Ecommerce Foundational Principle 2 – 3 F Strategy
The days of having a simple 5-page brochure website with your company details and a few pictures are long gone. Ecommerce websites now generally have at least thirty pages plus, many over a thousand pages. These are big websites with lots of content and multiple images per page.
Yet, a surprisingly large number of businesses both large and small simply do not understand ecommerce. They launch websites that actually drive customers away because they are slow, cluttered and use complex navigational menus that you would need a college degree to understand.
However, you can easily make your ecommerce website work exceptionally well. In fact, the most simple, basic strategies are often the most effective, but the most overlooked. Many of the latest software, web tools and ecommerce modules available offer make it easy for your site to be dynamic and interactive. They allow you to add more content, more easily, without having to call your web developer every time you need to make a simple tweak to the information on your site.
‘At a fundamental level you need to implement a 3 F Strategy: Your ecommerce website must be Fast, Functional and Familiar!’
Most people go onto an ecommerce site with a specific goal in mind – for example to buy an MP3 player, DVD or item of clothing. You have to help them accomplish that goal, and fast. People do not want to wait forever to negotiate their way through arty graphics or unfamiliar navigational menus or even worse, wait for Flash to load.
Many sites still have not taken this lesson on board; even a decade after some big name online retailers went belly up. Pretty but ineffective websites with unnecessary Flash interfaces and areas that users never venture into are very common. In addition, even with broadband internet in millions of homes around the globe, many websites still take forever to download. Let’s say it again – you only have approximately 5–7 seconds to make them stick, or your prospects are gone!
‘User experience and interactivity is critical for your success on the web, as that’s all there is! This is the conversion process personified!’
Your site should also function like other successful sites. Therefore, if you design a new menu interface with buttons in unfamiliar places, your users may not know how, or simply not bother to learn how to use it and then leave your site. A user may admire a pretty site once, but they will not return nor make a purchase. In contrast, people will return to a 3 F site (‘Fast, Functional and Familiar’) repeatedly. Your 3 F site will generate sales, repeat traffic and increasing profits.
Word of Warning: The danger of the readily available and open source website features and modules is that they have in some instances brought needless complexity within the reach of anyone. This can result in the temptation to spend a lot of time adding them to your site, leading to a huge waste of time, energy and money.
‘As the Saying Goes: KISS = Keep it Simple St*pid!’
Let’s Look Closer at the 3 F Strategy:
This aspect is so important because you need speed in all areas of your business, not just your site in order to succeed. Customers have so many different options online, so why would they wait on you? This encompasses your hosting, site load speed, email responses and your website ordering and checkout process. Just as an example, if your site is slow to load, a customer will more often than not leave right away.
Use These Site Components:
• Fast & Reliable Hosting
• Fast Site Load Speed (Maximum 5 seconds per page)
• Compressed & Fast Images
• Fast and Efficient Ordering
• Fast Checkout with as Few Steps as Possible
• Fast Security (SSL Certificate)
Decide from day one, what the goal and desired outcome of your website is. When your potential customers visit your site, can they find a product that they were looking for right away with as little hassle and clicks as possible? Customers are simply going to look elsewhere if it is difficult to purchase products from you! Take the time to think like your customer and complete all of the steps in finding a product on your site and placing an order. Was it easy, does it make sense and would you want to do it again?
Load Your website with Useful Functional Features:
• Use clean, easy to read text, graphics, and navigational buttons
• Make it easy to use and navigate
• Use common features making your visitors’ experience helpful
• Give customers what they want in as few clicks as possible
It is important for customers to feel comfortable on your website, which has everything to do with your chosen layout, structure and usability. For instance if you use strange navigational methods, if it is incredibly difficult for a customer to search for products, find products and buy products, then they will leave your site as quickly as they can click the ‘back’ button in their browser.
You Need to Have Clear and User-Friendly Site Elements:
- Clear Layout & Structure
- Common Navigation Bar & Obvious Buttons
- Left Menu
- Header & Footer
- Clear Text with Headlines & Sub Headlines for Easy Scanning
- Display Trusted Brands & Logos
- Display Accreditations, Card & Security Logos to Establish Trust
Flexibility & Growth.
Ultimately, you need to decide what your objectives are. Be flexible and don’t get too carried away with web-specific ambitions. You do not have to use software that is very expensive and complex; use things that mesh closely with your business’s objectives instead. Then get an ecommerce website out there and add functionality, as users demand it. You will never get your site perfect from day one, so test and modify as you grow.
Hot Tip: All things being equal on a website, Google favors and ranks the more mature site in the highest position, so time is of the essence: the time to launch your ecommerce site is now!