With the growth of multi-channel commerce, the rise of online shopping is gaining momentum both across B2C and B2B arenas. For those businesses in the SMB space, the thought of adopting an effective digital channel for promoting your goods and services may be daunting; but it’s more of a level playing field with your competitors than you might think.
As long as you follow best practice in building an online presence. With average conversion rates standing at less than 5% typically, your digital assets need to work incredibly hard.
There is a wealth of online tips and checklists on what to consider when creating or improving your commerce website; such as this one from Entrepreneur.com on 10 questions to ask when creating an online store.
How to optimise your website to improve e-commerce conversions
We would highlight the following areas to focus on when reviewing how to showcase your products and services:
- The use of consumer recommendations is vital and adds credibility to your claims
- Easy navigation through product categorisation (don’t make this too confusing) – simplicity is the key
- The ability for your business to cross and upsell in a natural way and enable your customers to see your best deals and promotions
- The optimal use of product imagery to illustrate products and components – size, type, video, 360 degree view, colour/size variants illustrated, alt text attributes for search engine “spiders”, etc.
- Compelling and concise copy – remember to write for human consumption as well as for search engines when setting out the benefits of your product
- Provide clear calls to action (CTAs), the key here is consistency and prominence throughout your site – in order to capture a sale at all stages of the visit and to minimise bounce rates
- Transparency about stock. If you are promoting products your page must include stock levels up front – do not wait until the Checkout form to let your customer know they are out of luck. Give them the opportunity to choose an alternative whilst they are in the browsing frame of mind.
When you prepare to go to market with your online presence, you need to consider the source of the information that you are first trying to gather, second how you will categorise this information and finally how you wish to present it to your audience and what their user-experience will be.
In this article by The Huffington Post, on mistakes to avoid when starting an e-commerce website, Ian Mills discusses poorly showcased products: “You get one chance to present your product to the visitor, take the time to create stunning and inviting product pages. Once they are setup the page will keep selling for you over and over again. This is the place to put in the sweat equity.”
A picture paints a thousand words. By combining great copy and high quality product images that resonate with your customer; e-commerce conversion rates increase, the likelihood of social media sharing grows and product returns decrease. Here is a useful eye tracking research guide by Nielsen Norman Group which highlights some best practice when choosing imagery to promote your business.
Connecting your ERP and your e-commerce website
Your ERP system will most likely store your product catalogue that has been built up in order to support your field and telesales team when taking customer orders. You can audit this content to ensure the images and descriptions are useful across multiple channels – now including online (taking into consideration some of the best practice we have discussed). This will also help improve your customer facing staff’s experience of using the product catalogue and will ensure that the business maintains it. Your ERP in effect becomes your content management system (CMS) without the need to invest time and money in a parallel solution (duplication of effort and inefficient practices).
With ebusiness Suite by Prodware, the Product Information Management (PIM) helps your business leverage the wealth of information stored and maintained in your ERP, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The PIM allows users to add or modify content with as clear web interface or directly in the ERP, centralising product information in one place allowing it easier to maintain and search for.
Speak to Prodware about how you can get up and running quickly, efficiently manage your product information within your ERP and present your prospective customers with a responsive and user friendly e-commerce experience.