Best eCommerce Practices to Stand Out in a Saturated Market

Smart Insights 2016 trends show that online shopping is up 45% this year, with online sales up to $327 billion. And global eCommerce transactions are expected to jump over 70% by 2017.

That means one thing for you if you own an online store…

Your eCommerce practices must not only attract prospective customers but must also convince prospects to purchase from you before they hit the back button and search for one of your online competitors.

It’s no secret that the image of a beautiful woman holding an adorable baby in one hand and a kitten in the other isn’t enough anymore to increase your conversions and attract prospective buyers and sell your products online.

That doesn’t mean you’ve got to take down those super adorable kitten pictures…I mean who doesn’t like a good internet cat photo?

It does mean it’s time to step up your eCommerce strategy game. Keep reading to discover how to use the best eCommerce practices to differentiate yourself and stand out in a saturated market, and sell more products online.

eCommerce Website Design Best Practices

Taking your eCommerce website design into consideration is a key element to ensure your website attracts prospective buyers, converts them quickly, and generates more sales. Without this piece of the puzzle, your chances of succeeding in the digital world are slim.

The reason is that users expect a flawless buying experience when they interact with your online store.

Unfortunately, even something as simple as a pixelated image can be enough to turn people away from purchasing.

To ensure this isn’t a problem for you, keep these design elements in mind while polishing up your eCommerce website…

Use Quality Images

People often slap up images on a website to add color, fill space, or show off a product. But when the quality of the image that is used isn’t great, it can have a negative impact on user experience.

The reason is this…

Images are powerful.

Images tell stories, persuade, inspire, capture people’s attention, stimulate conversation, and so much more. And when used correctly, they even help sell your products.

That being said, if your images are of poor quality, pixelated, blurry, or just simply irrelevant, they aren’t working to do anything of the things I mentioned above.

They are worthless.

Even worse, poor quality images can also cause doubts about the quality of your products.

Honestly, if someone doesn’t have the time or resources to pull together a quality photos for a website, did he or she really have the time and resources to create a quality product either?

That might sound a bit dramatic to you, but it’s true.

Quality images are essential.

The next time you’re selecting images for your eCommerce website or reviewing your current product images, ask yourself these questions…

  • Are my images clear and focused?
  • Is my image file large enough, that when I add it into my website, it doesn’t become stretched, blurred, or pixelated?
  • Are my pictures relevant to what I am selling on my website?
  • Am I using images to promote my products, instead of just trying to fill white space?

And if you answered No to any of the questions above, here a few next steps to take that might be helpful for you.

#1 If your budget allows, hire a professional photographer to capture your products.

#2 Use a camera that supports 15 megapixels or more so your images don’t stretch or blur.

#3 Replace irrelevant or outdated images with new images that work to promote your brand or product.

Keep Your eCommerce Website Design Simple

People visit your eCommerce website with the intention of buying something from you.

In order for that purchase to be made, your prospects need to quickly and efficiently be able to find what they are looking for.

Here are a few ways you can ensure they to do just that.

Add a Search Bar

Search bars improve user experience by providing a quick and efficient way for people to find things on your website by using key search terms.

For example, if you’re a candy store that sells chocolates online, you may have  100 different products available. However, your prospect Suzy is specifically looking for truffles.

Instead of making Suzy scroll through all of your products listed under boxed chocolates (annoying!), add a search bar. Suzy uses that search bar, searches for truffles, and  automatically pulls up all products listed under truffles.

Suzy is quickly able to find what she wants, purchase it, and in a few days, enjoy your delicious truffles.

Add Clear Navigation

Once again, people need to be able to quickly locate what they came to your site to purchase.

A navigation bar lays out the main information people will need to find once they reach your website. This might include your main product categories, refund information, about page, or blog.

In addition, having a category drop down menu on all product pages helps users quickly locate what they are looking for.

Limit the Content

There’s nothing user-friendly about a page swamped with products, images, and call-to-action options.

Just take a look at this image as an example:


Instead of throwing all of your products on one page, be mindful of keeping each page clean, simple, and easy to read.

Create a Mobile-Responsive eCommerce Website

Data shows us that 90% of shoppers use their smartphones to shop.

If your eCommerce store isn’t mobile optimized, you’re missing out on potential sales. It’s not just missed sales opportunities that hurt you. Having a non-mobile optimized website is also hurting you in the following ways…

Traffic – Mobile websites get more traffic. Makes sense if 90% of shoppers use their smartphones to shop, right? And without traffic you will not sell products.

Bounce Rate – If your website is not mobile optimized, your bounce rates are going to be high. That’s bad for two major reasons. First, it means people are coming to your website and then immediately leaving. Not good! And second, your bounce rate is a factor in how well you rank on online searches. Don’t let bounce rates keep you from being found online.

Brand Engagement – If people have a good user experience when visiting your mobile-optimized website on their phone/tablet and can easily find the products they want, they have no reason to visit a competitor’s website. However, if they can’t purchase things on their phone because your website isn’t mobile optimized, they probably aren’t going to hesitate to jump to a competitor’s website.

So yes, we know you’ve probably been told a million times to ensure your website is mobile optimized. But it’s so important to the success of your eCommerce website.

So just do it already!

eCommerce Website Content Best Practices

Once you’ve made sure your eCommerce website is professional, features high-quality images, and has a seamless user experience, you’re definitely on the path to a successful eCommerce website.

There is something that is equally if not more important to the success of your website. And that something is content.

Let’s take a look at how to use copy to improve your eCommerce website.

Clearly Define Your Products

When reading your product copy, you need to clearly define what your products are and explain why they benefit your audience.

Here’s what I mean by that…

Any dog food store can throw up a description for a bag of dog food that simply says “dog food.” But does that really define what the product is?

Not really.

Sure, it’s dog food. But is it for large or small dogs? Is it grain free? Does it contain all-natural ingredients? The list of questions goes on.

If we were crafting a product description for a specific type of dog food, it might look like this:

Happy Paws All-Natural Dry Dog Kibble for Dogs 30 lbs. and Under

Happy Paws dog food provides you with all-natural food choices for your pup. Our Happy Paws All-Natural Dry Dog Kibble is formulated for dogs under 30 pounds and contains quality lamb meat, vegetables, and fruit. This grain-free kibble will keep your pet full while promoting coat health, joint health, and optimal energy.

See how much detail was added in there? Detailed product descriptions are a must for eCommerce websites that want to stand out from the crowd.

To get a more in-depth idea of how to craft product descriptions, check out our post on why eCommerce shoppers ignore product descriptions.

Create an Experience with Your eCommerce Content

People don’t buy stuff just to buy stuff.

People buy stuff because it creates an experience.

If you can paint a picture of an experience with your product or service for a person, you have a better chance of selling that product or service.

Think about it.

A busy mom doesn’t buy lavender-scented bubble bath just to come out of her bath feeling extra clean. She buys it because a soothing and luxurious bubble bath creates an escape for her.

That escape: Thirty minutes of being child free while relaxing in a bath that transports her to soothing lavender fields in the French countryside.

Sure, not every person is going to have the same “experience fantasy,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t play into creating experiences for people.

Paint an image of that luxurious bubble bath transporting busy moms to a world of peaceful and quiet pampering, and I bet you’ll make some sales.

If you sell bubble bath, you’re now golden! But no worries…if you don’t sell bubble bath, you can still take the concept and translate it into creating product experiences for your audience.

Use Storytelling in Your eCommerce Content

Storytelling goes hand in hand with the idea of creating an experience. In fact, storytelling is the medium in which you create a picture of that experience.

It works because it opens the door to connect with people on an emotional level.

Warby Parker, a company that makes eyeglasses, is a great example of this.

Their brand is founded on a “buy one get one” strategy in which every time you purchase glasses, someone less fortunate gets a pair for free. The stories of Warby Parker’s mission, the people they work with, and the help they provide struggling populations are inspiring to a lot of people.

From there, that inspirational storytelling makes people feel that they want to help and give back  and encourages them to purchase glasses from Warby Parker for that reason.

Here’s a quick snapshot of their homepage. It’s clear their content strategy is founded on storytelling.

I’m not saying that you have to found your business on charitable donations and changing the lives of people in the world to be successful. That’s not true at all.

Your storytelling method could be as simple as speaking to how your products changed your family, the events that inspired you to create your business, or the reason behind why your products/services are important to you.

It could be anything. Try and implement storytelling into your content strategy to see how successful it can be.

To discover how to add storytelling into your website copy strategy, we recommend checking out our post on 5 Storytelling Secrets for Digital Marketing Success.

Stay Focused on Product Benefits

Too often, eCommerce website copy gets caught up in listing all of the bells and whistles a product has, instead of focusing on the main benefit of the actual product.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with showcasing a product’s features…they are important. But you can’t stop there.

People need, and want, to understand WHY your product is going to be a benefit to them.

With thousands of websites that sell the same products, this is a perfect opportunity to differentiate yourself. The best part…it’s easy to do!

Let’s take a look at The Honest Company…

Notice how their product information for the bug spray is focused on the details and benefits that are important to their target audience—people who value organic products and are earth conscious.

This description could ONLY list that the bug spray comes in multiple size bottles, has 3 different scents, or can be bought in travel size bottles. But it doesn’t.

If focuses on the benefits: it’s organic, it’s hypoallergenic, it’s earth friendly, and it will keep the bugs away.

Always tailor your product or service benefits to your target audience and be sure to make the benefits visible on your eCommerce website copy.

eCommerce Website Customer Service Best Practices

Customer service…you may hate it, you may love it, it may bring back awful flashbacks of pulling out your hair while dealing with customers at your first-ever retail job.

No matter how you feel about it, we must talk about it.

When you’re selling products online, you’re interacting with customers. If you aren’t serving those customers, you’re probably not going to get many online sales. You definitely won’t get repeat sales.

Really quick, let’s back it up a second and talk about why your customers may be in need of quality customer service. Here are the most common reasons:

  • Your customers can’t find what they need on your site.
  • Your customers have questions about your products.
  • Your customers order the wrong product.
  • Your customers have complaints about your products.

There are many reasons your customers need customer service. Here’s a quick overview of how you can serve them.

Email Communication

Provide a support email address, web form, or online chat feature so customers easily get in touch with you.

Make sure people can easily find this information and place it somewhere prominent, like in the header of your website, product pages, or on a contact us page.

Online Chat

If you have the staff and technology available, an online chat service is something customers love.

They love online chat services because it provides instant gratification. Also, if people have a problem with your website or product or have shipping questions, they are going to want to have a solution now, not later.

Enabling a chat service on your eCommerce website allows for people to get the instant help they desire whenever they need it.

FAQs page

If you’re worried about being bombarded by emails, chats, and calls, add a FAQs page to your website.

Adding a FAQs page benefits you in 2 ways. It…

  • Allows people to get their questions answered without having to bother you.
  • Gives you a place to send people that ask questions you’ve already answered so you don’t have to waste your time.

Simply pull together your most frequently asked questions, write your responses, and put it up on a webpage that your website visitors can easily find.

Here’s an example of Spotify’s FAQs page:

Having customer services tools available is important. But why?

I’m so glad you asked…

If people are going to buy something from you, they need to be able to trust that you will be there to help them if something goes wrong in the buying process or after they’ve received their product.

Communication builds reassurance, confidence, and trust…everything needed to help your prospect take the next step and purchase your product.

There you have it!

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