:
#1. A lack of security. As cybercrime reaches record levels, don’t expect much trade if your site doesn’t use SSL ecommerce encryption. Audiences will also shy away if there’s no clarity about privacy policies, or how their data will be handled and stored.
#2. Stealth charges. Never hide local taxes or processing fees away until the final payment page. If it’s unavoidable to charge extra for a particular payment method (or to a certain destination), explain why as soon as possible, and using clear language. An apology may help, too.
#3. Excessive postage. It’s okay to charge a slight markup on postage costs to cover time and materials. But consumers know when postage is being used to boost profits. An estimated 58% of online shoppers have abandoned carts due to high shipping costs.
#4. Compulsory registration forms. It shouldn’t be necessary to create an account to make a purchase. Instead, permit transactions as a guest, and then invite people to register after their order is confirmed. Encourage them to sign up for future email updates.
#5. Numerous form fields. Who can be bothered entering their date of birth and mother’s maiden name for a $10 purchase? Ensure every data field is absolutely necessary, and try to avoid a checkout process involving more than three pages.
Even after payment has been successfully received, these five easy steps ought to maximize future ecommerce transactions:
#1. Make customers feel special. Send them a thank you discount for their second order or slip a freebie into their parcel. Little touches will be remembered – and discussed.
#2. Keep it personal. Address people by their first name; never CC or BCC a personal message, and make occasional product suggestions based on account histories.
#3. Encourage feedback. Who better to give your brand and its products glowing reviews than a satisfied customer? Positive reviews encourage wavering consumers to sign up.
#4. Make repeat orders easy. Send people an email with a one-click link to reorder their most recent purchase. This is ideal for disposable, consumable or short-life products.
#5. Promote your brand through social media and search engine advertising. Maintaining brand visibility goes a long way to reminding previous customers about your services.
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