06.29.20176 min read

E-commerce Website Basics for Small Businesses

It seems like every day another e-commerce business starts up. Actually, that feeling is not far from the truth. According to BigCommerce, e-commerce is growing 23 percent year-over-year. And that’s not all. Their research discovered that the majority of Americans (51 percent) prefer shopping online to shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.

While it’s a boom time for new e-commerce businesses, the explosion of online storefronts means increased competition. It can be an uphill battle just to get your e-commerce website noticed. Often, the reason why a website gets overlooked is simple: it’s not easy to use. It’s not enough to just organize information; you have to find a way to present your products so that they lead your customers to the checkout. You’ve got to make the experience delightful enough that they’ll keep coming back—and tell their friends about it.

Here some of the basics that will help turn traffic into conversions and help grow your business:

A flawless shopping cart experience

One of the primary reasons your customers will buy from you is because they can trust you. The shopping cart must communicate trust to each and every customer. Amazon has established trust with its customer base because the entire experience is predictable and reliable. And that experience centers on the shopping cart. Ordering is easy, they provide consistently great customer service, and the expected delivery dates are accurate. An e-commerce business can’t afford to over-promise and under-deliver. Be prepared on big days, like Cyber Monday, for high volume and make sure your deliveries arrive on time. Word of your consistency and efficiency will get around.  

Interesting product pages

At the center of your business is, of course, the stuff you sell. If you want your business to shine, your product pages need to shine. Even if you’re a reseller, there’s a lot you can do to make your product pages unique, branded, and even shareable:

  • Use original product photos
  • Write your own product descriptions
  • Use clear pricing, sizing, dimensions, and weights, etc.
  • Add video

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Social sharing

One of the most powerful forms of advertising is word-of-mouth. To encourage organic sharing of your product pages, add social share buttons. Social sharing makes it super simple for your customers to brag about their purchase to their friends.

Of course, you shouldn’t just limit yourself to your website. You should be certain to have profiles on social sites, especially the sites that your customers would naturally talk about your products. Home decor, fitness, fashion, and outdoors product sellers do really well on Instagram and SnapChat. Pinterest is great for cooking, cleaning, and crafts (as well as a surprisingly wide range of other products). Facebook is great for everything.

Since you may not be able to take your brand to every social channel, do some research to find out which social platform is right for you.

Easy to follow links

Dead links on web pages are certain death. Not only does it make the site look unprofessional, it makes your brand look sloppy. Be sure to verify every link on your site, and re-check them often. Make certain to label the links with short, easy to follow titles (aka anchor text) instead of long web addresses; this makes reading easier and shows your commitment to quality. You can take advantage of sites like Broken Link Check to make link maintenance as easy as possible.

Contact information

Nothing is more frustrating to a visitor than having to hunt around for your contact information. While it is convenient to have a “contact us” auto-form, you should 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 because you won’t appear afraid of human contact.

Ease of subscription

The best way to stay top of mind is by sending special offers to your fans. But they’ve got to tell you how to contact them. Make it easy on them—provide a way for customers to sign up for updates or a subscription. Be clear on how frequently you’ll contact them, whether by email or SMS and what kind of content they’ll be getting. Nothing loses subscribers (and ultimately customers) faster than blasting them with spam. Be sure to send useful content that keeps the customer coming back for more. Free shipping, new blogs, great advice, and new products—these are what make your messages count. Just remember to include a call-to-action so that they know what to do when they get your message. Nothing is worse than leaving your audience scratching their heads.

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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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