Ecommerce business has become a booming industry globally, creating corporate giants, and giving a leg up to the small business entrepreneur. I have been working in the Ecommerce industry for the last four years. I have spent time learning from the top companies in the country, and worked within several companies, assisting them in growing and developing.
For the last year, I have immersed myself in the marketing and content side of one company in particular and I have learnt immeasurable lessons about how small businesses start up in the ecommerce space, as well as how the larger sites are bringing repeat customers back to their pages. So, I thought I would share a few key lessons in what elements are absolutely essential for a successful online business.
Element One- Simple, Fast Functionality
Let’s face it, there is nothing more frustrating and off-putting than a slow site. Research has shown that if a page takes more than four seconds to load, you have already lost an interested customer. This is why web hosting like EuroVPS is such a vital aspect to your site. Before you jump into a decision on what kind of web hosting solution you are going to choose, do your research! It could be the life or death of your site.
The larger company I worked with had a dedicated server which meant that they could configure the server how they needed it. The start-up had chosen a VPS or Virtual Private Server. It was the ideal solution which met the more complex needs of the growing sales business, while being totally budget friendly.
Having the site which loaded quickly was vital for the company, customers could click between products easily, pop-ups with descriptions could appear if you hovered over the item and pages were easily navigated. Not only did the site speed assist with customers, but it also improved the SEO rankings!
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Element Two- Reduce Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment has been one of the biggest challenges for Ecommerce sites worldwide. In 2017, the global rate of abandoned carts was sitting at a whopping 69%. Both the larger company and the start-up suffered a large percentage of cart abandonment, with both companies testing various shopping cart software of reducing the drop off of customers.
One of the most successful changes that we made, that seemed to reduce drop off on both sites was reducing the steps once the customer has added the product to their carts. We realized that the simpler it was, the better! The cart page needed to be simple and uncluttered, and the whole checkout stage not more than two simple pages. The forms also took a lot of testing, and we reduced the number of entries needed to the minimal amount of information needed to complete the purchase. For repeat customers, we saw a huge reduction in cart abandonment when we integrated autofill options.
We AB tested the “Add To Cart” as well as the “Checkout Now” CTA’s, making them bold and colourful. Interestingly, one of the sites fared better when we made both CTA’s different colours! In both cases, we also added options on the check-out page for the customer to choose or ignore as they pleased. This included options to upgrade the delivery time as well as similar products to add to their cart. Here, we made sure that all of the similar products were cheaper than the product already in the cart.
Element Three- Painless Payment Processes
Tying into the above cart abandonment topic, is the issue of encouraging the customer to pay and not drop off. Customers abandon their carts due to the fear of the payment process for several reasons. We found that the following were the more prevalent;
- Fear of the lack of security;
- Lack of payment options;
- Hidden costs;
- Unreasonable shipping fee;
- Shock total at checkout stage.
Security is the biggest challenges in Ecommerce. Most online shoppers express anxiety during the checkout and payment stages, despite the process being totally secure. With the larger business, it was a bit easier, as customers would feel more at ease entering their card details with a well-known site. The start-up, however, we had to go to more lengths to reassure the customers that their details and monet is safe with us.
Every page that the customer clicked on displayed a badge that the payment process is protected and secure. We also provided various options for the customer to pay by, including cash on delivery and the use of the debit card which directed to their banking screen.
Element Four- Reach Them On All Platforms
The already established, larger company already had various platforms in place. So, when I started with the start-up, I took on the task of creating various points to reach the customer. I had see how all combined, customers could be reached and converted by merely reinforcing a message, or bringing a product to their attention again.
Social was the vital platform to start with and I created the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and began managing the messaging going out on those. But then I realized that it was tougher to convert customers who were on mobile using these platforms. If they were interested, they would go back to our site which, even though was highly functional and mobile optimized, didn’t make sense to make a purchase off of.
So I pushed for an Ecommerce mobile app to be created. With this, we could create a mini-cart and functional check out and forms that worked perfectly with the mobile user. They could make use of drop-downs and auto-fillers to make the process that much easier. It was also easier for the user to make use of the payment options, as they could simply navigate to their banking app to complete the purchase.
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Element Five- Content, Content, Content
If content is King, I must be the content queen. Every organisation that approaches me asking how they can heighten their visibility and increase their conversion rates gets the same answer from me. What are you doing with your content?
I took over content at the start-up and poured my energy into understanding what content was not only going to attract the customer our site, but what was going to differentiate us and make them convert into paying customers. I did a deep dive of the customer, understanding who they were, and what their interests and hobbies were and started recreating the content around that. I also subscribed to similar companies mailers to monitor the competitors marketing strategies and mailers.
This way, not only was I able to reach the customer on their level, but I was able to draw them in with interesting and engaging content that they could use and share! Within this content, I created CTA’s that reached out to them within the content and pointed them toward the product that I really wanted them to see.
I started building up the mailing lists and in between the regular, informative articles to the customer base, I would slip related products and offers that would be hard to pass up! I set up a strategy whereby I tested my email sending success rates to see what worked, and what didn’t. The more informative, and less advertisement-like it is, the more engagement you will be getting. Email monitoring is absolutely crucial!
To Wrap Up
Over the last few years, I have realized that even if you are a start-up with very little reputation and a few sales a year, this can be worked on. I ensured that my company became reputable with the inclusion of social media, mailing lists, blogs and constant communication with my customers. I ensured that they felt secure and safe on the site and lastly, I made it easy for them to pick and choose their product and get it delivered to them at a good price.