Is Your E-Commerce Business Built for Success?

Is your e-commerce business built for success

Shopping online can be an affirming experience for many people, especially when shopping at a web store that has intuitive user design, easily searchable products and services, aesthetically pleasing content, accessible and varied customer service tools and options, and much more.

Customers should always leave your store with a smile and a feeling of satisfaction. An irate, dissatisfied customer could cause a viral social media storm if you are not careful about how you operate your business, and how your customers use and respond to your website. If you are a large company, customer grievances may not have a huge impact, but the same cannot be said for smaller, less established businesses. If this is you, take heed of the tips and tricks offered in this article to help you set up your online business for success. You do not want to be that company about whom customers write derisive songs.

When working towards setting up your web store for success, ask yourself some important questions:

  • What kind of business am I operating? You should know what you are selling so that you can hone in on your target market. If you are all over the map, you will have a harder time appealing to any one demographic of potential customers.
  • What do I offer that my competition does not? Having a competitive edge will help you carve out a niche for yourself and help you satisfy the specific needs of your customer base. If you offer nothing different than any of your competition, ask yourself why anyone would bother shopping with you. Take a look at your business, find something that really makes you proud, and use it to your advantage.
  • Is your website optimised for positive customer experiences? If you are not sure, you can send out a survey to existing customers, or prompt a customer to complete a quick survey at the end of the transaction to get their feedback. There is no one better than your customers to tell if your website is effective at helping them do what they need to do.

If after asking yourself these questions you find that your business is lacking, do not fret. Your business is completely salvageable. All you have to do is make some simple adjustments to your website so that your customers have the best experience possible. Here are some important tips you can put into action immediately:

  • Good site-mapping. People come to your website to find information. If that information is hard to locate, your conversion rates will plummet, and your business will suffer. A good site map lays out the entire structure of your website for the customer so that navigating is easier. Keep in mind that the more complicated your website’s structure, and the more pages you have, the harder your customer will have to work to find what they are looking for.
  • Well-priced products/services. Competitive pricing is key. Customers can tell if you are being greedy if your products and services are more expensive than anywhere else. You might think you are trying to make an easy dollar, euro or krona, but you are just driving customers towards other businesses with better prices. If you are not willing to lower your prices on a general level, think about price-matching (if a customer finds the same product for a lower price, you offer them the product at that price to retain the sale and enhance customer confidence) and promotions in the very least.
  • Attractive product photos. These can go a long way. Not only do they add to the aesthetic value of your website, but they also show the customer what they are thinking of buying from you. It is also fun to feature customer photos. It adds a more human touch, and can show the various ways that customers use the same product. You may even want to consider having a customer photo contest on a social media outlet to create publicity, engagement and excitement.
  • Customer service and support. Your web store should always feature various modes of customer service and support through a questions & answers section or knowledgebase, instant messaging, email, phone, skype, video tutorials, and more. Having a social media presence for these purposes is also good practice, and provides customers with yet another outlet for queries, feedback, and even grievances (which you can publicly and proactively solve).
  • Optimised usability. Think about responsive web design which allows customers to access your site through different devices and platforms. Consider adding an easy-to-find search bar on every page, quick page loading (laying off the Flash can help with this), a quick checkout process with only a few steps, and more.

Selling online can be a great experience for you and your customers. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, the tremendously successful online shoe business, has often quoted that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding”. The same can be said for your web store. It is a big part of your brand, and should always be evolving into something better and easier to use.

For more tips on starting and running your online business, visit the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A/B Testing Your Webstore: Getting Started with the Basics

AB Testing

If there was one thing you could change about your webstore, what would it be? For some people, it might be conversion rates (converting website visitors to paying customers). For others, it might be an optimised general user experience (which could, in turn, increase conversion rates). Whatever the changes you want to make, the best way to test their effectiveness is through A/B Testing.

What is A/B Testing?

Also known as “multivariate testing”, A/B Testing allows you to experiment with two variants, or elements, on your landing page, shopping cart page or payment process to see which version gets the visitor to do what you want them do. There is no limit as to how many variants you can test, but for the sake of A/B Testing, you are only testing for two. Version A is your control; this means that the original element stays the same as it always has. Version B is your treatment, which is the modification whose effectiveness will be compared to the original.

Let’s say you want to test for increased conversion rates. Your landing page might contain a Call-To-Action (CTA), like a Buy Now button, on the lower right side of the page, which has garnered a 9% conversion rate. This version of the page is your Version A control. Another version, the Version B treatment, might feature the same CTA, but positioned in the middle of the screen rather than off to the right. Half of your site’s visitors will experience Version A, while the other half will experience Version B. Once a specified number of visitors has seen one or the other page (it could be 1000 visitors for each version, for example), you can compare which site was the most effective at increasing your conversion rate. If Version B generated a 16% conversion rate, then it is obvious which version of the page you should go with to convert your website’s visitors into paying customers.

Why A/B Testing is Important for Your Business

If you are not achieving the results you’ve been hoping for with your online business, A/B Testing is a great strategy you can use to exponentially boost your conversion rates, and hence, your profits. It can also enhance the user experience for your potential customers which improves your credibility, dependability and customer retention rates. Furthermore, it can help combat the pesky problem of shopping cart abandonment if your payment process is not on point.

How to Start A/B Testing for Your Website

You can start the process of A/B Testing by taking the following points into consideration:

  • Small changes can make a big impact. Simply modifying the look and location of a CTA (like a payment button) can be effective. Moving a CTA from the right to the center, or vice versa, can mean a world of difference in the number of visitors you can turn into customers.
  • Pay attention to merchandising. How you group the articles for sale in your web store could make a difference in profits. If you sell clothing and accessories, try one version in which shoes and sandals are categorized together, and another version in which they are categorized differently. See which one leads to the highest number of completed transactions. It is also good practice to make all essential information about your products and services eye-level. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to locate the goods.
  • Shopping cart and checkout button placement is crucial. You want the site visitor to spend money. The best way to make that happen is to craft a seamless user experience. One way to ensure this is to make the “Add to Cart” icon and “Checkout” buttons obvious. You want the customer to easily fill their cart, and have the option of checking out at any point while shopping. You can place these buttons in the conventional upper right-hand corner, and then create another version in which the buttons are in a different location. Test both locations and see which works out best. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
  • A little publicity can go a long way. If your company has been featured in the news, in a magazine (online or print), or on a TV show, refer to this in your content. If you have not yet done this, you now have a variant that you can control for: Version A without the reference to the publicity, and Version B with the reference. Test it, and see which version does best.
  • Make use of the available tools. Google Analytics is a practical and invaluable tool for the casual user who wants to collect and analyze data regarding their website’s user experience. Within Google Analytics, Google Analytics Content Experiments can be used specifically for the purposes of A/B Testing.

Now that you have the basics of A/B Testing, go out and start testing! The sooner you start, the sooner you can roll out your optimised website, page element or checkout process, and begin reaping the benefits of providing your visitors with the right tools to convert them into customers. For more tips on starting and running your online business, subscribe to the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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