Just because you have products on your website doesn’t mean they’re going to sell. Not even if they’re good products, or unique, or interesting. It takes a great website to convince a visitor to part with their money, much more than it takes for a bricks-and-mortar store. There’s a lot to consider in getting the online shop right.
This article was published in the August/September edition of In Touch In Business Magazine.
Anonymity is a blessing for web shoppers, and a curse for web merchants. In the absence of a friendly sales assistant and a good shop fitout, your website needs to display the all signs of a fully-functional web business and make your potential customers comfortable to do business with you.
Start with the ways customers can get in touch if something goes wrong. So clear display of phone numbers, street address and email address.
Next, consider payment security. If taking credit cards customers will want to know their details are secure. This means using a secure payment gateway issued through a bank, or third party like eWay. At the very least own a secure certificate. This step isn’t to be taken lightly as credit card fraud is a great fear of online shoppers.
Credit card and bank logos feel trustworthy. Display the logos of the cards accepted in the footer of the website near the contact details.
Hordes of small business owners went into business because they were experts, specialists and had great track records of doing what they do best. Tell the story on your website through a company history or professional profile page.
The budding digital photography industry has spawned a society of amateur photographers, but professional photography is still the way to go for anyone serious about making money online.
Professional photography ensures products are displayed in their most attractive and most sellable light. For emotional purchases, such as fashion accessories, have a number of different angles of the product shot. This is especially important with multi-purpose products such as handbags.
Keep the photos simple because when they’re displayed on a website they’re quite small, and complex styling or backgrounds will lose the focus of the product.
Don’t forget to include photos of the business owners and team looking smart in their uniforms outside the office. Photos of the management give visitors the people contact they miss from a face-to-face transaction. It also raises your credibility through recognition.
For an example of a shop with great photography, see the Cairns-based jewellery shop for little girls, Silver Bells & Cockle Shells.
Online shoppers are curious, inquisitive and get annoyed by having to search for extra information. Think carefully about the questions customers ask about each product and answer all of them. Don’t be scared of having too much product text because interested customers will read it thoroughly, and the search engines love it!
Internet shoppers don’t like to be sold to, so by all means mention the benefits of your products, but don’t forget the facts. Consider writing light-hearted and informal product descriptions; the online shopping demographic tends to be younger, so we can afford to be a little less serious.
Prices need to be clear and easy to read. Remember that it’s likely people from overseas will be visiting your site, so ensure the currency is understood, and include a currency converter if you’re trying to appeal to the global market.
For a great example of good product text is Zazz who won NetGuide Online Shopping Site of the Year for 2007.
It’s frustrating to get to the end of an online shopping experience only to find out the postage charges are astronomical, or even worse, the company doesn’t ship to Australia.
Make your delivery prices easy to find, and detail various shipping options with realistic timeframes for delivery.
For everyday products it is often the delivery charges that prevents websites from competing on a level playing field with shopping centres. Consider offering free postage for deliveries over a certain spending level, or drop the postage charges altogether and build them into your pricing model instead.
Shops like StrawberryNET have created a huge base of loyal customers by offering free shipping worldwide.
Use strong, affirmative language to ask your customers for the sale. Don’t just do it at the bottom of a page either, ask your customers to buy at regular intervals throughout your copy.
If you forget this part, your customers will wonder what to do next. Buying from your website must be easy and intuitive with limited thought required!
I love shopping online. I love not being harassed by badly trained sales staff. Bliss is having an easy-going retail therapy experience in the privacy of my pyjamas. By concentrating on what the online customer wants in a shopping experience will inevitably bring legions of loyal and happy shoppers to your website.