Creating an eCommerce website that adds real value to your business requires a little detailed planning and we hope our guide below will help identify some of the decision points to ensure that your site meets your objectives. For more information on delivering a website project please take a look at our website design help.
Design of the site encompasses not only the look and feel of the site, but also the structure of the product groups as both of these factors will impact on the speed of page loading and product search capabilities. As a general rule, simplicity and clarity are key as these will result in the fastest possible site navigation, product searches and page loadings. A good page load target is a maximum of about two seconds.
Products need to be organised in a sensible group structure. That structure should reflect what your customers would consider a logical order to be, which is not necessarily the same as a manufacturer’s product numbering system.
Where possible users should be able to navigate to products by:
Generally Put things together that users would expect to see together, but be careful not to show too many alternatives unless you have say a tabular features list which will allow people to easily compare products.
Product pages are where your site conveys information to potential customers to enable them to make a purchasing decision. Pages should:
It is worthwhile having a check list of things which should go on each product page so that consistency is achieved across the site.
Many products have options available. Ideally options available show be clearly seen on the product page e.g.:
Although customers are increasingly comfortable with buying products and services online, you should try to make sure that they can gain confidence that your site is legitimate by making sure that the site has:
The purpose of the shopping cart is to allow customers to review their intended purchases. To make this possible, the site should ideally permit:
You should consider whether the payment transaction should be completed on your own website or whether to re-direct the user to a secure recognised payment process e.g. PayPal etc.
There have been many damaging cases of user information being hacked from seller’s sites – so if you are retaining any customer information – will that data be encrypted or otherwise secured and can you state those safeguards to the user?
Once the payment process is completed ideally the site should display:
A confirmation email containing the above information should also be sent to the user. By showing the information on the site and sending an immediate confirmation email the user is assured that the order has not fallen into a ‘black hole’.
Particularly for high value goods which require signature, consideration should be given to implementing order tracking with the courier service to allow users to see the progress of their order. If you have a choice, carriers who send out texts showing the delivery status and expected delivery times. Some carriers do give very accurate predicted delivery times allowing your customers to plan their day rather than having a general delivery time of say 8am to 8pm.
If the order passes through several stages in your internal process, consider sending out progress emails so that customers feel that their order is important and is progressing.
If your courier provides real time feedback of delivery completion, consider generating an email to customers confirming that the item has been delivered.
The email should also include links for damaged items, returns policy, installation instructions etc.
A week or so after the order has been delivered a short follow up email checking if the purchaser is happy with the purchase and your service is a great way of building the customer relationship. This is an opportunity to get direct feedback which you might be able to use to rate products or to improve your service, website etc.
If your organisation is geared up for personal email responses, consider sending this type of follow up email directly from a named individual, but unanswered responses are worse than not contacting the customer in the first place!
Many organisations fix problems that customers have and then move on. However, a problem is also an opportunity to demonstrate excellent customer service. So a specific follow up in respect of any issue a customer has had is a good way of showing customers that you value their custom. Feedback to your site such as “Stopped working after one day” is damaging whereas “ Stopped working after one day and a replacement was shipped out to me on the same day – great service!” sells more products!
A newsletter, voucher codes or email offers are all possible ways of keeping in touch with hard won customers in the future, but make sure that there is a simple Unsubscribe link, particularly if you are selling to consumers.
Here are a few things which you might consider to endear users to your site:
There are a number of ways that you can consider using to increase the profile of your eCommerce site:
Good eCommerce sites have search engine optimisation capabilities built in to them. It is important that product pages provide Meta Descriptions and Meta Titles. Meta Keywords are not so important now, but some systems are capable of generating the metadata by default if it isn’t entered specifically for the product. You can check this by viewing the source code for the webpage in your browser.
Images should be labelled according to their content – search engines cannot see what an image is (yet!) so you need to provide that information. You can use the image Alt tag to do this.
The address line or site URL for your product should ideally contain meaningful information too – an address for the page that contains a jumble of characters and symbols is meaningless to a search engine and therefore an opportunity missed.
A site map is essential for eCommerce sites. Systems that automatically generate a site map and then notify the search engines of site changes are ideal as this ensures that the search engines keep up to date with site changes. The is more information onon this site.
Most of the comments raised in cleartarn’spage are worth considering in respect of your site.
We hope this guide is of use when you consider your eCommerce site. cleartarn has many years’ experience implementing eCommerce solutions for a variety of businesses and products. If we can provide you with any further help or guidance, please.
Our content management systems (CMS) allow the website data and background functionality to be separated from the site's look and feel, allowing you to add and modify content in full knowledge that future changes to the style and design can be done without losing the content created.
Our eCommerce solutions range from dozens to thousands of products with a range of payment and deliver options and features such as stock control and customisable delivery options. We can also create EBay shop sites to give even greater exposure for your products.
All of our solutions are built around the need to provide the information search engines need to properly list and rank your site. So whether it is a CMS website or eCommerce platform we build in the tools to ensure your data and pages are presented to search engines in the most effective way.
Our database driven CMS system has a range of standard applications and a variety of standard features providing a flexible easy to use system. Modules can be customised where required, or new 'bolt on' applications rapidly created to suit your business needs.
Designed to cater for the latest real time data feed specifications that allow immediate publishing on property portals, combined with Responsive Designs that allow sites to be viewed on PCs, tablets and mobiles, the cleartarn property website system has a host of innovative features. We believe that this is the most comprehensive property system on the market today.Read More Demonstration Site
Websites can range from simple brochure designs to sites which brand and identify the service that your organisation delivers.
cleartarn can help to bring your website to life and work with you to ensure that it meets your customers' needs and your expectations.
We can develop sites from template based systems or work with one of a selected few creative designers who can deliver stunning custom website designs.Website Design Help
Many manufacturing companies require significant amounts of technical content to be available through the website. The cleartarn Content Management System (CMS) makes it easy to create unlimited pages which can contain text, images, videos and downloads.
Pages can also be set to require user login or staff login to permit different information to be available for different website user groups.
Database driven CMS websites allow the separation of the look and feel of the site from the content. This means when you need to update the design it can done without having to re-create the entire content.Technical Content Custom Solutions
cleartarn's systems are designed to provide data in the best form possible for the search engines.
As new content is added search engine data can be both entered and created automatically by the system.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is not just about the creation of website 'Metadata', but it is about creating an integrated social media and communications methodology and building links throughout the website itself and to other external sources.
This can be time consuming work, but our systems and our approach simplify the process and ensure that it is cost effective for your business.Search Engine Optimisation Understanding CMS
cleartarn has developed a number of eCommerce websites and can advise on payment methods, integrated stock control, shipping methods etc.
As with our CMS websites we utilise internet hosting which can grow with your business and provides highly reliable, fast sites and needless to say search engine optimisation is built in to every system.
So whether you have an existing eCommerce site which needs overhauling or are starting out with a new business idea, cleartarn can help you translate your plan into a highly professional, cost effective eCommerce solution.More about eCommerce
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With a wide range of expertise developing IT solutions in a variety of businesses cleartarn has first hand experience of the impact that properly designed and implemented systems can bring to businesses. Our aim is to make your IT investment pay by generating more business.
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