Choosing the right e-commerce platform is one of the most important decisions when starting an online store. The platform you choose will determine the features available to you, scalability, security, ease of use and more. Some popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento and PrestaShop. Consider factors like your product types, business model, technical expertise and budget when selecting a platform. Make sure to choose one that is designed for your specific business needs.
Find a Reliable Web Host
Your e-commerce platform is only as reliable as the web hosting behind it. Choosing a high-quality web host is crucial for providing fast page loads, maximum uptime and the ability to scale as your traffic grows. Look for hosts that specialize in e-commerce with features like high memory allotments, dedicated IP addresses, SSL certificates and round-the-clock support. Avoid overcrowded shared servers. Managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine offer optimized e-commerce hosting for sites using WooCommerce.
Optimize Site Speed
Site speed is a major ranking factor for SEO and a key component of the user experience. Fast page loads keep customers happy and can increase conversions. Test your site speed and use these tips to optimize:
- Compress images and media
- Enable caching and content delivery networks (CDNs)
- Defer offscreen images and videos
- Optimize web fonts and eliminate unused fonts
- Remove redundant plugins
Strive for page loads under 2 seconds. Faster is always better.
Focus on Mobile Optimization
With the majority of e-commerce traffic coming from smartphones, optimizing for mobile is mandatory. Ensure your site template is mobile-friendly and pages display properly on all devices. Use responsive design, flexible images and text sizes. Check site speed on mobile networks. Simplify navigation menus for easy tapping on small screens. Provide enlarged product images that users can zoom in on. Optimize checkout forms for mobile entry. Enable Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Improve Site Security
Security is vital for protecting your customers, your data and your business. Use HTTPS across your entire website and enable strict TLS protocols. Install trusted SSL certificates to activate the browser padlock and provide encryption. Require strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication. Regularly update all software including your CMS, plugins and themes. Avoid vulnerable extensions. Use a web application firewall (WAF) to monitor and block threats. Backup your site frequently.
Simplify Checkout Process
The easier your checkout process, the more customers will complete purchases. Reduce checkout steps to just collecting essential info. Offer guest checkout. Set defaults like shipping address. Auto-populate data fields. Provide multiple payment options. Highlight trust symbols like Norton and McAfee. Allow orders without requiring account creation. Make your cart icon prominent. Send abandoned cart reminders to nudge customers. Test your checkout process and remove any pain points.
Show Relevant Product Suggestions
Product recommendations boost conversion rates. Analyze user behavior and purchase history data to display dynamic suggestions. Show related products on the cart and checkout pages. Cross-sell complementary accessories. Recommend products based on items already in their cart. Highlight bestselling items. Show recently viewed products. Display items commonly purchased together. Personalize recommendations using AI and machine learning. Test different recommendation strategies and locations.
Optimize Product Pages
Your product pages are where you make the sale. Follow best practices to convert more browsers into buyers:
- High-quality product images – multiple angles, zoom capability
- Detailed titles and descriptions
- Customer reviews, ratings and questions
- Size charts, color swatches and variant options
- Quantity selector or buy now button
- Trust symbols and shipping/return policies
- Minimal clutter – focus on the product
- Responsive page design
- Clear call-to-action buttons
Provide Helpful Product Content
Supplementing your products with helpful content will answer customer questions and aid the purchasing process. For example:
- Include detailed product descriptions
- Add specifications or sizing charts
- Provide comparison tools to view multiple products
- Include user manuals and warranty information
- Share visual guides such as infographics or videos
- Link to related blog posts or buying guides
- Curate Instagram feeds showing products in use
- Create bundles or kits for popular use cases
Offer Free Shipping Thresholds
Research shows that free shipping entices customers to buy more and spend more. Consider providing free standard shipping on orders over a minimum threshold like $50. Or offer free expedited shipping for bigger orders like $100+. You can offset the costs by baking shipping into your product pricing. Just be sure to promote the thresholds prominently. For maximum incentive, also advertise dollar amounts remaining to hit the next free shipping tier.
Send Cart Abandonment Emails
Send automated emails to customers who abandon their carts without completing checkout. Remind them of the items left behind and provide an incentive to return like a discount code or free gift. Make the email personalized and focus on urgency. Avoid more than 2 follow up emails. Track your abandonment rate and optimize these emails for maximum return visits and conversion.
Set Up Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads follow visitors with display ads after they’ve left your site. Setup pixel tracking then create customized ads to show products a customer added to their cart or viewed on your website. Retargeting works across sites and on social media. See which products get the most post-visit attention. Effective retargeting can turn site visitors into repeat customers.
Offer Coupons and Discounts
Strategic couponing and sales are important for any e-commerce marketing plan. Provide first-time customer promo codes and email sign-up discounts. Send promo codes on holidays and during seasonal sales. Highlight discounts on slow-moving products to clear old inventory. But avoid deep sitewide discounts that diminish brand value. Make coupons single-use, expiring and specific to incentivize their use. Require a minimum purchase and exclude sale items if needed.
Integrate Live Chat Support
Live chat allows customers to get real-time personalized support while browsing your store. Instant answers to questions can remove roadblocks in the buyer journey. Offer proactive chat invitations when someone lingers on a page. Make chat available on mobile too. Monitor chat transcripts to identify pain points. Surveys show live chat provides some of the highest customer satisfaction. Prioritize fast response times even if bots provide initial answers before transferring to humans.
Curate User-Generated Content
User-generated content like customer photos and reviews helps drive engagement and sales. Curate and display the best social content featuring your products. Pull in top-rated product reviews. Showcase customer success stories. Source visual content for emails and ads. Make sure to obtain full rights before using any UGC. Link to your hashtag and social profiles so customers can find more authentic content.
Segment Your Audience
Treat all customers the same and you miss personalization opportunities. Collect data like demographics, order history and browsing behavior. Use email tools and analytics to segment your audience into groups with shared interests and characteristics. Create targeted content and campaigns for each group. Send behavioral-based emails like abandoned cart reminders. Personalize product recommendations. Adjust offers based on purchase history data. Keep segmentation consistent across channels.
Implement Site Search
On average 20% of e-commerce site visitors use onsite search. A robust search engine helps customers easily find products and content. Optimize search with predictive text, spell check and synonym support. Prominently display top search terms. Provide category-filtered and faceted search options. Track searches not returning results and optimize accordingly. Show search trends and popular queries. Autocomplete searches after a few keystrokes. Test that product names match likely search terms.
Set Up Tracking and Analytics
Data should drive all your e-commerce decisions. Install Google Analytics or a similar platform to start collecting visitor and customer data. Track key conversion metrics:
- Bounce rate
- Pages per session
- Average order value
- Conversion rate
- ROI of marketing channels
Setup e-commerce tracking for purchase data. Integrate analytics with your ad accounts. Use data to identify successes and pain points. Continuously test and optimize pages and campaigns based on performance data.
Provide Multiple Payment Options
Offering multiple payment methods removes friction and meets diverse customer needs. At minimum, provide:
- Major credit cards – Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover
- Mobile/digital wallets – Apple Pay, Google Pay
- Debit card payments
- PayPal express checkout
Also consider Buy Now Pay Later financing, bank transfers and local payment options. Just be sure to work with reputable payment gateways that comply with PCI standards. Streamline mobile payments and make preferred options visually prominent.
Build an Email List
Email marketing consistently drives more sales than social media. Offer incentives for customers to join your mailing list like discounts and exclusive content. Make sign-up simple with minimal required fields. Send targeted emails with personalized product recommendations. Share promo codes and special offers. Link to your latest blog content. Send order confirmations and shipping updates via email. Respect inbox etiquette with valuable content customers want.
Write Product Reviews
Detailed product reviews boost SEO and provide added information customers want when making decisions. Write reviews for all your significant product lines and categories. Follow a consistent structure with pros, cons, ratings and an overview. Include product photos and videos. Optimize reviews for keywords like product names, specs and uses. Link to related products and guides. Repurpose top reviews on product pages. Encourage customers to leave reviews with incentives and by making the process simple.
Create FAQ Pages
Product and site FAQ pages help inform customers and reduce support requests. Study your existing support tickets and identify the most common questions. Address topics like sizing, care instructions, shipping times, returns, warranties and more. Link to FAQs prominently throughout your site including category and product pages. Write in a conversational style focused on being helpful over promotional. Group related questions and provide details via links and images where relevant.
Highlight Customer Service
Provide top-notch customer service that becomes a competitive advantage. Offer phone, chat and email support with extended hours for different time zones. Train support staff on products and procedures. Set standards for friendly, knowledgeable service with fast response times. Empower staff to resolve issues. Have an escalation process for problems needing management. Send follow up surveys to monitor satisfaction. Share testimonials and awards from third-party review sites.
Implementing these e-commerce best practices takes work, but each optimization and enhancement ultimately provides a better experience for your customers. Pay close attention to site speed, mobile readiness, security, checkout and support. Leverage data, testing and reviews to continuously improve. By following these tips, you can gain happy repeat customers, lasting SEO value and long-term e-commerce success.