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Six steps to cement the success of your ecommerce website

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However, while it can be tempting to focus a lot of attention on perfecting the visual appeal of your website, it’s just as important to ensure its functionality is fit-for-purpose in order to give your customers a seamless user experience.

Through our extensive experience at Barclaycard of working with SMEs for almost 50 years, we have developed a series of tips that can help ensure you are using your ecommerce website to its full advantage.

(1) Choosing the right partner

Finding the right payment solutions provider for your website is an essential first step to achieving a seamless experience for your customers and can also help simplify more onerous business processes. Some companies offer a “one-stop shop” package by supplying both the technology to process online payments and the account where the proceeds of your sales will be paid. By working with just one supplier, you’ll only need to manage one contract and review one statement – which means more time to manage your business, concentrating on what you do best.

(2) Attracting new customers

Search engine optimisation has an important role to play when it comes to being first choice amongst your competitors. This means it’s important to keep an eye on industry updates and recommendations concerning link building and duplicate content on your site, as their impact on search engine rankings can vary from time to time. If you do manage to climb the ranks to secure a top position, make sure your website has the capability to deal with the resulting increase in traffic. This is especially pertinent during peak trading periods.

(3) Addressing concerns about security

Security should always be front of mind when developing your website, as it goes without saying that this is of paramount importance to consumers. Strict adherence to data protection rules is officially measured through compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard. These guidelines will help you safeguard customer card data most effectively – both protecting you and helping to reassure your customers that their details are safe with you.

It’s vital your security policy works for customers on a personal level too. Giving shoppers the option to check out as a guest means they won’t worry about their personal details being stored if they would rather not provide the data – and you’ll still be able to capture the sale.

(4) Improving the customer purchase journey

Knowing your customers and how they like to shop is crucial to ensuring the path to purchase is as streamlined as possible. For example, do you know how many customers are accessing your website through a desktop computer, compared to those on mobiles and tablets? Collecting this information and sharing it with your web developer will help them ensure your site is fully compatible with whichever devices your customers use. Speed of sale is also key for today’s time-poor shoppers, so it’s vital to simplify the shopping experience from browsing to checkout. Many find a “buy now” button is the most efficient way to help to speed up the process for busy customers.

(5) Reducing abandonment rates

Not all customers who start the path to purchase end up completing it. Delays in page loading times and excessive tick boxes with lots of information to read are common reasons why customers abandon their shopping basket part way through a purchase. In fact, recent research by Barclaycard found that half (50 per cent) of consumers who order goods and services online get frustrated if they have to fill in unnecessary details when ordering whilst four in ten (41 per cent) said that they get put off ordering if the payment process takes too long.

Observing the ways your customers interact with your website and tracking abandonment cases will help shine some light on potential sticking points. These insights can then be used to make relevant improvements to your website.

(6) Keeping existing customers

Introducing ways to encourage repeat custom helps to boost brand loyalty and keep acquisition costs down. With research suggesting that a returning customer spends 67 per cent more than a new one, the initial investment is certainly worth the resulting profitability. Integrating a loyalty or reward scheme into your e-commerce strategy gives you the freedom to offer tailored customer incentives such as discount codes or vouchers which can be used to turn first-time buyers into repeat customers.

By following these tips, SMEs can ensure their ecommerce website work hard for their brand, ultimately boosting sales while providing customers with a seamless shopping experience.

Greg Liset is head of ecommerce for small business at Barclaycard.

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