02 Aug AiroAV Malware Writes: Is Your E-Commerce Website Ready For A Sales Surge?
By Rieva Lesonsky
While overall retail sales are down right now (there’s been a 21.6% decline from April 2019 to April 2020), online sales are bucking the trend. The NRF reports a 21.2% rise in online and other non-store sales over the same time period.
Chances are e-commerce sales will continue to climb as consumers wary of Covid-19 increasingly turn to the web to make purchases rather than shop in-store. But that means retailers and e-tailers need to make sure their e-commerce sites are in tip-top shape.
To find out what you need to know, I talked to Matthew Lane, Business Development Manager at Straight North, an internet marketing company that provides SEO services and PPC management; and Jonathan Ryskamp, co-founder of ThemeSupport.net, a leading third-party provider of support for WordPress themes.
Rieva Lesonsky: What do small retailers need to know about building a solid e-commerce website?
Jonathan Ryskamp: You need to remember your No. 1 goal is to sell products. This sounds obvious, but some e-commerce customers we work with seem to get distracted by the technology and forget this. For example, you need to make sure your site is intuitive and customers can easily purchase items—so you may not want to require a complex sign-up process to purchase. And you need high-quality images of your products that ideally can be zoomed in by the user. If your site seems hard to use or your products are not front and center in crystal clarity, then you will fail to convert a large percentage of your onsite visitors.
Matthew Lane: Small business retailers who are considering building a robust e-commerce site should start with similar fundamentals they established when opening their retail store:
- What are the core products you intend to sell, and how much variability or customization is required to sell those products?
- Have you proven there is a market for them online? Furthermore, are there competitors you can research to prove the concept before investment; should you test selling via Amazon before investing in an e-commerce platform?
- How are you going to deliver or get products to customers (logistics)?
Lesonsky: How do you know when it’s time to redesign your existing e-commerce website?
Ryskamp: First, if your site does not match modern website standards, then you need to redesign it. For example, if your site is not mobile responsive (in other words, if your site doesn’t reshape itself to be easy to use on mobile phones or tablets) or there are major site errors, then you should rebuild it. Second, if users are giving you feedback that it’s cumbersome to use, then you should redesign it. Lastly, if your sales are decent but not increasing, then you should consider a redesign—a new look/feel to a website is a great excuse to invite back all of your past customers and can help you land new ones.
Lane: It’s no different than a retail environment—if your store isn’t clean, organized, and easy to browse/identify what you’re looking for, it’s time to make improvements. The beauty of having an e-commerce store is that all the data is available to you via free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc. Therefore, the key performance metrics you should evaluate are bounce rate, conversion rate, site speed, and mobile-friendliness to determine if you could profit from a redesign.
For instance, let’s assume your website’s conversion rate to sale is 0.67%. Considering the average retail e-commerce website conversion rate is 1 to 2%, we can assume there are significant opportunities to improve your website’s user experience (UX) and performance.
There’s more information here: Ways to Boost your eCommerce Conversion Rates.
Lesonsky: What are the crucial elements e-commerce websites need?
Ryskamp: Besides an easy-to-use interface and good quality photos, the other things an e-commerce site needs to take into account that is often forgotten are the small sales-process details like shipping options/costs, taxes, inventory management, coupons, etc. We have worked on a lot of e-commerce sites where the vendor has strange or difficult shipping rules that don’t easily translate into simplicity for the end user. Normally these kinds of details are not front and center on the vendor’s mind when they build the site, so we sometimes get to the end of a project and find out that the vendor doesn’t even have a plan for these kinds of issues.
Lane: You need:
- Mobile-friendly website. Mobile shopping accounts for 50% of online transactions. By creating a mobile-friendly experience for your visitors, you will improve time invested onsite, conversion rate, and SEO performance.
- Robust security and PCI compliance. The benefit to SaaS e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, etc., is that most SaaS companies guarantee PCI compliance. As a result, your store is less susceptible to threats and attacks.
- Streamlined and secure checkout process. Have you ever considered how easy it is to purchase something via Amazon or Zappos? Focus on balancing usability and building trust as if you were optimizing your checkout process so that a five-year-old or 95-year-old could successfully make a purchase.
- Product ratings and reviews. Let your customers do the selling for you with user-generated reviews.
- Social proof. Create trust and authenticity by allowing visitors to connect with your social profiles (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.).
- A variety of payment options. Consider Apply Pay, PayPal, and alternative payment methods to improve conversion rate beyond Visa, Mastercard, etc.
Lesonsky: Can you share some best practices for small retailers?
Ryskamp: Pick a good, solid platform. If you are super-small, go with Shopify….