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How do I make sure my eCommerce website is user friendly?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 | By Scott Robinson

Are there any tips you’d give on how to make the online buying experience as smooth and easy as possible for consumers? I don’t have any real prior knowledge of eCommerce so I have no idea what to do or not do.

 

It sounds very cliché but it’s all about KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

 

The biggest factor is to keep the technology where it should be – hidden. Consumers are all looking for convenience. That’s why online shopping has enjoyed such a massive boom. The convenience of choice, price, availability and comparison is what eCommerce sites offer users today.

 

So what does that all mean in terms of developing a site? Well, simply you have to do your best to make the process easy. Complex steps will lead to “cart abandonment”. So there needs to be a focus on ensuring that the actual process is streamlined and easy for your customers.

 

From a technical perspective, you need to ensure that you’re dealing with a system that works for you. There are literally thousands of eCommerce solutions out there. The tricky part is choosing the right system for your business.

 

Here’s a few suggestions on how to best achieve this:

 

1. Seek out a developer who has an existing system

 

Developing an eCommerce site from scratch can be very costly and very time consuming.


Look at other sites and see who developed those sites.

 

If you find a site that works really well and functions as you would expect, then check to see who developed the site and ask them for a quote.

 

2. Be wary of DIY systems

 

While these will be cheaper, it will depend upon you having a decent knowledge of coding and procedures.

 

The cost is an attractive option to a start-up, but spending bad money will always require you to spend more later.

 

3. Ask Questions – LOTS of them!

 

There is no such thing as a silly question.

 

You’re going to be spending good money on this system and as such you need to ensure you have equipped yourself with as much knowledge as possible.

 

4. Test the examples

 

It’s similar to test driving a car. Take their systems out for a test run. Make sure they work for you and that you interact with them as your clients would. If it feels comfortable and effortless, then you’ve probably found your system.

 

Remember though, eCommerce is all just about technology. One of the most crucial factors is security. Security needs to be dealt with on a number of levels. First of all, the technology (but I think we’ve covered that).

 

Then it’s about the look and feel of your site. Consumers have to trust your site. They have to feel confident.

 

Unlike walking into a store where you can greet them and control the environment somewhat, online it’s cold and analytical most of the time, so your site will need to work hard to ensure that people trust you.

 

I also encourage you to go beyond the basic requirements of most banks or merchant facilities in terms of your return policies and delivery details.

 

Consumers really appreciate transparency and this is an opportunity to build credibility with them.

 

Make sure these documents address the real issues that consumers are seeking answers to or even create a FAQ section to handle questions such as “When will my parcel be delivered?”, “How can I expect it to be wrapped?”, “If I don’t like it, can I return it?”

 

While these may seem silly, remember there are no silly questions and you should ensure that your communication is at its highest level when it comes to eCommerce sites.

 

Finally, seek yourself an expert. Creating an eCommerce site is not easy and with the right advice it can be a pain free experience.

 

Online Shopping is here to stay and if you can cash in on the global market make it happen. It’s estimated that in Australia alone, we spent in excess of $10.5 billion (yes billion) online last year.

 

Having a system that makes it easy for consumers to spend a slice of this on your eCommerce site has never been more important.