Are you launching an online e-commerce business? If so, it’s important to know that e-commerce websites require solid up-front construction and back-end features to handle necessary data and files. Once an e-commerce website is launched it will then require monitoring, updates and possible patch work. In short, managing an e-commerce website can be a lot of work!
Common Sense E-commerce Tips
Depending on what you’re offering, the target audience and sales goals every e-commerce website should incorporate standard elements to enhance and enable a great customer experience. Not only will your customers come to expect the following features — they will become confused if they don’t encounter them.
- Product descriptions and images. Done poorly, product pages can drive consumers away from your website. Your e-commerce website should always include high-resolution, high-quality images and well-written, error free product descriptions.
- User friendly shopping cart. Every e-commerce website should include a good shopping cart system that allows store admins to view and process orders. These can be expensive to purchase a la carte, but some ecommerce web hosts may include a shopping cart system as part of your hosting package.
- Credit card processing. Most consumers will expect your online store to accept credit card payments. While standard PayPal payment options are available, which offer credit card payment options, you can also choose a payment gateway (i.e. e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes payments for e-businesses; the equivalent of a physical point of sale terminal in a store). Once a credit card has been processed the funds are deposited into your bank account, less a processing fee. If you have a merchant account (i.e. a bank account that allows your businesses to accept credit and debit payments) the credit card processing platform can be embedded into your website. Many web hosting services offer resources to help online store owners with credit card processing set up.
- Website security. Most consumers worry that their personal and financial data can be compromised online. Therefore, online store owners should ensure SSL encryption is available on all pages that request customer data — ideally the entire website. You can easily purchase an SSL certificate while some website hosting services offer free SSL certificates along with various hosting packages.
- Simple navigation and search. If online customers can’t easily find your products, they can’t purchase them. Ensure your e-commerce website has clear and consistent language in all navigation menus, and have friends and family members test your store prior to launch. A thorough search mechanism can act as your fail safe if navigation menus are lacking. When possible hire a UX designer or tester to troubleshoot possible website design flaws and glitches.
- Analytics. Set up a Google Analytics or Moz account to gain valuable insight into who visits your online store, what they view and how they found it. Analytics tools will help you discover meaningful patterns in your store data and measure advertising ROI as well as track Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.
Post Launch E-commerce Tips
Here are four additional tips to remember once you have launched your e-commerce website:
- Post launch analysis. Utilize post launch analytics as a valued tool for continued business innovation. Gather data and re-evaluate the content and formatting of popular product pages. Unpopular pages with high bounce rates can also be instructive. For example, if customers regularly leave your search page, it’s a clear sign that your search isn’t returning results.
- Troubleshoot. Regularly review all links to ensure that they work and that images load quickly. Missing images and dead links can negatively impact product sales.
- Assess SEO status. Use analytics tools to track which keywords brought customers to your store. Then adjust on-page keywords to help your site rise in search engine results when customers search online for a specific product.
- Enable sharing. Enable social sharing on product pages so online visitors can share their favorite products on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms; which can also increase search engine rankings.
Emily Miller is a marketing professional and small business blogger who contributes regularly to Professional Intern. Her educational background is in Marketing and Small Business Management. She is fascinated by how technology can be used as solutions for startups and small companies.
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