These days, there is nodenying your website is your ‘shop window to the world’ so how do you maximise revenue from your virtual retail outlet? Tessa Dension, creative director of Denison Design outlines her top ten tips to boost sales by encouraging buying behaviour from your online customers. The fact is from landing on the home page you have around three seconds to capture your audience before they lose interest and click off to another site. Therefore, it is critical that the website looks attractive and compels potential customers to stay and place an order.
The first tip is that products, rather like in the retail environment, should be merchandised on the home page properly. Customers are unlikely to enter a shop where the quality of goods can’t be viewed through the window. Similarly, customers are more likely to move through a website site where the merchandise is on show at the start. Therefore, include a selection of products or a product offer on the home page that will grab attention immediately.
For example: international wine site of the year for three years running, Berry Brothers & Rudd includes a selection of the latest releases on its home page in addition to ‘straight to buy’ button allowing customers to purchase quickly as well as encouraging impulse decisions.
The products and offers on display on the home page should also be updated regularly. This keeps the site looking interesting, moves it up the search engine listings and again encourages impulse purchases. Berry Brothers & Rudd updates its latest releases daily.
3) Layout & Imagery
In retail visual impact is key to attracting customers and encouraging buying behaviour and the same it true for online retailing. The layout of pages, particularly of the home page must be clear and appealing. Much of this can be achieved with straightforward navigation and quality imagery.www.plants4presents.co.uk is a great example of an e-commerce site that achieves just this. Striking photography combined with easy navigation encourages purchasing and makes it an easy, painless experience.
4) Appeal to a lifestyle choice
In addition to the layout and quality of imagery it is essential to ensure the site appeals to the life-style choice of the potential buyer. Show the products being used, show where they come from, build a picture that indicates that by buying the product the customer is purchasing an aspirational lifestyle choice.
Quotes from other satisfied customers are a powerful sales tool and people often read these to help them make a buying decision. Similarly, awards and trade association memberships endorse the quality of the company’s offering so should be displayed prominently. Logo’s for awards should appear on the home page.
Be as transparent as possible when it comes to pricing. Particularly with delivery costs as customers can be put-off at the last minute if they think they are being ‘ripped-off’ by postage.
The act of payment should be as easy as possible. Achieve this by removing any barriers to sale. For example include clear navigation for delivery times, ensure the checkout process is clear with a prominent ‘next’ button on display and in addition, include the functionality to ‘save details’ to make it easy for returning customers.
When it comes to payment safety and security are also key. Use and advertise a well-known payment gateway such as WorldPay. Or if you choose to handle payments in-house use a secure SSL server which encrypts data transferred from the site. Consumers are now wise to the padlock icon that denotes the use of a secure server and are put off if it is not in evidence or a well-known payment gateway is not used.
Armed with the information above the chances of purchasing behaviour are increased, however if people can’t find your online shop they won’t buy. Most will need to be driven to the site and for this it will need to appear near the top search engine listings. To achieve this websites should be constructed according to “web standards” guidelines, using valid HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). CSS enables the web developer to separate the appearance or style of a web page from its structure and content. Using CSS also makes it much easier and more cost effective to update websites.
Once your site has been created it is important to monitor how it is being used. For a small additional fee your web hosting company will be able to provide statistics illustrating how long visitors stay on each page for example. As web design is not an exact science this allows invaluable improvements to be made the site in the future so further encouraging buying behaviour. If things aren’t working don’t be afraid to change them. You would in a shop so the same principle applies online.