Powerful e-commerce: creating a great customer experience

By: Fiona Humberstone

Date: 19 December 2011

This topic is all about getting the basics right. You'd be surprised at how many businesses don't and all the clever search engine optimisation tricks in the world will be futile if you can't get these basics right.

  1. Who are your customers? Sounds obvious? Not really. Are you selling to consumers or trade? You need to be clear about this at the outset. If you're selling to trade, by all means keep your prices ex-VAT and fill up your pages with jargon (if you're confident your customers will understand it). If you're selling to consumers, prices should include VAT and your product descriptions should be user-friendly.
  2. How do your customers want to buy? What journey will they go on to buy from you? What do they need to know before committing to a purchase? What do they need to see? Don't overlook essential information such as product dimensions/installation instructions, etc. Something as simple as a light fitting is probably just a case of seeing a picture, liking it and checking the spec. Ordering something more complex such as wood flooring will probably involve sampling, checking the technical spec and understanding everything required to make it work.
  3. Be clear about what you're selling Give a clear description, decent product shots (detail, in situ/lifestyle and cut-out if relevant) and tech spec/full dimensions/materials, etc. People can't pick up and touch online, so you need to be as clear as possible. Which leads me on to…
  4. Use great photography. Beautiful, clear, well-lit and well-shot photography will do wonders for your ecommerce site. If you're serious about building a decent business, this is something you need to invest in.
  5. Show the relevant extras on the product page By this I mean not only delivery costs, but actually showing related products. This isn't just about upselling.
  6. Make it easy for people to buy. Use software that makes it easy for customer accounts to be created (and make sure the functionality works). Be clear about the 'Buy Now' button – simple things that make it easy for people to buy from you.

So there are six quick and dirty basics. What else would you add to this list?

Fiona Humberstone, Managing Director of Flourish studios

Read more of Fiona's advice and thoughts about running a small business on her blog site.