The nuts and bolts of operating an eCommerce store are vastly different from those of running a brick-and-mortar business. While it’s easy to distinguish a quality online store when you see it — but what goes on behind the curtain that makes them successful?
Whether you’re new to online business or are an experienced eCommerce retailer looking for ways to increase profits, these top 5 best practices for successfully operating an eCommerce website will help your online business thrive.
Today’s online shopping experience provides consumers with an abundance of options. This makes SEO (search engine optimization) all the more crucial for reaching new potential customers who are looking for the products you sell as well as increasing brand awareness online. The first step with improving your site’s SEO is developing a keyword strategy that will drive the right traffic to increase revenue.
You can use services such as Google Analytics and SEMrush to help identify terms and phrases related to what you’re selling. These terms are known as keywords, and they’re what people type into a search engine when they’re trying to find a specific product or service. By weaving keywords into your website’s content and digital marketing strategy, your site will become more visible to potential buyers searching for products like yours.
When selecting keywords for your product pages and categories, it’s recommended to target specific ones that go beyond broad terms or phrases. For instance, choosing a keyword like “women’s hats” isn’t necessarily the best phrase to rely on; your page will likely get lost in a sea of other content. Broader keywords are generally more competitive as well, so you’re less likely to obtain a favorable search ranking. Opt for more descriptive long-tail keywords instead (such as “women’s winter hats” or “women’s winter wool hats”). The more descriptive the keyword, the better.
The online marketplace is full of competition, so writing engaging product descriptions can help your eCommerce brand stand out. Highlighting the competitive advantages of your product can make all the difference — be as comprehensive and detailed as possible when describing your products. Be sure to include keywords associated with the product in each description so they can appear in user searches.
In addition, include eye-catching images in your product descriptions. According to a study, most smartphone users — 83% — believe product photos and videos to be “very” or “extremely” influential in their purchasing decisions, which is why focusing on image quality is essential.
It’s best to work with a professional photographer to capture high-resolution images of each of your products. Sixty percent of shoppers reported needing to see at least three to four images when shopping online, so include a number of photos from a variety of angles to help your conversion rate.
The most successful eCommerce businesses are the ones that provide the smoothest checkout experience. If the process of purchasing your product or service is too long or difficult, customers are less likely to follow through.
To ensure all visitors are able to make a purchase, eCommerce sites can add a guest checkout option to ensure first-time customers who don’t want to sign up for an account can still check out. Also, be sure to localize your payment process by supporting different currencies, adding language options, and identifying your customers’ preferred payment methods. As digital payment methods such as Apple Pay and PayPal become more popular, you can incorporate them and appeal to consumers with different preferences.
Many eCommerce solutions (such as WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Shopify and Magento) already offer easy-to-use checkout and shopping cart options for online retailers, helping to provide a great customer experience.
Many eCommerce platforms come with tracking capabilities. In order to understand your customers’ purchasing journeys, use these features to track how different products perform. Similarly, make sure to identify drop-off points in the path to purchase.
If consumers leave before finishing check out, you need the cart abandonment functionality to identify where and why the drop-off occurred. Did the customer run into a snag in the payment process, for instance? What can you do to eliminate that hurdle? Similarly, did your customer visit any products other than their landing page?
You can also work with a developer to create product tags that can determine what brings in the highest sales. Those tags can help you decide where to focus your advertising spend and marketing efforts.
The importance of cybersecurity for eCommerce businesses can’t be overstated. One survey revealed that 78% of consumers would stop engaging with a business online after a security breach — and 36% said they would stop engaging with the business entirely.
Your website’s plugins, core files, and payment processing software all have the potential to become vulnerable to cyberattacks, so update these items regularly to patch any vulnerabilities. An automated website scanner can identify security problems for you and automatically patch vulnerabilities in outdated code to ensure your eCommerce ecosystem stays secure.
Additionally, be sure to implement a web application firewall to monitor and block questionable traffic. Should a malicious bot try to exploit a vulnerability, a WAF will prevent it from wreaking havoc on your site.
The online retail market is full of competition, but the benefits of creating an online store can be well worth the effort for many businesses. The above eCommerce tips can help you improve sales, drive growth, and thrive as a trusted online retailer.