Effective E-Commerce Development

Turn browsers into buyers.

    On the surface, E-Commerce Development is straightforward: set up an online shop with a bunch of products and a shopping cart, checkout, and payment processing, user account, order management capabilities, that has a dashboard the store owner can use to track and change order info, add, remove, or modify products, process payments, etc.

All easy, right? The technical part is well-trodden ground, with dozens of existing solutions that you can just set up and deploy. No need to reinvent the wheel, just pick your favorite system and put up a shop.

All true, but: the devil is in the details.

Ease of use is crucial - there's no point in having an all-singing-all-dancing whiz-bang-fancy-pants shop you don't know how to use or maintain, or that drives costs through the roof.

No system is ever complete - all require maintenance and updates. How well-supported your software is makes a huge difference in recurring costs.

How your pages are organized and laid out can also have a significant impact on conversion from browser to buyer.

A call to action ("Buy Now!") in the right place can make all the difference. Enticing images and/or video can be crucial for convincing customers to buy. Well-written copy makes sales. A site that's too cluttered can put users off. A site without enough visible information "above the fold" risks missing sales because products aren't seen. The proper balance isn't always obvious until you have traffic. The list goes on.

        <h2>Analytics has turned the art of e-commerce development into a science.</h2>     
    People think that web design is all about Art, and that's true to an extent, but they can also become so focused on looks that they lose sight of the bottom line. An attractive site reflects well on your brand, but that's meaningless if people aren't actually buying anything.

It's crucial to be aware of when browsers either convert or abandon the site. If you know why or at least where browsers are leaving, you have a chance to prompt conversions with a well-timed popup, a change in layout, or any of a host of other options to convince people to take the action you desire.

Business Woman Man Professional  - TheDigitalArtist / Pixabay

Asking people to tell you why they abandoned the cart also makes sense, perhaps in exchange for a coupon or a gift, like a free download or something similar. The options are as varied as the products people buy. A simple form with a single multiple choice question and a text field for details might give you the information you need to improve the customer experience.

Take a look at the big corporate sites like Microsoft, Adobe, cable television and telecommunications companies - they all use these tactics. Why? Because it works.

Woman Adult People Money  - sallyjermain / Pixabay

Recover lost sales.

Tracking what actually happens on your site is crucial. Google analytics, log file analysis, and other tools - from expensive custom solutions to free open-source tools - can help you do this.

If you know when customers abandon their shopping carts and have an email address, you've got a chance to send them a message to lure them back to the site. That can be a discount, a similar or accessory product, or whatever makes sense based on what they'd selected before leaving with their purchase unfinished.

The point is to keep customers engaged, because the longer they consent to interact with your site, the more chance they'll make a purchase.

Reward referrals.

Most E-Commerce software allows you to install add-ons to enable an "affiliate system" - that is, a way to reward users for referring buyers to your site. These can be expensive third-party solutions, free open-source tools, custom-made systems, or even built into the E-Commerce setup.

There are also tools that allow you to "gamify" your site, and reward specific actions in a variety of ways. You can create a "points" system to reward actions, give away coupons or free products, award badges for active users that indicate their status to the community, or anything else that you think might motivate users to interact with your site.

The triggers for awards can be anything from a page load to filling out a form, purchasing products, sharing a link on a social network, or almost any other action you wish to encourage.

Upsell.

Well-crafted product pages should include links to similar or related products or accessories. The emails your site sends out with receipts, your newsletter, etc. should also include opportunities for customers to purchase more products of interest to them.

Scattered throughout your site, there should be useful information, calls to action, rewards, notifications, and other inducements to engage. Every time a user clicks a link or loads a page, you've got an opportunity to prompt further interaction.

This requires a light touch so as not to annoy people, but it can be done in a way that strikes users as helpful rather than pushy. A gentle upsell can work wonders.

This can all be accomplished within your budget.

Whatever it is. The beauty of all of this is that it can happen gradually.

Don't have the time or money to do everything? No problem.

Start with the basics and leave room to grow. As long as you have competent help, you can learn as you go and add more functionality as you become more familiar with the tools.

If you have a competent consultant who understands the business realities you're working with and is a good communicator, they'll be able to walk you through it in comfortable stages, with a usable site at each stage.

Typically, you'd start with an E-Commerce setup, with products, payment processing, and some tracking in place to tell you what's happening.

This would include basic informational pages such as a privacy policy, terms and conditions, about us, contact us, join our mailing list, a news and advice section, basic DCMA and GDPR compliance ("Here's all the information we keep and what we do with it. Here's how to remove yourself from our system. Here's your privacy options control panel. By the way, we use cookies to improve your experience and enable site functionality. By using this site you agree that's okay.")

A reasonable part of this step might also include some advertising, targeted by geography, demographics, and keywords - but it's not unusual to wait for a later stage of development to really go all out on marketing, and there are other cost-effective online marketing tactics.

Once the ball is rolling, you're able to look at the analytics and customer feedback in order to determine what to enhance, where to add functionality or change other aspects of the site, your processes, your marketing etc. to increase sales.

        <h2>Let's get you started:</h2>

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