“Remember, every ‘mistake’ your customer makes, it’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because your website sucks” - Peep Laja, Founder of ConversionXL
If you are an eCommerce business owner, take this quote to heart.
Especially, if you have a general merchandise website.
Make sure you're designing it with the users in mind. Your goal is to give them a pleasant experience while shopping online through your website.
But... launching and running a website is no piece of cake. It can be daunting for a new online store owner.
It can be overwhelming for brick-and-mortar store owners who just started an online store. To be honest, it can be too taxing on even the most experienced eCommerce owner.
And there are many complexities involved. Many things get overlooked.
But don't fret. There's a lot in store for you today...
So without further ado, let's start your
15-Point Checklist In Ensuring An Efficient General Merchandise Website...
1. Set Specific Goals For Your eCommerce Website
So, if you have a new general merchandise store, you have to outline your goals and goal-related strategies for your website design.
However, if you've had your website for years, you might want to re-examine your goals. So you can determine if it needs to be updated.
Your eCommerce website goals will always have to be done regularly. That's why it's important to decide how often you want to review your goals.
A review helps you measure your progress. And see if it still aligns with your marketing plan and strategies.
Plus, it will motivate you to do well.
Next, you have to...
2. Create a Unique Brand
Ensure your brand message and tone are consistent. And make an effort to present it consistently across all your marketing and sales channels.
Doing so will make your brand appear more professional, credible, and recognizable. And may develop brand loyalty among your customers.
Thus, differentiating you from other online stores.
A few pointers for establishing your brand...
- Know what your value proposition is. A value proposition is a statement that tells why customers should choose your product or service. So make sure to craft a value proposition that highlights what makes you different from your other general merchandise site. And what can customers benefit from you?
- Utilize fonts and colors that reflect the message you want to convey. Your font and color choices can give your customers a powerful insight into your brand. Choosing the color and fonts is one of the key factors in giving your brand recognition. At the same time, this can make the right first impression for your target customers.
- Identify the kind of imagery you will use to further convey your message. Be very careful in selecting the images for your website. This is one of the elements that are vital for your brand identity. So make sure you choose these elements carefully and maintain consistency across your website and all sales channels.
You can't miss #3...
3. Make Navigation Easy for Online Shopping
If someone visits your online retail site, they have the option to leave or stay. The ease of navigation is especially important for eCommerce websites.
Your target shoppers will immediately leave your site if your homepage, product pages, and navigation are not appealing.
You want to make sure they reach the checkout area and confirm their order.
So with a few tweaks, helpful popups, and some additions to your product sales pages, you can help and guide them.
Your eCommerce site should have different categories. Each category should cater to the specific needs of site visitors and customers.
The reason for this is to ensure that they are accessible to users.
To achieve this, you need a simplified navigation process.
Your general merchandise website should have dropdown menus, droplines, and flyouts.
Doing this will make a great experience not only for your loyal customers. But also for your site visitors and new customers.
Speaking of easy navigation and accessibility...
4. Design A Mobile-Responsive Online Store
The number of people using smartphones for internet browsing has increased dramatically over the past years.
It's not surprising that almost 80% of people use their smartphones to surf the web... and shop online.
And just so you know, Google takes mobile responsiveness into consideration before ranking any website.
So, when you set up an online store, your primary focus should be a mobile-friendly design.
Online stores that are not mobile-friendly disrupt the smooth operation. And it may cause your customers to look elsewhere for alternatives.
If your general merchandise website is not mobile-friendly, it doesn't only takes up time. But it also hinders certain critical features from loading.
This may cause your customer to look elsewhere for alternatives.
So go ahead and implement this on your own online store. Choose a mobile-optimized online store to better serve customers.
We're almost halfway...
5. Make Sure the Web Design is Visually Appealing
Visual merchandising doesn't only work in a brick-and-mortar store. But also works in any online business.
After all, your products can go from average to premium if your website is designed beautifully.
So, take a look at the aesthetics of your website design and make sure it goes well with your brand and products.
Check the web page scripts, product pages, pop ups, images, and CSS. They should also be optimized across web pages.
Then check everything. Make sure all paragraphs, headings, formatting, and product images are correct.
Make sure your brand colors are used correctly. Check even those being used for links and buttons.
All these can make your eCommerce site beautiful and professional.
6. Optimize all Ecommerce SEO Across Your Website
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about optimizing your entire website for search engines.
Spend some time ensuring your website has been set up for search engine success.
To do this...
- Find keywords and phrases to rank.
- Decide what to rank for and use those keywords.
- And then build content around those keywords.
Then take a close look at everything. And I mean everything. From site architecture to content hierarchy... to metadata and XML sitemaps.
#7 is often overlooked but it's important...
7. Display Contact Info
If the users need to reach you, contact information is crucial. It's not enough that they know your store name.
A lack of key info can interfere with your customers' shopping experience.
Some general merchandise website owners don't display their contact information. This is fine if you are just getting started.
Yet, if it has been a couple of months and you haven't made your contact information visible... then you may be losing your potential customers. And you might not even be aware of that.
So have a contact page on your own site.
Also, remember that contact details do not have to be your contact number. It could be an email address, a contact form, an address, or a link to a social media profile.
The next point is helpful for all store owners...
8. Offer Customers More Payment Methods
Having only one payment method is not a problem. However, when you expand your business, it is best to offer various payment options. So that you can serve your customers better.
And here's the thing...
It is crucial to choose the right payment method to close a sale. A customer who doesn't trust your payment method will abandon their cart.
And they might not even return.
Also, make sure it meets the payment processing preferences of your customers. Do they prefer COD, credit card, Paypal, etc.
You can't miss the next point...
9. Keep Your Content Up to Date
Do you agree that content is king? I do.
Content is an excellent marketing strategy. But it is possible that content that was once appealing is no longer relevant.
Your content needs will grow as your business does. So it is imperative that you update your content regularly.
Old content should be tweaked. Or much better, create new ones to stay relevant to your modern customers.
And also, sharing your content on your social media and across multiple channels will make a big difference... not only in sales but also in your real-time visibility.
Not only that. You can also incorporate it with your email marketing. Your target customers will appreciate more high quality content. Plus, this will boost your email marketing strategy as well.
This brings me to my next point...
10. Check for Redirects and Broken Links
Broken links and 404 error pages are the worst enemies to the smooth running of a website. In such cases, a website not only loses credibility but also gets sanctioned by Google.
It is advisable to use the Google Search Central (formerly Webmasters). It ensures your site is performing well. It also brings your attention to the areas that require attention.
If you are having problems with 404 errors, you can also set up redirects. This means, if a user gets to an error page, they will be redirected to a working page.
#11 is very important in this eCommerce checklist...
11. Set up Analytics and Testing Elements
Don't forget to set up your website for web analytics and customer data collection. As you move forward, you will be able to use all the information here.
I suggest you consult Mr. Google Analytics. With this free tool, you can easily determine whether a website is performing well.
This will be helpful in order to continually improve your website. And help you get more customers. And level up your business. So don't overlook this part.
I cannot overemphasize this enough...
12. Ensure Your eCommerce Website is Secure
All eCommerce platforms should have security as one of their most important features... if not the most important.
Big and small business owners should make this a priority.
eCommerce sites that are not secure expose themselves, their brands, and their customers to fraud and identity theft.
Besides that, leaked payment information info will cause huge damage to your business... and to your reputation as an online store owner.
In other words, eCommerce security isn't only concerned with ensuring that your business remains secure. But also your customers.
So your eCommerce platform must have strict security features.
We're getting close to the end of this blog, so keep reading...
13. Perform User Experience Tests On Your Online Store Site
The success of any online retail store doesn't only depend on aesthetics, product pages, and retail operations. But it depends heavily on the usability of the website.
A website's usability impacts how well it converts. Poor usability affects the conversion rate of a website.
As a result, you may lose prospects and current customers who might turn towards your competitors.
On the other hand, usability testing can increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn rates, and drive more sales.
So you must regularly check the following:
- A 24-hour monitoring script is installed.
- Plugins are slated to be updated.
- Your company's password etiquette policies should be known.
- Obtain an SSL certificate if needed.
Another important point...
14. Put Up An FAQ Page
You want to respond to any questions your potential shoppers may have as quickly and efficiently as possible. So it's a good idea to put up an FAQ page in your website.
An FAQ page can ease a potential buyer's mind especially if they are about to make their first purchase. This helps establish trust between your business and your customers.
Visitors and customers can use this tool at any point in their customer journey. And can help them with any confusion they may have.
It will help them know your business more. From products to services to supply chain, retail locations, shipping policy, your other sales channels, etc... everything they want to know about your business.
Everything they want to know about your business should be included in this page.
Finally, It's important to note...
15. Maintain Compliance with Laws and Regulations
Online store owners should give importance to this. Each industry follows its own set of rules when it comes to Internet law.
And to be sure you are not missing anything in your business, make sure you consult with your legal counsel.
Here are some you may need to be aware of:
- Accessibility features your eCommerce website (for disabled individuals).
- The website complies with usage rights on code, images, and fonts purchased or borrowed.
- Privacy policies and terms are made available to visitors.
- Your website is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
That's it for today's blog. So, what are you waiting for...
Start Running An Efficient General Merchandise Website!
Providing a smooth website experience is imperative for eCommerce websites and for online customers.
Keeping the above checklist in mind will help you run your own online store efficiently.
I recommend that you revisit this blog from time to time. And examine your eCommerce website. Test your online store against the above-mentioned strategies.
It might be a daunting process for you but hear me out!
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