Thursday, 10 February 2011

It Ain’t Broke so Stop Trying to Fix It–5 Tips for Small e-Commerce Websites

Yesterday I was asked to help with two new or recently launched websites. One ticked most of the major boxes – layout, usability and picture quality but fell flat where range was concerned and as for SEO? Well not really…….

The second had such a confusing home page that even I couldn’t work out what you had to do to buy something. Great products, lovely pictures but if I couldn’t find them I’ll bet you couldn’t either.

The fact is that there is absolutely no excuse for wannabe successful online retailers to get it so very wrong. The examples are out there with clear templates for success, from the largest websites to the smallest. If you do not follow the basic principles of online retail you will fail, it’s a simple as that, and the smaller you are, the easier that is going to be.

To be successful in online retail you need to do the following:

Check-out what your successful competitors are doing – learn from them. Do that first.

Make sure you have enough of a range to launch – too small a range and you will get very little interest. Not only that but visitors will not hang around on your website.

Take clear pictures with several detailed views of each product. If your pictures are bad your products will not sell. Better to go for high quality ‘stills’ photography using a system such as Cubelite rather than a cheap model (if you’re in fashion). Do not use amateur models or someone’s friend or daughter. You must have high quality pictures to be successful online. Do not try and run a shoot if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here you will need help.

Make sure your site navigation is crystal clear with signposts all the way. Do not try and be clever here. You don’t need to. Let your products sell themselves with great pictures, a clear layout and concise, friendly copy.

Learn about SEO if you cannot afford someone to do it for you. If you are a new or small online retailer it’s much better to do it yourself. It’s not rocket science, however much some people tell you it is. You need to optimise your website for natural search before you start paying for ads.

These are just five tips. There are far more. If you’d like help please contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

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