You think you’re ready to venture into the world of eCommerce? Having dreams of long lines of virtual customers queueing up from around the world?
Before you throw open your virtual doors, make sure you’ve taken into consideration the following.
Well-defined eCommerce business plan.
Whether your eCommerce site is the first and only place you will do business, or it’s an extension of your existing business, you need to treat it with the same respect and undergo the same amount of planning as opening a traditional brick-and-mortar location. Though your eCommerce business plan will probably be much shorter than a traditional business plan, make sure you’ve addressed at least these key questions:
- What are you selling?
- Who is your target customer?
- What is the problem you customer has — and how does your product solve that problem?
- Who are your competitors in this space? What are their strengths and weaknesses — and how do you compare?
- How does your eCommerce site directly build on your competitive point of differentiation?
Clear eCommerce value proposition.
You wouldn’t open a brick-and-mortar store named “Stuff,” because new customers wouldn’t know what you sold, and even existing customers would be a little wary of what they might find upon a return visit. Yet many eCommerce sites make the mistake of not clearly stating their value proposition.
Whether it’s “We are your reliable online source for fashionable eyeglass frames,” or “We provide digital consulting services for environmentally conscious ore mining,” a visitor to your site needs to immediately recognize what it is that you do for them.
High-quality product images.
One of the biggest hurdles to buying online is the inability to physically touch the product you’re purchasing. Don’t make things harder for your customers by using low-quality product images. Make extra effort to show the product views that you know your customers want. For example, some of the best online clothing retailers combine whole body shots, fabric and detail close-ups, and even short video clips of the clothing item on a real, moving model. You’re creating a virtual “fitting room” experience — and you don’t want dirty mirrors.
Tailored product descriptions.
Along with the product image, the brief description is replacing the entire experience of talking with an expert salesperson in a store. Going beyond stock product descriptions is a great way to nurture the value proposition of your eCommerce site. The descriptions should demonstrate your familiarity with the product and your confidence in its value.
Clear shipping & return policies.
Visit any major eCommerce site and you’re sure to see a mention of their shipping and return policies featured prominently — at all times — at the top of the page. If you offer free shipping or flat-rate shipping, flaunt it to your customers. Even if you’re not using your shipping and return policies as a differentiator, make sure that a link to your policies is prominently displayed, and that the policies themselves are easy to understand. Your customers are taking a leap of faith in buying online; you need to reassure them that everything after the purchase will follow a logical and reasonable order.
Reliable cart design.
If a store regularly had a 30-minute wait just to checkout, you can bet they’d lose plenty of customers halfway through the line. Plenty would never return. And, imagine if you got to the register and were told, “Sorry, looks like the register isn’t working at the moment. If you’d like to go to the back of the line, it might be working by the time you get up here again.” This is essentially what you’re doing to your customers when you don’t create a simple, reliable, and fast shopping cart and checkout process. Of all the different aspects of your eCommerce site to test and re-test, your checkout and cart functionality is likely the most critical.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.