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The writing has been on the wall for years now: Retail is moving, en masse, to the internet. Ecommerce sales in the United States have been increasing steadily over the past decade and are predicted to top $4 trillion by 2020.
Related: Ecommerce Basics: 10 Questions to Ask When Creating an Online Store
One of the harsh realities of this widespread shift in consumer behavior is that the very concept of competition has changed. Retailers are no longer just competing with stores near their geographic location. They are going up against everyone else throughout their industry.
What’s more: In the incredibly fast-paced nature of online browsing, potential customers are quick to jump to conclusions. With so many options for them to choose from, the first impressions that you, as retailer, give them, are everything. Oftentimes, it’s these (seemingly) small elements that play a huge factor in people’s purchasing decisions.
With this in mind, there are several crucial components which you must invest heavily in, to keep a competitive edge. Here are three of the big ones.
All kinds of studies have been conducted on how quickly the human brain processes images. While the conclusions vary, one common one says that people process visual effects much faster than text. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to budget for high-resolution images.
In ecommerce, after all, presentation is everything. Regardless of where you place photos on your site, they will inevitably be the points to which people’s eyes gravitate. Right off the bat, these pictures should be captivating and provide an introduction to what your brand is all about.
Even more, those photos should clarify the visual hierarchy of your content, to persuade visitors to take further action; photos should never just be decoration. In addition to capturing attention, these images should help advance the navigation and flow of your ecommerce site to get consumers on the path to conversion.
If you’re not a professional photographer, there are plenty of resources online providing you high-quality images. You can browse the vast libraries of royalty-free stock photos to find visual effects that fit your exact needs.
Your home page is more than just the first impression of your online business. It is the face of your brand and the central hub for all of your operations. Going the cheap route here can quickly render the rest of your efforts pointless.
Related: Shopping Cart Throw-down: Which Ecommerce Platform Reigns Supreme?
Luckily, we live in a time when you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg to have a fully functional ecommerce homepage. DIY ecommerce platforms like Shopify will supply the critical functionality you need — such as a shopping cart, inventory tracking, payment records and hosting — while providing a mobile-friendly or multi-device storefront
For more complex or larger stores, bringing in a few expert developers may be necessary. And this can benefit he bottom line. “Online shopping behavior is truly unpredictable. It’s amazing how a minuscule tweak on an ecommerce homepage can result in a huge increase of sales,” says Tristan King, founder of Blackbelt Commerce.
Developers provide specialist services in the form of web development, UX consultancy and management for ecommerce sites built on Shopify. Such platform-specific specialization allows for the discovery of subtle changes that can help you grow sales to the next level.
Ultimately, the home page of any website should be designed in a way that encourages visitors to dive deeper into the store’s offerings — be they categories, products or the latest end-of-season sale. If you’re going to invest heavily in your online business, this is the place to do it.
Ecommerce and content marketing go hand in hand, both on-site and off. Once you’ve wowed visitors with compelling images and assured them with reviews about reliable user experience, you’ve got to prioritize the written content that makes the sale. This is where you’ll truly provide value for your visitors.
By nature, the writing of marketing copy is a subjective art. However, there are many universal blunders that separate the good from the bad. On an ecommerce website, the need for topnotch writing is foremost, in terms of crafting product pages, blog posts, email blasts, information pages and checkout processes. In one way or another, all of this content factors into your sales strategy. The copy you use must be flawless, concise, informative and consistent.
If you’ve been in the game for a while, you probably know just how much content is needed for your ecommerce site. To get that content, owners, many times, must dedicate a team of writers to the task, or outsource it to locals in multiple countries when the product line happens to be international.
Regardless of content needs, the most important thing is that all of your content must reflect the brand persona you’ve worked so hard to define. Online shoppers are smart and critical beings. Even the smallest blemish in your copy can wreak havoc on your credibility.
In sum,brick-and-mortar businesses have been around for centuries. Ecommerce, on the other hand, is so new that there isn’t yet a specific playbook to ensure a fruitful outcome. There may never be; and even the savviest owners may be puzzled by their online sales results.
Related: The ABCs of Writing Great Marketing Copy
Yet, while there are no guarantees with ecommerce, it’s been proven time and time again that investing the proper resources into tthe above three areas can do wonders to set you up for success. You should get started doing that today.