by Siouxie Boshoff
7 Elements That Add Up to a Website That Sells!
You want to sell stuff from your website. So what are the key elements that add up to a website THAT sells?
Here are 7 elements that are a MUST for a web site that sells:
1. Make it Really Obvious What is Being Sold
It should be obvious for any visitor to see exactly what is for sale. If there are a number of products, then the site should be laid out so that one can easily see all of the products at a glance. In a larger e-commerce site, then these can be broken down into categories with sub-products in each category so that the visitor can “drill down” to the single product they are looking for.
For example, let’s take a website that sells books, DVDs and CDs. It might have a navigation structure that looks like this:
Books > DVDs > CDs
and after one clicks on CDs:
DVDs > Action > Children’s > Comedy > Drama > Family >
You get the idea. It’s EASY to see what’s for sale and it’s EASY to find what you’re looking for. And of course, there should be a product search box that is EASY to locate and use.
If the website sells a single product, it should be obvious from the home page and it should be easy to order. If a button says “Tee Shirts” then the link should go to a page about Tee Shirts, NOT “Women’s Apparel” or some other stupid phrase OTHER than what it said the first time. There are even huge company websites that are notoriously difficult to navigate because when you click on a category or section, it does not take you where you think you are going. This creates frustration and sends the visitors running to the competition.
2. How to Order
It should be easy and obvious for a visitor to order something from a website. An ORDER NOW button should be right beside the product being offered and should go straight to that product in a shopping cart. The shopping cart should have easily identifiable buttons like “Add to Cart”.
The point is that it should be obvious and easy to order. There should be as little additional pages or steps between locating the product and purchasing it as possible. Ideally, they should be able to see what they are buying, and how much it costs, add the item to their cart, view the subtotal and then checkout – meaning fill out their credit card and billing information.
A customer should NEVER have to fill in their credit card and billing information before they have their totals as you could lose them at that point.
It is also essential at “checkout” to get the necessary data from the customer to complete the sale only. This would be their Name, Billing Address, Phone, Email, and Shipping Address (if different from their billing address), their Credit Card number, expiration date and the little code that verifies that they have the credit card on hand. This is NOT the time to try and get every last detail about their demographics, survey questions, etc. Just collect the key information to get the sale DONE. Once the transaction is completed, you can ask them to do a short survey or whatever on the transaction receipt page.
3. How Much Each Product Costs
There should be a price next to every product so that one can tell EXACTLY what they are spending on that item. If they are buying multiple items, they should be able to “View Cart” and see their sub-total at a glance so that they can add more items or remove something if they are over-budget.
4. Methods of Payment
Obviously if it is an on-line store, it is highly advisable to take major credit cards and the site should clearly display which major credit cards are accepted. If the site is designed to take PayPal, then that should be included as well. This is easily done by including the credit card icons that are accepted at the top and bottom of each page.
5. Secure Shopping Reassurance
It may seem like a small thing, but adding a line of text that says: Secure On-Line Shopping or Secure Shopping or Secure On-Line Transactions can make the difference between making a sale or losing a sale. This line of text can be accented with an icon of a padlock or a check mark, but the bottom line is that shoppers want and need reassurance. It goes without saying that you would have an SSL Certificate (secure socket layer) so that any transactions are secure. Many SSL Certificates have a “site badge” or icon that you can put on your website to show off to the world that your site is secure. This is an image that looks fancy or simple and says “secure” or “Verified secure” or something like that. It reminds the shopper visually that their purchase is safe and secure. Which makes them much more willing to buy from you.
6. An Incentive to Buy
There are dozens of ways to give incentives to buy, but one should take some time and care in creating these so that the website reinforces the notion that a visitor should buy something NOW. Below are some more common examples:
- Buy 1 – Get a 2nd for HALF PRICE
- FREE SHIPPING on Orders Over $75
- FREE GIFT with EVERY PURCHASE of $50 or More!
- LIMITED TIME ONLY – 10% OFF EVERY ORDER!
- BUY ONE – GET ONE FREE
- OFFER VALID ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
- FLAT RATE SHIPPING JUST $5.95 PER ORDER
- 24 HOUR TURNAROUND – FAST SHIPPING
- LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEED
- JANUARY SPECIAL (or FEBRUARY or WHATEVER)
All of the above examples have been proven to work. The point to understand is that in the vast sea of Internet stores, it is important that a website has some incentive to BUY from them and not the competition.
A Word of Caution:
Take care in creating an incentive though, that it is a REAL incentive that can be offered and delivered on. You would not want to put “LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE” on a website that obviously does not have good prices. Likewise, it would not be prudent to have a BUY ONE – GET ONE FREE offer on a low profit margin item that results in no profit with every sale.
The above are simply some examples of real incentives that have worked for others. Regardless of what is done, the bottom line is that there must be an incentive to BUY. Once it is worked out, it should be repeated on every page that has anything to do with BUYING. This can be included in the overall design, as an icon on the top or sides, next to ORDER NOW buttons, etc.
7. Website Traffic Stat Tracking
Every sales site should have stat tracking to see where visitors are coming from, which pages they go to, where sales are lost and which pages or links lead to the most sales. This is KEY to knowing how effective a website ACTUALLY is. You can not assume that just because the sales are slim, that the website is not working without looking at stat tracking. What if the site gets 25 visitors a month and 10 of those buy??? If you didn’t know it had 25 visitors and you just assumed that the site wasn’t working “because only 10 people bought something last month…” You would be making a deadly assumption. In that scenario, the solution is to get TONS more visitors to the site, but you would not have known that WITHOUT stat tracking.
So use the 7 Points above to create a website that sells and then pour the coals on marketing the site. If the website has a product that is desirable by the public and is reasonably priced, then the website should make money if the 7 points above are followed.