4 Essential Things to Do Before Launching Your E-Commerce Store
Retail sales continue to migrate online and having or launching an E-Commerce Store is essential for continued sales growth, but competition is fierce – here’s what you need to know.
E-commerce sales continue to climb in 2017, as competition for online customers grows fiercer. Amazon widened its lead over rivals in the first quarter of the year, while traditional retailers such as Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s saw their e-commerce sales drop, reflecting the fact that shopping is migrating online into the market space dominated by internet-based vendors, Fortune reported.
Retail e-commerce sales now account for 8.7 percent of total retail spending, which is expected to grow to 14.6 percent by 2020.
This is good news for stores marketing to e-commerce buyers. However, it also means you will be facing more competition. This makes it crucial to get your online store right if you want to stay competitive. Here are four essential things you should make sure to do before launching your online store.
1. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-friendly
Mobile devices overtook computers as the biggest source of web-shopping traffic in 2016, as the mobile share of e-commerce sales grew to 21 percent in the fourth quarter of the year, an increase from 16.9 percent in 2015. To capture this growing mobile customer base, it’s vital to make sure your site is mobile-friendly before launching it.
Avoid using Flash, which most mobile browsers can’t render, recommends Search Engine Watch. Set your viewport to adjust your site responsively to different screen sizes. Make sure fonts, links and buttons are big enough to use on mobile devices, with sufficient space between links and buttons so they’re not too close to press accurately. Don’t use interstitial pop-ups that cover the user’s screen. Launch Google’s test tools to verify that your site is mobile-friendly and to identify any problems that need to be fixed.
2. Optimize Your Landing Pages and Product Pages
Your landing pages and product pages are pivotal for turning a profit, so make sure that they’re optimized for maximum conversion rates. Your landing page layout should pass a “blink test,” meaning that if someone looks at your landing page for five seconds and blinks, they should already be able to tell what your page is about, what your value proposition is and how to access your offer.
Use headlines with actionable, value-driven language that matches the language of marketing campaign copy driving visitors to your site. Make sure URLs, titles and meta descriptions are optimized for search engines. Use images that reflect what users will get after responding to your offer, with alt-text for users who aren’t able to see your image. Avoid using a top navigation menu, which can distract visitors from your offer. Use customized copy on the button for responding to your offer, with language communicating specific instructions.
Similar considerations apply to launching and optimizing product pages. Make sure your product page titles have language that employs keywords users who want your product will be searching on. Likewise, include any key details that might be used as search terms. List bullets that explicate your product’s benefits, along with a benefit-oriented description. Include other sales persuaders, such as case studies, statistics, testimonials and reviews. Use images that show your product in use, along with shots showing angles of your product that are important for users making buying decisions.
3. Test Your Checkout Process
Before going live, it’s essential to test your checkout process and eliminate any bugs. First and foremost, do some test orders to make sure your checkout cart is working correctly. Your developer can run tests in sandbox mode or by temporarily changing your prices to one cent.
Additionally, you should make sure your checkout offers cart summaries and editing features throughout your checkout process. Use security seals and multiple payment options to minimize buyer anxiety.
4. Set up Your Customer Service Processes
You should also make sure your customer services processes are in place before launching. Seventy-three percent of customers prefer self-service via website, so be sure your site includes a self-service knowledge base.
However, 40 percent of customers contact call centers if they can’t find answers through self-service, so you should also offer phone support. An efficient way to do this is to provide a toll-free 800 number that customers can call from anywhere in the U.S.