For small business owners with e-commerce on the brain, this is the bare-bones introduction to an effective online purchasing experience. Every essential component of an e-commerce solution deserves a textbook explanation unto itself, but we haven’t got the time. Canadians are spending $15.3 billion a year in online purchases (Statistics Canada 2010). For right now, let’s skip the literature. We’ll present each element in summary, and let your imagination build the framework for a unique online shopping experience. With the basics, you can develop conversion strategies, and tap into that billion-dollar customer base.
Your e-commerce site needs to be able to guide users to what they’re looking for in three clicks or less, or else you risk losing customers to the dreaded “Back” button. Two-thirds of online shoppers hit a site with a specific goal (Nielsen, 2011), and don’t want to waste time. Usability encompasses ease of content, workflow, and site layout, and deserves further reading. Check out my Smashing Magazine article on improving usability for product pages here: http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/01/10/it-works-for-you-a-user-centric-guideline-to-product-pages/
We can’t touch, smell, sample, or feel products online. Web shopping is an information experience, and as such, requires the right information. Content that works dynamically across forms (tech specs, image galleries, product descriptions) provides users with tactile suggestion; something close to that brick-and-mortar shopping experience they are accustomed.
While many users come to a site with a specific purchase in mind, we must prepare our e-commerce websites to accommodate all kinds of users: first-time shoppers, category-browsers, window-shoppers, and bargain-hunters. Make the account log-in and registration process easy. Develop an effective search function for users who aren’t quite sure the make and model of their desired product. Accommodate every user.
A 2010 Statistics Canada report on Internet usage and e-commerce suggested that 19% of abandoned orders online were due to security concerns. Provide users with reliable, recognized modes of payment, and push your commitment to security with an up-to-date layout that promotes legitimacy and linear workflow. For more tips, check out this Smashing Magazine article on e-commerce design: http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/04/06/fundamental-guidelines-of-e-commerce-checkout-design/
Before embarking on an e-commerce venture, consider whether you are prepared to take on a potential spike in production. What does your current manufacturing process handle today? If you are confident that you could keep up with the demands of a much larger customer base, then let’s put these e-commerce elements to work! Contact Scott or Greg at Navigator Multimedia today, and tap into an ever-growing marketplace of savvy consumers!
“Individual Internet Use and E-commerce.” 12 October 2010. Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/111012/dq111012a-eng.htm
Nielsen, Jakob. “E-Commerce Usability.” 24 October 2011.