Tuesday, June 30, 2009

50 useful eCommerce tips

Great eCommerce sites meet the customers needs in every way. I came across some excellent eCommerce tips Courtesy of webmums on twitter - I've listed them here in convenient form for your enjoyment. I've also added a few more at the end to make up a nice round figure of 50 valuable tips!

  1. Your site title is an incredibly important SEO factor. Put your keywords in there, not your shop name!
  2. You must have excellent pictures of your products. Customers will not buy if the images are low quality, its unprofessional.
  3. Establish who your competitors are, look at what they are doing and then do it a whole lot better! Or consider a joint venture.
  4. Make sure you have your payment terms displayed on your home page. This is a convenience & an added trust factor for customers.
  5. Started your email campaign? Have a sign up box for customers to sign up for your newsletter or money is being left on the table.
  6. Use a pic on your 'About Us' page if possible & add really great info. This page often gets high hits as customers check before buying.
  7. High traffic volume is irrelevant, its conversion that counts. Concentrate on using long-tail keywords for targeted traffic
  8. Try using fridge magnet style sales material in your mail outs/parcels. Most people do pop them on their fridge.
  9. Put your important & striking info above the fold. Images, Special Offers, contact details & security tested sign work well.
  10. Got a blog? If not, get one. eCommerce sites are not consistently updated with new material, blogs are and you want to attract Google.
  11. Don't send all of your backlinks to your homepage. Spread keyword rich link love throughout your site to individual products.
  12. Don't add text like 'We're a Brand New Store' or anything to suggest you are new to the biz (if you are), it appears amateurish.
  13. Make your buyers say WOW. Include a gift, send it fast, email a thank you - Anything that encourages them to remember you.
  14. SEO is important, but build your site for the customer. A block of keyword packed text is ugly plus Google will view it as spammy.
  15. Using social media creates a natural footprint for your customers to check you out. Use it wisely!
  16. Don't be boring - use your blog to show your personality. People will relate to you whilst you also build your trust factor.
  17. Don't make your customers register to see things like the 'shipping costs'. Most won't bother, they'll shop elsewhere!
  18. Educate your customer. If your product allows you, show them how to use it, create a tutorial or video, it's a great opportunity to connect with your buyers.
  19. Difficult customers dealt with in the correct manner often become your biggest buyers so persevere.
  20. For SEO purposes, make sure your product names are in the title tag of the corresponding page - before your company name.
  21. Be an expert in your niche. Don't just sell a product, blog about it, recount it's history, list facts, report on statistics. People like to buy from an expert.
  22. Don't try and sell everything, be niche specific. You are not Amazon so don't try to be, focus on niche products to a niche audience.
  23. Create loyalty by finding ways to reward existing customers, special offers, competitions, bonus points, discounts and freebies, etc.
  24. Make sure you are always updating your FAQs page with any new questions that you receive. It saves you and the customer precious time.
  25. Organic traffic is best but don't rule out PPC especially if you haven't long opened your store. Great for testing purposes!
  26. A good place to ask customers to sign up to your newsletter is on your 'thank you' screen after they have placed their order.
  27. Keep the customer informed about the progress of their order BEFORE they have to ask you. It adds reassurance, trust & loyalty.
  28. Utilize free services like Google Base as these can bring you highly targeted traffic sources. http://base.google.com/base/
  29. You don't have to sell your products cheaper than the next guy (who's making no profit). People gladly pay more for excellent service!
  30. Include promo material in your parcels. Discount vouchers to encourage return visits, catalogs to showcase your other goods, etc.
  31. Have a search facility available. Customers like to be able to search for products easily rather than hunt for them. A bad search facility is the height of frustration. If it returns the wrong results or no results - you lose the sale!
  32. If you often get asked a lot of questions about your products include a keyword rich FAQ's page, very good for SEO purposes.
  33. If you hold your own stock then ship orders FAST. You're in the shadow of eBays 'want it now' mentality.
  34. Put yourself in your customers shoes. Go right through your buying process. Is it easy? Are there too many steps? Does it need tweaking?
  35. Raise your profit margin and encourage larger orders by offering free shipping for multiple-item sales or orders over a certain amounts.
  36. If you're selling the same products as competitors, add something extra to your product descriptions to make them stand out in the search engines.
  37. Try new things, test & test more. You need to fail in order to succeed. If you don't try and you don't fail, you'll never move forward.
  38. Your internal links are incredibly powerful. Make sure you are optimizing them correctly with keyword rich anchor text.
  39. If your thumbnail image says "click here to see larger image" make sure that a larger image actually appears.
  40. Study your after-sales care. One off buyers don't create a business, you want a base of returning, loyal customers.
  41. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20% of your customers make up 80% of your sales - work on creating the ultimate customer experience.
  42. Be contactable. If a customer can't reach you, you'll lose the sale, but even worse - you'll lose that customer for life.
  43. Close the sale at the checkout, the time for promo X is on the product pages. Too many choices at checkout could lose you the sale.
  44. Adding additional payment methods can help in preventing abandoned shopping carts.

Plus I've got some more:

  1. In addition to 32, Write informative and keyword rich buyers guides and how to articles on your flagship product categories. e.g. If you sell digital cameras, do a how to on taking great time delay photos with the latest Canon SLR.
  2. Expanding on 36, don't just use the manufacturers product description - everyone else does, and you sink back into noise. Write your own quality content.
  3. Add a personal touch to your packages. A hand written note, some confectionery, etc. It gives your customers extra gratification and helps you stand out.
  4. Offer consistent and fast service - and always look for ideas on how to raise the bar.
  5. Best practice is good. It has to be done. But this only gets you so far. Innovative is better. How can you stand out?
  6. Make sure your site has a polished look, professional feel, and responsive user interface. Make sure it's fast. Make it intuitive.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Best practices for product search

With google ramping up their "product search" facility (which nicely compliments Google Checkout) - they've introduced new measures to get individual products listed using their Google base facility. This allows you to specify attributes for a product such as price, description, condition, etc, and keep them updated using Google Base methods of feeds or API's (or manual for the brave).

It isn't so relevant for Australian merchants aiming at the local market, as Google Checkout and Product Search haven't arrived yet, but it's only a matter of time. It is a must for Australians looking to get onto the worldwide scene with their products. Google Base product data update will definitely be a feature on the road map for the Cow Command Ecommerce system, to ensure up to date relevant results for merchants.