Ecommerce is one of the most rapidly expanding business models worldwide. It’s practicality and functionality make it an attractive venture for entrepreneurs that do not have the funds or resources to open a brick and mortar store.

In this article, we will be looking at what it took for two very different Ecommerce companies to create and run successful websites that not only attract, but also convert visitors from clients to customers. One site is a start-up with a limited audience as well as a limited budget. The other is a more established and familiar brand that has got a loyal subscriber and customer base.

So, what are the basic elements needed to create a successful Ecommerce site?

  • Fast, Functional Website

The first absolute necessity is to make sure that you site is fast, efficient and simple to use. 40% of people abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load! This means that your site has to be fully optimized to load each and every page and product quickly. There are a number of ways that you can optimize your site in order to make sure it is quick and efficient. If you are creating a site from scratch, there is an option to buy an already created website and start running your business off that.

Make sure that your site is as simple as possible. Make the products easy to find and ensure that there is as little clutter on each page as possible. CTA’s and calls to purchase or add to carts need to stand out.

  • Competitive Advantage

One of the key learnings that was taken away from the start-up, is that you have to permanently monitor your competitors. Subscribe to all of their newsletters to keep an eye on their content. Watch their websites to keep track of their new products and website updates.

If you are not tracking your competitors, you will not be fully aware of how you differ and cannot promote your unique selling point. The start-up, for example had to establish its USP very early on to be able to market it to the visitors and potential customers. The established site, on the other hand, had to always keep ahead of the competition by monitoring the competitors sites.

  • Protected Payment Processes

It has been stated that almost 70% of carts are abandoned due to the payment options. There are a number of reasons why people drop off when its time to actually pay for the product.

  1. The customer does not feel totally secured and protected when paying;
  2. There are not enough payment options;
  3. There are hidden fees;
  4. Shipping fees are excessive and unaffordable;
  5. You have not included cash-on-delivery.

To overcome these obstacles, you will need to spend some time on it when you start your website. Make sure that it is clearly highlighted several times that the payment process is secured and protected. You cannot reinforce this enough. Customers will only hand over their credit card details when they feel totally comfortable to.

Your customer also needs to be totally aware of all costs when going into the transaction. Don’t surprise them with VAT or admin fees when the payment needs to be done. Delivery and shipping also needs to be fully transparent. If they are paying more than 40% of the product price on shipping, you will lose the customer.

  • Useful Content

They say that content is king, and in both site’s cases, it is absolutely true. Not only will useful and informative content draw visitors to your site, but it will convert them to loyal subscribers. With both sites, the blog was a vital part of the company that drew in visitors to product related articles.

The visitors were then converted by either allowing them to subscribe to the newsletter and become a part of the database, or through CTA’s. Mailer subscribers naturally took longer to convert to sales as they would take a few newsletters and articles to actually click the CTA’s. One of the handy tricks learnt from the established brand was to integrate the CTA into the article organically.

Say, for example, you are a health store, and the article is discussing detoxes. A really effective CTA would include colored lettering with wording like “SAVE up to 20% on xxx product and kickstart your detox today!” with a simple image below it. 

  • Easy Checkout

Let’s move to checkout. Another top reason for cart abandonment is due to the checkout process being too long and too complicated. Go through the process yourself and take yourself through the customer journey.

Forms are vitally important to capture the right information about the customer and get the vital details you need to ship the product. It is important, however, to keep the number of sections in the form to fill out, as minimal as possible. Ask for only the absolute vitals, and keep the number of pages to the minimum. Customers get put off if they are spending hours trying to purchase an item. It is also helpful to create an autofill for regular customers. Don’t include any payment details here, as that is off-putting too.

  • Clickable Calls to Action

As mentioned in the previous topic, CTA’s are vital to convert visitors to customers. There are various vital CTA’s that both of the companies are permanently testing, retesting and optimizing all of the time.

Make sure that the CTA’s are simple, elegant and fit the theme of your site. But in the same breath, make sure they stand out enough to catch the visitors eye. There are a number of CTA’s to include and constantly keep updating.

  • CTA’S within the article;
  • Add To Carts on product pages;
  • CTA’s in the mailers, directing the reader to the product pages or articles.

Other great CTA’s include pop-ups and forms that direct them to subscribe to the newsletters or watch products.

  • Simple Forms

Simple is best.  Looking at both Ecommerce companies, they both realized early on that customers only wanted to give the most vital information in the simplest and easiest way possible. From signing up to newsletters, as well as completing a purchase, make sure that the customer is not going to give up halfway through due to it being too long to go through with.

What is also important to roll out is smooth and effective mobile forms. Purchases happen less on mobile due to the complicated nature of the forms. It is therefore so important to make sure that all forms are optimized on all platforms.

  • Fast, Effective Customer Service

A key lesson is to make yourself as available as possible to your customer. Make sure that they can reach you on every one of your touchpoints. Both of the start-up and the established company have the social channels where customers can reach them, as well as the standard phone number and email address.

The established brand has gone a bit further. They have established a call center for direct customer support as well as pop-up chats that the customer can have instant chat conversations with the agents. These have proven to be 47% more effective than any of the other communication methods.

  • Mobile Friendly

One of the key lessons for both companies, was the need for the site to be mobile friendly. Mobile has, over the years, become one of the dominant devices that people browse, search content and purchase products on.

What was interesting for both companies, was that just because people searched for a product on mobile, many would move the actual purchase to desktop. Naturally, this has started improving as check-out and payments became smoother and easier on mobile. It has become vitally important for all Ecommerce sites to fully optimize their mobile platform for simple and secure payments.

  • Reward, Reward, Reward

A really important lesson that the start-up learnt, was how to keep customers loyal and hungry and coming back for more. One of the easiest ways of doing this was to reward the customer base. The company started several different options of rewarding their customers, each with varying levels of success.

  • Give a discount code to a brand new customer when making their first purchase;
  • Then prompt the customer to visit your site again by offering a discount value of half the value of the first code;
  • Offer free delivery on certain purchases;
  • Offer free delivery on large amount purchases;
  • Advertise discounts and free or discounted shipping when a customer has bought from you a number of times. Ie. 10, 20 etc;
  • Use loyal customers as brand ambassadors on your site and social media.

Wrapping Up

The most important piece of advice to  be taken away from both of the companies is to make sure that you would want to go and purchase something from your own site. Go through your site, and enter all the touch-points. Take your own customer journey and experience your site through the eyes of the customer.

About The Author:

David is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of TaskDrive. He’s on a mission to rid the world of bad customer experiences.