E-Commerce Tips for Merchants

November 3, 2011

The Official Merchant Services Blog continues its coverage of the holiday shopping season and its impact on the e-commerce industry. Today we’re going to give some very brief, incisive tips on how merchants can improve their e-commerce presence and hopefully improve their profits in the holiday shopping season.

Think like a consumer, and put your products in more than one category. Make your online shop easy to navigate and your products easy to locate. The online businesses that make their goods and services easy to find reap rewards in two ways: people purchase more and they experience greater overall satisfaction with the web site. While reorganizing and streamlining your catalog, consider up-sell and cross-sell opportunities by offering products that make logical sense together. For example, if you sell paintings and frames, show the frames that best complement the paintings. If you sell a line of products that have a wide range of prices, show the progression from the least expensive to the most expensive. Customers may choose to purchase the higher priced items if they’re presented as options.

Keep it simple. Many people cite overly complicated navigation or too many pages in the purchase path as reasons they don’t complete their online sale or abandon their shopping cart. Successful e-commerce sites simplify the checkout process and display clear pricing and shipping information –– making the shopping experience take the fewest amount of clicks possible to get from landing on the site to completing checkout. They also post clear return policies and access to customer service. Putting your brick and mortar store’s phone number in a visible place on your web site is also a good idea. Studies suggest that consumers feel more confident knowing you are readily available if they have a question or if there’s a problem with their order.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, so use quality photos of your products instead of long descriptive text blocks. Online usability studies suggest that people do not read, they scan. It’s harder to read text on computer screens, so keep these guidelines in mind for optimum readability: Headlines should be 8 words or less, shoot for 9-12 words on a line (people don’t want to read across the entire screen); keep sentences short (15-20 words) and try to keep summaries under 30 words; and hold paragraphs to 40-70 words. In this way you can maintain compelling product descriptions alongside your high quality images.

Market your site once it’s live. It’s not enough to just build a web site. You need to make a focused effort to market and promote your web site to new and existing customers. Collect e-mail addresses on your site to help you keep in touch with customers and consider creating a newsletter or a blog. Seek back links from other sites that complement yours. Optimize your site’s content for relevance and submit it to the major search engines.

Make payment processing easy. Online shoppers need a way to give you money online. That’s easy these days. You can accept credit card payments with merchant account from Host Merchant Services. HMS is ideal for anyone trying out the e-commerce waters since the company guarantees a low rate, and does not lock you into a contract or saddle you with termination fees. Host Merchant Services also offers a fully customized e-commerce solution tailored to your specific business. You can get further details simply by contacting the company or filling out this form here.

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