Contributed by Cher Zevala
Over the last decade, there has been a huge growth in the e-commerce market, particularly in more recent years as increasing numbers of consumers have fallen in love with the convenience, and often price benefits, of shopping online. However, while the sector continues to grow, for new entrepreneurs launching their own digital store there is a whole lot of competition to deal with too.
As the barriers to entry in e-commerce have dropped, so too have more people entered the market. Today, if you become an online business owner, you don’t just have to compete with the “top guns” in the market such as eBay and Amazon, but thousands and thousands of other ventures all around the world.
If you want to give your business the best chance possible of success and longevity, it’s important to do everything you can to make it stand out from the crowd. Read on for some key tips you can follow today to help make your store more competitive.
Use Consumer-Friendly Design
Firstly, you need to keep in mind that the way your e-commerce store is designed is one of the most important factors in making sales and rising above your competition. These days there are so many online stores out there for consumers to browse, that they won’t bother staying on your site if it is unattractive, doesn’t quickly show them that they can find what they’re after, or is difficult to navigate.
When it comes to the right sort of website design for e-commerce stores, there are many factors to be aware of. For example, your site should immediately convey the brand essence of your business to browsers, as well as indicate to them that they can trust that your site is legitimate, selling quality products or services, and will be around for the long term.
You should also have good images and other graphics throughout your site; break up all text into shorter paragraphs, rather than posting large blocks of copy that are overwhelming; and include enough white space on each page (i.e. areas with no words or graphics) that the site doesn’t look cluttered, unprofessional, or difficult to read.
Another important element of site design is the navigation. If you want people to not only stay on your site long enough to find things to buy, but also to complete a transaction, then they must be able to easily move from one page to another. You don’t want shoppers to have to spend ages searching for particular items or information (such as your shipping costs, turnaround times or refund policy), or have them click away because they can’t work out how to add items to their cart or checkout.
Make Payments Easy for Shoppers
Next, another key way to get ahead of your competitors is to make payments as easy for shoppers as possible. In particular, it is important to provide your customers with multiple payment options, so that they can choose the best fit for their needs at the time of each transaction, and aren’t limited to just one or two options.
In this day and age, consumers expect to be able to choose from options such as credit and debit cards; PayPal and Apple Pay transactions; BPAY; direct deposits; loyalty point conversions; gift cards, and so on. A good way to go about setting up these various payment methods quickly, conveniently, securely, and at an affordable price, is to choose an established retail merchant solution that can be easily integrated into your e-commerce store.
Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Lastly, if you really want to grow your business quickly and out-pace your competition, your website must be mobile-friendly. Consumers have become more and more reliant on smartphones and tablets these days to research and purchase goods and services, so they expect to be able to find and buy what they need at any time of the day or night, whether they’re at work, at home, traveling, or elsewhere.
As such, your e-commerce site must work seamlessly across the various types of device interfaces that are available. Whether you are working on your first e-commerce site, or already have one in place, make sure you test your online store on smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop and laptop computers.
In addition, people also like to use their mobile devices to read product reviews and customer testimonials, and to share their own shopping experiences with others on social media networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and so on. You need to make it easy for them to do so. Add plenty of social-sharing buttons and links to your site that will work well on mobile devices as well as larger computer-based gadgets.