Making Your Online Store as User-friendly as Possible
No matter how obscure a niche your online store serves, you’re liable to have countless competitors. With millions of stores providing shoppers with every conceivable type of product, it’s easy for first-time proprietors to feel overwhelmed and intimidated. While perpetually carving out a name for yourself in a marketplace can certainly be difficult, there are a number of simple steps any store owner can take to elicit customer loyalty and generate positive word of mouth.
Function Over Form
It’s only natural for proprietors to want their stores to look good. After all, first impressions are vitally important, and eye-catching aesthetics can be an effective way to lure in new customers. However, when it comes to store design, form should never take precedence over function. If given the choice between attractive aesthetics and user-friendliness, you should always go with the latter. This isn’t to say that visual appeal should be thrown out the window, but if a certain type of aesthetic gets in the way of functionality or makes your store difficult to navigate, you’d be wise to make another design choice. Even if interesting visuals are able to catch the attention of prospective patrons, those patrons are unlikely to stick around if the site’s functionality isn’t equally impressive.
Since a substantial percentage of online purchases are made on impulse, it’s in every store’s best interest to offer speedy checkouts. The longer it takes your site to process payments, the more likely customers will be to rethink certain purchases or take their business elsewhere. With this in mind, make a point of providing speedy payment processing and utilizing reliable checkout software. Given the multitude of options modern-day consumers have at their fingertips, patience is a dwindling commodity, and if your store is unable to provide an expedient checkout process, your customers will be happy to visit your competitors.
Any online store that wishes to survive in this day and age needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Now that the majority of web traffic comes from smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, it’s imperative that your store be easily accessible to mobile shoppers. If your website is unable to properly function or offer satisfactory load times on mobile devices, you’re depriving yourself of substantial business.
Although overhauling an online store that was created before the mobile age may strike certain proprietors as cumbersome, this task isn’t nearly as daunting as it seems. An experienced web designer can have your store redesigned and optimized for mobile devices in a matter of days.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to tackle the project on your own, you can find a plethora of D.I.Y. ecommerce website builders with nothing more than a quick Google search. Any efforts you put forth are sure to pay off tenfold when your store sees a notable increase in mobile traffic.
Responsive Customer Service
Since online retail is lacking in face-to-face interaction, many proprietors put customer service on the backburner. When an unsatisfied customer is speaking to you one-on-one, it’s impossible to ignore them, but when they can only communicate with you via email, allowing their complaints to go unaddressed is all too easy. While it’s true that no one relishes dealing with customer queries and concerns, it’s an essential part of working in retail, be it online or brick-and-mortar. No matter what products or services your store offers, you are far from the only game in town, and if a customer feels disrespected, they’re unlikely to give you repeat business. Furthermore, if someone feels particularly slighted, your store may find itself the target of attacks on social media and/or consumer feedback message boards.
We’re living in the age of online retail. Although certain brick-and-mortar stores continue to thrive, many of them have seen the writing on the wall and taken their enterprises digital. In many respects, there’s never been a better time to be a consumer. Nearly any item you can think of can be purchased with a few simple clicks and delivered to your home in a timely manner. Additionally, with millions of stores to choose from, consumers have never had more options at their disposal. That being the case, proprietors need to consistently put their best foot forward to stay competitive in an ever-expanding marketplace. In the quest to make your store stand out amongst growing competition, enhanced user-friendliness is a solid starting point.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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