There are several reasons why having an online storefront is a must, especially if you’re selling products and services. For starters, the majority of consumers today seek information about products and services online. You also benefit from the lower overhead costs and the fluidity of e-commerce.
Unfortunately, you can’t just set up an e-commerce site and hope for the best. Similar to setting up an offline establishment, you have to fine-tune the user experience for the e-commerce site to work. There are best practices you need to follow to effectively convert visitors into customers.
A Speedy Site
No only likes to wait for a page to load. Potential customers will actually leave your site after a few seconds; around eight seconds to be more precise. Your site needs to have its main elements fully loaded and ready for use within that time period in order to retain potential customers.
There are several ways you can achieve this. You can layer web elements so that they are loaded in a certain way. Content and crucial visual elements, such as the site’s navigation, need to be loaded first. Images and video, as well as other content, can then follow.
You can also use technologies such as Lazy Load to further optimize the site’s loading time. Naturally, you need every web element to be optimized for web use. Removing metadata and color profile for images is often enough to reduce the size of each image by up to 80%.
A Functional Search
The second key to creating an effective e-commerce site is a functional search bar. This is a crucial element to have and one that must be taken seriously. The search field of your e-commerce site needs to be prominent enough so that it is easy to spot, no matter where it is placed. You also want to keep the search field visible, either by placing it on a floating navigation bar or on one side of the page.
Older keyword-based search needs to be replaced with the newer, smarter search mechanism. Adding features such as autocomplete search will greatly influence your users’ experience. They can get to the products they are looking for faster, which means they can jump to the purchase decision just as quickly.
Last, but certainly not least, you need to simplify the checkout process. Make it so that customers can complete their purchases in as few steps as possible. Most e-commerce sites strive for a single-page checkout, where users can swiftly make purchases and complete the cycle. Others settle for a two-page or three-page checkout process, but with a simple wizard and a smooth user experience.
All of these approaches work, but only when users can make purchases without so much hassle. You must not hesitate to tweak the checkout process whenever you have the chance. The smoother the process, the more users you can convert into paying customers.
These are the e-commerce best practices to implement in today’s market. If you want your online storefront to be effective, these are the tips and tricks to use to get started.