February 20th, 2017

Is Your Ecommerce Website Ready to Succeed?

by Rachel Nell

There’s no question we love the convenience of online shopping. How great is it that we can make a purchase in seconds from the comfort of our home? No longer do we have to wait in long lines, and it’s one less thing on our to-do list. But even though we have this great opportunity to get our shopping done quicker and easier, there’s still one thing that’s more important to a potential customer than pressing that buy button: user experience.

The minute a consumer visits an e-commerce website, a number of questions may arise, including: Do they have what I need? Where do I go? What do I know about this company? What do others say about this company and their product(s)? And so on. As an e-commerce business owner, it’s your job to ensure your website answers those questions fully and effectively to guide users through the buying funnel and making a purchase.

Whether you’re a new business stretching into the online shopping world, or looking for ways to improve your e-commerce storefront, here are a few things you should consider to maximize user experience and turn potential buyers into lifelong customers and advocates.

Create a Clear Website Structure

An easy to navigate website is the key to happy users. When customers find what they’re looking for quickly, the conversion funnel shortens and sales increase.  With that in mind, take a minute to look at your current e-commerce website structure (or think about how you want to lay out your website if you’re starting out). Are your product/service pages organized in a way that resembles a “hierarchy?” For example, if you own a shoe store, do you have your main menu pages separated by categories such as “Men,” “Women,” and “Children?” From there, do you have sub-categories underneath those main pages that are further separated into options such as “Boots,” “Sandals,” and “Sneakers?” When you build your navigation around a hierarchy structure, information is much more organized and easy to find. Your goal is to not make users work way harder than they should be to find something.

Don’t Forget About Internal Linking

Once your website structure is established, it’s time to think about adding internal links. Internal linking further establishes hierarchy and page ranking power. A URL that has many pages linking back to it lets search engines know that it has more importance than other pages. This is especially true when internally linking between main category and sub category pages. Internal linking is also another way to help users navigate your website. Going back to our shoe store example, maybe every shoe product page has an internal link going to your sizing chart or shipping information.

Optimize Website Metadata Effectively 

Did you know that 60% of users always choose from the top three organic positions on the first page of search engine results? As a business owner, it’s important that your website ranks high and as close as it can to that magical number one spot. Providing unique metadata (page titles and descriptions) will get you one step closer to that goal. Metadata is the best way to answer what your page is about, while incorporating relevant keywords that you want to rank high for in search results. Do you have hundreds, or even thousands of products in your inventory? Don’t worry! You can save time (and sanity) by creating metadata templates that can be used for similar product groups.

Create Unique Product Descriptions

In many cases, businesses tend to use the same copy-and-paste product descriptions as their brand manufacturers. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing (obviously the manufacturers know what they’re talking about!), rewriting product descriptions into your own words is a way to stand out and differentiate yourself from competitors. In addition to technical information, you should also include selling points in your descriptions, which are basically letting customers know “what’s in it for them.” For example, you may include in a description that a pair of women’s boots is made of faux suede and fleece, but you might also want to add that they’re padded for comfort and warmth for cold months. Explain to your customers the benefits your products can provide them and not just the technicalities.

Include Customer Reviews

According to a survey, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Reviews are more important than ever because consumers are no longer going into stores and physically touching and testing out products. They rely on reviews to tell them exactly what to expect. By not displaying customer reviews on your website, you’re alienating a large percent of your buying population that need those reviews to help them make buying decisions. You’re also forcing them to leave your website to read them elsewhere when you could have been helping them out and continuing them down the sales funnel. Include reviews of your products and you’ll see your reputation and website trust flourish.

Consider a FAQ Page

Simply put, a FAQs page is an area on your website where you can address frequently asked questions about your business. FAQ pages are a great way to alleviate potential purchasing anxieties consumers might face when looking at your products. They also relieve some burden on your customer support employees when it comes to answering the same questions repeatedly! If a FAQs page sounds perfect for your business, start thinking about what questions are asked about your business and products the most and make a list. If some questions or topics are similar, such as shipping and returns, group them together. After you’ve made your list, think about how these questions should be answered in terms of tone and visual appeal. You should always frame answers in a positive way, if possible. And if visuals work better for an answer rather than, or in addition to text, do it! Finally, if any of your answers can lead consumers to the next steps in their purchasing journey, help them by including a link to the relevant page or piece of content. They’ll appreciate it!

It’s a new year and a new opportunity to polish up your e-commerce website so users can have a great experience from arrival to purchase. I hope reading this article helps you take a good look at where your digital storefront stands in order to make effective changes or tweaks for a great user buying experience. If you’re looking for a little more guidance, or not quite sure where to start, contact Sage Island. We’re happy to take a look at your website and develop a plan to make your e-commerce business as successful as we know it can be.