1265 words|5 min read|

If you sell products online in an e-store, there’s a good chance your website is built on Bigcommerce, Shopify, or Volusion.  These popular e-commerce solutions have everything you need to set up an online store, no matter how many thousands of products you sell. Indeed, many of our clients use one of these platforms.

Each platform has its strengths (Bigcommerce is great for advanced features, Shopify is quick to configure, etc), but this article is not about which one is right for your company. Rather than advise on which one to use, we are happy to work with all three.  Instead, here we’ll look at seven techniques that you can use to improve your e-commerce store, whichever of the three platforms you use.

1. Make It Responsive

This is a no-brainer. While desktop still wins when it comes to users making purchases, mobile is growing in popularity (in fact, mobile commerce is now responsible for a third of e-commerce sales in the U.S.)  And even if shoppers don’t purchase your items on their mobile devices, they will still want to browse your store on their cellphones and make the actual purchase back on their desktop.

So make it responsive.

A clunky, slow, confusing experience on a mobile device makes you look bad. It says that you don’t care about the user experience.  You also have to worry about SEO. If you want to get found when people search for your products on their mobile devices, you’d better make sure it’s optimized for the mobile experience.

2. Set Up a Guest Check-Out

Successful e-commerce is all about making things easy for your customers. You are asking people to part with their money, so don’t make it harder for them to do so.  One way to do this is to give them the option of purchasing as a guest.  Don’t force your visitors to sign up before making a purchase. It takes time, it’s distracting, and its just one more thing to encourage them to abandon the shopping cart.  By giving them the option to complete check-out as a guest, you’ll avoid this. Alternatively, let them sign in with a social network like Facebook or Google and you’ll make the process much more convenient.

3. Use Beautiful Images & Videos

People want to see what they are buying online, so help them out. Take professional photographs of your products and show them off from different angles (just don’t let large images get in the way of the website’s page loading times—it should still be zipping along just fine).  So many companies fail to use appealing images to show off their products, but images can make or break a sale. Having a selection of images from different angles and close-up can be even better. People cannot pick up the product and inspect it, but you want them to feel like they can.

Martha Stewart (which uses Bigcommerce) shows off beautiful images right on the homepage and throughout the site, making the products look even more appealing:

Screenshot1

Why not add a video too? Spend some time creating one and consider showing the product in use. This can be more beneficial for complex products, but if you can get your user to imagine themselves using the product, you’ve got a much better chance of converting them.

4. Simplify the Checkout

Don’t distract customers from making the purchase when they are about to convert. Make your checkout clean and really simple to reduce abandonment at the last hurdle.  That means providing shoppers with the stages of their purchase so they can see where they are in the process.  If shoppers get distracted here, they’re not going to return. In fact, find out how many people are abandoning their shopping carts. If too many people are leaving at this stage, it could indicate a problem.

5. Improve the Navigation

Good navigation is essential on any website, but it is even more important on an e-commerce store. Many of our clients sell thousands of products, and helping customers to find exactly what they are looking for is critical.  This means using an organized structure that is easy to browse, as well as being easy for the search engines to crawl. Use categories and sub-categories to make it easier, and you could even divide them up by product type, brand, price, and more.

Leif (Shopify) does a good job of this, making it easy for customers to find exactly what they are looking for:

Screenshot2

It’s also good practice to create landing pages for the top-level navigation labels so that people can click on the links and visit a category page.  You should also include a powerful site search feature at the top of every page to make it even easier for customers to find what they need.

6. Bundle Your Products

Bundling your products is a great way to sell more to your customers, and this is something you can do on any e-store platform.  Firstly, it shows that you care about the shopper an