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Tips for Optimizing your eCommerce Website

Having an eCommerce website is just the beginning of your business digital journey. Optimizing them for what they’re supposed to do is a part of the daily grind. Avoid the following mistakes.

People are flocking to eCommerce sites and apps to get their daily-everything during the Covid-19 lockdown. It’s supposed to be good news but I’ve personally encountered some bad apples from the orchard and wish they didn’t make the mistakes they did. 

Even eCommerce sites did not anticipate Covid-19 and, at first, took their time in dealing with crucial issues. We knew it was an uptrend but Covid-19 escalated everything turning the sass factory of eCommerce fulfilment, marketing, and warehouse teams into Armageddon world.

We’ve now got to be vigilant and prepared.

eCommerce websites had to buckle up for surges of traffic, mistakes fulfillment, and non-conversions within days instead of the weeks that they were given. There were some hard knocks and bruises. It’s a really tough, competitive world out there in the eCommerce world. 

It’s your tooth or my nail.

That’s why it’s important to make and learn from mistakes while also avoiding major traps like ones that’ll make us look like bats out of hell. Mistakes are the biggest and best teachers in life…and in eCommerce marketing.

“More than half of adults in the world make purchases or pay for their purchases with apps on their mobile phones. According to Comscore, mobile spending accounts for 21% for U.S. retail eCommerce spending.”

Comscore Reports $109 Billion in Q4 2016 Total Digital U.S. Retail E-Commerce Spending, Up 18 Percent vs. Year Ago

So, here are a few mistakes some of us trudged through and hope not to go through again.

1. Don’t Ditch SEO

SEO for eCommerce should not be neglected

I’ve been told before that SEO is nothing when it comes to promoting an eCommerce site. I can’t disagree more. SEO is one of the backbones of organically promoting products from an eCommerce website. Even if you’re latching onto the back of a marketplace’s popularity, SEO is absolutely central to the business where loyalty is never a perk. 

You can use SEO to give your competitors a run for their money, aim for niche markets, slide in geo-based keywords, or target different groups of consumers with simple SEO strategies. This might even be your saving grace if you’re still copying and pasting product descriptions from one website to another. 

If the marketplace or Content Management System you’re using does not allow for flexible or extensive SEO tweaking, you’re using the wrong platform

And it can be costly in the long run

You will also be unnecessarily losing out on potential sales by not using the right SEO techniques for your eCommerce website. 

META tags are important to search engines the way product descriptions are to the end-users. Which brings us to the second point. 

2 . Unique Product Descriptions on eCommerce Sites

As someone who does/did this day and night, it is helluva tiresome. I’m not going to lie. #lol

I found myself wondering if one facial mask was ALL THAT different from the other one. I wanted to scream because one headset had better bass than the other or whether a 360-star wind air fryer was as superior as they say it is from a conventional digital air fryer. 

Try it. You might lose a few marbles. #dontsayididntwarnyou. #highfive if you did it too. 

No matter how tedious the task is, it needs to be done. We’re talking about a make or break situation because if you think about it from a consumer’s point of view, they have no reason to trust a company that won’t bother with describing their products.  

The biggest mistake when running an eCommerce website is to copy the manufacturer’s manual word-for-word. Manufacturers are not marketers. The manufacturer’s target market is you. Your target market is your customer. 

Major difference especially when it comes to copywriting for an eCommerce website!

Copywriting for product descriptions for eCommerce websites requires detailed, informative, persuasive, and engaging descriptions. Your copy and the accompanying images and videos are all that the consumers have to go by when they’re browsing through your eCommerce store. 

They need copy that tells them how it is going to benefit or work for them and how it is going to solve their problems.

3. Use Quality Images on Product Pages

product shoot of shampoo against grainy brown background
Source: Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay 

Of course, you can scan (in high resolution) the pictures from brochures and booklets and use them in your eCommerce store. Most eCommerce websites do that, so, it’s justified. 

UNLESS…the pictures are of low quality!

Low-quality images taken in a dark environment and from awkward angles are often used on eCommerce sites. These are turn-offs to your customers

Your options: 

  1. Retake the photos yourself, edit and optimize them
  2. Rework scanned product images from manufacturer brochures and marketing materials
  3. Use free tools on the internet to improve the images

Good quality eCommerce photos and accurate product content are the only ways your customers can interact with you on the eCommerce store. There are no other ways for them to ask someone about a product or service they’re interested in. 

And you have seconds or, at most, minutes to help them make that decision because their cursors are hovering over the back or close button.

The biggest mistake for eCommerce sites is when the images and eCommerce product copy are the kind of content that doesn’t answer the customers’ questions. It negatively impacts overall conversion rates. 

Think of it this way – it’s your one chance to put on a show for your eCommerce customers. 

And because many end-users will also be visiting your eCommerce website using their mobile devices, be sure they’re AMP sites (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and the right kinds of photos, fonts and sizes are used. Allow them to use the zoom feature to see the close-up shots of the products. 

In fact, run your website through Google’s mobile-friendly stress test regularly.

4. The Design and Flow of Your eCommerce Website

If you’re new to website building and design, I strongly suggest sticking to platforms with proven themes like WordPress, Magento, Opencart, or Shopify

These platforms (although their monthly fees can be hefty) come with easy-to-customize themes. There are upsides and downsides to that. The ultimate idea is to use an eCommerce website design that projects the right image and brand profile.  

Coming up with a proprietary platform yourself requires a lot of work and money! Even when you’re working with a reliable programmer and eCommerce website designer, what happens when/if he/she leaves your company for better opportunities?  

It could be disastrous unless you’re also a highly skilled programmer or designer yourself.

5. Invest Time, Money and Talent on Writing Unique Product Descriptions

Source: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

You’re always wrestling with the temptation to take whatever the manufacturer or reseller has given you and use that as content, copy and images for your eCommerce website. 

From the perspective of digital marketing, eCommerce site development, and SEO, it’s an issue.

For one, let’s consider this:

  • You’re not the only person using the same copy. The manufacturer has given the same materials to every other vendor, seller, dropshipper, affiliate marketer, and retailer. 
  • The content is the same
  • Copy and pasting is a massive SEO mistake because of content duplication and inauthentic marketing

eCommerce product descriptions and creating good content has never been more important now than ever before because what ranks on the top SERPs are pages that the search engine thinks is absolutely authoritative, unique, and personalized

So, if you choose the easy way out for your eCommerce website and business, you’re not likely to get anywhere near the first page of Google search results. 

Hire a good copywriter or get someone who can personalize the eCommerce content for you by answering common customer questions of how, why, who, when, what. The customers are comparing one product with another, often within minutes or seconds. They neither have time nor patience

So, the product description on your eCommerce site makes up for the most important part of your marketing game plan. 

Granted, rewriting everything is tiring, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of SKUs to work with. Then use the Pareto principle of 80:20

Make 20% of the eCommerce website copy impactful, persuasive, powerful, convincing!

6. Not Being Transparent Enough

Personally, I do quite a fair bit of online shopping. Mostly window-shopping, putting things into my wishlist, checking out promotions, and placing my favorite stuff into the shopping cart (without actually checking out). 

I hesitate.

Most of the time, it’s because I don’t know who the seller is and the other part of me is wondering if I could actually save more money (on shipping) by going out to the real store itself. You know, to see the real thing for myself?

Other obstacles for eCommerce businesses are competition, ditching of shopping carts, the demanding responsibility of fulfilling orders, ensuring an excellent customer shopping experience, visibility on search engines, and return/refund. You can read more about the 9 most common eCommerce business challenges here as outlined by BusinessNewsDaily. 

How does an up-and-coming eCommerce store overcome big wavemakers like Amazon, Paypal Mall, eBay, AliExpress, Rakuten, Taobao, Walmart, Etsy, or Shopee

The simple answer is being transparent about who and what you are. One look at the names of the world’s biggest eCommerce players above and you’ll recognize them instantly. You KNOW who they are. 

That’s how you need to drive your eCommerce business.

7. Simple Yet Secure the Shopping Cart

One of the biggest turn-offs for online shoppers is the complicated checking out process. We want crystal clear – and I mean, REALLY crystal clear – information about how much we’re paying for each product, extra charges, tax, and shipping.

Don’t pounce on us with an extra charge we did not see in the beginning. 

My biggest complaint about shopping with online marketplaces like Lazada is it makes checking out hard. After placing the products into my shopping cart, there were extra steps like clicking on a checkbox that I needed to do before they could update my shopping cart orders. 

In fact, with some eCommerce marketplaces, just before I check out and complete the payment process, a blinding pop-up box jumps at me asking me if I would like to add something else to my shopping cart. 

It might work in a brick-and-mortar business when the salesperson asks you if you would like wet tissues and hand sanitizers on promotion at the checkout counter; with eCommerce websites, it pisses them off

Eliminate as many steps as possible and make checking out easy and secure. Remember, they’re giving you money. And you want to make it FAST and EASY. 

8. The Source and Reliability of the Products and Services

With eCommerce marketing, we’re in an open battlefield. As shoppers, we don’t only want to know who is selling us the products or offering us the service, we want to know where they’re coming in from

With dropshipping and affiliate marketing coming in strong, the stuff you’re ordering on the internet could be coming in from just about ANYWHERE in the world. It doesn’t make sense to offer (and pay for) Next Day Shipping if you see your order being processed and shipping from halfway across the world. 

That’s just common sense. When a consumer finds out about it, they’re not going to be happy people. 

9. Not Emphasizing on Excellent Customer Service

optimizing eCommerce websites for maixmum results

BECAUSE your business is an eCommerce one, there’s all the more reason for you to invest in people and tools to deliver top-quality customer service

Your customers can’t see you, touch the products, experience the service, or speak to anyone face-to-face, and they need answers as and when they’re popping into their heads. 

According to research and studies by Harvard Business Review, better customer service, and interactions with potential customers improves the overall business brand.  

Not only will your customers come back for more of your products/services in the future, but there’s also a high chance that they’ll recommend you to their friends and family! It’s more powerful than all the Adwords and Facebook Ads you’re pumping out combined. 

It pays to also always remember that your customers come armed with social media – they can make or break an eCommerce business with a simple screenshot, copy-paste status update. When they do post something about you on social media, make it a good one.

The Wrapup – Going the Extra Mile

When you’re a faceless company doing business with people from all over the world – who are equally faceless – things can get hard. That’s why we should, as eCommerce business owners and builders, always put in that extra mile. 

The eCommerce business tips here today are as follows.

  • Innovate and be different from your competitors. WOW them!
  • Work on the SEO of your eCommerce website. Target the right keywords
  • Create a niche market
  • Write unique product descriptions. Invest in a good copywriter who knows SEO
  • Use quality images of the products. Hire a graphic designer to come up with descriptive images for your services
  • Make your eCommerce website mobile-friendly
  • Use a reliable CMS that’s already known to other programmers and eCommerce website designers
  • Optimize your website for smartphones and mobile devices
  • Be more transparent about who you are. Let them know who you support and who’s supporting you. Publish pictures of the real team of people, even if you’re a two-man show
  • Simplify and secure the checking out process
  • Be true to your customers. Tell them exactly where the product is being delivered from

It sounds finite, simple (even), and like something you can accomplish. The real situation is this: the moment you think you’re done, you’re NOT

So, even when you think your eCommerce website is now up-to-mark, be on the lookout for new changes, trends, and new stuff your customers are talking about. 

It changes the game.

Thank you for reading this far. You’ve either recently contemplated starting your own eCommerce business, or dug through the snowstorm of information out there on the internet trying to find the best way to make your eCommerce business work.

I am happy for you because this is the way we, the commercial world, is heading and I don’t think we’re going back. But brick-and-mortar businesses still have an advantage over eCommerce even as of now.

So, if you’ve decided to give it a go, be sure to pay small attention to the details and always think from your customers’ points of view.

Let me know if you’d like some help in that department when you contact me.

Published by Marsha Maung

I am a freelance writer, copywriter, blogger, social media and online advertising consultant. On the other side of my Universe is a life of being a mother to 2 boys who are always ravenous or mean to each other. They love each other, but if I say that, they'll kill each other. I have been in the internet world since 2000 when I started off with a couple of dot-bombs but they've served me well. Right now, I primarily write for blogs and learning heaps about the ever-evolving world of social media and search engine marketing. Hit me up and we can learn together! Life is better together.

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