Everyone knows the importance of having an eCommerce site. It seems like the fast way to success – easy way to gain popularity, customer loyalty, increase reach and sales. However, just putting a website together isn’t enough to ensure success.
In order to make it in the highly competitive online retail environment, you need to make sure your store is getting plenty of traffic, and is optimized to deal with that traffic.
#1: Check Your Bandwidth
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure your website is capable of handling the number of simultaneous visitors it gets. Reuters report that many websites crash when they don’t appropriately plan for large numbers of visitors.
This is especially likely during holiday shopping periods. Plan for this eventuality since nothing can be more frustrating to a consumer than a message that the site cannot be displayed. Test your site by simulating peak loads, and make sure to monitor site responsiveness during peak shopping periods.
While the Christmas holiday season is usually the busiest, depending on your business, you may see high volume traffic at different points throughout the year.
#2: Speed Up Your Load Times
If your site takes forever to load, consumers will simply opt for another option. According to Statistic Brain, the average attention span of an individual in 2012 was a mere eight seconds.
People have even less patience for load time wait, so make sure your site is loading quickly enough to keep them there. Test this by logging out from your administrator account and trying to load the website as a normal web browser.
Repeat the process from your mobile phone, your tablet and any other devices you have access to.
#3: Ensure Device Compatibility
Talking about mobile phones, make sure your website is well suited and adapted to all operating systems and is compatible with all kinds of phones and tablets. Having a responsive web design is very important. As of May 2013, 63 percent Internet users use their mobile phone to go online, according to Pewinternet.org.
This number is only increasing, as is the variety of devices that are used to browse the Internet. Device capabilities change rapidly, so you will want to make sure your site is compatible with both the latest devices and legacy devices that are no longer widely supported, but which your customers may still use.
#4: Develop Your Social Media Presence
A social media presence is a must for any online eCommerce store that wants to build a relationship with its customers. It is an excellent way to reach out to Gen Y, but the age-demographic has expanded to include older generations, too.
According to Expandedramblings.com, 66 percent of Facebook users are between the ages of 15 to 34. The number of social media platforms available to you is increasing regularly, so you will have to make some decisions as to which ones will have the best return.
However, make sure you have at least a page set up on Facebook and Google+. Beyond that, you how you use such sites as Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn will depend strongly on your business and your customer base.
Don’t just use these as a way to advertise, though. Connect with your customers over related interests and new events and developments in your industry.
#5: Register Your Visitors
Make sure you ask for an email address from your users. Mail them exclusive discount coupons, timely reminders for holiday sales and product suggestions based on their previous purchases or wish lists.
Make sure not to spam them, though. Too many emails sent too quickly may well result in your customer unsubscribing for the mailing list.
If you can, allow your customer to specify what kind of offers and alerts she wants to receive, and limit other messages to once a month.
#6: Live Customer Support
According to Blogs.salesforce.com, 45 percent of consumers will abandon an online transaction if their queries are not correctly addressed. This means that your customer support of online store needs to be excellent.
Customer support can be in various forms, but is most commonly one of three kinds – email, online chat and phone calls. Prompt responses are necessary in any of the forms, and make sure there is a secondary option should the first choice be unavailable.
This gives the customer a much needed alternative and prevents potential customer losses. An additional benefit of good customer support is that it adds a human element to the interaction and helps develop trust.