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Ecommerce Tips & Techniques

Overview

As the ecommerce industry has grown, so have the techniques used by successful online stores to attract potential shoppers and convert them to buyers. NCR Retail Online (NRO) makes it easy for you to create a highly successful online business. This guide will give you the knowledge that you need to maximize your store's success:

  • Search Engine Optimization: Drive potential customers to your website
  • Site Usability: Make it easy for customers to find the products they're looking for
  • Great Content: Give customers the information that they need to make their purchasing decisions

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines play an important role in the success of an online business. Take a look at the results of one study that analyzes how consumers find products on the internet [Source: Overture]:

Of those shoppers using search engines, most will explore only the first few pages of search results. In fact, 87% of all traffic goes to the websites listed within the top 20 results for any search.

To increase your chances of being highly ranked by today's most popular search engines, design and configure your store to be "search engine friendly” and plan to invest some of your marketing budget in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).




Site Usability

The Web is all about providing people with access to information. Website usability is all about helping people find the relevant information as quickly and as easily as possible. You should utilize proven techniques when configuring your home page and category structure to maximize your ability to sell.

Great Content

Shoppers want to know that you are an expert on your products and that you are a trustworthy seller. Populating your online store with high-quality product images and descriptions can make a big difference in whether shoppers purchase items from you or from someone else. Use plenty of informational content on your Extra Pages to educate shoppers and turn them into buyers.
 

Tips & Techniques

Search engine Friendly Design

Your "search engine friendly” store will make it easy for search engines to understand what you have to offer and present it to searching buyers.

Select Your Money Making Keywords

Internet shoppers find the products that they're searching for by typing keywords or search phases into popular search engines. It is very important to choose keywords that will point shoppers directly to your store.

Make a list of every keyword that you can imagine a shopper might use to find your online store. Ask yourself, "What are people typing into search engines to find the products that I am selling?” Choose your target keywords from this list by determining:

  • How popular is the phrase and how many times was it searched for in the last 90 days?
  • How competitive is the phrase and are there many companies targeting the keyword?
  • Is the keyword relevant to my business and specific enough to capture potential buyers of my products?

You can find more information to help you select your keywords at:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal and http://www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com/

Put Your Keywords to Work on Your Website

Once you have identified your targeted list of keywords, you need to put them to work on your website so that search engines will find your products.

Keyword-Rich Domain Names

If you suspect that most of your store traffic will be generated by search engines, it helps to have a keyword-rich domain name. Registering more than one domain name will help boost your search engine rankings and prevent your competitors from securing them for their benefit. Some examples of keyword-rich domain names are:

Keyword Rich Page Content

Strategic use of your target keywords throughout your website helps search engines understand what your website has to sell. Use your keywords as much as possible within your website content, but make sure that it is still pleasant for your customer to read. Include keywords in each of the following areas of your website:

  • Title Tags: One sentence using as many target keywords as possible. Keep this to 60 characters or less.
  • Meta Descriptions: Two to three sentences totaling 255 characters or less. Load meta descriptions with keywords and make sure the descriptions are pleasant to read.
  • Home Page: Two to three paragraphs about your store. Again, load with keywords, but keep it readable.
  • Categories: Use keywords in category names. Limit subcategories to two to three layers deep.
  • Page content: Load page content and item descriptions with keywords. Focus on only two to three keywords per page.
  • Extra Pages: Create valuable, informational content on Extra Pages to increase the total keyword count on your website. For example, if you sell specialty foods, add Extra Pages for recipes or nutritional information.

Search engine optimization

Many tools and techniques are available to further maximize your rankings with popular search engines. Techniques include:

  • Keyword Research and Selection: Your most profitable keywords are identified by reviewing your online product offerings; analyzing your competitors' websites; and conducting targeted product research, search trend analysis and keyword comparisons.
  • Content Optimization: Strategically apply target keywords to your website content.
  • Meta InformationOptimization: Optimize your website's page titles, meta descriptions, and meta keywords to make the best use of your selected keywords.
  • Site Map Creation and Submission: Create a site map of your online store and submit it to popular online search engines. A well-planned site map gives search engines a clear picture of your entire website.
  • Directory Submissions: Even more valuable than your content are the links that point from valuable Internet directories to your website. Identify high-value directories and submit your website content.
  • Reciprocal Link Submissions: Reciprocal links are also more valuable to search engines than your site content. Identify related websites and negotiate reciprocal linking arrangements.
  • Newsletters and Press Releases: These communication mechanisms can generate valuable back-links to your site.

Site Usability


Overall Site Design

The easier your site is to use, the more satisfied customers you'll have. NRO includes features to make your site easy for shoppers to find and buy your products.

  • When you create the header area for your site, be sure to use your logo as a link back to your home page.
  • Make checkout as painless as possible by enabling Quick Checkout. With Quick Checkout, shoppers can complete the entire checkout process on one easy-to-use page without having to create an account. The quicker the checkout process, the fewer abandoned carts you'll have.
  • Make it easy for shoppers to get in touch with you. Add your phone number, email address, and physical address to your page footer. Also, add an Extra Page for ‘Store Hours and Directions' that includes a Google Map of all your locations. Remember that your ecommerce store is also a window into your brick and mortar store!

Home Page

Your home page impacts how customers view you and your products. It is the shop window, billboard, welcome greeting, and store map all on one page. A quality home page will grab shoppers' attention and stimulate purchasing decisions.

  • Make it clear that shoppers can buy online through your site.
  • Create an online ‘window display.' Showcase new items as well as a variety of your best products.
  • Highlight current sales and discounts.
  • Minimize distractions that may discourage shoppers from staying on your website. Distractions might include long paragraphs of text, non-product photos, splash pages, animations, and links to other websites.
  • Use Extra Pages, not your home page, for non-shopping related content.
  • Keep graphics to a minimum to avoid losing customers due to slow page loads.
  • Design your home page to fit in a single, non-scrolling window.

Categories

Online sales frequently fail because shoppers cannot find the products that they want to buy.

  • Think about departments in your store and take time to create category names that are meaningful to shoppers.
  • Use natural language in category names. Incorporate your target keywords into your category names. Resist using UPPER CASE letters and symbols such as &.
  • To facilitate organic search engine optimization (SEO), name your product categories and sub-categories using high-volume, multi-keyword search phrases.

Use no more than two or three levels of subcategories.

  • Add items to multiple categories to make them easier to find.
  • Consider adding "Shop By Brand,” "Shop By Price,” or "Shop By Season” categories to give your shoppers more than one way to find an item in your store.

Use an intuitive category structure that gives shoppers multiple ways to find items in your store, for example:

Categories
> Sports Equipment
  • Nike Pro Tour Golf Bag
  • Men's X8 Snowboard
> Sports Apparel
  • Youth Baseball Jersey
Shop by Brand
> Nike
  • Nike Pro Tour Golf Bag
> Rawlings
  • Youth Baseball Jersey
> Burton
  • Men's X8 Snowboard
Shop by Season
> Summer Sports
  • Nike Pro Tour Golf Bag
  • Youth Baseball Jersey
> Winter Sports
  • Men's X8 Snowboard 
 

Great Content

Give shoppers all the information that they need in order to make purchasing decisions. Imagine that the shopper is in your store to inquire about the product. What do they ask? What do they want to see? If they called you on the phone, how would you describe the item? Make sure that you provide a description and good, web-optimized images for every item for sale on your website.

Missing content can make your business appear unprofessional and may cause shoppers to look elsewhere. Plan to launch your site with a small subset of your items. Expand your product offerings as you continue to develop your valuable item content.

Clear Detailed Images

  • Shoppers want to see what they are buying. Make sure that every item has an image that displays clearly.
  • Images should be saved at 72 dpi to provide shoppers with fast page loads and the highest resolution viewable on the web.
  • Keep regular item images to dimensions of 300 x 300 pixels or smaller. Alternately, you can upload large image dimensions to give customers a "zoom" like experience to allow them to see details in your products.
  • Shoppers respond well to seeing items "in context” ( e.g., clothing on a model or furniture in a room). On your item detail page, consider adding multiple item images to give shoppers an idea of how an item looks by itself, in context, and from various angles. File size per image should be no more than 20KB to allow pages to load quickly and minimize your bandwidth costs.
  • To ensure that your online store is visually pleasing; size all thumbnails into a square shape with the same dimensions. We recommend 100 x 100 pixels.

Category and Item Descriptions

  • Contact your vendors to obtain images.
  • If you plan to leverage product descriptions from your vendors, they should be edited to suit your business and target audience. If identical product descriptions are used on many websites, search engines will only display one site in their search results. Reword item descriptions from your vendors to make them unique to your store.
  • Keep your text formatting simple and easy to read.
  • Answer any questions that a buyer will have about a product. Showcase your expertise to help sell the product. Keep in mind that customers are at a "sensory disadvantage” when they are shopping online since they can only use their sense of sight to evaluate a product. A well-written product description creates a tangible image in the customer's mind of how a product looks, feels, smells, tastes, etc.
  • Make sure that your item names and descriptions are easy to understand. Your existing Counterpoint item names and descriptions may not be shopper friendly.
  • Use HTML in your descriptions to apply simple formatting.
  • If you have really long descriptions, consider using a two-tiered approach with a bullet summary at the top followed by extensive copy below.
  • Make sure item descriptions use all the keywords that shoppers may use to search for your products (e.g., in addition to the word "coat,” include words such as "outerwear” and "jacket”).
  • Enable product tags and reviews to get your shoppers engaged in reviewing products. Other shoppers experiences with the product can be a great selling point.
  • Add search terms to your site to allow shoppers easier search results to a product. Include common mispellings of words to automatically direct shoppers to what they are really searching for.
  • Set up alternate attributes that are searchable to make it easier for shoppers to drill down into their product search to find what they need quickly.

Example of an Optimized Item Description

Not Optimized

 

Optimized

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