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105 Killer Ecommerce Tips For Online Retailers

By on 10 February 2011 @ 9:33 AM.

Tags: ecommerce, ecommerce tips, etail, retail on the web, retail online, selling online.

I posted this on the UK Business Forums last year but many of these tips still stand true now so I thought I would also get this added to our blog. With so many retailers looking to etail as a more cost effective means to reaching our to their target consumers, many are left with many questions about how to go about getting their ecommerce store set up and running. This list of great ecommerce tips include many that any online retailer should be thinking about when selling online...

You may also want to read The Basic Elements to a Successful Ecommerce Website in addition to this article.

  1. Pick the right ecommerce provider! There are hundreds out there, most of them are abysmal, remember, you get what you pay for, if want a cheap/free solution, then that's what you will get - It will damage you in the long run.
  2. Create a simple but well designed, instantly recognisable logo; if you can't do it yourself, then it's worth paying someone to do for you.
  3. Maintain consistency with the flow and design throughout the website.
  4. Keep the navigation and layout simple, don't make buying from your site any harder than it needs to be.
  5. Breakdown your product categories logically, ensure a product is where a shopper will expect to find it.
  6. Put yourself in the shoppers shoes as if you were buying from your site, would you find it easy to navigate and is purchasing from your site as easy it can be?
  7. Display a search function on all pages of your website (normally in the header), if you shoppers can't find via your navigation, give them an alternative option.
  8. Display a contact number (header and footer) and address (footer) on all pages of your website, not only does it install trust, but it gives shoppers another alternative for searching for what they want.
  9. Use clear and descriptive images.
  10. Use consistent images for all products, don't have different backgrounds/colours/sizes.
  11. If you use product image thumbnails, then ensure it is possible to enlarge them and make the full size image larger than the thumbnail.
  12. Show your products from all angles, use as many images as you need to, you wouldn't buy a product from a shop without taking a good look at it first would you?
  13. Make buying from your store easy, don't confuse or distract your shopper at the checkout process.
  14. Don't request a shopper to register to your site unless they are at the checkout process and attempting to purchase.
  15. And even then, keep it simple, don't make the registration process any more complicated than it needs to be.
  16. Consider a live chat option for shoppers that have been active on your website after a certain period.
  17. But don't piss them off by using umpteen pop ups.
  18. Display your sitemap and most important pages in your footer.
  19. Clearly detail your delivery/shipping terms and charges and ensure the link to this page is easily accessible from all pages.
  20. Clearly detail the terms and conditions / privacy policy of your website and make sure they are easily accessible from the same place.
  21. Ensure your website contains a contact form.
  22. And an email address for support/sales as well as some shoppers don't trust contact forms.
  23. Let the customer see shipping charges before having to proceed all the way to check out.
  24. Consider free delivery, it makes a huge difference, and if you offer it, make sure shoppers on your website know about it! Display a banner on all pages so it's in their face.
  25. If you cater internationally, then include language options on your website so your content can be read by all.
  26. If you have a country drop down box, then list countries alphabetically with your default country at the top (not the US so it looks like you have just installed an ecommerce script and not bothered customising it for your target market).
  27. Accept as many payment methods as you can, consider shoppers without credit cards and those who don't have Paypal.
  28. Include an about us page on your website, if people are going to part with their money, they want to know who you are and what you are about.
  29. If you have a shop/office, then include a picture of it in your about us page, install as much confidence in your customers as you possible can.
  30. Build suggestive search into your search functionality so that it suggests similar/related products to the search query used.
  31. Consider misspellings in the search, remember, not everyone is a perfect speller.
  32. Consider product options, different colours/different sizes, your customers want options... And lots of them.
  33. Consider product filters within product categories, allow shoppers to filter as far as possible to increase the chances of finding exactly what they want.
  34. Perfect your spelling, punctuation and grammar throughout the site, nothing is worse than shopping on sites when it is riddled with mistakes and looks unprofessional.
  35. Test, test and test your site more. All pages, all browsers, all screen resolutions... And even get the most un-tech savvy person you know to test your site and consider their feedback.
  36. Create unique product descriptions, don't just copy and paste to the same 500 products, it looks lazy. If you can't be bothered, then why should your customer?
  37. Create tabbed information for products that need, common ones are description | features | specifications
  38. Maintain the same font, colour, formatting and layout in all your product descriptions.
  39. Know your products and what you sell, if a customer has a query or your descriptions don't indicate anything worthwhile then your shopper will realise this.
  40. List all your products on your website, it should go without saying, but if you have 500 products, get them all on your website, not half of them!
  41. If a customer makes a mistake completing any forms, don't make them fill it all out again.
  42. When developing any part of your ecommerce site, maximise usability at all times.
  43. Display related products on product pages or 'you may also be interested in...' products, anything to increase that AOV.
  44. Display products that compliment another product such as accessories, particularly useful in the fashion industry.
  45. Don't display your prices exclusive of VAT! Why people feel the need to do this is beyond me, if you prices aren't competitive enough to display inclusive of tax, then I've got news for you, your ecommerce website will never be a huge success.
  46. Conquer your product range, don't sell 4 products in kitchen accessories, 3 in jewelery and 7 in mens trousers... It doesn't work! Shoppers want to see a vast range of products in a particular range, if you can't facilitate this, then they will go to someone who can!
  47. Think about what you are selling... Study the competition, look at their prices, discover what you can buy products in for and what you can afford to make on them.
  48. Make use of banner management, display relevant banners on individual product pages, categories, all pages and as many as you need to increase your chances of selling.
  49. Use promotional/seasonal offers, shoppers want to know what is 'in season' and the latest ranges, tell them!
  50. Keep your call to actions (CTA) above the fold (ATF), remember the three P's - Product name, Price and Purchase link. Ensure shoppers don't have to scroll to see vital information.
  51. Display your shopping cart/basket and the contents on all pages with a link to checkout on all pages.
  52. If your payment gateway navigates you away from the site, then customise the process with your website template/skin, colours and logo.
  53. Accommodate a range of delivery options, depends on the products/industry but shoppers expect fast delivery options, not having to wait 7 working days.
  54. It is recommended to sign up for a recognised shopping accreditation / ssl certificate. Again, installs trust for your customers.
  55. Display your best selling products and products on sale clearly visible at least on your home page.
  56. If you request billing address fields as well as delivery address details then don't make your customer fill out the same information twice, include a checkbox to copy across.
  57. Display your VAT number and company registration number in your footer.
  58. Use different pictures for all your product options. If the product comes in different colours, then show them in different colours!
  59. Ensure any calls are answered quickly and proficiently on the sales number you provide on your website.
  60. And don't include an IVR that navigates them to tim-buc-too and back leaving them more confused than when they started.
  61. Be honest, it's better to under-promise and deliver consistently than to over-promise and let your customers down.
  62. Include product reviews on your products... And if someone writes a bad review, approve it, you can always reply to it with your feedback, it shows you are honest and trustworthy and a customer is more likely to purchase from you knowing you can step up and accept criticism and admit a mistake.
  63. Don't use a font than is difficult to read, stick to web safe fonts whenever possible.
  64. Offer a guarantee/warranty with your products.
  65. Offer a returns policy, and if you do, make it clearly visible and accessible in your footer.
  66. Make your add to cart buttons/graphics stand out and clearly visible.
  67. If you offer delivery by couriers, then include tracking options for your customer, email them the necessary tracking id so they can keep tabs on their purchase.
  68. List your business on Google Places (Google Maps) and optimise it well, a lot of weight is placed on local business listings and they often appear above organic search rankings.
  69. Offer coupons, you can offer coupons on your Google Maps listing, letting shoppers print them off and bring them to your business. Do what you can to attract new customers.
  70. Consider a referral program, offer discounts on products to customers that can refer new business your way.
  71. Split test everything you can, something as simple as changing the add to cart text to buy now has been known to increase conversions by up to 10%, explore your options.
  72. Consider an affiliate scheme, create some affiliate banners/links for affiliates to display on their website and offer a commission for conversions via their affiliation.
  73. Create a shopping product data feed and install it to Google Base (formerly Froogle) / Googe Product Search... It's free!
  74. Build custom attributes into your product feed, make your products stand out from your competitions by displaying more information/options... If you don't know how to, hire someone who can!
  75. Consider shopping comparison websites, many shoppers use these for comparing prices and reading reviews and most work on a cost per click (CPC) basis. You may have to compile unique feeds, but if your product range is good and prices competitive, it's worth it! Ciao, Shopzilla, Kelkoo.
  76. Host your website in the same country as your location and where your target market is.
  77. Listen to your customers, they are right, you are wrong (in most cases), accommodate their needs and feedback.
  78. Update your site frequently, don't give your customers the impression that your site hasn't been used since 1995. In the festive season, consider a festive theme, update banners, seasonal sales to reflect this.
  79. Use breadcrumb navigation, shows your visitors where they are in the hierarchy of your website and allow them to go back and forward as necessary.
  80. Strip out unnecessary 'guff' in your code/pages, maximise the speed and loading of your pages as much as you can, if your site takes ages to load, then don't expect shoppers to sit there and wait!
  81. Keep to your commitments, if you say you will reply to emails within 48 hours, make sure you do it!
  82. If you don't respond to emails instantly, then create an automated reply to email enquiries to let your customers know that their email has been received and when they can expect a reply.
  83. Use cookies for sessions so users can return to their shopping days later with their products in their cart still, don't encourage cart abandonment for any reason though.
  84. Consider including a forum for discussion and support on the product range you sell.
  85. Consider including a blog to write about your product range and entice new visitors. Search engines love fresh, unique and frequent content.
  86. Make your prices competitive, unless you have a well established, reputable name for yourself already, you cannot afford to charge more than your competition... Few shoppers buy from the first shop they come across.
  87. Had any positive news/press coverage? Let visitors know about it by displaying it on your homepage.
  88. Include positive customer testimonials/reviews on your website.
  89. Give away freebies or additional incentives to buy from you. Everybody loves a freebie!
  90. Don't bother with a links/resources page, this is so circa 2000 and it's barely worth the effort, there are exceptions... But rarely. A link from a site selling dog beds down the road from you to your jewelery site is about as much use to you as a chocolate teapot.
  91. Don't keyword stuff, not in the footer, not in the titles... Not anywhere! It's not big and it's not clever.
  92. Install a web analytics tracking script (Google Analytics is free), analyse your visitors movements, see what is working and what isn't. If you don't know the first thing about web analytics, then hire someone that does.
  93. Consider paid search (PPC), especially if you have recently started selling online, this is the quickest way of driving targeted traffic to your new website almost instantly. Don't attempt it yourself if you don't know what you are doing, hire a professional to run it for you, it will save you thousands in the long run.
  94. Get yourself listed on business directories, increase your online exposure. Free Index, BT TradeSpace, Internet Business Directory.
  95. Create unique meta title tags for all pages of your website, ensure they are relevant to the page content and make use of keywords in priority order without making them look spammy. Keep it within 70 characters.
  96. Create unique meta description tags for all pages of your website, make them describe the content/subject of that page and include your keywords. Keep it within 156 characters.
  97. Write all your meta tags for people, not search engines.
  98. Set up your website in Google's Webmaster Tools, Yahoo's Site Explorer and Bing's Webmaster Center and verify each.
  99. If you are having problems getting all pages of your site indexed, consider creating and submitting your sitemap to Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  100. If you are still having problems getting your pages indexed, consider notifying the search engines that you have a sitemap waiting to be crawled.
  101. Market your website and spend money doing so, don't think you can create a website and the products will sell themselves!
  102. Get your website SEO'd, if you can't do it, hire someone who can!
  103. Consider social media marketing, get yourself on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other network relevant to your business. If you don't know what you are doing, hire someone who does!
  104. Encourage reviews on directory listings in your purchase confirmation emails.
  105. Create a weekly/monthly newsletter and email it to subscribers, don't let them forget about you, let them know of new product ranges, new sales/promotions and increase the chances of repeat custom.

Let us know in the comments if you spot any tips you wouldn't recommend in ecommerce today or whether you have some more than you feel ought to be listed here.

UPDATE: We have since posted an updated version of our killer eCommerce tips for online retailers. Please view our Return of our Killer eCommerce Tips for Online Retailers

About the Author

Geoff is more commonly recognised online by his internet pseudonym 'zigojacko'. He is the Director of Search at Clubnet Search Marketing, founder of The Clubnet Group and has a huge involvement in the music, clubbing and entertainment sector where he also manages operations at Clubnet UK


Eduard Martinell

Posted by Eduard Martinell

Thank you very much Geoff for this fantastic and helpful article. We are now starting to go on-line with our sales and will definitely follow these tips. Thank you very much again for sharing this quality content! Would it be possible to get a printable version, in pdf for instance?

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mais recursos Ășteis

Posted by mais recursos Ășteis

Gostei muito!

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local search results

Posted by local search results

Looks like I'm going to have to look up a couple more things, but this is a good strting point.

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