Actinic
Creating and exploiting a SellerDeck website – Part II

Creating and exploiting a SellerDeck website – Part II

21st July 2011

In the second installment of our three-part series we look at reassuring the customer, presenting products effectively, and customer communications.

Reassure The Customer

Once a customer has added a product to the basket or started to check out, don’t miss an opportunity to reassure them along the way – anything that will prevent abandonment. So consider including:-

  • the logos of the cards and payment methods that your site supports
  • shipping costs
  • delivery timescales
  • stock information
  • an informative checkout progress bar

Show Off Your Products

A minority of products (very simple commodities perhaps) don’t warrant much in the way of presentation. But the vast majority of products are far more likely to be sold if they are presented cleanly to customers with plenty of supporting information and illustration.

So if you’re already going to the trouble of creating an e-commerce site and operating the business, don’t skimp on product presentation. Consider:-

  • using video to show how to use products – large zoom images to show detail
  • showing multiple product images (e.g. front view, back view, view of a detail, view of product actually in use)
  • detailed product descriptions (e.g. manufacturer’s description, specification list, your own product summary, your advice on product suitability or usage)
  • stock and delivery status (i.e. if I order this product, when will it arrive?)
  • clear “was / now” prices
  • colour swatches, if appropriate
  • a clear “add to basket” button
  • size guide, if appropriate
  • implementing a customer feedback system
  • invitation to contact you for further information or clarification

One of the biggest indicators of a quality e-commerce site is its imagery. The style of a product photograph should match the design of the site if possible. And most important of all, perhaps, is uniformity of the product images – ensuring that all product images are lit the same way, share the same camera angle, the same shadow and the same background. This can be difficult to achieve if an e-commerce site sells products from several different suppliers, each of which supplies a different style of product images. So, often, the answer is for retailers to photograph all their products themselves. Once a small light tent is set up with a camera on a tripod, it’s possible to pass many products through it quite quickly. The results are well worth it.

As well as product photography, good “lifestyle” photography (imagery used for general illustration) is a big differentiator of a quality e-commerce site. Sometimes a client has a source of photographs that we can use, and sometimes their suppliers allow access to their own images. Other times, we’ll simply take photographs ourselves, or buy images from iStockPhoto.com. Whatever the source, the key thing is to choose images that communicate the right messages, edit them to blend well into the overall site design, and use them with care within the site & its templates.

Talk With Your Customers

That’s talk WITH your customers, not necessarily just talk TO your customers. Consider how you can best use your e-commerce site to communicate with customers. SellerDeck’s desktop software doesn’t have much functionality for content management, so we often integrate WordPress or other CMS tools & feeds into our Actinic sites.

However, it’s not enough just to design and implement the tools though. These tools have to be put to work, and that’s simply a matter of human communications. However, don’t add a Twitter feed, blog, forum, news page or live chat if you aren’t absolutely certain that you will have the time and commitment to use it.

It’s important to see your website communications as a two-way process – not just distributing your news and marketing offers, but stimulating feedback, questions and comments from your customers.

A small retailer will never have the budget to compete with household names in terms of pay-per-click advertising, but clever use of social media, user communities, forums, etc. can give a lot of positive exposure without any external spend. One of our clients spends at least an hour per day contributing to user forums inhabited by their typical customers, and it pays off very well indeed.

Develop an editorial “voice” and use it consistently. If it’s not your strongpoint there are plenty of web copywriters out there who will write for you in a snappy, web-friendly style.

Keep a close eye on your site’s spelling and grammar – ask a friend with high standards to review all your written content. It’s another differentiator between low and high quality sites, and there’s a strong knock-on effect on the perceived quality and credibility of your business.

In the third and final part of the series, we’ll look at website operations, disaster planning, and online strategy for e-commerce businesses.