The 2 biggest mistakes I see people make with e-commerce website are:

  1. Treating them as if they’re just another website.
  2. Thinking of e-commerce as an extension of a bricks and mortar shop

E-commerce stores are in every way a completely different animal. Buyers have seen so many of them that they know the signs to look for and if a site doesn’t tick all the boxes, they’ll back out and move on. The online world is a very fickle place indeed.

Fortunately the quality of tools like Google Analytics make it easy to measure what works and what doesn’t. There simply is no guess work anymore.

If you have a suitable product, there’s no need to go into the pros and cons of having an e-commerce store. We know they work and can work incredibly well if done right. The only question is how. Here’s our 10 keys to success with your e-commerce store.

1. Reduce distraction

When it comes to maximising conversion with e-commerce, it’s all about focus and keeping it simple. Avoid busy backgrounds, unnecessary buttons and options – anything that might cause your buyer to get side-tracked from the job at hand – buying your product.

2. Offer free shipping

Don’t charge for shipping unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. Research says that excessive shipping costs are the number one factor in shopping cart abandonment and clearly one of the easiest to address. I would suggest that you’d see a better conversion rate by tying the cost of shipping into the product cost and offering free shipping.

3. Use high quality images

 If I was to pick one factor that would make or break an e-commerce site its quality product images. I’d go as far as to say that an e-commerce website with no words but amazing images could be extremely effective.

4. Make your value proposition clear

From the moment a customer arrives at your store it should be clear exactly why they should buy from you. Do you offer the cheapest price? Fast or free delivery? Convenience? Unconditional warranty? Product range? Make your message clear and consistent right from the start.

5. Build trust and reduce uncertainty

 We’re a sceptical bunch when it comes to buying online. If there’s something that makes us doubt a store we’ll leave, so it’s important to pre-empt and address these points. Things like secure payment options, clear warranty statements, testimonials and statements regarding length of time in business all help reinforce your reliability.

6. Clear phone numbers / online chat

Don’t make the mistake of forcing your customers to deal only via email. If you want them to trust you and enjoy the experience, they need to know you’re only a phone call away if they need you.

7. Tackle shopping cart abandonment

Getting a buyer to the shopping cart is often the easy part. It’s at this point that doubt will often creep in and your buyer will question whether they’re making the right choice and abandon their shopping cart to look for a better option. While there may or may not be a better option for the buyer it’s critical that you implement a system that ensures they don’t forget you. This is best achieved by gathering email addresses as the first step in the shopping cart process so that you can follow up by email before you lose the same. Amazon have perfected this art.

8. Offer multiple payment options

 There’s a high level of fear among many buyers regarding how safe purchasing online with credit card is. For this reason it’s important to provide options such as Paypal to reduce the risk of losing these shoppers.

9. Forms need to be short

 Whether its account registration, payment form or credit card details – avoid the temptation to add unnecessary fields. Do you really need to know your clients fax number?

10. Keep your language user oriented

Don’t fall for the temptation of using corporate speak or jargon. Remember you’re talking to regular people who don’t want to think too much about what their reading. Keep your copy short and straight to the point.

Obviously the key ingredient in all of the above is testing and measuring, after all how will you tell if something working or not without a good approach to measurement.

Don’t expect a revolution with every change you make. It’s rare for any adjustment to make a dramatic difference, rather E-commerce required a consistent and incremental approach – 1 improvement at a time.