When designing an ecommerce website, one can take a lot of good lessons from a well oiled brick and mortar operation. ATAK Interactive is a well known Los Angeles web design company who offers 10 lessons from a brick and mortar model that one can apply to their website plan.
1. Add Security and Show its There: Think about walking into a store. Right away one sees credit card icons on the front door and a well dressed security officer at the door greeting customers. Security not only keeps users from stealing, but security also helps users feel safe and protected. Make sure you show your users that the site is secure. Because you sell products, make sure your website has a SSL which is encryption for your website. Once this is done, show the icon provided by the SSL Company on the home page to show users it is there. Users want to see two things, the logos for all website security measures, as well as the little lock icon in your web browser that confirms the site is secure. Look professional and secure, it goes a long way.
2. Make Your Website Easy for Users to Navigate: Just like physical retail or wholesale store, users need to find what they want quickly. Properly named and described aisles and good shelving display can directly correlate to online store. Dont make users watch a video or walk down isle to isle before they can figure out how they can get to where they want to be. Dont make them sign up for the store card to purchase anything, and offer multiple ways to get to the same place. Keep it simple and easy for young or old users to find info and purchase.
3. Add familiar logos, BBB, and other Organizations that Show Credibility: When going to a restaurant for the first time, most look for the health rating sign on the window, or a Michelin star plaque on the wall. They want to know how the experts have rated the service. Well, your web site users want the same thing. If you are affiliated or recommended by credible organizations, make sure users can see and acknowledge. Users will feel safer on your website if they know reliable affiliates recommend you. Testimonials are also a good way of building confidence from your prospective users.
4. Offer All Payment Options: As a shopper sometimes I have cash, sometimes a credit card, sometimes a gift card, and sometimes check or debit card. Sometimes I have my AMEX and sometimes a VISA. Most stores let the shopper spend any way he or she wants, and if they dont accept what customers have their pockets customers leave. Do the same on your website. Also, heavily consider using PayPal and Google Checkout too. Let people pay how they want.
5. Show Your Products in their Best Light: Make sure, just like in your brick and mortar, that your ecommerce website product photos make your product look as appealing and enticing as possible. This is your chance at making an impression. Think about how much time and effort a simple cereal company puts into their packaging. On a website you need to do the same with your product shots. Show the fine details of your products and show alternative views. If the product is a shirt, show it with a person wearing it and show how it will look with pants and then sell the pants as well.
6. Expanded Store Hours Increase Chances for Sales: This lesson is obvious, but with an ecommerce store, your business never fully closes down. Sure, customer service may not be available for parts of the day, for example if you do not want to pay for agents at 2 in the morning, but users can still place orders, look for info, price match, and more.
7. Ecommerce Website Stores Need Policies Too: Every store has rules, policies, and procedures. Make sure all are clearly displayed on your website so customers are not hit with unexpected fees, return issues, and more. Make a customer service section for your ecommerce website and make sure users can clearly find all common answers to questions.
8. Consider all of your customers. If you didnt know, some of your biggest customers are the Search Engines! Make sure that all users can get to sections they need, easily, without need to fuss. For search engines, make sure they can find you. Like a normal customer, search engines need directions to your store. Ecommerce websites require special search engine optimization practices, especially if the website store is in a moderately to highly competitive marketplace.
9. Store Name, Location, and Contact Information are All Important: Customers do not want to guess where your store is or try to remember how to spell your store name to try to find it in the first place in a directory. Make your URL something people will remember. Also, if you are a company that sells wood, try putting “wood” in your URL like AndersonWood.com or something along those lines.
Also, on the web, you must show you actually exist and users can and will be able to get in touch with customer service when they need to. Try to include contact info on every page of the site, like at the top in your header for example. Also provide alternative methods of contact such as contact forms and links to social networking sites you have profiles at. Customers need to know they can contact you if something goes wrong or they do not receive their purchase.
10. Make Checkout Fast. Physical retail stores learned that people like to check out fast, and some retailers even let users check out by themselves if the idea is sensible. Your local supermarket is a great example of online checkout taken to the retail level with the institution of self checkout lanes to skip the line. Users dont like to wait in line forever. Get them in, get them out, make sure they come back because they are happy. Good ecommerce websites should have one page checkout and easy customer account creation. Users should not have any chance to back out of pages because they do not know where they are or they are dissatisfied with the checkout process.
11. BONUS! Include Testimonials: Written testimonials with pictures are very good for your site and sales conversions. Add audio and you look even better. Testimonials are more believable if there is a name and place associated with the actual text.
If you are planning to start ecommerce website design, think about a physical location that is successful. Also take the time to look at e-commerce stores that have a successful model. Next time you shop on line take some time to notice what it is about certain ecommerce websites you shop at that make you feel safe and secure when purchasing from them. Then, apply those lessons to your own website. Last, think about your website as your customers will experience it. Do whatever you need to do to help them feel confident about shopping with your business online.