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Today's FFL Business

Published on October 20th, 2014 | by FFL Unleashed

Selling Online: Best Practices 2014

The Internet marketplace is vast and far-reaching, with stout competition to capture the attention and patronage of online shoppers. To optimize sales, online sellers must ensure their websites have the most up-to-date features and functions in place. This is critical to compel users to shop, return frequently, and introduce new customers to your website.

In order to build and sustain a booming Internet business, you should employ e-commerce best practices 2014 to ensure that usability is maximized. The aim of usability in e-commerce websites is to ensure the shopping experience is as simple and annoyance-free as possible.

• Your website should be simple to navigate so that both guests and search engines can easily traverse the website. Pages and pictures must load quickly in order to hold the attention of a potential buyer.
• Refine the structure of your website to ensure consumers are able to find information, research products, and make payments with the fewest clicks.
• Install an instinctive and interesting main navigation so that viewers can find information they are looking for quickly. Boring and routine navigation is undesirable; be creative, but retain practicality.
• Your main navigation controls are best presented in a sidebar at the left, right, or top of inner pages. These controls allow users to surf easily on the site.
• The simpler and more appealing you make the interface for your audience, the more likely they are to remain on your site, purchase the product they are searching for, and come back in future.
• Ensure ease of movement through your site with navigation that tells visitors exactly where they are at all times.  You don’t want customers to get off track and get lost in the site, unsure of how to make the final purchase.

• Positioning of all relevant information should be intuitive so that the customer easily finds what they need.
• Ensure all the important information about your goods and services is visible in every category. Don’t turn shopping into a guessing game. Your customers should never have to go far to find the information they need to make an informed decision.
• It doesn’t matter how wonderful your products/services are; if would-be customers can’t locate them or if they are stymied by a step in the ordering process, they won’t buy and they won’t come back.

Inspire Visual Interest
• Your website design should be attractive and appealing to the buyer.
• Use flattering color schemes, appropriate font size, and font color to inspire visual interest in the buyer.
• The design should be beautiful without hindering the presentation of information or creating confusion.
• Use high quality photos to illustrate your products and services. A pretty picture will sell a product much quicker than a less aesthetic one would. Create compelling images that are true representations of your products, and present them in an appealing manner.
• Well done photos can help convince a potential buyer to shop on your site rather than migrate to the competition.

• Your website needs to show different products and services being offered rather than just showing minimal products on homepage. By displaying few products on homepage, you are limiting your customer’s options (and your sales) from the get go.
• By showing suggested and similar products, online stores can greatly increase the consumer experience and ultimately, sales. This maximizes “upsell”.
• Consumers are always searching for great offers, discounts, or best deals. Don’t be shy to brandish such deals even on the home page. It’s likely that consumers will look for these offers and it will persuade them on the first attempt. Remember the aim of e-commerce website is to both improve customer’s experience and multiply sales for better bottom-line results.

Easy checkout
• Your payment structure should be easy to follow and require the least amount of effort from the customer. Ideally, the order procedure should be short and simple, i.e. the “one-click” purchase.
• You should offer multiple payment options to cater to the different financing needs of various visitors. If customers are unable to make a purchase because there is no suitable payment option, you are literally chasing away money from your e-business.
• Payment options offered MUST protect the customer’s private information.
• Ensure that the customer’s shopping cart and its contents are visible, so shoppers feel in control of what they are buying.

• Protecting the private information of visitors must be one of the main concerns for any serious e-commerce business.
• With the high prevalence of Internet fraud, including identity theft and unauthorized credit card charges, you as the merchant must take preventative measures to avert unscrupulous activity. Online shoppers are very much aware of the dangers of shopping online, and require that you implement these protective measures.
• Present a strong privacy policy to reassure your customers of your commitment to protecting their personal information.
• Evidence of your commitment to safety will help create a comfortable shopping environment for happy customers. This is part and parcel of making their experience awesome.

Support & Staying In Touch
• Provide details for getting in contact with your business, such as physical address, phone number, and e-mail address.
• With your customer service, think outside the norm and explore how you can improve the usability of your website by assisting your customers throughout every part of the sales channel.
• Your business must supply support in the start, throughout and at the end of the shopping experience. Whether it is 24-hour e-mail, telephone support or using a chat service, customers may need to speak directly with your support personnel if they need any advice or have any questions as they shop.

Search Engine Optimization
• Your website should be optimized for premium ranking with popular search engines. This process is known as search engine optimization (SEO), and will help direct traffic to your website.
• Employ SEO techniques to your website by using page names, descriptions and keywords that are likely to be entered into the search engine by a potential shopper. Use blogs to direct traffic as well, by including pertinent information that your potential customers will find useful, and use that allure to direct them to your shopping areas.
• Ensure your intra-site search engine is visible so potential buyers can easily locate the products/services they wish to purchase.
• Ensure your search field can be refined so customers can drill down quickly to the products they need.

Social Media
• Use Social Media as a marketing tool. It is a useful and inexpensive way to speak directly potential customers.
• Social media has several channels and mediums, so choosing the right ones can be tricky and overwhelming at times. Become informed of the properties of the popular ones, and how using them might directly improve your business. Then after deciding which ones to employ, learn how to use each application correctly. Pay attention to customer feedback, and update the social media pages regularly.
• Create rich social media content that grabs their attention, and compels them to share valuable information that relates to your business.

Considered as a whole, these best practices may seem overwhelming.  However, you’ll enjoy continual optimization of your e-commerce site – and more new and repeats sales – if you use them as a checklist.  Pick a category, and work them out, item by item.

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