The number of ecommerce sites continues to grow thanks to how easily business owners can develop, launch, and manage their own stores using website builders and CMS (or content management platforms) like WordPress and platforms specifically built for ecommerce like Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce, Magento, and more. But, because a lot of these sites are being developed from the same small library of templates, different stores often look quite similar.
Setting your store apart from the competition can keep you on the path to success and help you sustain and grow your online revenue. You can set your store apart visually by developing a distinctive brand, but you should also add to and improve your ecommerce offering and experience to stay competitive. Here are five relatively simple ways you can keep your store fresh.
Ecommerce websites have to stay current and ahead of the curve. The easiest and most logical way to ensure your site achieves this goal is to add new products on a regular basis. A constantly evolving product offering keeps customers coming back for more and demonstrates to site visitors that your finger is always on the pulse of new and trending products in your retail vertical.
Of course, adding new products to your online store can be a laborious, time-consuming process, but you can save time by automatically updating and adding products using various web-based services and product content tools.
User experience is a term that refers to the ease with which visitors navigate your site, find what they’re looking for, and complete a purchase. Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor. Does the shopper's journey through your site follow a logical path? Is finding specific products a quick and simple process? Are calls-to-action located in the right places? Is the purchasing process streamlined, secure and easy to understand?
A key way to assess user experience is by tracking and monitoring key analytics (or KPI) like site traffic data, click-through rates, and bounce rates. You can also monitor conversion rates, or the percentage of visitors who perform the desired action. If you notice potential issues, dig a little deeper, identify the problem, address it, and monitor the results of your change to ensure performance has improved.
The content on your online store serves two vital functions: it attracts organic traffic from search engines and it gives customers the information they need to make a informed purchase.
If your content is lacking, uninformative, poorly written and/or stuffed with keywords, search engines might penalize your site pages with lower rankings in search engine results or on search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, incomplete, messy, and inaccurate product information affects the perceived trustworthiness and quality of your business. Visitors won’t likely trust your products or services, if they can’t trust the information that you provide.
Keep your site fresh by adding quality content at regular intervals. Valuable content includes product information, new product descriptions, content that answers questions or provides solutions and even blog posts that are relevant to your customer base.
Consumers want to find and purchase quality products quickly and efficiently, but, occasionally, they'll still need to speak or interact with a person about what they’re buying. You can add the human touch to your website with features like live chat, click-to-call and video demonstrations.
And your customers can help with adding a human touch too. For example, you might add a discussion forum to your ecommerce site so customers can answer questions about your products and services. A good example of this is the question and answer section on every Amazon product page. Interactive approaches like this, when managed correctly, can also improve SEO, customer retention, and product development.
The amount of shopping done from mobile devices will only increase as time goes on, so you might consider a mobile-first design to stay ahead. Rather than creating an ecommerce layout that focuses on how a user experiences your store from a desktop, think about user experience from smartphones and tablets instead and how you can make it easier to navigate your store on smaller screens. With a site that's optimized for mobile (ease of navigation, loading speed, etc.), you can realize an increase in sales and conversion rates for shoppers on mobile devices.
Ultimately, it's important to stay on top of your business and to continually improve your offering to earn and maintain the trust of your customers. You can keep your online store from becoming stale or generic with regular updates that can set your business apart from your competition.