If you sell stuff, there’s a good chance you’re selling online. Your customers expect it, it’s easier and cheaper for you, and there are lots of options these days to get yourself an affordable shopping website.

That said, it’s a proven fact that some websites sell better than others. What makes the difference?

Here are five tips that will help make your e-commerce website a whole lot better, and more likely to convert visitors into buyers.

1 – Make buying easy

Take a lesson from Amazon, probably the most successful ecommerce website of all time. Jeff Bezos pioneered (and patented) the one-click system (there’s even a book about it). Essentially, the idea was to reduce the number of clicks required to make a purchase, to make the whole buying processing dead simple. It worked. People buy stuff from Amazon they would never need in a million years, simply because they can do it without thinking, it’s that easy (and dangerous).

Try buying something from your website. How easy is it? How many clicks does it take to checkout? How many fields do you need to fill in? Did you get lost? If you find it difficult at all, imagine how a brand new visitor will feel? It’s likely it’ll just end in tears and the dreaded abandoned cart (I swear all these lost trollies are slowing up the internet!).

So, lesson one, make it eeeeeeasy! And, who knows, one day you might be the next Amazon.

2 – Your pricing is clear and transparent

Many people (not just me!) use price as major factor when doing comparative shopping. It’s why things like Google Shopping actually works for me (talk to us if you want to add your store) – you can see the same product laid out, side by side, from a bunch of retailers, and just pick the cheapest – easy.

Some things to watch for include showing the GST inclusive price on the product page, and, if possible, also make it obvious what the delivery cost is (this is the advantage of simple delivery costs e.g. free delivery, one-price nationwide etc.).

A word of caution: don’t be a sneaky ticketek and throw in extra charges right at the end of the checkout process that can’t be avoided – if you need to cover a card fee at least offer an alternative payment method.

3 – Offer relevant up-sells (or cross-sells)

Just like in real life (yes, despite our screen-obsessed society it’s still out there!) a salesperson might suggest either an alternative, normally more expensive, product to the one you’re looking at (called an up-sell) or a complementary product (a cross-sell) such as a pack of band-aids to go with that fancy new razor, or some duct tape to go with your new air pods.

The two main ingredients to successful up-sells, and cross-sells, are timing and relevancy.

This is where knowing your products, and your market, are invaluable. When I worked for NZ Post we devoted an entire section in the training manual to getting this part of the sales transaction right, largely because there was a massive potential for boosting sales revenue through premium add-ons like packet tracking (because, you know, you couldn’t trust us to actually deliver your product using standard post!).

Analyse your product range, look at your historical sales, think about current trends and then plan your up-sells. Don’t just show “related products” and hope for the best – be smart and it’ll pay off, particularly if you sweeten the deal with combined postage or free shipping offers.

4 – Invest in great product photos

You might have a really good product but if your photos don’t do it justice, you’ll have a much harder time making sales. Online shopping is great but it’s still the poor cousin of in-person shopping when it comes to the visuals (we’re not quite at the point of ecommerce sites beaming down holograms) so make the effort to compensate by at least having the best photos you can manage.

What makes a good product photo? Here are a few tips.

  • High resolution (large size) – Product photos should be at least 1000px wide, and high resolution (sharp) so customers can see the detail (our ecommerce sites offer a zoom feature to capitalise on larger images).
  • Uniform size – Photos should ideally all be the same size (e.g. 1500px wide by 1000px high) so they look tidy and align correctly on the page. The product scale should also match, unless it’s an intentional close-up of a specific feature.
  • Distraction-free background – Normally, this mean shooting the photos with a white background (check out photo box options) unless it’s a lifestyle shot of the product in use (make sure these are professional).
  • Cover all the important stuff – Include photos of the product from every angle, particularly specific features that customers will be interested in, or will use to compare with similar products.

When your photos are done read these tips on the best way to send them to us, so we can add them to your website.

5 – Great communication at every stage of the buying process

One of the things that can be great about online shopping is being able to have all the relevant information in one place – no lengthy, drawn out conversations with a salesperson who is trying to distract you with that glow-in-the-dark remote, when you really just want to know the lag time and refresh rates to make sure your gamer reputation won’t be in danger.

But some e-tailers seem to forget that, and offer scant detail about a product, or miss the point entirely by telling you to contact them for more information. Please, for the love of all that’s good, respect the customer’s time by giving them access to ALL the product detail – sure, start with a catchy little intro, but put all the specs lower down the page (in a nice, easy-to-scan format).

Good ecommerce communication includes a lot of things, here are a few ideas:

  • Easy-to-read typography (text) – Make sure your text is easy to read (generally, black text on white is a good option), lots of white space (not cramped) and a nice, readable font size (on all screen sizes).
  • Clear user feedback and navigation – Explain clearly and simply what’s happening – a product’s been added to the cart, a discount has been applied or the shipping cost has been updated. Also, give clear sign posts (buttons or links) so they know what to click next to complete their order.
  • Confirm the order immediately – Reassure shoppers that their order has been received and confirmed. There’s nothing worse than wondering if your order (and credit card number!) has disappeared into the murky darkness of the hackerverse.
  • Keep them updated and follow-up – Let them know when their order has been dispatched and offer delivery tracking so they can follow its progress. Follow up after the delivery to make sure everything is going well, and invite them to leave a review.
  • Market (sensibly) – It’s no surprise that repeat business can be a goldmine for retailers. Customers that have bought from you, are much more likely to buy a second time (if they had a good experience, obviously) so market to them with relevant offers and exclusive deals – build the relationship and increase the total lifetime value of the customer. Get in touch if you need help setting up Google tracking, visitor reporting or a Mailchimp email marketing systems.

Need help upgrading your e-commerce site?

Ok ok, I realise this post might have been more than just five quick changes to your website – it might represent a lot of work, but make a start, and every step, no matter how small, is a step closer to a more profitable ecommerce site.

By the way, we don’t just build really affordable ecommerce websites, we also help with all your digital marketing including email marketing, Google Ads, analytics or SEO.

If you prefer to go with Shopify, we do that too (read this if you’re on the fence about WooCommerce vs Shopify).

Remember, every positive change you make to your ecommerce website can make the difference between a sale or a see-ya-later-no-ka-ching exit – so, get stuck in and start making it better today.

And, while you’re here, can I interest you in purchasing our million-dollar-insurance on that ugly $10 tee shirt you’re sending to your brother?

5 Tips for a better E-Commerce Website