Business

How to Tool Your Ecommerce Business for Growth

There are certain functionalities and eCommerce best practices you should prioritize and seriously consider adding to your own site.

By now, you have already picked your preferred eCommerce platform for your chosen type of web shop, your amazing products have all been listed and uploaded, and your site is now live. Success!

Well, not quite. Out of the box, most eCommerce platforms, like WooCommerce and Magento, come packaged with all of the tools required to launch an online shop. But they don’t come with those advanced and essential extras that will help propel you into a position of reputable, long-term success and growth.

There are certain functionalities and eCommerce best practices you should prioritize and seriously consider adding to your own site. And it’s those priority areas I’ll be taking a look at today and sharing the tools that will help you to easily get the job done.

Allow Guests to Purchase Without Registering

Nobody likes a long and cumbersome sign-up form when buying something, especially when it’s just for a single item. You could make the buying process quicker by allowing your new users to register using their favorite social network and then asking for their postal address later.

But why stop there? Why not allow guests to purchase without having to register at all? By allowing users to checkout as a guest, you will not only increase your sales (by up to the tune of $300 million!), you will also avoid something that no eCommerce business wants, abandoned shopping carts.

The Tools & Solutions:
By default, WooCommerce allows users to purchase products as a guest, yet not all sites like to use the functionality on all products.

If you would like to disable guest purchasing, the WooCommerce Selective Registration plugin gives you the power to choose which products require a user to register, while keeping your eCommerce shop open to guests.

For Magento users, there’s the Medma Disable Customer Registration extension, that will allow you to disable the customer registration or guest user checkout functionality, if required.

Let Users Rate & Review Products

All those somewhat exaggerated stories about bogus sites and credit card fraud leaves buyers naturally cautious when purchasing from a new eCommerce store. One simple method for reducing uncertainty and boosting your trustworthiness is allowing users to rate and leave comments about your products.

Regular shoppers also like to read about the experiences other shoppers have had with an item before deciding to take the plunge and buy something. There is, of course, the risk of unfavorable feedback, but when it comes to customer reviews, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

The Tools & Solutions:
The Magento Social Suite extension allows you to auto-post products to your favorite social services and can also add social login to your site for your buyers.

The Froggy Facebook Comment module will set up a product review system on Prestashop using the power and popularity of Facebook. It’s a simple and effective way of sharing your products on social and getting buyers to talk about your site/brand without any effort on your side. Just remember you might not like everything they say and you still have some accountability around user comments.

Ensure Your Site Loads as Fast as Possible

Knowing that web users are typically an impatient bunch and with research telling you that 40% of customers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, you had better make sure your eCommerce site loads as fast as possible.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to making your site load quickly as speed optimization can be a deeply complicated topic and a tedious and ongoing maintenance process.

We have previously published an article that delves deeper into the topic, it does mainly focus on WordPress sites, but the tips will still apply to all types of platforms. You can read the guide here.

The Tools & Solutions:
If you’re a WooCommerce user, there’s a plugin called One-Page Shopping that can improve page-load by up to 70% by loading all WooCommerce templates and forms without having to refresh the page. There’s also a powerful Magento extension, called Performance Speed Booster, that will optimize performance by decreasing page loading and response times and reducing server load – all to improve your clients’ shopping experience and boost your conversion rates.

Display a Prominent Search Bar

Regardless of the number of products you stock, it’s imperative that your eCommerce store includes a prominently positioned search bar that produces highly relevant results.

On average, 30% of your shoppers will use search, and because each of those users knows exactly what they’re looking for (by entering either an item name or code), they will be able to find the product much quicker. This means that the chances of that search converting to a sale are very high.

The Tools & Solutions:
If you’re looking to improve or extend your search functionality, you should consider adding autocomplete/live search to your eCommerce site.

With the WooCommerce Live Product Search plugin and the Magento Search Autocomplete and Suggest extension, your customers will be able to enter a search term and view the results instantly.

Have a Properly Categorized Menu

Unlike the 30% of search users that know what they’re looking for, the other 70% that don’t really know (you know, the ‘just browsing’ folk) will use the main site navigation.

A good eCommerce navigation menu should make it super-easy for customers to find what they want and for them to arrive at their desired product in as few steps as possible. To achieve this you need to make sure your products have been properly and systematically categorized from the outset, especially if you plan to stock thousands of items and have ambitious expectations of growth.

The Tools & Solutions:
As mentioned above, your site needs to be mobile-friendly, and that is especially important when it comes to the navigation menu.

Responsive Menu module is one of the most complete mega-menu systems available for Prestashop. It can display any type of content, including text, images, categories lists, and much more.

For WooCommerce users, the aptly named Responsive Product Category Vertical Mega Menu will get the job done for you.

And for Magento, there is DHMENU, a user-friendly and highly customizable mega-menu extension.

Install a Rapid Response Support System

There’s no getting away from it; your customers are going to need help at some point. Most sales will go through seamlessly, but you’re going to have to ensure that for those sales that don’t, you have an efficient support system in place.

If you’re a small eCommerce business with under a 100 products, then having a simple ‘customer support’ page with an easy to use contact system, will probably be suffice, as long as you solve queries quickly. Anything above a 100 products, then you will need to consider creating a more robust and reliable support system.

The Tools & Solutions:
The WooCommerce Product Enquiry plugin will add a simple form to each of your product pages, allowing buyers to quickly contact you without ever having to navigate away.

For Magento, there is the Support Ticket System extension that will add a complete customer care system to your site.

Save Time with an FAQ Section

Having a comprehensive FAQ section that covers common support requests (like payment methods, shipping and returns) will not only increase user confidence in your site, but will also save your customer lots of time by not having to write and wait for a reply to standard support requests.

If an issue can be solved without your direct involvement, not only will that save your personal time, it’s also a sign of a trustworthy eCommerce business.

The Tools & Solutions:
WooFAQs for WooCommerce, Advanced FAQ for Magento and FAQ for Prestashop, will help to create an organised FAQ page for your site. After uploading and activating the plugin, extension or module, all you have to do is add any number of common FAQs and you’ll be good to go.

Ecommerce Sites Have to be Mobile Optimized

You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, but your eCommerce site really does need to be optimized for mobile devices. There are no ifs or buts about it; it simply has to be. When nearly 50% of your shoppers are browsing your site on a mobile device, you had better make sure your potential customers have the best possible shopping experience.

On top of that, Google announced this year that they will give higher priority to sites that are optimised for mobile viewing. Being mobile optimized has never been a bigger priority.

The Tools & Solutions:
The good news is that most WooCommerce themes and Magento templates that have been designed in the last few years will already be responsive (mobile-optimized).

If your site is not responsive, you should consider either updating your theme or getting an Envato Studio expert to help you out.

Oh No, Not SEO!

There’s no getting away from it, if you want your eCommerce site to be successful, it needs to be SEO optimised. For most new eCommerce site owners, SEO is the most difficult thing to grasp, but the truth is, even seasoned site owners have difficulty getting their heads around it.

In a study by Optify, they discovered that sites that are ranked first on Google receive an average CTR (click-through rate) of 36.4%, second a CTR of 12.5% and third a CTR of 9.5%. Knowing these stats, and quickly accepting the power that Google has over your eCommerce business, you had better make sure all of your pages are fully SEO optimized upon launch.

There are best practices you can follow, but just like speed optimization, SEO is an ongoing process of trial and error. If you would like to delve deeper into the topic, Forbes have recently published a checklist of factors that your eCommerce site should have in place if you want to rank well in search.

The Tools & Solutions:
If you’re a WooCommerce, Magento or Prestashop user, there are some fantastic plugins & modules available that will help to ease your SEO woes. The easy to configure WooCommerce SEO plugin will help to make site optimization simpler and much more focussed for you. Then there is the SEOSpace Magento extension, it will help you optimize your page content, images titles, meta descriptions, canonical URLs and much more.

Finished!

With the flexibility for customization of most modern eCommerce platforms, you can easily add advanced functionality to your site by simply uploading, installing and configuring a plugin, extension, addon or module.

If you’re looking for some other type of functionality, that I haven’t mentioned above, you should head over to Envato Market, there are a multitude of eCommerce tools available for every type of platform that will aid the growth of your business.

And please remember, when it comes to eCommerce, you have to make sure that every single pixel on your site works hard towards your long-term success.


Paul Andrew

About the Author Paul Andrew

Paul is the founder of Speckyboy Design Magazine and writes web stuff for Envato. You can follow him on Twitter.