03.15.20165 min read

E-commerce Website Basics for Small Businesses

Guest post by Danny DeMichele  

There has been a surge in successful e-commerce websites out there, those that are profiting and helping to make the businesses household names. Sometimes this means regional success but more often than not it means success across the boards. Trying to get noticed remains an uphill battle for most companies and one of the failings, when studying customer feedback, is that the website was not easy to use or lacked a “purpose.” It is not enough to just organize information, but the site must find a way to be useful. There are a few things that help turn hit numbers into conversions, things that can grow a website exponentially and in turn the business.

A flawless shopping cart

If the website sells something, the shopping cart needs to be flawless. Amazon is quite successful and that is because everyone trusts the company and the checkout process. The customers can pay in a way they are comfortable with and there is rarely if ever a glitch in the process. This kind of faith comes from ease of ordering and consistently high customer service ratings. A new company can never afford to have limitations on a shopping cart or one that has an issue. Be prepared on big days for high volume and make sure you delivery dates are on time or early. This helps to spread the word about your efficiency.  

Website specific app

A website specific app sounds very vague, but it is something that can help to bring in new customers and it truly has to be related to what you do. If you are a ski mountain, have an app that tells the current temperature and snowfall, just like Mountain High did in Southern California. Showcase the lifts and what the occupancy is like. If you are a consulting firm for accounting purposes, offer a free calculator, tax forms or something that is useful to potential customers. For a fashion site, consider an app that helps to price various items across the web, showing your belief in your products and service.

Easy to follow links

Dead links on web pages are certain death. Not only does it make the site look unprofessional, it puts an air of mistrust over all the information. You need to verify all the links and have someone checking them often. When someone new comes to your page, every link should work and it should go to the correct page. Be sure to label the links with short, easy to follow titles instead of long web addresses; this shows commitment to quality. Try easy to use sites like Broken Link Check to make this as easy as possible.

Contact information

Nothing is more frustrating to a visitor than having to look everywhere for contact information. While it is convenient to have an auto-form, also list your address, email, and phone number. Even if it goes to a message service, some people still like the option of calling rather than sending in a form. This ends in happy customers who trust you, as you don’t appear afraid of human contact. 

Ease of subscription

Have a way for customers to sign up for updates or a subscription. Be clear on how many emails are usually sent out and don’t abuse the privilege because nothing loses customers faster than blasting them with daily emails. Even if emails are kept, they likely won’t be read.  Be sure to find useful information to send and keep the customer coming back for more. Free shipping, new blogs, better advice, and new products—make the emails count. Be sure to include a call-to-action.

Consider hosting a forum

If you offer any type of advice or consulting, open a forum where people can ask questions. Not only will this form a sense of community amongst your users, it gives you a chance to interact and impress them directly. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming, rather a weekly commitment to landing new clients. There are plenty of online resources like Forumotion that make posting a forum extremely easy. These are just a few things that can really help improve the time spent on your website. The more reliable and useful your website is, the more the information will be passed around increasing your legitimate traffic. If you design an application that is incredibly useful, you could see your site numbers growing faster than you ever imagined. Websites and apps are becoming synonymous and right now it is easier to get an app noticed than a site, so consider that step above all the rest.

Danny DeMichele is the founder and CEO of Incubate.com and leads Incubate's acquisition of online properties, as well as strategizes how to take those properties to the next level. Danny is a husband and father of three kids. If you don’t find him online, he is traveling or surfing.

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