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9 ways to improve your ecommerce site

By Will Stevens - May 31, 2017

So you’ve set up your ecommerce site and you’ve started to make a few sales. At this point, there’s probably a temptation to think your website is finished and focus on other aspects of your business.

But in reality, there’s no such thing as a finished ecommerce website – you should always be trying to make improvements.

Why? Well, an improved ecommerce site is likely to mean an increase in sales, and an increase in sales means an increase in profits.

In this guide we’ll look at simple things you can do to try and make your site more appealing to customers.

Install Google Analytics

If you haven’t got Google Analytics (GA) installed on your site, then get it on there as soon as possible.

It provides you with crucial data about how customers interact with your website. Without that information, you won’t know if any changes you make help or harm your sales.

Installing GA does require some technical knowledge, so you may want to ask your web designer to do it for you.

Alternatively, you can read a guide on how to do it here.

Regardless of who installs GA, you will need to understand how to analyse the data it presents so you can make informed decisions about the future of your site.

To help you get started, we have a free Google Analytics training course, which will teach you the basics.

You can follow some of the advice in this article without installing GA, but if you don’t it will be a lot harder to tell if your efforts are paying off.

Identify problem areas

One of the first things to do once you’ve had GA up and running for a while is to look at your data and see if there are any obvious problem areas that need addressing.

To do this, you’ll need conversion funnels set up, it’s covered in our course.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see if there are steps in the purchase process where a significant number of people are giving up and leaving your site.

You can then investigate potential issues which could range from a complete broken page to a confusing button.

You can also use GA to see if there is a potential issue with people using your site on mobile (or other devices) and a whole host of other problem areas.

Also, make sure you set up alerts so you know immediately if there’s a sudden drop in conversions, and keep a regular eye on GA so you always know what’s going on.

A/B testing

If you’re making changes to your site with the aim of improving sales, then you can’t just go around making adjustments just because you feel like it.

You need proof that what you’re doing actually has a benefit, and you also need to make sure that any changes you’re considering don’t have an unexpected adverse effect on your sales.

That’s where A/B testing comes in. Basically, A/B testing is comparing the effect on sales of a change to your website, or a page on your site.

Each test lasts a fixed period and if the test results show an increase in sales, you can go ahead and implement that change for good. If they don’t, then you can try something else.

A/B testing is one of the most crucial skills you can learn, and it’s also covered in the Google Analytics course we linked to above.

Better product pictures

Hopefully, you should have at least one high-quality photo for each product you’re selling. If you don’t, then add them as soon as possible.

People want to see the item they’re buying, so make sure they can. If you do need to get snapping, then you probably won’t have to worry about buying expensive photography equipment, most smarthphones have a decent camera these days.

However, getting the best shots of your products will take a little bit of work so check out this guide on doing it right from Pixc.

If you already have basic product photography covered, why not try experimenting with multiple photos per product?

Use Video

If product pictures are seen as a basic must-have, then video is its all-too-often overlooked cousin.

People often dismiss video because they think it’s too hard and/or expensive to produce something that looks good.

But the reality is producing quality video is within the grasp of most small business owners.

What should you use it for?

Well, there are loads of possibilities. If you’ve got a complex product, you can create a video demonstration. You can create video testimonials that show people you’re a business they can trust. Or you can create educational videos, like the ones included in our Online Business Training courses.

If you want to give video a try (and it really is something you should explore) then check out our guide to low-cost video marketing here.

Include customer testimonials

We touched on this in the video section above, but it deserves a mention in its own right.

Testimonials are a really powerful way to convince people to buy from you, especially if you’re selling a complex product or service.

Used correctly, testimonials help your potential customers see how your business has already successfully solved the same problem they’re facing.

Essentially, testimonials act as proof that you can do what you promise to do, and as such are a really effective way to boost sales. We have a guide on creating customer testimonials here.

Simplify things

No one likes it when they’re made to jump through hoops, and the same goes for buying a product on an ecommerce website.

So consider the way people use your site and then work out if there’s anything you can do to make things easier for them.

For example, is it possible for you to reduce the number of clicks people have to make before they complete their purchase?

Are you forcing people to sign up for an account before they buy from you? If so, could you boost sales by offering a guest checkout option?

You can get some more ideas on how to improve your checkout process in this guide. 

If you want to get even more ideas on how to simplify your website, then have a look at how some of the major players do things – companies like Amazon spend a huge amount of time and money on improving their shopping experience, so it’s a great way to find inspiration.

Improve product descriptions

Assuming you already have a unique product description for each item you sell, let’s think about ways you can improve those descriptions.

An easy win here is to make sure your descriptions talk about benefits, rather than features. What does that mean? Well, a product feature of TV might be its 5.1 surround sound speakers, but the benefit of that feature is that it lets you enjoy cinema quality audio in your own home.

Why talk about benefits over features? Because most people won’t know what 5.1 surround sound actually means – it’s meaningless jargon. But the tangible benefit of cinema quality audio helps people understand why it’s worth their while opting for that feature.

If you want to dig deeper into improving your product descriptions (and you should) then check out this guide. 

Use email sign ups

This is a really easy win and one that you should implement today. Email marketing offers you a chance to reconnect with existing customers, and people who have visited your site but didn’t make a purchase.

It also means that you’re less reliant on platforms like Google and Facebook for your traffic – if you can get someone to your site and get them to sign up to your email list, then you can encourage them to come back without them having to run a search, or click on a social media ad.

If you want to try email marketing, and we highly recommend that you do, then check out our free email marketing course here.

Try upselling

If you’ve ever purchased something from Amazon, you’ll have notice that you’re offered a selection of other product that you may be interested in.

That’s called upselling, and it’s a really good way to boost the value of your transactions.

Again, upselling is a huge topic so we can’t cover it in depth here, but you can read this guide to learn the basics. 

Summing up

There are plenty of ways you can improve your ecommerce website, and it really is something you should be spending as much time on as you can afford.

But at the very least, make sure you have Google Analytics on your website and that you understand A/B testing. Even if you only run a few tests a year, you could find your sales increase significantly.