With the barriers to entry getting ever lower in the world of e-commerce, it seems like every business under the sun has started a website business in the last couple of years. This, in conjunction with the ever competitive “big boys” in the market (such as Amazon and eBay), always finding new ways to satisfy customers, it can be tough knowing how to stand out in a crowded e-commerce market.
As Amazon held its second annual Prime Day this month (billing the event as its biggest global one ever), other online sellers need to make sure that their website is as up to date, streamlined, and effective as possible.
If you’re keen to make sure your e-commerce business doesn’t lag behind, read on for some ways you can make it more competitive today.
1. Provide Multiple Payment Options
These days, it’s important to keep in mind that customers want flexibility when it comes to how they pay for goods and services online. They also want security, especially considering the number of fraudulent transactions that occur every year.
While many retailers understand that consumers do want a wide variety of payment tools to be made available to them, according to the 2015 Global Payments Insight Survey (conducted by payments software and hosting company ACI Worldwide, and market research firm Ovum), 54 percent of retailers are actually holding back on their investment in new payment-related technology.
If you want to make your e-commerce store more competitive, you can quickly jump ahead of many retailers by giving consumers what they want. When it comes to payments, think about providing avenues such as credit and debit cards (including cards such as Diners Club and American Express), PayPal, direct deposit, and new mobile-based apps. Apple’s latest innovation with Apple Pay, for example, means that the tool can now be integrated into online shopping carts. Many consumers will no doubt be expecting to have this payment method made available to them over the coming months.
2. Use Good Design
On a website, design matters just as much (if not even more) than it does in a physical store. You want all browsers to think “wow,” in a positive way, when they visit your e-commerce site, and to see from its design that the business is trustworthy, solid, and selling quality products.
As a result, you should definitely never cut corners on design, because every single part of it matters, from the layout and navigation, to content and graphics. It pays to hire a qualified designer who has experience creating websites for your industry, and who has developed the type of sites that you like the look of yourself.
When considering the design of your store, make sure that:
- There is plenty of white space on each page (that is, areas not filled with text or pictures)
- Your branding is consistent throughout
- It’s easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for and to move from one page to another
- The text is broken up into short paragraphs, with plenty of subheadings used
- There aren’t clashing colors or hard-to-read fonts to be found anywhere
3. Be Mobile-Friendly
With huge numbers of shoppers using their cellphones and tablets to browse and buy online now, any e-commerce store is unable to compete if it doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site and a mobile strategy in place.
Customers not only use their devices at home or at work when searching for products and services, but also when they’re in physical stores, to compare prices. Mobile gadgets are also used to share buying experiences and to read customer reviews.
To be competitive then, you must ensure that your e-commerce site is compatible with different types of device interfaces, and that you are providing a seamless user experience for all browsers. In addition, make it easy for shoppers to find you on social media platforms such as Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the like. You should also cater to the growing number of people who want to use mobile applications to pay for their purchases.
4. Have a Fast-Loading Website
Lastly, always keep in mind that a fast-loading website is imperative. Shoppers are impatient, and won’t wait around for a slow site to load. Even a second difference in load time can make a difference, as it allows information to be delivered to viewers sooner, and stops them from clicking away to another site.
Speedy websites tend to feel better to navigate, come across as more trustworthy, and all in all can have a huge impact on sales revenue over the years. Indeed, some companies have found that improving the speed of their site can increase conversation rates by a whopping 78 percent.
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