6 eCommerce steps to online profit

You may have just launched an eCommerce site, or perhaps your business is considering the advantage of the massive online market space. Don’t underestimate the growing potential.

For a start consultant Neil Turner has been passionately devising ways to ensure maximum online profit and we’ve identified six steps in particular that will ensure you grow your business across the web.

  1. Identify users with their email address
  2. Identifying people with their email addresses is much better than doing so with usernames. We’re all likely to forget usernames for once-off subscriptions. Rarely do we forget our own email addresses. As email addresses are also always unique, you can avoid the problem of another user having already taken a username. It’s a basic step, but is a first start that is easier for own records and more importantly — as simple as it gets for your user.

  3. Simplify ordering
  4. The more complex it is to order a product or service, the greater the likelihood of you customer dropping off before they have actually completed the order.Users must typically enter a delivery address, choose their delivery method, enter their payment methods and then finally confirm their order. Trying to do all this at once can cause problems because users need to enter so much information.

    Rather break down the process into sizable and easy to do steps than attempt to get the user to complete the entire transaction a seemingly overwhelming page that appears daunting, rather than simple.
    Amazon breaks the ordering process up into the following steps that many other companies have used as the benchmark:

    • Login
    • Choose delivery address
    • Choose delivery options
    • Enter payment details
    • Review and submit the order
  5. Tell users where they are and where they’re going
  6. When aiming for a high conversion rate you need to ensure you users feels like they know what they are doing. It seems to be second nature that humans do not enjoy parting with valuable credit card information if they feel uncertainty. This factor is especially applicable in a number of emerging markets where concerns over fraud are higher than in established markets where eCommerce has had a greater chance to establish credibility.

    Add to that, it is frustrating for users when they don’t know how many more steps are required before finally making the purchase. This is why it’s important to let users know where they are in the ordering process, and how far they have to go. Dixons, an online retailer in the UK, shows the current ordering step, and the steps still to go.

    At the very least, just specify the step number, together with the total number of steps left in the ordering process. For example, “Enter delivery address (step one of four)”.

  7. You may be making the ordering process tougher than it should be
  8. A key example of overcomplicating is when users are asked to enter their credit or debit card expiry date as a month (e.g Jan), instead of a just the number ’01′. Asking for the word required users to convert the number shown on the credit or debit card to the corresponding month, instead of just entering the number straight in. It’s a minor bit of additional effort required by the user, but with high drop rates anything that required more work from the user can spell one less customer for the retailer.

    As a good benchmark, use the simple principle when reviewing the processes for online purchases: can this process be simpler for my user? When it comes to input fields, take a hard look at whether the information you are asking for is really required.

  9. Address common user queries and highlight required fields
  10. No matter how simple the ordering process appears to you, recognise that there will always be .queries in the minds of users. We all want to know how long delivery is likely to take or why we are entering information that seems irrelevant to payment and delivery – like one’s date of birth. If you are certain the question needs to be there, be sure you explain why if it even remotely appears to have no bearing on ordering and delivery.

    “There’s nothing more annoying than filling out a form, only to have it returned because required information is missing,” as webcredible.co.uk has found. So make it clear exactly which fields’ must be filled in and which are optional. You may think marking those fields with asterix is useful, but highlighting the entire required field in yellow will make it even more obvious to the lazy eye.

  11. Send a confirmation e-mail
  12. Once a user has placed their order, a confirmation e-mail should be sent out straightaway. Confirmation e-mails should, be brief, tell users what they are likely to want to know, such as the order number and should serve as a real customer service ambassador for the company.

Remember, it’s much cheaper for someone to resolve an issue online rather than having to call customer services. By second guessing users’ queries, such as outlining how long a delivery is likely to take, calls to customer services can be minimised, as Neil Turner points out.

The Webcredible consultant who has been at the forefront on eCommerce consulting says that ultimately the confirmation email will put a customer’s mind at ease, positively conclude their shopping experience.

Emerging markets consumers require specific attention from a mobile perspective, given the rapid growth of potential consumers using smartphones to make purchases. So where need be, layout your site in a way that easy to navigate and don’t be afraid to use any inbuilt functions on the phone to enhance your webpages. A simple example is location. Most phones have map apps, so when your customers find your address, make sure only a simple click opens up the map on their phone, automatically locating your company for them.

Recognising the importance of mobile should not mean that you see it as a burdensome consideration to take into account. You are better off targeting mobile as a whole by understanding the specific benefits, using features like applications to your advantage.



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