The ecommerce industry is growing at a rapid rate. Forrester Research estimates that total ecommerce revenue reached $266.67 billion in 2012.
As the industry continues to grow, following industry best practices for conversion optimization while building an ecommerce site becomes increasingly important. According to SmallBusinessNewz.com, “Every second counts: even after only 3seconds, up to 40% of visitors will abandon your website…”
You can avoid common ecommerce website problems by using these five tips for developing your own retail site.
Choose the Right Platform
The first tip we can offer you for building an ecommerce site is to choose the right platform for what you’re trying to accomplish. You can create your store by building a custom-made platform,
utilizing ecommerce software, or going with a cloud-based ecommerce hosting service. No matter which platform you choose, make sure that it works with your business’s size, budget, and growth potential.
- Hiring a developer to build your ecommerce site is the most expensive option, but comes with the most flexibility and customization, especially if you plan to sell hundreds or thousands of products.
- Hosted ecommerce platforms are available in varying service levels at tiered monthly pricing. They’re less customizable, but also very easy to use for business owners without any technical knowledge.
While you should definitely pay attention to the aesthetic appeal of your ecommerce store, it’s important that you prioritize usability over trendy or pretty design when building an ecommerce site. After all, Amazon isn’t a “pretty” site – but it still manages to make $5.5 million every hour. No matter how good your site looks, if your customers can’t navigate it effectively, they won’t be making any purchases.
- Your design should compel visitors to buy your products. You should be nudging customers to input their credit card information every step of the way through clear calls to action.
- If you plan to use ecommerce software or a hosted ecommerce service, test out the designs and formats they have available to make sure they are appropriate for your business.
Pay Attention to Security
According to the PCI Security Standards Council, your business can suffer a number of fines and penalties if your customers’ cardholder data is compromised. Since more than 340 million computer records have been involved in security breaches since 2005, it is imperative that you make your ecommerce site as secure as possible.
- Make sure your online service accounts have the SSL (secure sockets layer) installed in their log-in page.
- If you require your customers to log on, make sure that their passwords meet industry-recommended guidelines, such as 8-character minimums with numbers and special characters.
- The VeriSign Global Site Certificate, often used in conjunction with SSL, adds another extra layer of protection to your login page.
Unfortunately, you can’t expect that by simply building an ecommerce site that the sales will just start pouring in. While various types of marketing campaigns can bring in traffic, optimize your site for SEO to experience the best possible results. Instructions on creating a high quality SEO program are available in many places online, but in short, you should concentrate on the following areas:
- Keywords: Make sure you’re using the right keywords for your website and products. Determine what your branded keywords are and use them effectively.
- Content: Your business’s about pages and product pages should be populated with quality, original content, which is well-regarded by both customers and search engines.
If your ecommerce site isn’t available on mobile devices, you could be missing out on innumerable potential sales – like some of the $8 billion worth of retail purchases made by mobile customers in 2012.
- To make your ecommerce site mobile-optimized, you can hire a developer to create a mobile version or utilize one of the many mobile plugins available online.
- Many ecommerce hosting platforms will provide you with a mobile-ready version of your online store. While shopping around for a host, be sure to choose one that provides this service to make going mobile easy.