eCommerce Success
The most successful ecommerce websites are ones that sell well known branded products at the most competitive prices, packaged with a risk free offer, and provide unquestionable credible evidence to assure you that they are the best available.

If your online shop has these qualities then you will have the confidence to heavily invest in advertising your website.

But even if you are confident about the quality and price of your products you are selling, you will still need the following aspects:

1) Category Pages:

Clear categories that group the attributes of the type of products on your website will greatly help navigation. Navigation by categories helps visitors fine tune their search and at the same time allow them to compare and contrast with other selections.

With no categories, you risk losing scalability and potential up-sell possibilities when the visitor sees similar products.

2) Shopping Basket, Checkout and Registration:

The whole shopping experience should allow the customer to browse and add items to a shopping basket at any time. Only when the customer wants to checkout and pay should the login or registration process begin, and even this should be optional.

3) Rich Product Information:

Like all sales environments, a buying decision is a personal and emotional experience. The customer will buy what they want, not necessarily what they need. Good product information converts the features into benefits tailored to the customer. These benefits should be ordered by importance of the improvements the benefit brings, the number of customers likely to be attracted to each benefit, and the intensity of the emotion.

If you simply list the features as bullet points, the customer will only buy if they need it. Imagine selling chocolate bars. Nobody needs a chocolate bar. Listing the features of a chocolate bar will not improve sales.

4) Excellent Images:

Nothing can beat high quality images when displaying products. Consequently, nothing can harm the prospect of a sale more than very poor quality images.

So what makes an excellent image?

Images should be obtained from good quality 3+ mega-pixel digital photographs, ideally taken in a professional studio to give the best contrast and minimised shadow to give the best detail.

Convert the image file to a web compatible format such as .gif or .jpg to give good file compression, and set the resolution to 72dpi (dots per inch).

Have a large image size of at least 450 pixels wide, a medium image size of around 250 pixels wide, and a thumbnail image of around 90 pixels wide. These different sizes can be used to display the product in detail, as part of the product description, and be displayed as part of a collection of products.

5) Tax and Postage – Shipping & Delivery Policies:

If the tax payable is unclear, you have no postage guidelines, your shipping and delivery policies are vague and ambiguous, then would you buy from your website?

If you are VAT registered, you need to make it very clear how you are pricing your products i.e. inclusive or exclusive of VAT. Do you send proper VAT invoices?

If you are exporting to non EU countries, do you have mechanisms for VAT compliance?

Do you have a clear postage pricing policy? Free delivery is the easiest and clearest. If this is not viable due to the weight or size of the product making it cost prohibitive, then the postage policy and fees should be stated clearly for each product. You should also have an agreement about damages returns due to breakages in the post.

Estimates of shipping times and estimated time of delivery should be provided to help the customer manage their expectations and reduce anxiety when there are delays and problem with delivery.

6) Security:

If you want customers to enter their credit card details on your website, it needs to have either direct access to a third party payment gateway system or by using a secure form on your own website.

Recognised payment gateway companies are PROTX, WorldPay, HSBC epayment or similar systems from other major banks. These companies give you access to a secure online form where your customer can enter their credit card details to complete the transaction.

A better solution is to provide your own secure online form to take transaction and then process the transaction indirectly through your preferred payment gateway company. Using this method, the customer stays on your website and you can make the online form exactly to your requirements. This also gives the added assurance that your customers are paying you directly instead of being passed to another website to take the payment.

In order to have a secure form, you need an SSL certificate on your website. This will enable you to use https://yourdomain instead of http://yourdomain, and a padlock will be displayed on the browser. This means that the communication between the server and your browser is encrypted and therefore secure.

7) Competitive prices and special offers:

The ideal customer that visits your ecommerce website is one that is ready to buy right now. If you have achieved the other points mentioned above, then the last thing you want is your customer to turn away because you don’t have an irresistible offer or the package deals you are offering appear to be more expensive than your competition.

If you can’t beat the competition on price, then it is up to you to find a way to package your product with additional high value services to make it irresistible.

To give your website the best possible chance of success, ensure that the essential design aspects have been reviewed and dealt with. If you feel your website requires attention in any area of its design, please contact your account manager for advice.

If you are in any doubt, complete the support request form and your account manager will review your enquiry the following day.