Author: Jessica McDonald

7 signs your e-commerce website design needs to change

e-commerce website design

An online store’s appearance, usability, and features should convey trustworthiness and professionalism. How an e-commerce site looks and behaves speaks to its safety and credibility. The essential element of good e-commerce website design is understanding what makes your website enjoyable for a customer to use. The moment your website stops making customers feel good about doing business with you is the moment it is hurting your business.

If your e-commerce site is experiencing any of the following seven signs, it may be time to upgrade.

1. Your site is slow

The cardinal sin of e-commerce website design has to be slow load time. Customers hate slow loading websites. It has always been this way, but with fast connections now being the norm even on mobile devices, customers are becoming even less patient.

40% of customers will leave a website and not return after waiting three seconds or longer for loading. Source

If your site is slow, it may be time for a new site or at least some site improvements.

We have written a free guide to improving your site’s load speed which you can download for practical advice on improving your site speed.

2. Your site is difficult to maintain

If changing the home page banner or updating product information on your site requires a developer or is just difficult, you may need a new website.

E-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce or Shopify have many functions, not the least of which is to manage content — whether that content is product information, images, or blog posts. Your business should be able to make rapid changes in a few easy clicks.

3. Your Code Base Is Out of Date

It is the golden age of web development. Almost daily there are new capabilities, new APIs, new frameworks, or new libraries available. It can be hard to keep up. Unfortunately, being behind isn’t just a matter of missing out on features or performance. From a security point of view, out of date code is often vulnerable code.

E-commerce websites need regular maintenance to ensure safe code is used. If your site has an old code base, a new website could be in order.

4. Your Site Is Hard to Navigate

Shopping online should be easy. A good e-commerce website design needs a functional search tool that returns relevant results in a flash. It also needs product categories that customers can use to filter down to the products they want. Layered and faceted navigation is needed to help make it easy to sort through your offerings.

Customers won’t always tell you when your site navigation is bad. They will just leave. If conversion rates or time on site stats are poor, a possible navigation problem should be one of the first you investigate.

Long drop-down menus are a notorious conversion killer. This is obviously a problem for merchants with a wide inventory. A mega menu is a solution to this issue. A type of expandable menu in which many choices are displayed in a two-dimensional layout. Navigation is structured through typography and everything is visible at once, eliminating the need for scrolling.

Good e-commerce site navigation, like this header menu on wildaboutcarts.com ; an e-commerce website design created by Frooition BigCommerce developers.

e-commerce website design

5. Your Site Is Difficult to Expand

It should be easy to integrate your e-commerce platform with third-party services. Want to start using a great new order processing software suite? You should be able to tie into it via an application programming interface (API). If your site or platform can’t, you are at a competitive disadvantage.

If your goal is to increase turnover and profits, then your website must be easy to extend and integrate. If it is not, you might need a new site.

6. You’ve just turned over your first million

The e-commerce platform that got you your first million in online sales may not be the best choice to get you to 10 million.

Online shops with annual sales below a million are grouped as small e-commerce retailers, and often face significantly different challenges to larger online sellers. Because of this, it only makes sense that you might need a different e-commerce platform to make that jump from small to medium e-commerce.

Look for a solution that helps you automate processes.

When your business had ten orders a day, as an example, it was simple to look out for fraud. When you have 1,000 orders per day, fraud prevention may need to be integrated into your site.

When your business grows, your site must evolve too.

If you are interested in seeing more live e-commerce website design examples, check out our Shopify and BigCommerce portfolios.

Cross-selling in eBay listings

cross selling in eBay

Some of the biggest retailers of all time owe much of their growth to cross-selling. Cross-selling can help companies nurture and maximize relationships with current customers, increasing profits and efficiency. From the sweeties at the supermarket checkout, to the plant pots in Ikea displayed with a plant sold separately ready placed inside, cross-selling is every retailer’s favorite profit-boosting trick.

McDonald’s have built an empire from cross-selling; never failing to ask if you would like fries or a drink with your burger. Online, Amazon has leveraged the power of cross-selling to help them become one of the largest retailers of all time. Both the “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections on Amazon product pages promote products related to the item that you are currently viewing. Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” is especially clever, because it combines social proof (telling you others bought it) with cross-selling related items. This technique is so effective, that Amazon has previously attributed as much as 35% of their total revenue to cross-selling.

But how can we profit from cross-selling in eBay listings?

Regardless of where it is, the best cross-selling identifies products that satisfy additional, complementary needs that are unfulfilled by the original item. For example, a case could be cross-sold to a customer purchasing a laptop. When items suggested by cross-selling are relevant, they help the customer and enhance the shopping experience.

Cross-selling often points users to products they would have purchased anyway; by showing them at the right time, a store ensures they make the sale. The best place to cross-sell is on a product page. When on the product page, the customer is already in buying mode, and it is at this point that cross-selling can offer genuine benefit to a customer, enabling them to buy all the items they need at once, from a seller they trust. This is why cross-selling in eBay listings is so effective.

cross-selling in eBay listings

To cross-sell effectively, the most important point is to think about those products that naturally pair well, like shoes and socks. You must decide, what is the sock to the “shoe” that you’re selling? Pay special attention to the price points of the items you pair, and cross-sell products are typically similar in cost. If you are selling a laptop for $1,200 a printer for $100 would be a logical cross-sell, but if you are selling the printer, the laptop would be too big a purchase for the cross-sell. Better to suggest a pack of paper, or extra ink cartridges.

Pro Tip: If you don’t offer free shipping, combined shipping on multiple items is a powerful extra incentive for customers to buy from cross-selling.

Some of the biggest sellers on eBay have grown using cross-selling in eBay listings to increase basket value. Changes to eBay policy mean that many of the coding techniques people previously used to create dynamic cross-selling galleries are no longer permitted on eBay, but it is still possible to cross-sell your own items within your own listings and stay within eBay’s policy guidelines. Frooition cross promotion is eBay certified and totally dynamic. This means that it automatically shows relevant items based on criteria you set and instantly updates itself when those items are no longer available or listings are no longer live.

GolfMad have a Frooition custom design and make excellent use of its cross-selling features. The item shown below is a golf bag, and the items cross-promoted with it are other small accessories that a golf player who has just bought a bag is likely to buy; a bag rain cover, straps, and an umbrella holder even. These are not disposable items, but their price point makes them likely to be a less considered purchase than the item they are viewing.
cross-selling in eBay listings

 

As GolfMad already offer free delivery to encourage sales, they use eBay’s promotion manager to offer an additional 5% off for customers who buy three or more items. Positioning this offer alongside the cross promotion makes a very strong proposition for a customer.

If you would like to learn more about leveraging the power of dynamic cross-promotion in your listings, leave an enquiry on our website and one of our eBay certified advisors will be in touch.

eBay Links Policy 2017

eBay links policy

eBay links policy

 

From October 2017, eBay links policy states that sellers are no longer allowed to share contact information in item descriptions, images or eBay Shops.

Ebay sellers now need to remove contact information from both active and new listings. This includes information included in images such as phone number, email, or even a store physical address. Ebay messaging tools, such as My Messages or Best Offer, make it easy to communicate with customers and create a clear record of interaction in case of disputes.

Fraud on eBay is very low, but scams still happen, and eBay want to stop them completely. Most fraudulent eBay sales happen because a customer has been convinced to take the sale off eBay. When a sale is made away from eBay, the security of eBay and PayPal is not there, and the customer is vulnerable. Fraud on eBay erodes customer’s trust in the platform and ultimately hurts all sellers. By getting rid of outside links, eBay is protecting customers from scammers who try to lure them away from the safety of the platform.

Links that direct customers to a site other than eBay are only permitted from approved domains as long as they link to:

  1. Information on delivery services.
  2. Product videos, e.g. reviews, product demonstrations or installation.
  3. Other legally required information.

Any links which take you to another page on eBay are fine, and updates to eBay’s links policy do not affect externally hosted pictures and CSS media files.

Updating hyperlinks in item descriptions

For the links that you are permitted to use in your listings, be sure to use the target=”_blank” attribute in your HTML item description.

Until the end of 2017, eBay say that they will temporarily auto-correct any links that do not contain the target=”_blank” attribute.

We recommend you update your compliant hyperlinks at your earliest convenience to ensure they continue to work correctly in the future.

If you have lots of listings with links in, the quickest and easiest way to remove them is to use the Frooition link rescue service. Enquire today about having your listings made policy compliant.

Getting started with SEO for BigCommerce

BigCommerce SEO

BigCommerce SEO Basics

Your BigCommerce is your own unique e-commerce area of the internet. It is your responsibility as a merchant to market your site and get customers to visit. Search engine optimization (SEO) is only one part of that marketing mix, but most online shoppers start the buying process by using a search engine, so it’s an important one. If you have a well-optimized site, you’ll rank higher in search results and increase the chance of a potential shopper finding and shopping with you.

SEO is important whether you’re just starting to sell online, or have been selling online for years. Optimizing your site should be a continuous process, as search engines are constantly remapping the internet to index and rank pages. Although BigCommerce has a lot of SEO features built in to help you (like optimized URLs, automated canonical tags, and many other technical elements), you’ll need to work to improve your place in the search engine rankings and keep that improved place.

Give pages title tags

Having multiple tabs open would be very confusing if the pages didn’t each have titles, like “Inbox” or “Boots, Women’s Shoes: ASOS.” Title tabs help customers navigate pages within their browser.

These titles also show up in search engine results.

BigCommerce SEO title tag

Because potential customers will use the page title to decide if your store is relevant to their search, choosing an accurate, concise, and relevant one is crucial.

The title tag is doubly important because search engines use it to understand what your page is about.

Using BigCommerce, you can set title tags for each of your website pages. Here’s how to write a good one:

Keep it short:

50-60 characters is the optimal length. Most search engines won’t display anything longer.

Add your store name:

Having the store name in your title tag gives you credibility with search engine users and helps tie your product to your brand. Include it at the end of your page title after a separation symbol, such as a dash ( – ) or vertical line ( | ).

Use Keywords:

Make sure your target keywords are somewhere in your title tag, preferably close to the beginning.

Meta descriptions for BigCommerce

Search engines don’t factor the meta description into their rankings.

But search results are read by humans, and humans want a clear, concise description of what they will find on a page to help them decide if they should click on it or not. A compelling meta description means they’re likelier to visit your store.

Also, because search engines do use site popularity in their rankings, meta descriptions do indirectly affect your SEO.

  • Specify title tags and meta descriptions on every page
  • Include keywords in title tags and meta descriptions
  • Use action-oriented meta descriptions to call readers to “Find quality [product name here]”

Meta descriptions should include keywords, but don’t simply restate your title tag. Finally, keep it accurate and under 160 characters.

The meta description can be edited in the Settings section of the BigCommerce admin portal. This video shows you how to create title tags and meta descriptions in BigCommerce.

Page Headings

In HTML, the page heading is the H1 heading. This tells search engines what the page is about. Although there are exceptions, generally speaking, and for simplicity, each page should only ever have one H1 element.

The title tag also labels the page, but the H1 header only shows up on the actual web page. It’s usually the largest text element on the page.For strong page titles; include your main keywords in the names of your store’s products, collections, pages, and blog posts.

For strong page titles; include your main keywords in the names of your store’s products, collections, pages, and blog posts.

Writing specific alt tags and file names

An image’s alt text is just a short description to describes the visual. This short description shows in place of an image if the image fails to load, gives visually impaired customers an idea of what is on the screen, and matters when it comes to SEO. Search engines can’t read pictures the same way they can read

Search engines can’t read pictures the same way they can read text, so you need to use alt tags to tell search engines about their subject matter.

Because shopping online is highly visual, image alt text is even more important. Your site will probably have a lot of graphics—and when people search relevant keywords online, you want those graphics to show up.

Like your title tags and meta descriptions, alt text should be as descriptive and accurate as possible.

Bad:No alt text

OK:“swimsuit”

Better:“Speedo swimsuit”

Best:“Speedo ladies high leg swimsuit”

To edit an image’s alt text, hover over it and click the “Alt” option.

Along similar lines, make sure you’re titling your images appropriately. When you upload them, their file name might be something generic like “untitled.jpg” which tells you nothing about the actual image. Google uses the filename to learn more about the image, so something like “speedo-womens-high-leg-swimsuit.jpg” is far more useful. (Make sure you use dashes to separate words, or Google will interpret the entire file name as a single word.)

Maintaining a fresh store

Keeping fresh store is excellent for SEO. First, search engines consider how fresh and up-to-date websites are. Every time you announce a new product or post something new to your blog, you tell search engines that your site is current.

In addition, every product gives you a chance to rank for a different keyword. For instance, say you sell musical instruments. One of your products gives you the chance to rank for a specific keyword, say “left-handed electric guitar.” Someone who’s in the process of selecting a product might Google that term, find your product, pick up some handy info, and ultimately buy it.

Keeping product descriptions fresh and informative is important. Don’t try to cheat the system by writing down every keyword you’d like to rank for and go to town. Shoving as many words as you can into a piece without paying any attention to quality or context is called key word stuffing. It gives a poor customer experience, and will only make search engines penalize your pages by pushing them down search result rankings.

Another great opportunity to get quality traffic is to build and keep an active blog with fresh content. It can be a time-consuming investment, but it’s a worthy one as it allows you to show your expertise, gain trust and make more sales.

Video in BigCommerce

Video appears in 14% of internet search results, and helps results to stand out.

Help your customer feel more confident about their purchase by also adding video to your product page. The video can be basic information about your product, a tutorial video on ways to use the product to get results, or testimonials from people who have used the product. Video reviews are probably the most powerful form of social proof and increase session duration by 340% when featured on product pages.

Video reviews are probably the most powerful form of social proof and increase session duration by 340% when featured on product pages. Search engines monitor time that users spend on your site, and having a lower bounce rate and higher time on page will help your ranking.

Installing Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmasters offers a free suite of tools to help you improve your site for both visitors and search engines.

To set it up, go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/ and make an account. Then, type your BigCommerce URL and click “Add a Site.”

Select the “Alternate Methods” tab, then click “HTML tag.” Google will create a unique meta tag that you can insert into your template. Here are detailed instructions for inserting your meta tag into your BigCommerce template.

Once you’ve done so, go back to Google Webmaster and select “Verify.”

Optimizing your BigCommerce store for SEO takes effort. But making it much easier for consumers to find your products will improve your traffic and ultimately, your revenue.

Achieving economies of scale in e-commerce

economies of scale e-commerce

The dream of anyone setting up their own online e-commerce business is that it will grow and grow and, to paraphrase Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy, “One day we’ll be millionaires”. But growth has some other ‘cushdy’ advantages outside of riches – economies of scale.

The idea is a simple one: the bigger you get, the lower the unit price per item you need becomes – be it raw materials, storage, packaging, shipping, premises, overheads and even technology. Suppliers like to shift large numbers of things, not individual ones and so as you grow so you can reap a small discount on unit price as you go.

And over time, this can really start to add up.

So, how can you achieve such economies of scale in your e-commerce business? Let’s see what impact it can have on various aspects of a typical business.

Shipping

If I, as an individual want to ship a box I use the mail. For the one box it is relatively inexpensive, but if you scale that up across hundreds or even thousands of boxes it becomes prohibitively expensive. This is why we have carriers that specialise in e-commerce fulfilment. Here the economies of scale are obvious: if you have 50 boxes to shift a carrier will see a van-load and, crucially, just the one trip and offer you a good price per box. Scale this up further and you get a lorry full and so on – each box becomes relatively cheap to transport.

What is interesting about shipping at volume is that once you have sufficient volume you can work with a business courier service to access a range of delivery options – next day, 2-3 working day or even every two hours. Here, if you have enough volume of each delivery category, you can achieve economies of scale across all delivery options making each affordable.

This helps the business as, increasingly, shipping options are becoming the battle ground between etailers who can no longer compete on price alone.

The key here is to talk to shipping companies and compare the best prices, asking about how the economies of scale can be attained across a range of delivery options, not just the unit cost of shipping items in one way. Many carriers will give you access to software that can help you manage how you use them, or indeed you can use independent software to manage it and reap the best economies of scale (see Technology, below)

Packaging

As with shipping, buying in packaging materials is an easy one to see economies of scale in. Buying one box to package up something is cost effective if you just have the one thing, but replicate that over the thousands of items you probably want to send and it ceases to be so. If you have the demand and can guarantee the need for multiple boxes – even of a variety of sizes, shapes and materials – then suppliers are going to do you a good price. It cost them less to produce as they too bring in economies of scale when buying the raw materials to satisfy your order.

The real advantage here is that by cutting away the unit cost of your packaging you can afford to add in specialised printing, better packaging materials and even unique bespoke packaging (each with its own economies of scale efficiency) to differentiate your business. Bespoke and delightful packaging can make you stand out from the crowd, offering a nice unboxing experience for the customer. This can tip sales in your favour.

If what you sell is not really dependent on a nice unboxing experience, then the economies of scale on packaging are simply something that shows up, magnificently, on your bottom line.

Again talk to your suppliers about how to get the best deal on scale and how that deal can be grown as you expand.

Technology

Technology, too, can be subject to economies of scale, but in a different way. Buying in order management software to help run your business is usually priced in terms of users or volumes – much like software you may buy for your PC. If it’s just you using it, then it has a unit cost much higher than if three people use it. The idea is the same as with shipping or packaging.

However, these days, many business technologies are delivered to businesses in what is known as Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This is where the company using the software, be it order management software, CRM software, or even Microsoft Office software, pays a monthly fee and gains online access to that software. The model is usually priced so that the more you use it, or the more sites you have that use it, or indeed the more volume of use you get from it, the more you are charged.

This seems to go against the theme of economies of scale, but in practice it doesn’t: the cost goes up but the unit cost of using it per transaction, per user or per unit volume, or whatever it is, comes down.

The interesting part is that within the fee that you pay, you get software that has minimum downtime, is regularly updated and its maintenance and reliability are the responsibility of the software vendor not you the user.

This is why SaaS is becoming the standard way that businesses use technology. It offers the usual economies of scale, but it also allows for business expansion, fixed monthly costs and takes away much of the cost and issues with managing one’s own IT. So, in effect, it delivers economies of scale not just in terms of ‘buying’ the tech, but also in managing it and keeping your business running.

Product sourcing

Bringing Del Boy back into the equation for a moment, he could sell cheap, hooky watches out of his battered old suitcase down Peckham Market, because he ‘bought’ a job lot of them. The same applies to your e-commerce business. If you are, say a T-shirt printer, then the more blank Ts you can buy in one go, the cheaper the unit price will be. This is because the economies of scale go all the way back along the value chain to the initial supplier of the raw materials.

Reaping economies of scale for product sourcing is perhaps the area where you can save the most money – but also takes perhaps the most amount of donkey work. For starters you need to find the suppliers that have what you are looking for – and then negotiate. They too are going to want to benefit from economies of scale, so the bigger orders you can make the better price you will get.

However, you don’t want to get caught out with vast amounts of inventory that you can’t shift, or which you have to heavily discount to move on. So, what is the answer? Here you need to turn to technology. You could just hit Google, but there are tools out there that you can use to help you understand what the market is for what you have to sell – giving you an idea of volume. There are also tools that can help you evaluate which products are the best for the price. Then there are tools that can help you evaluate products more specifically. There are also tools to help you search for inventory coming from liquidation and wholesale outposts.

Business premesis

Property, certainly in the UK, is one of the biggest costs faced by business. Economies of scale with property don’t necessarily apply per se in the same way as they do in other aspects of business. The bigger you become, the more real-estate you need, the more it costs. True, there costs per square foot of warehousing can decline with volume but it comes with other costs.

One answer which does offer an economy of scale factor is to use a third party eCommerce fulfilment provider. Having someone else handle your warehousing can yield huge economies of scale as your business grows. The more space you use the less per unit area you pay.

But what makes using a third party company so interesting is that often they don’t just rent you storage space: they will also help with everything else in that you need. Companies such as Mail Workshop provide the shelf space, but will also provide the inventory management, ecommerce picking, packing, printing and even distribution.

The economies of scale here are multiple – and multiply across all these factors. The more you scale up, the bigger the savings you can potentially make in not just business premises costs, but also management, technology, packaging, labelling and distribution.

Together these elements of an ecommerce business can all be scaled up – and you will want to scale them up as you grow. But growth can be costly, so always look for the cost saving economies of scale that you can make at every stage of your business process and your business’s evolution. Make it part of your business plan and your whole philosophy, and before you know it Peckham will be a distant memory.

Parcelhub is a multi-carrier shipping and customer services solution. Flexible and scalable, it integrates seamlessly with order management systems, providing hundreds of eCommerce and wholesale businesses with one access point to many of the largest UK and international parcel carriers.

Multi-channel eCommerce platforms are easily integrated and dedicated pro-active parcel management comes as standard.

Distributing more than 4.5 million parcels on its own carrier contracts every year, Parcelhub’s free
multi-carrier shipping software grants hundreds of national and global businesses access to ‘pooled volume’ discounted rates from its carefully selected range of carrier partners, including; Yodel, Hermes, DPD, UK Mail, DHL, Whistl, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce.