Here’s a thought: if you sell goods through a website, it’s very likely that your products can be seen by people right around the world. After all, it isn’t called the Worldwide Web for nothing.
Another great change in the retail landscape which the internet has brought about is the ability for any company, of any size, to compete with rivals of any size, and so to learn some valuable tricks and tips from how the best in their field operate.
But while the web may have done a great deal to level the playing field in the competition between retailers of all sizes, no business can expect to simply set up an online store and then sit back and watch the orders roll in.
While the demarcations between multi-national companies and those which exist purely to serve a faithful, local market are self-evident in a physical store landscape, online those boundaries can be easily blurred and, provided that the smaller competitor can offer reliable service and products for which there’s a genuine demand, there are few reasons why the consumer shouldn’t choose to support it, rather than its more heavyweight rivals.
And yet… while the big boys can afford to set aside the money needed to create a website which makes it easy and attractive to buy from them, it’s easy to think that a much smaller operation has to make do with second best. That’s far from the case, but still, there are many pitfalls which exist in e-commerce which a large company can afford to steer around, yet which can still trip up a smaller operation.
Here, though, is a list of the most basic errors which a transactional website of any size can make.
Avoiding these can give any enterprise the best possible chance to meeting the competition head-on:
1. Over-complicating the buying process – although instinctively you might want to gather a lot of information about your customers, if this slows down their progress to your checkout they’re likely to be put off.
2. Using a poor payment gateway which customers find it difficult to trust as secure – of course you need to ask customers to verify their details to help avoid fraud, but they shouldn’t feel as though they have to jump through unnecessary hoops.
3. Information overload – keep product details and instructions simple and succinct, and make sure people can see what they’re buying…
4. …on the other hand, don’t be too sparing with your product details – people need to know what they’re buying and be sure that it fits their needs.
5. Making customers confident that they’ll get what they need. With the ‘touch and feel’ aspect of shopping taken out of the equation, they need to know that it’s easy for them to return any product which isn’t what they expected.
6. Ensuring that customers’ information you handle is kept secure. By investing in an SSL certificate, you can assure them that their data is encrypted and not visible to anyone else.
7. Not showing any products on your home page – the equivalent of your ‘shop window’, people need to know here whether they can find what they’re looking for deeper inside your website. As with a physical shop, it’s also where you should tell the world about your best deals.
8. Keeping customers waiting to see the goods – if your webpages are slow to load, due to over-fancy graphics or a simple overload of products listed on any page, they’re likely to close it down and go elsewhere.
By keeping sight of these potential pitfalls, you can choose an e-commerce solution which fits your business best. That is, one which makes both browsing and buying easy. In this respect, it’s no different from a real store. You see, some things never change!
About the Author
Guest blog contributed by Simon Belfield, an Online Marketing and eCommerce expert helping to find the best ecommerce website examples from EKM powershop.