There are lots of types of e-commerce websites out there, stretching from the giants such as Amazon and eBay to the small independent websites that sell only to customers in the local area. However while people seem to think that because a website operates online things run smoothly, that just isn’t the case- in fact there are lots of obstacles that exist for new e-commerce business owners that you should look out for. If your e-commerce business is struggling, or you’re thinking of starting up such a website, here are a few things you should bear in mind.
Bank security should be at the forefront of your mind
Before anyone will spend money on your website you need to make sure that they can trust that their bank and payment details are safe. There is an element of trust that has to be established, and for smaller businesses this can be especially hard. One good way of showing that your website is secure when handling payment methods is to use PayPal or Amazon Payments to process all transactions. Although you will have to pay a fee to PayPal or Amazon for using these services (usually a percentage of the transaction total), you will reassure your customers that their details will not be stolen or held insecurely.
Create an easily, clean layout
One of the things that can make or break an e-commerce website is its layout. If your layout looks like it was made back in the 1990s and uses animated GIFs and Comic Sans MS as the font family, your website will come across as unprofessional and thus untrustworthy. The navigation should be clear and easy to use – a good rule of thumb is that if you cannot get from one page to another in fewer than three clicks, your navigation is not satisfactory.
FAQs are Frequently Asked Questions, and will help the shopper with any queries that they might have. You should let them know what your business is about, what you specialise in and how long you have been in operation. The more transparent you are with your business the more you will build a relationship of trust with your customers.
Prove to be trustworthy
In the age when anyone can create a website with just a debit card, you need to set your business apart from the scammers that are out there. You need to provide guarantees that mean people are happy to shop with you. The only way you’ll prove you are trustworthy is through word of mouth: when you’re competing against Amazon it’s hard, but definitely possible, to come across as a legitimate alternative. Don’t waste time writing false testimonial pages which clearly weren’t written by customers – they will, if anything, make you seem less credible and hurt any potential business.
Engage in promotion
It’s not enough to think that you will gain customers from Google alone. While you certainly will receive a decent amount of traffic from search engines (as long as you have effective SEO methods), you should also make use of promotional emails and affiliate websites to increase business. You might even want to put leaflets through people’s doors if you are a local business, or use online advertising websites such as Gumtree to get your website known. Promotion can be very time-consuming and disheartening, but eventually your efforts will pay off.
Have good page load speeds
Nothing puts a buyer off more than using a website that takes more than a couple of seconds to load a page. This is especially true of e-commerce websites because of the image-intensive nature of your pages. You should always use a paid web host to ensure that you get the right amount of bandwidth for your website, and if possible purchase a dedicated server. If your business is going to grow, you have to put the money into decent web hosting.
Promote the products you are selling
You need to show customers that they want what you’re selling. If your website sells general goods, rather than being a specialist online retailer, you need to direct them to the sections that might interest them. If you have huge flashing banners that tells them to shop with you, you’ll put them off – give details about products so that they know what they’re buying, but not so many details that you put them off of shopping with you.