How to get the most out of E-Commerce part 1

E-commerce is always a difficult subject, you have (upto) hundreds of thousands of products and you want to make sure that you can sell them all, you also want to make sure that a user who lands on your site with the intention of getting a product can get to the product easily and pay for it just as easily – everyone is a winner.

The problem is it’s far too easy to get into an eCommerce rut. Your homepage is like the entry hallway to your house, it’s the first place visitors will see on your site, now there are some exceptions but bear with me.

Now you may start off with a simple layout leading visitors to each section, then you think to yourself I want to promote a product on my home page because I think it’s great. This product may sell really well.

You’re thinking ‘great’ what if I put more products on my home page will they sell just as well? Next moment you’re home page is full of products and looking a bit spammy and a visitor land’s on your page and feels a bit lost.

It’s very easy to take a step too far

House with Christmas lights

House with lots of Christmas lights!

So you’re wondering to yourself by this point “that’s not me” or “that’s not causing me any harm” but whilst it may not be causing harm, it’s not doing you good either.

Let’s take a step back and look at the homepage. Generally when visitors land on your homepage it means they’ve either typed in the URL knowing the product they want or have searched for the product they want and have come to your site.

What you need to do is get them to where they want to go as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Let’s look at an example:

A website selling shoes and accessories has a promotion on wellington boots, they have a large banner on their homepage with an offer on the wellies.

Only 5% of the visitors may in fact be interested in the wellies, the other 95% you’ve distracted them from their main purpose and pushed the content they may want further down (or away) and thus out of mind, most users these days are very impatient they are used to having everything instantly.  They won’t hang around on your site, you have very little time to engage them and you want to make sure they can get what they want as efficiently as you can.

You need to pretend you’re the user, you know what you want how easy is it to get to a product? How much can you get distracted, take a step back from your business and pretend you’re a person on their lunch break at work, with very little time or patience who wants the product fast.

whichtestone.com published a great example of this in their weekly newsletter with a split test from Clarks:

Picture of Clarks website with shoes

Version B

Picture of Clarks website front page

You’ll see that version A is showing the user the product at the same time as giving navigation options.

Version B replaces with the product with further navigation – Mens / Womans / Kids – furthermore what type of woman’s shoe would you like – boots / shoes / workwear? By the time the user has been through this level of navigation, pretty much everything on true screen is relevant to their needs.

The results of the test were that version B improved overall engagement on the site but also improved product page views by 5% with a confidence rate of 99.9% – this is huge on an already refined site such as Clarks!

There is proof (with plenty more like it) that bombarding the visitor with special offers etc. isn’t always the best way. Sometimes just making an elegant and simple site with a better user experience, combined with some other Ecommerce best practice (to be covered in another post another time) you can really help boost conversions on your site with some very minor changes.

You have to trust the visitor that they know what they want and you just need to guide them to what they want.

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Author Chris Painter

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