The Do’s and Don’ts of Ecommerce

The idea of starting an online store is exciting for business owners. You’ll be able to increase the reach of your business, and the idea of shipping your goods to different corners of the world is exotic and enticing.

Create a store customers will love.

As exciting as creating an online store is, you’ll need to spend some time considering the experience of your customers to make the endeavor successful. Online shoppers can be impatient and skeptical, and they’ll often abandon the experience at the first sign of complication. It’s imperative that you create an ecommerce shopping cart experience that is appealing, organized, and free of frustrations. You want your customers to buy, be happy, and come back for more future purchases.

You can simplify your approach to creating your online store by breaking down the experience into three phases: shopping, checkout, and follow up. Create an enjoyable experience for customers in all of these phases by adhering to the following do’s and don’ts of building an ecommerce site:

Shopping

Create an online store todo list

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Share this Image On Your Site

Initially, customers are simply browsing your products. They haven’t decided whether to purchase, or which items they want. Entice them, inform them, and let them have fun.

  • Do focus on photography. Use unique angles and backdrops to photograph your products. Make sure your space is well-lit, and capture the details of the item. Utilize the detailed view capability of your CMS, so that users can zoom in and see the item more closely. Provide multiple images for each product, and if the item is very small, add something next to the item (like a coin) to indicate scale.
  • Do categorize products. Categorize your products to make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for. Generally, you’ll want to start with broad categories and then narrow in on specific products. Group items by large differentiating factors such as gender, then move to more specifics such as style or function. Your categories will vary significantly depending on your business—discover how your customers browse by doing a quick competitive analysis.
  • Do keep shipping costs as low as you can. Research indicates that customers often abandon their shopping carts during checkout because of unexpected shipping costs. Studies have also shown that users are two times more likely to respond to free shipping offers than price discounts. Take into consideration that shipping costs can be a major deterrent—or enticement—to online shoppers, and determine a shipping cost strategy that offers the lowest shipping costs possible.
  • Don’t inflate product descriptions. Be detailed when writing your product descriptions, but avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. Add details such as product dimensions, materials, weight, color, sizing, origin, and manufacturing specifications. Be transparent during the early stages of your customers’ shopping experience.

Sun Ah Blair Jewlery

 

Checkout

At this phase, customers have added the items they want to purchase to their shopping cart, and are ready to purchase. They want to pay you, receive confirmation, and quickly move on. Make it easy for customers to pay you—checkout should be a breeze.

  • Do emphasize security. Offer safe and secure payment options that shoppers know and trust, such as Paypal. Display security certifications throughout the checkout process. You can add links to detailed security information that appears in a pop out window.

Secure Payments via PayPal

  • Do simplify the checkout process. If you can, add a function so shoppers can see where they are in the checkout process. Keep the number of pages a customer has to navigate through as small as possible. Require customers to provide only the essential information you need to process the order, and make all other fields optional.
  • Do list your policies. Clearly list your return, exchange, and shipping policies. Be detailed and forthcoming about any timelines for returns, final sales, and an estimated shipping date. Provide contact information for customer support as well.
  • Don’t use the checkout process as a promotional opportunity. Keep the shopping cart and checkout phase for that purpose only. Add easy navigation back to product landing pages so customers can access last minute items, but avoid using this space to promote your latest blog post, or cram in unnecessary information. You don’t want to distract customers from completing their purchase.

Follow up

Stay in touch with your customers and gain their loyalty. Build a relationship with your audience, and take pride in seeing how it grows.

  • Do incentivize customers to come back. In your follow up communications, whether with your confirmation page or your email newsletter, encourage your customers to come back. Offer discount codes during holidays or sales. Give loyal customers sneak previews of new merchandise, and offer presale opportunities. You want your best customers to feel appreciated.
  • Do suggest popular and trending products. Position yourself as a thought leader by telling users what’s trending and which popular products you think they might like.
  • Do communicate. Request feedback from your customers about their purchase and experience. Respond quickly to order questions or quality issues. Give clear instructions for refund, return, or exchange requests.
  • Don’t spam. Having your customer’s contact information is a privilege, and one they will quickly revoke if you overwhelm them with emails, social media posts, print mail, or catalogs. If you’re not sure how frequently you should be reaching out, check out my social media engagement guidelines for helpful tips.

Is your ecommerce site designed with the customer in mind? Share it with us in the comments section below so we can check it out.

 

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Adrienne Lumb

Adrienne is a web marketer and freelance writer in San Francisco with a focus on content marketing and earned media. She loves the internet, every single animal on Planet Earth, sticking her nose in books, and running in the park. Catch her if you can.
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18 Comments

  1. very complete article !
    congratulations and thank you !

    Reply
    • Hi Hollo – thanks so much for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  2. Nice comprehensive checklist. I would appreciate if you would take a look at my site Kufiya.org
    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. So lovely article. It inspired me already to go finish off my online shop i was playing around with! Who is gonna sleep now tell me. Huge thank you for your so helpful information dear!
    My kind regards!

    George

    Reply
    • Hi George! That’s great news. Would you care to share your store with us? Take care!

      Reply
  4. Very good information for me to use to improve my website and store. Would you please look at my website and tell me what you think? Thank you. Tiffany

    Reply
    • Hi Tiffany! We’re so happy to hear that Adrienne’s article was valuable to you. :)

      Your website looks good. If you have any particular questions or issues, please contact our Support Team: http://support.jimdo.com/contact. Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Great article – thanks! I’ve been wondering if my ecommerce site is too complicated (too many detailed categories) and would really appreciate your critique and any suggestions for improvement you may have.

    Thanks, Sue

    Reply
    • Hi Sue. We don’t think your website is too complicated at all. You have quite a few products and you’ve displayed them in a well-sorted manner. We’d suggest keeping an eye on other ecommerce websites that you like. Maybe you’ll discover some things that YOU find visually stimulating and would like to include on your own website. :)

      Reply
  6. I enjoyed the article and observations but as my website is not your typical website and customers only need a one time purchase it is hard to compare my website to others.

    I look forward to any comments that could come my way as I don’t have any comparison sites to look at.

    Love Jimdo my congratulation on providing the best service and help!

    All the best Bob

    Reply
    • Hi Bob. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And thanks for the kind words. :)

      Even though your visitors may only be one-time shoppers, Adrienne’s advice in this post still translates quite well to your website. The one area which may not be as closely aligned is in regards to staying in touch with your customers. But even in that sense, it’s a good idea to gain their loyalty, so that they can become your word-of-mouth marketers. Hope this helps.

      Be sure to visit the blog again for more great tips. Cheers!

      Reply
  7. This is a very informative article for any business owner ready to take their business online. I agree that the site’s layout should be easy and informative for the customer to use. Focus photographs is a really good tip (Presentation is everything!). I purchased a dslr camera to photograph the products I offer and it makes a world of difference displaying it online. I also used http://www.ecwid.com to create my ecommerce site, I highly recommend checking it out to anyone wanting to start an ecommerce site.

    Reply
    • Hi Alex. Thank you for all your feedback! We hope people will choose Jimdo to create their online store, but I’m glad to hear you’ve found a tool that works for you, too. :)

      Reply
      • None the less, its a great article that should be shared with any business owner! Love the Checklist too!

        Reply
        • That’s very kind, thank you!

          Reply
  8. thanks for all your helpful info Adrienne…would love your opinion on my website please….altho Jimdo is a great, user friendly platform ..I built the site as an amateur, without any website building experience & would love to hear any suggestions to improve my site.. thank you
    ps..I am also an animal lover & hope my site reflects that.. :)

    Reply
    • Hi Jo! Wow, you’ve done a great job building your site, and your jewelry is beautiful! Mercatroid does quite the job in modelling them :) One suggestion I have is to make the ‘About Us’ page (link is on the FAQ page) it’s own landing page in the main nav. Since your products are personally handcrafted and very unique, I think the story behind them could be compelling to your customers and target audience. Also, I like how detailed your product descriptions are, but I wanted to compare all the wrap bracelets at a glance, and I had to scroll a lot on the product pages. A higher level product landing page for each category that displays all the products at a glance would be something to consider. Thank you for sharing your site!

      Reply

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