Building and optimizing a successful business website is an ongoing challenge that can be especially difficult for novice webmasters that are not experienced with e-commerce. Ultimately, the goal of an online store owner is to create a user-friendly interface that their customers can use to shop for products or services with minimal effort and maximum convenience. Unfortunately, accomplishing this is not as easy as it would seem, as there are many factors to consider when customizing the shopping experience of your site visitors.
Perhaps the most important aspects are those related to the product catalog and the checkout process, which is facilitated by integrated shopping cart applications. While the majority of e-commerce hosting plans include product catalog creators and robust shopping cart applications that can be installed quickly and easily on your site, most people do not know how to use such tools to improve their conversion rates.
Designing an Effective Product Catalog
Product catalog creators allow you to import hundreds or even thousands of product images, descriptions, and even reviews. However, if the product pages are not properly organized and categorized, the process of finding the right product can be very difficult for your site visitors, even with the use of a site wide search engine. When you add a product to your catalog you’ll have the option of adding keyword tags, which would cause the product to appear in search results if the specific keywords were searched for by one of your customers. Thus, it is imperative to add as many relative tags as possible to your products, to ensure that they will show up in search results when customers search for specific products, or related items. It is also important to enable features such as customer reviews, which will let your previous customers leave feedback about specific items, thereby increasing sales conversions by convincing future customers.
Setting up an Effective Shopping Cart
After creating a robust product catalog that is properly tagged, organized, categorized, and is easy to navigate, it’s time to set up a shopping cart that will allow your customers to purchase multiple items simultaneously upon checkout. Some shopping cart applications will even let your customers use issued coupon codes for purchase discounts, which you can grant to repeat customers for higher conversions and residual business. Shopping carts also give you the ability to accept multiple forms of payment by integrating payment processors such as PayPal, which will accept credit card payments from your customers on behalf of your business in a secure manner. After setting up the shopping cart, you’ll want to do a couple of test runs and proceed with the checkout process yourself to see how convenient it is, and to look for any errors that may be occurring.
Expanding Your Site’s Capabilities
Many shopping carts and product catalog creators are open source applications, which means they can be amended and improved by any developer with the interest to do so. Thus, there are many third-party plug-ins and extensions that can be added to shopping carts and product catalog creators to improve the overall functionality and add new features. If you want the highest conversion rates possible, then you’ll want to experiment with such extensions in order to refine the checkout process and provide the most enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.