Nearly every retailer sells online, and many of them exclusively sell online. So what is the secret to success in a wildly crowded market like online retail? Hint: It’s not about what you sell.
People shop online because it doesn’t mimic shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, so there’s no reason for your shopping experience to recreate physical shopping. When new customers arrive at your online store, there should be visual cues to help guide them toward a promotion or direct them to the products they most likely are seeking. If you present visitors with a wall of all of your products, they’re likely to feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed shoppers won’t make a purchase.
As far as technology goes, searching is a completely different beast than filtering. Filtering keeps you, the business owner, in charge of what the visitor may find. Searching is at the mercy of the visitor getting it right. (For more on our approach to search, check out this post.) We recommend implementing at least a simple organization structure to your product catalog to help shoppers find what they’re looking for. The more products you have, the more complex your organization may be.
Ease of checkout
If there is one thing your online store should make easy, it is letting people give you money. A complex, frustrating checkout process is one of the top reasons shoppers abandon carts. This starts by giving the shopper a clear cue that a product has been added to their cart. When they view the cart, they should be able to easily edit or remove an item.
While it can be useful to set up user accounts for shoppers to return to a full cart later or save favorite items, requesting that a user set up an account with your store before checking out can drive shoppers away. Keep in mind not everyone who shops on your site is purchasing for themselves, and if you don’t let them checkout without creating an account, they may take their business elsewhere. The option for guest checkout is great for these shoppers.
Your payment processor plays a big role in how simple your checkout process can be. Some services, like PayPal Express, require the user to process through their own interface. Others, like Stripe, allow you to keep the entire experience consistent within your site from start to finish. Similarly, your shoppers never want to type the same name and address twice (once for billing, once for shipping). Give them the option to use the same address.
What is it like to shop in your online store on a mobile device? Are your visitors forced to navigate through a huge number of pages of product because it doesn’t scale to a small screen well? Is all of the text easily legible, or are shoppers squinting to read your product names? Can shoppers easily select product attributes like size or color, or do popup menus overtake a small screen? These are all reasons a shopper may decide to purchase elsewhere.
A significant portion of the market shops online via a mobile device, and no business can afford to lose out on mobile traffic. Prioritize your mobile shopping experience, as mobile shoppers are more easily distracted away from your page and therefore harder to convert.
You can’t make wise decisions about your online business if you don’t have the data to back it up. This doesn’t mean knowing how much money you’ve made. It’s a matter of knowing where visitors exit your site, what products are most likely to get abandoned in a cart, what sources are sending you the most valuable traffic, and what behaviors indicate a buyer vs someone just looking.
Google Analytics is the most common analytics solution, and it is the top recommendation for Shopify stores. Approach with caution, though, because Google Analytics is wildly robust. Most people fall into the trap of either having so much data they don’t know what to do with it or they don’t look at anything past page views and visit duration. A customized dashboard with the unique metrics that are most important to your business is the best way to keep tabs on how your online store is doing.
Make it happen
You’re in the product business. No one expects you to be a software guru, too. We can help. Whether you want to increase existing sales or you’re launching something brand new, we can set your store up to match your business goals. Drop us a note, and let’s chat.