Modern day e-commerce is highly competitive. Strategic insights, programming, design, and ongoing management sounds costly and time consuming. It doesn’t need to be.
Take your time and communicate
First, wade into the waters slowly. Consider that Amazon wasn’t built in a day. Look to resolve core requirements first, with the mindset that added functionality, integrations with current systems, and complete automation should be added later on. Chat with multiple e-commerce website developers. Consultations are free. Gather information on their approaches and suggested solutions. Share information on your requirements and you’ll collect ideas.
When it comes time to select a developer, get multiple offers. You can play them against each other, compare pricing and recommended strategies, learn about prior work, and properly vet each candidate company.
Design motivations & accountability
Many companies will simply charge by the hour or quote a flat project rate. These fee structures provide incentive for reduced work, minimal time investment, and slow delivery times. While it’s fair for both sides to have skin in the game, you might suggest some sort of contingency component based on established, measurable metrics most important to you: perhaps gross sales, website traffic counts, etc.Increased contingency component might mean reduced or eliminating out of pocket development costs for you. When cash flow is tight, this can be an effective approach with minimal downside risk for you.
Contingency as a litmus test
Even if you don’t end up going this route, a good website developer will agree to discussing a contingency relationship (under fair terms), while a lesser company may not. Assessing the developer’s level of confidence and asking them to put their money where their mouth is could give you some insight into their competency.
There should be sufficient upside potential for each of you, but also downside protection in the case of failed or ineffective solutions. It’s fair to work toward shifting some portion of the risk across the table to the developer.
Discussion is key to finding mutually benefit
The end goal is fairness and mutual benefit. The only way to learn about what is important to each side is to talk things over. An experienced website developer will spend time discussing these arrangements and seek to craft fair fee structures with aligned incentives, somewhat shared risk, and upside potential.
- Fluid search results rather than rigid categorization
- Unlimited product configurations
- Customers find what they need immediately
- Frustrated searches lead to lost customers
- Intuitive search filters
- Unlimited products
Customer experience comes first
Organizing your product lines and various product configurations warrants careful consideration. First, think hard about your customer behavior and how your users find what they need. What are they most interested in? What are their questions or problems? Do they know product numbers by heart or will they need to search by name or attribute?
Get there from anywhere
Product categorization no longer needs to be “straight line” with rigid drop down menus and categories. Rather, the goal is to usher the user to the appropriate products as quickly and efficiently as possible. Navigation structure and configuration filters allow for a more fluid delivery of searched items.
For example, perhaps someone wants to find all items in size medium, or everything in the color blue…or both. Alternatively, they may prefer to search by designer, price, collar style, sleeve style, material, country of origin, or any other feature. Unlimited product features and customized search results are possible.
Every customer is unique and your website needs to present the best possible experience.
- Trusted, streamlined checkout processes
- Transparency with company policies and pricing structures
- SSL encryption and proven security measures
- Mobile responsiveness for ordering on the go
Secure and fast
E-commerce website checkout systems need to be secure, mobile responsive, and easily navigated. The buying process must instill confidence that consumer data will be protected and products will be delivered timely.
Information on shipping policies, pricing calculations, tax information, return policies and procedures, product guarantees, and other pertinent buying information should be up front and center during the checkout process. The customer needs to know they are receiving what they intend, and there are no strings attached.
Payment processing and security
Don’t mess around when it comes to security. Integrate with one of the most trusted credit card payment gateway providers…there are hundreds to choose from. SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certified encryption is a must for security purposes. Your customers need to rest assured that their proprietary information and credit card data remains protected.
Don’t forget mobile
Don’t forget to test in mobile environments. Checkout pages need to be responsive and enable simplified order completion and shipment tracking. Whether in the office or in the field, your customers need to have easy, clear access to make the purchases they need.
- Track inventory across all sales channels
- Integrate with existing accounting and OEM systems
- Manage product lines proactively with real time data
- Offer promotions and discounts to move excess product
OEM integration across all sales channels
Your e-commerce website needs to integrate seamlessly into your existing inventory tracking system. Many online sales companies place a high priority on tracking available inventory, accounting, and open-to-buy programs, and your online solution needs to accommodate these imperatives.
From a customer standpoint, it’s also important to know which items are in inventory and which items may either be unavailable or back ordered. Inventories are updated in real time across all sales channels.
Proactively manage supplies and promotions
Real time data and an understanding of inventory is a big advantage of operating online. Information can help management implement product discounts and buying incentives to help remove excess inventory or make room for new product. A proactive, data-driven approach to e-commerce boosts sales, increases margins and grows profits for any company.
- Clean and clear product presentation
- Multiple images & image zoom functionality
- Mobile Responsive Design
- Enable informed purchase decisions
- Instill confidence and create loyalty
Your e-commerce website solution is designed to showcase your product lines as efficiently and attractively as possible, in lock step with corporate branding and existing marketing campaigns. For maximum returns, your customers need to know exactly what they are buying, including all terms of the transaction, and all of the benefits of purchasing from your company.
If designed correctly, your e-commerce solution makes the most relevant information available to customers quickly…as in just a click or two away from doing business with you from anywhere in the world. This will take some planning, especially if your shop has hundreds or thousands of products. Maybe a simple drop-down menu or sidebar will suffice. Alternatively, product filters often prove helpful for customers who know just what they’re looking for.
The presentation of products or services itself instills confidence and repeat business. This concept extends beyond professional grade photography. A modern e-commerce design employs helpful functionalities like image zoom features, multiple images or videos, detailed product specifications, suggested related products, outline of shipping policies, tax calculations, return policies and procedures, product guarantees, and other features.
Business in a Mobile Environment
Mobile responsiveness is perhaps the most significant design characteristic. Depending on the space you’re operating in, more than half of your website users may be away from their desktop computer. Design and programming considerations expertise is very necessary to create the best possible user experience in desktop, tablet and mobile environments.
Not only should the website be responsive in design, layouts need to be delivered with fast refresh rates to minimize load times. Search engines love fast, well-organized, relevant websites that delight users.
Instill Buyer Confidence and Loyalty
Whether your e-commerce website is designed to attract new customers, or if it will serve as a resource for your sales teams, the buying process needs to be simple, clean, and trustworthy for your customers. When you become the best overall value proposition, customers buy more and reman loyal.
Apr 7, 2016
by Web Design Phoenix
- Streamline user navigation & product selection
- Unlimited configurations
- Unlimited products
- Intelligent filter menus – only available options presented
- Refined user experience retains customers
Show them what then need…quickly
Allow your customers to find exactly what they need in as few clicks as possible. This applies to all screen sizes and mobile environments. Filter menus should be intelligently designed, either as drop down menus, sidebars, or customer designs specific to the needs or preferences of your customers.
A proper filter menu will only show available product options as the client narrows the search. This eliminates empty results and streamlines the buying process. For example, in selecting a certain men’s shirt, all women’s shirt options are eliminated from search results. Only available sizes, colors, and designs are presented, saving your users time and energy.
Filter menus can range for simple product categorization to intricate search parameters with dozens or even hundreds of different search criteria. Website navigation and simplicity is one of the most important factors in helping your customers find what they need…keeping them engaged and preventing them from bouncing to your competitors.
- Unlimited shipping rules and rate calculation
- Complete integration with major shipping carriers
- Real time shipping calculations
- Allow for selection of shipping options
- Order tracking for customers via personal account
Shipping options & transparency
Your shipping policies are a critical factor in a customer’s buying decisions. Establish your shipping pricing rules and ensure that your customers are never surprised with additional shipping fees or charges. Offer shipping options to provide better fit:
Shipping rules are set up however is most appropriate for your company. Ground shipping, air, expedited, next day shipping, same day shipping, and even select for a variety of shipping companies. Your pricing can be fixed, free, contingent upon product weight, package sizes, purchase amount, or based on actual price quotes from shipping companies in real time.
Set up carrier accounts
Establish accounts with appropriate delivery companies such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS and others. However complex or simple you would like your shipping rules to be, your e-commerce solution is equipped with the ability to calculate shipping charges and present this information to your customers. Order tracking numbers can be added to customer accounts to enable self tracking of delivery dates.
- Local, state, national or international tax calculations
- Fixed rules or real time integration
- Consult with a tax expert or attorney
- WDP can implement any tax rules for your e-commerce website
Integrated tax rate calculations
Your e-commerce website can be programmed to automatically draw from current tax codes and adjust in real time as policies change. Whether you’re selling to customers locally or around the world, you’re able to implement either fixed tax rules, statewide policies, or national and international tax calculations depending on the products or services offered.
Consult an attorney
Of course, tax law can be complex and you should certainly consult with a tax attorney or tax expert before engaging in e-commerce, particularly across state and national borders.
- Recommended products
- Up Selling related products
- Using social proof to attract more and larger purchases
The product information page is the final and most critical stage of product selection for your customers. This is the best opportunity to recommend related products, complementary products, or up sell other items in your shop that they might need. Perhaps they need batteries for a toy, or property sized nuts when they’re purchasing bolts. There is no better time to promote additional wares than at this stage of the buying process.
The trick is that recommended products or accessories need to be relevant. Don’t recommend a women’s handbag on a men’s shoe page.
Up Selling Online
There are many advantages to online selling. One of which is the availability of data. Use website analytics to analyze buyer behaviors, historical purchases, and general interests to automatically suggest the most enticing offers.
Maybe there’s a higher end model or some other solution that your customer should know about before they pull the trigger. Everyone likes to know their options…even if they are more expensive or profitable for you.
Sometimes these mechanisms are best handled manually or via actual purchase data or product specifications. Your website can also track behavior to showcase filtered options such as “Recently Purchased”, “Most Popular”, “Trending” or “Recently Added” to serve up some social proof or alternative products your buyer may not have known about.
Depending on the nature of your business and the customers you have coming to your website, it’ll take some careful thought and perhaps some consultation with an expert to help increase average sales through recommendations and showcasing complementary products in your store. The use of social proof can be a powerful tool, when the customer learns that everyone else is purchasing product B when the buy product A.