How to Craft the Ultimate E-commerce Customer Experience

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Over the past decade, the e-commerce market has grown into a behemoth that generates $50 billion per quarter in the United States alone. This figure may make it sound as if anyone can get a piece of the pie, but in reality, it's not that simple. Just as in physical retailing, merchants must take careful steps to get customers to choose their stores over all the others in the market.

Much has been written about the basics of successful retailing, so everyone knows that providing a good product and excellent customer service are the essentials. The technical side of e-commerce, however, often gets short shrift. When it comes to online business, however, the technical aspects have a great deal of importance when it comes to providing an optimal customer experience. Here are a few things you should focus on to make your site one that visitors will be glad to reach and that will enable a solid connection with your customers.

Loading Times

The faster your pages appear, the more likely it is that a visitor will explore them and read your content. Years ago, it was fine if it took a second or two for a page to render. Today people will get aggravated if they're forced to wait that long before they can start interacting with a site. If it takes even longer, they’ll probably assume the site is down and go to another site. One way to speed up page loading times is to choose an ecommerce provider that offers powerful servers and excellent connectivity. This, combined with lean programming methods, helps to ensure that pages come up almost as fast as a link is clicked. You don’t want to take the time to create a great site that doesn’t get any conversions because of slow load times.

Product Images

Although limits exist when it comes to image size, a good general rule is "the bigger the better." Customers don't want to squint to see the details of your products. Make it easy for them to see a big, clear picture by clicking an "enlarge" link or by putting a sizable photo right on the product detail page. Avoid visually confusing backgrounds. Instead, use picture processing software to eliminate the background altogether so the product appears on a plain white field. Buying online shouldn’t be difficult due to image problems.

Easy Payment Options

The best e-commerce site in the world is worthless if the customers can't find a way to pay. Purchases should be as easy as possible by offering plenty of options. Your company should accept all the major credit cards, as well as PayPal, Google Checkout or anything else you can think of. Some methods are used far more often than others, but that doesn't mean that the seldom-used ones should be ignored. After all, even if only 10 percent of your customers use a particular method, that still amounts to enough money to continue the service.

Unified Branding Across Channels

If you have any brick-and-mortar operations or advertising, make your e-commerce site's look and feel consistent with those traditional efforts. By keeping your branding, imagery, and other messaging consistent across all your marketing channels, you'll give customers a sense of familiarity and trust that will boost their willingness to buy from you.

By focusing on these and other related aspects of your site, you can be sure that the technical aspects of your operation aren't driving business away. Once you've got that covered, finish up with top-class products and customer service to keep people coming back and buying again and again.

Amy Bishop
Amy works in marketing and digital strategy. Specializing in social business, Amy focuses on the convergence of marketing, digital strategy and customer experience - developing strategies to help companies increase sales, lead generation, web traffic and brand awareness. Connect with Amy on Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest.

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