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Tips for E-Commerce Success

Updated on April 29, 2013

With so many e-commerce websites for customers to choose from, what you need now are some tips to make sure your e-commerce website is the one that gets the sales. These simple to follow tips could be the difference between increased sales or buyer disinterest.

If you want to run a more successful e-commerce shop you need to see how your webshop measures up against High Street shops, as well as seeing it from the customer's point of view.

One mistake a lot of e-commerce retailers make is putting up with a system that is outdated and unwieldy - a confusing admin section in your webshop can mean it's too much effort, or even too risky, to start the task of improving it.

Firstly, take a step back and ask yourself if your current e-commerce software is enabling you to achieve your sales targets, or if it fills you with dread as you can't do what you want with it.

E-commerce software has taken leaps forward in the last 2-3 years, with great admin interfaces making it easy to import/export products, to offer customers "people who bought this also bought..." features - and a whole raft of other features.

Step one should be to take a critical look at your e-commerce software and think about:

  • What does your e-commerce software do that you like
  • What doesn't do that you need?

Take a look at 2-3 competitors' webshops and see how their webshops run. See the features they've got that you want.

Compile a Wants List

From your findings, compile a "Wants List". You can now approach some web designers/coders to find you a solution that gives you all your Wants.

Tips for e-Commerce Success.  Source: PD
Tips for e-Commerce Success. Source: PD

Do You Import Your Suppliers' Products List?

This is probably something that most small businesses do. Suppliers will provide you with a .csv file listing all the products they sell. It makes sense, on your first webshop, to simply import all those products to instantly get your webshop up and running.

Suppliers might also give you their product images - product images are essential so this seems a positive thing.

However, what you now have is a webshop containing identical wording and images to the '000s of other companies your suppliers supply. What you need is your own wording and images. There are tons of great webshops out there that simply don't let customers know about the product they want to buy. When a customer comes to your webshop they are interested in buying something - and are looking for YOU to provide them with the information they need to proceed with the sale.

Too Many Products To Do This?

If you have 10,000 products, don't see this as a barrier - see it as an ongoing project. You can take it in chunks, such as:

  • Focus on the top 1% (100) best selling products,
  • Focus on the top 1% in terms of profit margins.
  • Focus on your own "pet projects" - the products you want to sell more of.

Writing new, better, product descriptions should be seen as essential to the long-term success of your e-commerce site. It's certainly worthwhile considering a freelance, retained, writer who can simply work their way methodically through the list without getting side-tracked and without losing focus.


How Are People Finding Your Site?

The best way to give your potential customers the products they want is by ensuring you install and use Google Analytics (and any other stats packages) to regularly trawl through the search terms that bring people to your website.

This function is separate to SEO. You might be getting the traffic to your website - rewriting your product descriptions is to convert more visitors into buyers.

Most webshops that study their statistics will identify the products people are looking for, or the information they are after - from there it's a simple step to either stock those products, or improve the product description to turn those into sales!

Customers are quite often finding uses for your products that you hadn't expected, or have questions that need answering. Give them the information they need and you'll nail that sale!

Take a simple example of a dress.

A website selling high fashion might be uploading products from their supplier and simply putting them into the categories of: Size 12, Ladies Dress. The description might simply say "Cotton dress available in Blue, Green, Red"

Ask yourself this: if you were looking for a dress is that enough information for you? People have specific sizing issues - perhaps they want to know the total length of the dress if they are a little on the tall or short side. Simply telling your potential customers the washing instructions can help a sale as it stops them wondering whether it's dry-clean only, or machine wash. All these extra pieces of information take you one step closer to a sale with more people.

Use a Webshop Product Descriptions Writer

A webshop product descriptions writer can take a customer's view point and write better descriptions for your products. Coming from outside of the company, they can improve your product descriptions, leading potential customers from the point of wanting a product, to wanting YOURS.

When it comes to finding a webshop product descriptions writer, it's a good idea not to use an existing staff member - you should hire an independant writer to re-write your descriptions for you as they will make your "industry standard" terminology more accessible and engaging for all the other people who are wishing to buy your products are are confused by your terminology. Write in Plain English!

I work as a webshop descriptions writer, so if you have any questions about how to find one, simply leave a comment below. You can, of course, hire a freelance writer - probably the best website to find and hire a product descriptions writer is through Freelancer - which is the world's largest freelance marketplace. Simply post your requirements, freelancers apply to do the work and you choose the one which matches your needs with regard to budget, timescale and ability. Cheapest isn't best!

Tips for E-Commerce Success.   Image: ganderssen1
Tips for E-Commerce Success. Image: ganderssen1

Treat Your Webshop Like a High Street Shop

For those businesses whose e-commerce sites are a well-established, the next most important step is to start comparing your webshop shopping experience with what people would receive if they walked into a High Street shop. Clearly your customers can't touch, feel or see the products you have for sale - although for some shops this isn't important. However, it's rare for a customer to walk into a shop and not have a question or two to ask that satisfies their niggles.

Think how you can give your potential customers a chance to ask these questions - and receive a timely response. The quicker you can answer questions, the quicker you'll be able to make that sale. Most webshops will have a "Contact Us" link or form - but ak yourself how long ago you bothered to use this. Most people will simply surf to another site and hope to find the answer they are looking for.

Tips for E-Commerce Success.  Use a LiveHelp Service. Source: author
Tips for E-Commerce Success. Use a LiveHelp Service. Source: author

Use LiveHelp

You can use a serivce such as LiveHelp, which enables your webshop visitors the ability to instantly click and ask you a question. With this, once you are logged on, the LiveHelp icon shows them that there is somebody available immediately to answer questions.

The LiveHelp service can pay for itself in just a couple of extra sales per month - and you'll be able to see the direct result of using a service like this.

Publish your FAQs

For every question you are asked, 100 other people wondered the same question but didn't bother to ask! This is a startling fact and gives you instant feedback on what your customers are looking for. Using the information from any questions you are asked, you can improve your webshop by including this information in your product descriptions.

Customers love to see that the company they are considering buying from are responsive.

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    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      E-Commerce is not easy. It is true that working through your products and giving better descriptions help, I have proven that with a few products I did it with. In my case I find it very difficult as I am operating a sit that has many products I do not really know that well and it takes ages getting the info, that is slowing down the process, but the little I get done really makes a difference.

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