By Andrea Parker
One critical, but often overlooked, way to generate repeat sales is the design of your website. Great website design can create a whole customer experience so seamless and subtle that you don’t even realize that your entire path of travel through the site has been premeditated by the designer to lead you from perusing products to answering calls to action. Sneaky, huh?
Create a smooth customer path
Funnel your customer toward your main objective. If you want them to purchase, funnel them to purchase. When a customer reaches your objective, you’ve captured their information, converted their view into a sale and are in a key position, depending on your product and their customer experience, to make them a repeat customer. You have to make their time on your website effortless: be sure to make all links and calls to action easily accessible and place important links in such a way that you provide crisp and clear navigation.
Having all tabs and drop-down menus of products easily accessible and very clear makes your customer happy, even if they don’t know it. If you haven't made it clear what your product categories mean, for example, your potential customers will likely abandon their search and could potentially seek out a competitor for the product you sell.
Don’t bombard customers with too many hyperlinks or calls-to-action. You'll overwhelm or distract them, and worse of all, give them a reason to abandon your site. Use a brightly colored call to action (or two) in a sharp, large font. Keep in mind that delicate balance between obvious and overpowering. Do you want a person to place an item in their cart? Let them know. Do you want a returning customer to log in to access all of their stored information to make their shopping experience easier? Tell them where to do it. Your customers will thank you by making the (repeat) purchase.
Test times 20
To ensure your website provides your traffic a beautiful user experience, you must TEST. Test every aspect of the site. Test everything: placement, size, colors and verbiage of all aspects of the site, from the buttons for selecting quantity to the product category headers. Testing is the only way you can know that your calls to action are making an impact, or how your efforts affect bounce rate (that is, are people staying on your page, or are they "bouncing" to somewhere else). Test all aspects of the page to find the right combination of aesthetic, pushiness, friendliness and trustworthiness along the customer’s path.
Whether you're a brand new small business or you've been around for a while, your goal is the same: don't just get customers, get repeat customers. You have to be aware of the customer experience and think from their perspective in order to get repeat sales, but if you're thoughtful and trustworthy, it's a lot easier than you think.