According to Drew Barton, CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Web Group, the best product descriptions include roughly 75 words of copy, preferably 200. "Under the hood" details should also be readily available on the site, including details such as the size, shipping, and weight of the product. Specifics such as the compatibility of a replacement product or the size of an article of clothing should also be noted.
After content, high quality photographs of your products are "the second most important thing about selling online," says Barton. Photographs should be of the highest quality available and have the ability to be enlarged without becoming pixilated or distorted. Large photos will reduce questions and returns from customers. Photos should also be taken from multiple angles so that there is no question about the relative size or components of the product.
By including FAQs, policies, and procedures prominently that list information regarding shipping, returns, defects, customer service hours and numbers, and estimated delivery dates, you can cut down on customer inquiries. Barton also suggests that site owners respond to negative customer reviews swiftly. By doing so, the owner demonstrates good customer service and may be able preempt circumstances that can lead to costly product returns. Says Barton, helpful responses can turn a negative comment into a positive shopping experience.
Know where your traffic is coming from and what words they're searching to find your site. "One of the statistics we tell our clients to look out for is the bounce rate. The lower you can get your bounce rate, the better your success rate." Bounce rate is the amount of time spent on a webpage prior to exiting. You also want to know what page your customers exit from. Generally, you want them to leave from either the "purchase success" or "contact" page. You do not want them to exit from the homepage or the product detail page.
Contact information should be listed on every single page. Explains Barton, "I know a number of people who will not use an e-commerce site unless a phone number is listed." Phone numbers, along with a physical address, fax number, and e-mail address prominently listed ensure integrity and make communication and purchases more efficient.
Within your site, you want the ability to track down product specifics such as size, and availability, and also to have the ability for customers to see what other customers who purchased their product bought. Magento and Volusion are great systems to implement that take care of this function. For SEO value, Barton suggests using the Google Keyword Tool or WordTracker to determine the leading search terms that are appropriate for your products and services.
You want your call to action buttons (i.e. buy now, order here, download it here) to be before the first 600 pixels on your Web page. Ideally, these buttons should appear on every page. Each page should lead you to an action, such as a purchase, or to a form. There should be a clear end result to every product on the page.
-- Drew Barton is president and founder of Southern Web Group, a web design firm with clients throughout the country.