Your customers are standing by to buy from your killer ecommerce website, credit card in hand.
How many times have you visited an ecommerce website, wanted to buy something, but for some reason you haven't gone through with it?
- Something felt dodgy or ‘off’
- They did not mention VAT or shipping and suddenly the price doubled t checkout
- You got lost and couldn't work out how to shop / find your cart / check out / pay?
- You couldn’t search all products but were forced to click category by category (thanks for nothing YuppieChef and well done BaconBikinis for getting this right)
All of the above has prevented me from buying during a ‘shopaholic’ frenzy...reducing my happiness and reducing your revenue.
Let’s make sure we break this negative cycle!
During Lockdown I ran a series of training videos called Lockdown Live on our Digital Marketers Unite Facebook group.
In the video I discuss a few tips to keep in mind when creating a successful ecommerce website, as well as other website design and development tips you need to know if ecommerce is part of your website strategy.
Feel free to join our Facebook group at any time to get more handy tips, tools and tricks on digital marketing, and become part of a great community of marketers.
You can also read more about creating a killer website in 2021 for some tips on website design that you need to know before adding ecommerce to your website.
1. Choose the Right Platform
The great thing about the website platforms for ecommerce is that they all come with pre-designed checkout processes.
In the olden days, developers had to custom build the checkout process, what a pain let me tell you that much! We had to do extensive usability testing to make sure that customers didn’t get lost or confused along the way and abandon the process.
Now WooCommerce and Shopify all have plug-and-play ecommerce plugins you need, extensively tested and proven and easy-to-use for both you and your customers.
Let's look at a couple of different platforms you can use to create your own ecommerce website and save yourself a few bucks, instead of paying someone to do it for you.
WordPress is the largest Content Management Systems (CMS) in the world and is hands down the industry leader and best builder to use when creating websites.
We build all our custom designed websites using WordPress, we are huge fans of how easy it is to update, giving you full control.
One of the top reasons to go with WordPress is that it’s a flexible platform that offers you complete control over what your website does and how it appears, allowing you to customise your website to suit your needs.
WordPress also gives you ready-to-use plugins that add complete ecommerce functionality to your website, from product display to checkout and everything in between.
WordPress websites are, however, a little more difficult and complex to setup up than some of the platforms below, but the end result will be worth it if you know what you are doing.
We only build in WordPress if we can help it, if the client insists we’ll use another platform, but it’s always far slower to build and has way less functionality.
Wix has a range of excellent templates to choose from, and is very flexible when it comes to moving elements around. It also comes with a relatively smart assistant to help you on some projects. With the automatic site backup, you will never lose any important information.
It is possible to build an acceptable site yourself using Wix, which will save you quite a bit of money as opposed to having a professional agency build it for you.
However it’s also very possible to build a completely horrendous website all by yourself using Wix, as one prospective client who was showing me her website and I exclaimed, “Who built this for you, you need to demand your money back!” to which she informed me that she was responsible for the monstrosity.
But as I always say, a live site, even if ugly, is (in most cases) better than no site at all. Just get it going and fix it as you start making money.
Similar to almost everything in life, there are a few things that could be improved.
If you compare Wix’s prices to other similar platforms, it is quite a bit more expensive, unless you use the free plan or the plan that lets you connect your domain name of course.
Besides the price, it is nearly impossible to change templates once one has been selected. The loading speed on the website seems to be a lot slower than that of its competitors, especially on mobile.
Although, with a rating of five and a half stars, the pro’s still seem to outweigh the cons.
Check out www.SEDGE.ai that we built recently for a client in Wix, showing you what’s possible with the platform and a great designer.
Squarespace is another fairly well-known website building platform.
Squarespace has a range of different website templates including an ecommerce site template. Consider using an out of the box template, to give your site a professional look.
Building a site with Squarespace can go very quickly. The one thing I didn't like about the builder is that I couldn't SEO my pages properly.
With a five star rating, Squarespace should definitely be one of the top platforms to keep in mind when you build your own ecommerce website.
Shopify has more than 800,000 online stores with $63 billion worth of sales.
The platform is easy to use, has great designs and integrates seamlessly with your Instagram which is a huge plus if you are a business that is rocking Instagram marketing.
Shopify also offers amazing flexibility, as it not only has great templates, but gives you access to the code so you can make customisations to suit your needs, not easily but it can be done.
Shopify has a great support system, that includes a 24-hour support team working to help you whenever you need it.
According to a review posted by WebsiteToolTester, “Shopify is not only an easy way to launch and manage your online store. It’s geared towards supporting store owners in crucial aspects like opening additional channels (e.g. Amazon, eBay or Facebook), offering customer support tools (e.g. live chat) or by taking care of the technical hassles.”
Shopify’s only drawback is that it is not free and costs can add up quickly, also it has low customisation but is good for ecommerce-only or Instagram-only brands.
Check out www.motorradical.co.za for an example of a Shopify site we redesigned.
2. Choose the Right Template
If you don’t have access to a graphic designer you should do some research and find a pre-designed template from whichever platform you decide to use to build your ecommerce website. The templates are there to make it easier for you to create a beautiful website.
We custom design all our websites from scratch for each client, but there’s no shame in using a template, just be aware that some templates add a lot to the load speed of the site, which Google SEO doesn’t love.
3. Navigation and Menu
Your menu navigation is critical and the first place I start when designing a website.
What do you offer? What are your services? How can we clearly display this?
Check out the mega flyout on the Shift ONE website - this is a great way to unpack complex products or services so customers can see them without having to click.
This makes your website really easy to navigate. Customers love this
The navigation menu is very important. Add as many pages as possible, with clear names, so the customer can easily find what they are looking for. I suggest you put the menu at the top of your page, to avoid using up valuable real estate on your site that could be used for other things.
Also, as I mentioned above, for ecommerce sites make sure you have an ‘ALL’ category, the HertexHaus website followed our suggestion on this nicely.
4. Homepage Layout
Your homepage is key as 90% of website visitors don’t click further than your homepage.
This means you need to capture everything that’s important on the homepage.
Have a look at the video I did on effective website design.
You get two types of buyers: the hunters who know exactly what they are looking for, and you get the gatherer who is browsing around, unsure of what they want.
Make sure your homepage caters to both types of buyers; your homepage should cover people who are browsing and don’t know what they want as well as those who know what they want.
When building your ecommerce site, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and website users.
You have 4-6 seconds to answer these questions:
- What is this website about?
- What can I do here?
- What is in it for me?
- What does the website want me to do?
Keep these questions in mind when putting together your homepage, and make sure the answers to those questions come easy to you, so you know it will come just as easy to your customers.
Often people add a big image at the top of their homepage, but their customers don’t know that there is more to the page when they scroll down. Add a little arrow that clearly indicates that there is more on the page.
I also suggest you refrain from using the old school sliders, or banners on your website. It is a little outdated. Stick to one image and if you want to slide something, you can animate the wording.
Avoid changing the colors on your website too much, stick to your brand colors to avoid making it difficult for the users to actually absorb the messaging itself.
Another trending feature is the infinite scroll. Often people are afraid to click read more, because they are afraid they will be directed somewhere else and not know how to get back to where they were on your site.
Don’t be afraid of having a long homepage - though the bulk of users tend to only visit the top half.
Make sure you give the customer all the information they might need about you, your products and your company. Make it effective and straight to the point.
The text on your homepage is very important for SEO. You want to have the right keywords in your search engine optimised text bank linking to your different pages.
5. Trust Cues
Add trust cues or icons at the bottom of your page, and build their trust in your products.
Are you a member of an association? Do you have accreditations? Customer logos? Since 1998? What icons and imagery can you add to the site to provide a sense of trust?
Customer testimonials? Google reviews? Guarantee? Shopping and Returns Policy?
Pull in your customer reviews from Facebook, Google my business and so on, but be sure you get the reviews from trustworthy sites only, because often customer testimonials seem fabricated. This is to once again show your new customers the quality of your products.
Putting your trust messaging above your menu means it is above the fold and one of the first things your customers see when visiting your site, making it pretty hard to miss. You can also repeat the trust messaging in a different format as you start checking out to avoid losing them along the way.
6. User Experience
Make sure your website is user friendly. Your customer’s user experience is very important, and will have a huge effect on whether your customers come back to your website to buy from you again.
If their experience on your website is below average, they will think your product will be of the same quality.
Ask family members and friends to test your website, and give you honest feedback to help you improve your website usability, because you need the opinion of new users on your site to do that.
Usability testing is a must for larger websites or where you are creating something unique.
7. Instagram Shopping
It is important to pull in your Instagram through to your ecommerce website to generate more sales. Instagram offers a wide variety of people who are not on Facebook, even though Facebook is still the biggest social media platform.
Businesses often promote their products through pictures of people who use the products on Instagram. When future buyers see others who use your product, and read product reviews, it authenticates the product experience for your buyers.
As mentioned above, make sure your ecommerce website integrates with online shopping, shopping feeder adverts for a seamless shopping experience.
8. Pricing & Terms
Clearly indicate the shipping fee and VAT for your products. I would even suggest you present the pricing as more expensive on the website than it actually is.
Nobody likes when they have their heart set on a product, and they make it all the way to your checkout process, just to find out that the price has gone up quite a bit from what was indicated on your product page, because of VAT or shipping fees.
Here is another great idea that motivates people to buy more: make shipping free if they spend over a certain amount of money on your ecommerce site.
People often spend more money to save money, like me who once bought over R1,000 of wine to just get the free wine cork...well done Wine of the Month Club!.
9. Checkout Process
Make the checkout process as easy as possible for your customers. You need to manage the expectations of your users. You do not want them to get all the way to the checkout page, and then leave without completing the purchase, because your checkout process was too complicated.
If using WooCommerce, the checkout process and options are very well tested and most customers are used to using them.
Don’t build your own checkout process, just use one off-the-shelf.
Consider adding your trust cues here as a reminder that people can trust your brand, this is where you don’t want to lose potential customers because of trust issues!
10. Abandoned Carts
Often people add things to their cart and never finish the checkout process or come back to complete the purchase, this might be for a host of reasons…
- Lack of trust - are you going to steal my banking details
- The price suddenly increased when you added shipping or VAT unexpectedly
- The need to ‘call-a-friend’ like a partner to confirm the purchase
- Change of heart
Retargeting these customers with abandoned cart email marketing is another great way to reduce your dropoff rate, as some people just need a quick reminder to come back and finish buying what they were already interested in.
The best part is that it is all automated, so you don’t have to go in and check who has abandoned carts. All the information is at your disposal, so if you wanted to message them one by one that would be a possibility as well.
I suggest you explore all the plugins that are available for WooCommerce. Not all plugins are free, but they truly do unlock the full power of WooCommerce.
Another option for those who have products to sell but are on a tight budget or pressed for time, is to look into ecommerce stores on social media. There are a few social media platforms that you could sell from, or post images of your products and leave an email or some way to contact you. This way you can give yourself more time to save up money and invest in doing it properly.
Good luck with your ecommerce website. I hope this was of use to you, and please give us a shout if you need any help.
Now that you have created your journey map for one segment, you can do it for the other segments as well.
Good luck, and give us a shout if you need help.
About Dylan Kohlstädt
Dylan Kohlstädt started Shift ONE digital in 2011 and now has a team of top subject matter experts working with her from her offices in Cape Town and Jo’burg, and clients based all over the world.
Shift ONE specialises in getting you customers through authenticity: creating authentic content that builds communities and turns customers into fans. We create believable top-converting websites, that rank on page one of Google SEO, and next level social media, online advertising, email marketing, graphic design, blogging, press and PR, lead generation, writing, video, animations, and more.
Dylan also founded the Digital Marketing Academy in 2013 in order to pass on what she knows, upskilling marketers and entrepreneurs in digital marketing skills, in a fun, face-to-face or online environment.
Dylan Kohlstädt has worked in advertising, marketing and online in South Africa, UK and Australia and attended a Google for Entrepreneurs immersion program in Silicon Valley where she learned about going from garage to global.
Dylan Kohlstädt, CEO and founder, is a subject matter expert on digital marketing whose articles are regularly featured in entrepreneur and business magazines, TV and radio. Dylan has 20 years of marketing management experience, eight of which are in digital marketing. She also has an MBA through UNISA.
You can reach Dylan at:
Social media: @dylankohlstadt