An ecommerce website is an excellent way to sell your products with the minimum of overheads. You can vastly widen your catchment area well in excess of that available to a store that only has a physical high-street presence. Many businesses develop an online store and think that it will instantly generate dozens of sales in no time at all. Whilst this can sometimes be the case, the fact of the matter is that without prior preparation and ongoing work it risks falling short of its targets.

Here are the steps and strategies you can take to ensure that your ecommerce website achieves its full potential to generate significant profits for your business.

How is Your Website Performing?

Just as it is important to always know the current financial health of your business, it is also essential to track and analyse the performance of a website - especially an ecommerce website. First and foremost you want to verify that you have a statistics program installed. Google Analytics is an excellent option and allows you to view many varied and important metrics that can be really useful when assessing how well a website is doing.

Seeing the amount of unique visitors, the sources of traffic, the bounce rate and pages per visit is all essential information. Having access to this data means that as you make changes to improve the site you'll be able to see how effective different tactics are. Does anything obvious jump out - perhaps you're not getting the level of traffic you hoped, or conversely you might have a lot of visitors but no-one's buying?

Once you have confirmed that you can track and monitor your website's performance, basically everything then boils down to just two main areas, these are attracting more visitors to your website and also implementing tactics to increase the conversion rate of existing visitors.

How to Attract more Visitors to your Site

  • High quality unique content - Nowadays search engines such as Google and Yahoo put a lot of emphasis on having high quality unique content. You want to sprinkle original text throughout your site - for example your product and category pages should each feature at least two or three paragraphs of bespoke text. A blog is also a great idea, and many ecommerce websites succeed by having a blog featuring regularly-posted keyword-rich content that draws customers into the site.
  • Search optimisation - When developing a website there are many technical aspects to consider that will make the search engines look more favourably on your site. It might be worthwhile having a web development company look over your site to make sure it is maximising the use of search-engine friendly techniques.
  • Affiliate schemes - Many online businesses have some sort of affiliate scheme, whereby they offer a commission to other websites that refer paying customers. Automated systems can be installed that will track purchases and track where the customer came from. Setting up an affiliate programme and contacting other relevant websites is an additional method you can utilise to leverage external partners.

How to Increase Your Website's Conversion Rate

  • Fully test as a customer - This might sound obvious but if you've got the visitor traffic levels and nobody's purchasing then there could be a problem with the site or the checkout process. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and run through every process that they would, ensuring that everything is fully functional and working as expected.
  • Is everything simple and easy to use? - With ecommerce sites you want to keep it simple, if you offer too many choices and options then you risk distracting your customer from the most important aspect - actually placing an order. Too many sites have confusing checkout processes with distracting elements that take the customer's attention away. It is a good usability and web development practice to remove every unnecessary distraction at the checkout and just keep it simple.
  • Credibility is everything - Many people are still a bit wary of purchasing from websites that they haven't used before. You need to inspire confidence in your site and in the service you provide. Many aspects influence the perception of credibility, such as having a professional website design, ensuring you list an actual phone number on the site, clearly displaying address and contact information and displaying customer testimonials.

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas that you or your web team can implement to improve the success of your ecommerce website. Key to all of this is 'testing and tracking' by regularly measuring performance, testing different ideas and consequently assessing the effects on visitor levels and conversion rates.

Article by Chris Pangburn of Aero Digital.

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