From 2015 to 2016 total U.S. retail ecommerce sales increased from $294.45 billion to $322.17 billion. Trends suggest 2017 will top off somewhere around $353.68 billion. For perspective, total estimated retail sales in the U.S. came in around $5 trillion. Ecommerce grew faster in 2016 than ever before, booming by 15.6%. In other words, ecommerce is here to stay. If you're not making an effort to make your customers' user experience as easy as possible, you could be missing out on a big source of income.
While the e-commerce economy is poised for significant growth in the coming months and years, you can only expect to see results if you approach it in the right way. That means focusing on the following critical tips for ecommerce success.
1. Don't rush the launch
We already told you that we’re quietly judging you, and one of the biggest mistakes unsuccessful ecommerce sites make is forcing or rushing the launch of a website. You only get one shot at launching your website and you can’t mess this up. While it’s okay to purchase your domain name and throw up some sort of “Coming Soon” page, you should avoid the big reveal until you’ve laid some substantial groundwork: SEO, content marketing, social media, paid advertising, etc.
2. Put the focus on the user
This is what makes Amazon tick -- its relentless focus on the user experience. There are no site hiccups, no confusing messages, no dead links, nothing that stands between the user and their next purchase. It all works seamlessly, all the time. If each piece of your site, from your homepage to your check-out cart, doesn’t work effortlessly, the user will take their business elsewhere.
3. Test absolutely everything
A powerful mantra to follow: launch, test and iterate. Before, during and after you launch any e-commerce platform, product or business, you should invest in testing and analytics. Think like the customer and figure out what’s working, what’s not, and the why behind those answers. Here’s a look at some of the best A/B testing tools.
4. Work closely with social
Just as you wouldn’t outsource your kids to babysitters, delegating your social media to other team members should raise eyebrows. Social media is the heartbeat of your business, as it gives you an uninterrupted glance into the lives of your customers. While it’s perfectly fine to have a social-media manager, it’s crucial that you’re involved with it, too.
5. Incorporate social elements
Going along with the previous tip, it’s a great idea to include social elements on your e-commerce sites. Things like product reviews and testimonials follow buttons and even social login options all help the conversion funnel.
6. Go mobile
Bill Siwicki of Internet Retailer references Goldman Sachs, saying, “Tablets will play an increasingly important role as worldwide consumer spending via mobile jumps from $204 billion in 2014 to $626 billion in 2018...” If you aren’t building e-commerce businesses with mobile in mind, you may be irrelevant in three to five years.
7. Stay on top of SEO
We covered this in our ABC’s of SEO post. As the e-commerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses will be entering this increasingly crowded space. A smart SEO strategy can be applied yourself, and will help you stay competitive in the long run.
8. Collect information
Unless you plan on launching a single site and stepping away (most entrepreneurs are tempted to keep trying), it’s critical that you collect customer information and build databases to aid future launches. Users want a customized experience based on their unique needs and goals.
Launch, test, and iterate. Keep evolving to keep your site experience proactive rather than reactive. Technology, trends and customer tastes will change, and so must you if you want to succeed in such a variable market.
Our next post will offer up a helpful list of apps and tools to implement all of the above.
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