Creating and maintaining an ecommerce site takes an investment of time and plenty of money. For many, the steep price for implementing several of the tools that make shopping easier for customers could be crippling. We’ve already discussed how outsourcing to Fiverr could help you take care of the smaller tasks, but what about the big problems? Ecommerce sites that are strapped for cash might run up against many obstacles, but there’s no reason to present a rough shopping experience for your users. If you’re struggling with certain aspects of your site, here’s how to overcome them.
Poor website design will turn a visitor off immediately. In fact, 74% of shoppers say they’ll bounce if the site is hard to navigate. Now, designing an ecommerce site isn’t easy for those without some kind of design experience. The result could be a site that looks jumbled, features images that are too small, and just generally appears unprofessional.
Before you settle for less than the best, consider your options. You might just be able to afford a designer if you’re willing to work with templates rather than building from the ground up. Everyone wants a proprietary site, but owning something that’s yours alone does no good if none of your visitors hang around long enough to buy something.
Look for options that allow for customization within the templates, which could help you create a beautiful website that looks very much like your own without a lot of hassle. Any good designer should be willing to work with these options, and your cost will be significantly less.
A lack of funds doesn’t mean you should forego professional CTAs. Again, design does come into play here, but CTAs don’t need to be animated or even flashy to catch the eye and drive conversions. In fact, some of the most successful simply make use of contrasting colors and clever copy. You also don’t need a designer to create these calls-to-action if you have PowerPoint.
We show a step-by-step guide for creating a CTA from scratch in PowerPoint. Before you get started, seek out the buttons on other ecommerce sites that draw your eyes. These will be your guides when creating your own. Discover the colors and fonts that make you want to click and take notes—green and orange are often touted as the most effective. Then create your own CTAs from scratch using our tutorial.
The next step is, of course, to make sure those calls-to-action link to the correct landing pages. A dead link or a misdirected click will result in less trust from buyers in a best-case scenario and lost customers in the worst cases.
Keeping up with your metrics is one of the most important aspects of running an ecommerce site. If you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, you can’t improve the processes that help you make more money. Unfortunately, tracking metrics requires two things: a platform that reports metrics and an employee who understands those metrics.
The metrics you track can be as simple or as involved as you choose. Of course, the more in depth you get, the better your chances at making changes that will benefit your company. These metrics can tell you who is shopping, where they find your company, when they buy the most, and even who they’re telling about your products. All of this is great information for reaching out to more people, but you can’t do anything about it if you haven’t been gathering the facts.
A great way to take care of this in one step is to use an automated marketing platform that gathers and interprets metrics for you. You won’t need a genius crunching the numbers for you, because your program or software will share the results in an easy-to-understand manner. With the right software, you may even receive suggestions for changes based upon the metrics. That’s much more cost effective than hiring a full-time staff member, isn’t it?
The need for social media is hard for an ecommerce site to deny, but many are unaware of how much work this particular tool actually requires. Smaller companies often fall into one of two categories: those who have only halfheartedly pursued social media and those who have spread themselves too thin over social media platforms that have little benefit. The problem with either scenario is that staff is needed to truly manage the various social media outlets, especially since many suggest no less than seven tweets and four Facebook posts per day. If you don’t have a staff or the ability to hire one, there are programs that allow you to manage all of your social media platforms in one place.
Shopping Cart and Checkout
Where you absolutely can’t skimp is on your checkout process. Too many small companies rely only on PayPal or simply send buyers to a third party to complete transactions. While these may seem like outdated options, the truth is that too many companies still rely on payment options outside of credit or debit cards.
Your shopping cart and checkout process should be the easiest and most transparent on your site. When it comes time for customers to part with their money, they want to know they’re secure. That means you’ll need to apply for security certificates and keep them up to date if you plan to accept payments on your site. To work around this, you could accept only alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Visa’s V.me, and MasterCard’s MasterPass. The beauty of these options is that payment from you is taken upon each transaction, so you don’t need to pay for services up front.
Before you decide that accepting credit cards on your own is too much work, check into solutions like Square and Intuit. You may be surprised to find how easy these are to use. In fact, they might just be more affordable to use than PayPal, and they’ll walk you through installing the software on your site so shoppers can use it right away.
Knowing your limitations is important, for sure. Not knowing how to work around them, however, could cost you a lot of business. If you’re still trying to get by on your own, consider some of these amazing tools. Not only are they more affordable than you might think, they’re better for your bottom line. Sometimes you have to spend some money to make even more.
Originally published Dec 3, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016