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New Orleans E-commerce Web Design Improvement

In this, the first of five articles on improving your website design, we will talk about the e-commerce part of your online store, or more specifically the conversion rate. Conversion rates vary from industry to industry but an aggregate average of 2.5%-3% seems closest to the truth1. If this number can be increased through low-cost but valuable methods, then your cost per lead (total marketing budget divided by number of leads) will fall significantly and increase the company profit.

Unfortunately, a lot of designers prefer to utilize heavy flash animations, extremely dynamic and moving menus and eye-catching colors but these can have the opposite effect and frighten your customers away. Think of the user as an explorer on a new continent and any sudden movement will be considered hostile. To combat this, make your landing page as static as possible and put only the most important links on it. Try to relegate unnecessary links onto second tier pages. For example, you could showcase your most popular product with a quick-buy button next to it.

Search functions are the first place to visit when something is missing or hard to find and these can quickly improve your conversion ratios. Note that mobile phone users, due to their intricate touch-screen keyboards, place much less importance than desktop users on searches. An autocomplete function or an enterprise solution2 will help customers quickly find their desired product and lower their frustration when looking for it. Alternatively, consider making a dynamic catalogue for better selection. For example, upload your normal static one for experienced or returning customers but prepare navigation questions and easily browsable categories. Make your products easily distinguishable and if possible, limit the number of choices as these actually decrease the tendency to buy3.

Improving the buyer experience should be the main strategy when trying to increase conversions. Different customer behaviors demand different interfaces and buyers’ tools. For example, some prefer comparing your products, others always go for big discounts, and still others like to buy the most advanced set of features. If it is not possible to cater to all of your customer needs, do a sample survey to determine your most important and profitable group of customers. Sort them by their purchasing power and revenue contribution and not by number of sales. Try to make your online store as hospitable and useful as a brick and mortar one.

To this end, you should aim to briefly but fully describe your products – include sizes, materials, overview, customer opinions, specifications, etc. Including more than one photo will greatly improve customer confidence as this will give them a more realistic view of your merchandise. Furthermore, consider, for example, having employees model new clothes for a more realistic feel. Finally, if your budget allows it, have a designer make a 3D model of the items. For products such as building materials and white appliances, this will enable the client to see if he can fit the product at his premises.

A worthwhile practice is to create engaging content and interweave the purchase options within it. For example, you could create an article about different Valentine’s Day presents and showcase your related products. Alternatively, combine different media such as videos, images and text for a complete SEO boost which will impact on the whole website popularity. Additionally, most website inventories are continuously changing so a quick update can prevent customer dissatisfaction when checking out. Your website could have a feature of recommending similar product on each occasion in order not to lose a valuable customer. Small product variations should therefore be placed close together.

References:

  1. http://bluecorona.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/what-is-the-average-website-conversion-rate/
  2. http://www.google.com/enterprise/search/index.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice:_Why_More_Is_Less

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