NPE Tutorial E7: Improve Your Online Store
Whether you want to build a new online store, renovate an existing e-commerce site, or make your online store more productive you'll need to make sure to start with great product information and then follow through on lots of details. Here are some reminder lists of things you'll need to know or cover.
Do you compare and research your online purchase or just visit one seller and buy immediately? Now look at your own online store as a customer and look for ways to improve.
- Are all your product questions answered?
- Is there a complete product description?
- Is it obvious how the product is packaged and how many items per package?
- Does the description invite you to use the product?
- Are there examples of how and where to use the product?
- Does the product title assure you you've selected the correct product?
- Are there good pictures large enough to see product details?
- Are content label details included to show ingredients, features, cautions, or limitations?
- Is pricing per item or package obvious and understandable?
- Is it clear how a customer buys this product?
- Are product reviews available and easy to navigate?
Good planning and preparation are pivotal for selling anything.
- You must know how and when your product will be used.
- Know which visitors will most likely buy your product and why.
- Know how similar products are marketed.
- Know how competing products are promoted and sold in your area.
- Make it a point to know the benefits and liabilities of competing products.
- Learn which objections must be overcome to sell your product to each visitor.
- Learn what words potential customers will use to search for your product.
The content for every product, every product page, needs to be a complete selling environment. When all the visitor's questions are answered you may have a buyer. If you don't answer all their questions your product will sell poorly.
Of course first the prospect has to find you online among similar competing products. Use all the resources you can.
- Remember, each page may be the first page your visitor sees.
- The page title is an important information and keyword target.
- Product descriptions are key.
- Deliberately focus on product titles, product images, image titles, and keywords.
- Metadata, page information not visible to casual site visitors, may help differentiate you in search results.
Most of you embarking on an e-commerce project are immediately confronted with two facts. There are more software systems for e-commerce than you imagined. And, they are all a moving target. So how do you make a decision on e-commerce software?
There are two ways to go depending on your situation. First choose your software package, then choose the person you want to install and support that package. Or, you may want to decide first on the person, then the software. I advocate the second method - choose your person, then your software. Why? Because that person often will be responsible for installing, configuring, maintaining and updating your e-commerce software. In most cases, a lot of e-commerce software systems could work for you. While selecting the person will limit your software choices, it may also mean you get a much better 'fit' between your online commerce requirements and the software you eventually use. Either way there may be compromises, but I will always believe we can make a better choice on personality and experience, than with complex, ever changing software features.
Over the years I've personally worked with four software packages - VirtueMart, OSCommerce, ZenCart and Magento. VirtueMart is a Joomla component, not a standalone e-commerce software. OSCommerce was a great shopping cart package, but development and support languished and may have all but dissappeared. ZenCart is well-known and supported. It is a standalone software with limited integration with Joomla. Magento is a standalone, open-source software that is currently regarded as one of the most popular packages available. Magento was purchased by ebay in 2011, but it remains open source in both a free community edition and a support contract rated enterprise edition. Supporting e-commerce software is a real job. So I've decided that going forward I'm using Magento. It is sophisticated and flexible enough to handle simple to complex store and product needs. This way I can focus on staying up-to-speed on Magento so that I can create fantastic e-commerce sites for my clients.
I still support other e-commerce software when necessary, but expect me to try to talk you into Magento if you're using something else.