Best Practices in E-Commerce

Designing an e-commerce website is one of the most challenging objectives a company can face.  There are general guidelines and principles that need to be taken into account to improve your e-commerce website.  Today’s environment for e-commerce is very different from just a few years ago.  Changes in the mobile industry and globalization have impacted how businesses implement their e-commerce strategies.  As a consequence, businesses find themselves modifying and adapting their strategies to these emerging trends.

In this article, we delve into the traditional practices in e-commerce as well as the emerging trends that managers will benefit from knowing about.

Traditional Best Practices in E-Commerce

  1. Keep it simple:  Make sure to simplify the process of purchasing products on your e-commerce site.  Use a clear hierarchy for consistent navigation and only put information your user needs.
  2. Have high resolution pictures of your products:  No matter how well designed, no-body will pay attention to your product if your images are low in quality.
  3.  Use more than one image for each product:  Depending on the product, you may want to incorporate pictures of the product from various angles.
  4. Provide details about the product:  Make sure your consumer is well informed.
  5. The cart page has to be efficient: It is important to simplify the experience for the consumer.  Whether it is changing the quantity of items, removing an item, calculating taxes or shipping costs, the action should be easy to perform.
  6. Have a wide range of payment options:  Some people may not have a credit card, others may not have a PayPal or Google checkout account.  You want to be able to conduct a transaction with anyone who wants to buy a product on your site.
  7. Allow users to compare products:  Most websites will find benefit from letting consumers compare two or more products at once.
  8. Have a simple shipping form:  Don’t ask for too many details, only ask for what you need.  Also, if billing and shipping addresses are the same, only have your clients fill the form once.
  9. Offer shipment tracking:  Customers want to know where their products are and when they will receive it, give them an estimated time frame.
  10. Give the user recommendations:  A classic example is, “people who bought this, also got this.”  These small hints to customers can increase your sales.

Emerging Trends In Best Practices In E-Commerce: Mobile Devices & Globalization

Mobile Devices

Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, says changes in the mobile industry and the international markets are some of the most important factors to take into account when implementing best practices in E-Commerce.  According to E-marketer, the authority on digital marketing, media and commerce, the average order value depends on the device used for shopping.  Their research shows that consumers first spend most with their smartphones, followed by tablets and lastly the traditional PC.

Tablets are considered the fastest growing segment in ecommerce.  Most tablet owners use their device for online purchases on a regular basis.  E-marketer has research that cites conversion rates on tablets as the highest in e-commerce and that trend is expected to continue and grow.

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IBM conducted research on the growth of E-commerce in the past year.  According to IBM, Q1 2013 in-store sales grew by 3.2%, while e-commerce sales grew by 20%. The boost of mobile e-commerce is even larger at 31% in Q1, it reached $8.75 billion.

Globalization: The International Consumer

The information regarding the global market is interesting:

  • For the year 2013, consumers are expected to spend $1.298 trillion online.
  • Asia Pacific is the number one market.  See chart below.

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  • In terms of geography, the US is leading in e-commerce with $384 billion in online sales expected for 2013 and the biggest average sale per buyer.
  • In second place we have China with $181 billion and in third the UK with $141 billion in expected digital sales.

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This research has huge ramifications for any international business with an online presence.  For one, be prepared to offer customer service in the same language that you offer your site in. It is advised not to over extend your resources by translating and maintaining your site content in a foreign language if you are unable to handle customer inquiries in that language as well.

It is also important to align your companies’ e-commerce strategy to a specific cultural need.  The question that begs to be asked by mangers is “am I able to market to the needs of international customers?”  For example, Americans prefer uniqueness and individuality, while the Chinese have a preference for long-term relationships with others.  Your e-commerce strategy should reflect the needs, desires and expectations of the culture you are selling to.

Conclusion

E-commerce is growing at a very fast pace and there are variables that need to be taken into account when developing your companies’ strategy.  The constant and rapid changes that e-commerce has undergone in the past few years can make developing your own e-commerce website a daunting and challenging experience.

Many websites do not get “simple things” right and as a result compromise the consumer’s online shopping experience.  If you find yourself at a loss or need assistance on harnessing the full potential that your website can offer, it is best to work with a reputable and established professional.

Our team of experts will gladly implement the latest in consumer research and best practices to fully optimize your sales and presentation in the global, electronic marketplace.  To learn how, Click here to contact us today.

Credit:  Victoria Mudraya

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