We internally conducted our own study on 500 eCommerce storefronts built on Shopify (sourced from the reviews section on applications) and unfortunately less than 1% passed some basic diligence tests. To be fair to those sellers, you could argue that only 1% of total eCommerce storefronts are built with sound practises in place and we would also argue that even some of the biggest online only retailers in the market have some very poor online design experiences.
As we describe what features we cater toward in our storefronts and why in this post, we'll also include snapshots from the 1% that have achieved some excellent results when built with Shopify.
We include analytics, social product placement, Ad management and Email conversions as part of our fully comprehensive eCommerce monthly management plans, you can read in a lot more detail what this includes, here.
The single most forgotten attribute that contributes hugely to covetable storefronts is styling and photography, a lack of investment in this field will damage customer perception and trust in your brand; luckily for you at Aulter we know how to cast the right models and have the in-house capabilities when it comes to high resolution, professional photography and video production.
Of course product, business intelligence and ensuring you have the right storefront setup with levers for increased conversions in place is a paramount foundation, they're mutually exclusive attributes and that's where we can make sure you fall inside the top 1%.
The number of SKUs you have will determine your site layout and what templates we will seek to offer up for your selection, a department store or perfumery is going to need a contrasting build compared to designer kitchens or fireplaces.
Bestsellers, editors picks, we recommend
Never bury your best selling, exclusive, high in demand, top priority, biggest volume products deep inside your site, nestled half way down your product placement. You don't necessarily have to place these items on your landing page in bold images (that doesn't always convert and can inadvertently increase page bounces, we'll work with you on what's best for your customer base) but finding an ideal location somewhere on your homepage and ensuring your bestsellers are visible at the top inside product pages is a must.
For high volume SKU retailers we will always include filter options inside your product pages and it can be wise to have 'bestsellers' or 'editor picks' as your default option for page paginations (more on product placement and paginations lower down).
If you're selling brands or you're selling sub-category product groups then the placement of these products needs to be tested as to where it's optimum location is, as a default option. Some customers are going to want to change filters such as price (highest and lowest), new arrivals, colours, styles etc... and this needs to be analysed but typically speaking filters are rarely used by customers. They're reliant on the placement you serve up, testing types of product and price against each other is paramount to give immediate access to not only your wider product availability but also to help drive up sell and cross sell opportunities whilst maximising sales.
A department store like John Lewis for example, may decide that if you are a customer visiting from central London, they'll place more expensive product lines at the top of listings, visiting from Rotherham (no disrespect) then more affordable lines at the top of listings. Visiting from South Africa? Then perhaps they'll display more easily shipped, smaller items at the top of listings; it's about what works best for different cohorts based on historical trend data and these are facets that we will manage for you from the offset and on a rolling basis.
Seasonal promotions/displays and site copy
At the top of this post in the first image you'll see an 'Easter offer' on the landing page, brilliant, except it's now approaching May Day Bank holiday weekend, maintaining a site with relevant offers is vital to customer perception. While it's fantastic that this brand is pushing ahead with offers and the brand in question has successfully since sent out relevant email newsletters, managing seasonal offers and seasonal product lines through your storefront is critical for maximising sales.
Site copy is an area to be creative and fun, that's on tone with your customer base and product categories, regularly test site copy and determine what works best for different groups and be sure to file what copy you've previously used otherwise the test is meaningless.
Product information and SEO
What to include, what not to include and what works best for SEO with those google crawlers, we've already gone over what's important for product information on Amazon's marketplace to rank higher in the listings but that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for your own storefront. Meta information on images and product listings, as well as product copy, canonicalisation and routine spelling errors are going to help you here, we will manage all this for you and here's a little trick we sometimes deploy, what language is being used in the reviews? That's occasionally a give away that not many SEO experts or agencies will tell you for for free but we provide this as an inclusive service because we don't view SEO, alone as a field you should need to separately invest in.
While the example below made our 1% cut and has a great layout with product recommendations down the side, it's let down dramatically by poor product listing and a lack of keyword triggers in the product information.
Store locator, click + collect, store to door, omni-channel
Customers demand an omni-channel experience and for your local fans, they just might prefer an in-store pickup option; store locators are great to build trust with customers, knowing you have physical locations with an existing customer base to serve. If you've been in business for a long time, then signal this in the landing page or your branding, a no brainer to build trust faster.
Reviews and trigger events
We're close to requesting a ban to instant lightboxes that demand email signup or throw an offer in the face of the customer, it's crazy to immediately greet your customers with this option. Would you walk up to a stranger and immediately demand their attention? A nudge to signup for newsletters and offers should only come after 10 pages or so have been visited, or exclusively left to email promotions. It smacks of desperation and in all honesty, it's an annoyance for the customer, let them view your product and layout before demanding a marriage with them. The same goes for using 'live review' popups, an utter annoyance with zero validation that it drives conversions; Booking.com were the first to use this in the mainstream to showcase whether a hotel was viewed recently or had been booked to create a sense of urgency, the same urgency shouldn't apply to your eCommerce storefront unless you're selling David Beckham's private collection of memorabilia.
Google badges, reviews, 360 view
Utilising all of Google's merchant centre tools is a straight forward way to try and do everything right when it comes to finding an optimal ranking; same goes for social presence that is brand consistent across all platforms and easily discoverable, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, fill the results page with your brand so customers know exactly who you are and where to find you.
Checkout and guest checkout
Unless you splash out on Shopify Plus, you must adhere to using a Shopify checkout; this isn't necessarily a bad thing, their checkout layout is brilliant and matches industry standards by closing out header menus and allowing the customer to focus on paying (also adding discount codes is easily visible). What Shopify does allow for is the embedding of PayPal, Amazon Pay and Apple Pay, all features likely to increase conversion rates and lower cart abandonment and thus you should certainly include. A nice feature of the Shopify checkout is to set by default the ability to 'sign up to a newsletter' and therefore follow up and target your customers, routinely. You can also alter the copy of this to something more attractive, such as 'sign up to get exclusive, priority offers' or 'join our VIP members area'.
Two elements to consider if you are confident in going down the Shopify Plus route; retail finance, customers expect a finance option if making large purchases with you (whether it's designer goods, white electronics goods, homeware and furnishings or sizeable contractor purchases), this is viable with Shopify and is an excellent option to explore. In Australia 'AfterPay' is very popular and here in the UK we have some great alternatives to boost sales. The other is element is more advanced gift card options, players such as Loop Commerce have some brilliant tools to personalise this domain but it will incur extra development costs as these are not plug and play integrations.
Google analytics is the most rudimentary form of visitor analysis you can have for your eCommerce storefront, it's necessary to include to simply boost your search ranking but you must include a comprehensive tool that can assess your storefront performance on a much more granular level. At Aulter we know what tools are automatically the best in the business to use and are within your price category, ranging from website visitor analysis to heatmaps and videos of individual user sessions on your site to get a clear understanding of your layout performance, product category performance, filter performance and where best to allocate promotional email and Ad spend resources.
This debate has been raging for years, should a brand incorporate social selling elements into its storefront, should brands use social images as media to propel sales online. There's no easy answer to this, it's questionable to just include an 'Instagram store' at the footer of your landing page (something many Shopify stores are currently doing), yes it's key to try and monetise your Instagram followers but at what cost to the experience of your existing customer base who don't care about Instagram or Pinterest? Assess your channel sales, if social networks are primary to your sales then give it a go, if you're in apparel or niche speciality, give it a go and see what works best for your brand but remember not to compromise the entire ebb and flow of your storefront. We know how to flesh this concept out with the applicable analysis tools to ensure you're not doing more damage than good when testing out if social selling is right for your cohorts.
Sidebar details and page pagination
Even the most experienced pure play eCommerce retailers can get elements of this right and wrong, here an example below from escentual has some pros and cons; listing over 2000 products is a little daunting for your customers, no? They're going to be immediately turned off by 'all available' to buy from us pages. Categorise what product categories you have and offer olive branches into other product bases, such as 'recommended with' or 'customers who bought this also bought', or create collections via media grouping of your product categories (more on this in the future).
One major positive is the listing of 'offers' and 'free gifts', be imaginative here in your side bar and filter options, this is an area relatively unexplored by eCommerce retailers and at Aulter we have a wealth of ideas to introduce endorsements and reputational capital into pushing through your sales more aggressively that you can implement.
There are many more elements that will dictate whether your storefront can be as successful as possible, we can get you from A to B in understanding what works for your brand and customer base at a fast pace, saving you money, confusion and frustration along the way. No more second guessing vendors and what their pre-sales account support teams are telling you, we know exactly what you need from the get-go, dependent on your size of operations.
Contact us today for a competitive quote in getting your storefront up and running at a much more attractive cost than what you're going to be accumulating for Magento builds or from niche commerce infrastructure agencies with their own, locked in agenda.
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