Improving ecommerce stores

Written by Adam Stafford - 11 Oct 2007

I was asked to write an article on common reasons why fashion related ecommerce stores can fail - these rules tend to apply to most ecommerce stores. Anyway, here are a few pointers that might be of interest:

1. Common failings that still occur on many high street ecommerce websites include how the website has been designed to cater for search engine listings; specifically relating to Google as this is by far the largest contributor of search engine traffic in the UK. Search engine optimisation is the technique used to ensure that your website is ‘search engine friendly’. Without search engine traffic the ecommerce store will never stand any chance of becoming a success.

2. Once you have visitors to your website you can then analyse how people are behaving; conversion analysis is the process of understanding how to fine tune your website to result in a visit turning into a goal. This would typically relate to a person visiting the website and turning into a successful sale but it might also include motivating people to call with enquiries and using contact forms on the website to ask for further information. By having clear goals and utilising the technology to enable conversion tracking you can adjust the website to increase the overall conversion success of your ecommerce store. Website adjustments could include altering the navigation by making the most popular pages of the website more accessible or amending the checkout process to make it easier for a visitor to place an order without asking for unnecessary information or allowing an order without the necessity of becoming a member of the site. Checkout drop out rates can typically be higher than 60%! If the general conversion of a website can be adjusted from 2% to 2.5% to order this can make a serious impact on the turnover of any website.

3. Any ecommerce store has to replicate the same experience that anyone would encounter when entering a high street store. The website has to consider how the product is presented; good photography is essential to any online store and this simple and most obvious element is often lacking. All product pages need clear photography with multiple images where appropriate, for example, why not include a close up shot to show the texture of a particular fabric? Well written descriptions are also a common area that can always be improved upon; the visitor needs to know how the clothes feel, if the leather is soft and malleable or firm and strong. A well written description is key to selling online, you need to appeal to peoples senses via words.

4. Another element that is often missed is a cleat customer charter. Clearly showing on the product page 5 key points relating to the sale can have a dramatic effect on sales. These may include the following statement; Why buy from us? 100% Money Back Guarantee, 24 Hour Delivery, All Orders via Secure Servers, Your Information Stays Private, Reliable Telephone Customer Support. This customer charter combined with a visible on page telephone number can provide the added confidence that a visitor will often require before purchasing. The money back guarantee is particularly important for people buying clothes online, if the clothes don’t fit then don’t worry, send them back and we’ll refund you...

5. Consider making it as easy as possible for visitors to ask questions and gain product advise. The most simple website adjustment could include a form on dedicated product pages to encourage visitors to ask specific questions about a garment. If this questions are relevant to other visitors you can then use this information to display questions and answers associated to specific products. This is a great way of engaging visitors in the first step of the sales process.