E-commerce websites have been rapidly growing in demand even before the COVID-19 completely changed how we live and work. The pandemic has pushed e-commerce into the spotlight. People are realizing the importance, convenience and safety involved with being able to purchase products & services online, so while the non-essential brick and mortar businesses are struggling the e-commerce demand is thriving.
All over the world, we are witnessing the rise of digital shoppers of all ages. Make no mistake, these habits are not just a temporary reflection on the current situation. While the current spike is caused by it, all evidence suggests that once shoppers turn their preferences to digital experiences, they do not go back. Even the older generations are now learning to acclimate to e-shopping. This is the new normal.
For all these reasons, a good e-commerce website is a wise investment. However, it needs to be done by professional web designers and developers or you stand to lose your customers, reputation and money.
To answer the question about whether or not your business would profit from investing into an e-commerce website, ask yourself what you are looking to get from your website in the first place.
The most standard website exists to build awareness, inform your target audience about who you are and what you are offering them, showcase the works you did, establish your company as a credible business, and direct your customers to contact you. However, if you are looking to generate leads and sales and can sell your products online, then designing and developing a highly functional website should be what you are focusing on right now.
Here are some things a truly effective e-commerce website has to be to attract and keep their customers:
- User-friendly – UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design are both essential components of professional website design. A website needs to visually attract, and prove itself easy to navigate. If your customers need to spend time reading and scrolling through different pages to figure out how to find or purchase your products, and then fill long and complicated forms, you will end up with many bounce backs and no purchases.
- Attractive – It is important to emphasize the importance of the visual experience. Humans are visual animals after all. Your audience will make up their mind about your company in the first few seconds of opening your website – if the website isn’t designed to be beautiful and appealing, you will lose them.
- Mobile-friendly – responsiveness is so important, especially since most people use their phones to browse sites and make purchases, and the number is growing. If you have a great e-commerce website that isn’t mobile-friendly, you are losing more than half of your potential customers
- Functional – search functionality deserves it’s own mention even though it is tied to the user-friendly experience. On any platform where customers are browsing products, you need excellent search features (e.g. autocomplete, faceted search etc) to make sure your products are easy to find and your customers are having an enjoyable digital shopping experience.
- Informative – without making people read a bulk of text, it is important to make sure your company and product information is well-written, descriptive, and well-organized.
- Secure – safety is always important, but it is crucial when money transactions are involved. All e-commerce websites need to support SSL to encrypt the info that needs to stay secure, such as customer information, payment details etc. This is why you can’t take shortcuts when it comes to e-commerce websites. Make sure you are working with a web design and development agency that is reputable and accountable.
- High-ranking – having an amazing website is the main step, but to generate leads and make sales you need to do the needed digital marketing including social media marketing on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Linkedin, and support your website with PPT (especially Google AdWords) and SEO efforts to make sure it is visible and reaches your target.
- Performance-optimized – don’t lose customers just because your beautiful website takes forever to load. Did you know that almost half of the users will simply abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to open it? There are many ways to deal with this and a good website developer will be able to assist you.
It is essential to always look at your website and other digital products from customers’ perspective. For example, many e-commerce websites require users to create accounts before they can make purchases. This makes sense as it allows follow-ups and helps your company create a database for future marketing and sales. It also gives you insight into your customer demographics. While this is a great tool, many fail to keep in mind that many people don’t want to go through a process of doing all this just to buy a product. This is why it’s great to keep this as an optional feature – a tool that will be convenient and beneficial to repeat customers, but without making you lose out on the one-time sales.
These kinds of tips come from experience. It is not enough to do a quick google search, talk to your young nephew who is “good with computers”, or compromise on the quality by working with a less reliable company that is offering you a “great deal”. This is the platform that can help skyrocket your business if done right but will not stop it from sinking if not.
Make sure to have a professional website design & development agency on board to help you avoid all the common pitfalls. You are entering a highly competitive digital market and you need to be fully equipped to do this and come out on top.
We can’t stress this enough – this is not a fad that will go away with time. The digital revolution was already on a rapid rise before COVID-19 hit, and the current events have led to irreversible global changes in how we think and behave, pushing it even further at an unimaginable speed. There isn’t the time to hesitate or wait for things to go back to normal. Businesses are forced to adapt to survive.
To start adapting, you have to re-think and re-evaluate your digital presence. You don’t have to do this on your own. Professional web design and development companies are here to provide advice, guidance and do the needed work to bring your company to the digital platforms. This will open the door to many new customers and opportunities.