The Secret to Great E-Commerce Sites

Kate Pullen
By Kate Pullen / October 13, 2016

When people set up an e-commerce business – whether it’s their own website or on a managed platform such as Etsy – there’s one really important thing that gets overlooked.

And this one thing, is something that will make a massive different to the performance of that business.

It’s nothing highly technical or something you need to be an expert in online e-commerce businesses to know about. Far from it. It’s something that should be really obvious with a little bit of common sense and basic business skills.

The one thing that gets over looked is the customer experience.

When we think of bricks and mortar stores the customer experience is pretty obvious. Shop owners spend time researching how they can give the best possible experience to their customers. However, with online businesses, this simple piece of research often gets overlooked. Why? Perhaps because we don’t actually ‘see’ our online customers or maybe it’s because we think that the online shopping experience is less important to shoppers.

The Customer’s Experience in a Bricks and Mortar Shop

Someone opening a bricks and mortar shop will consider parking and how easy it will be for customers to get their purchases home, they’ll think about color schemes and ensure that these show the products to their best possible advantage and will also resonate with their target market. They’ll think about merchandising, both to make it easy for shoppers to find the product they are looking for but also to encourage shoppers to buy any related products they may need (impulse purchases), they’ll think about how to make the payment process simple and easy so the customer doesn’t get fed up and storm out the shop before they’ve made their purchases. Shop owners will think about how they can make their customers feel welcome and happy in the shopping environment – and how they can develop a feeling of trust in the shopper. And, depending on the type of shop they may look at introducing other things that will help enhance the shopper’s experience. Knitting shops, for example, might have a comfortable area to sit and browse patterns.

Building The Customer’s Experience Online

So, while a lot of effort goes into developing a great shopping experience for a customer in a bricks and mortar store – how often does this get overlooked with online stores? The answer is ‘quite often’. Just think, for example of the nasty generic out-of-the-box stores which could sell anything from death metal records to lace hankies, or the stores which have been designed because that’s what the store owner or site developer loves, but not thought has been given to whether this is what the target market will also love.

Thinking about giving a customer the best possible shopping experience is as relevant to the online store as it is to the bricks and mortar store. This is what sets the great stores apart from the not-so-great stores.

Here are just some of the things you should be doing to ensure your shopper and customer has the best possible experience when they are visiting your online store:

  • Branding – spot on to resonate with your target market
  • ‘Merchandising’ – great photos which present the products in the best possible light
  • Navigation – easy to navigate store, using tags and categories to help customers find what they need
  • Upsells – related products clearly displayed
  • Welcome – a welcoming front page with all the information the customer needs in an easy to find menu
  • Payment and shipping – again, all the information the customer needs, at their virtual fingertips
  • Friendly text – text and copy throughout the store (faqs, about page etc) all written in the language with will resonate with the target customer.

Obviously, if you are using a managed platform, such as Etsy, you are reliant on Etsy to do some of this for you. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t also add your own thoughts. Navigation through categories and creating a great about page, are just two ways you can enhance the shopper’s experience in your managed platform store.

Thinking about the customer’s shopping experience when you are building and planning your e-commerce site will help you have a site which stands our from the crowd and which your target customers will love to visit.

Useful weekly tips delivered direct to your inbox!

Sign up to our FREE weekly newsletter and receive useful and actionable tips to help you grow your business and follow your dream.

About the author

Kate Pullen

Kate is a long term marketing professional who made a lifestyle change and moved to Spain to follow her dream. She learned how to apply her business skills to her creative skills to grow a business. Her goal is to help others follow their dreams too.