Electronic commerce or e-commerce websites are partially responsible for the huge economic growth the world is experiencing right now. They allowed millions of merchants to sell products and services without even having a physical storefront and are now an integral part of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Today, an effective, aesthetic eCommerce web design has become one of the most important aspects for any business that wants to thrive in this ever more digitally dependent environment.
We wrote an article back in 2013 about how to evaluate your eCommerce website, and it contained a lot of valuable information. However, the whole eCommerce landscape has changed in ways nobody could have predicted, so we decided to revisit the topic today.
In order to formulate an idea of how your eCommerce website is performing, you need to take a look at various factors and then compare them to those of your competitors. Of course, it is easier and faster if you let an eCommerce digital agency do it for you, but there are some easy things you can do to at least give you a rough idea of how your website is performing.
Some of the elements you should consider when evaluating your eCommerce website are content, eCommerce web design, user experience (UX) elements, advertising channels, authoritativeness, and KPIs. There are a lot more factors that affect the performance of your website, but let’s stick to those that can be checked without using overly complicated tools.
1. Develop a Rating System
Rating systems are always useful as they allow you to assign points to different aspects of your eCommerce web design, giving you a rough idea of where you should be dedicating your attention.
Know that there are basically two main areas: Functionality and the efficacy of your marketing initiatives.
The first area should only evaluate how user-friendly your site is by taking into account factors such as how products and services are presented, how your search and filtering features work, and the customer journey from discovery to checkout.
The second area can be a lot more subjective as it evaluates content, calls to action, and aesthetics, but you should also take into account eCommerce SEO techniques, load speeds, and every means used to promote your website through other channels.
We recommend whipping out a fast survey questionnaire to evaluate your eCommerce website with an easy-to-gauge 1-5 scale for each element.
There are good examples of questionnaires you can get online and use them as a reference for building up your own evaluation sheet. Here is one:
There are categories that can be left out if you don’t have the proper tools or knowledge of how to measure them, or are not relevant to your industry. You can leave those out, but make sure the corresponding points are evenly distributed among all other variables or the maximum score will reflect the missing points.
2. Check Your eCommerce Web Design on Your Desktop AND Mobile Device
Today, every eCommerce web design must be 100% responsive and offer a uniform experience and performance across all devices. So, it is important to evaluate your website on every device you can find.
Spend from five to ten minutes navigating your site. Focus on the criteria you used when creating your rating system and try to be as objective as possible. For example, if you see that your products are properly displayed, give yourself 5 points, but if your site feels like it’s lagging, then add only 2 or 3 points.
3. Create a spreadsheet for reference
Spreadsheets are the bread and butter of eCommerce website analysts. They allow you to clearly see every element individually and even compare your findings with future evaluations (e.g. a competitor´s analysis).
A spreadsheet will also allow you to filter and prioritize your categories. Sorting your values from low to high will show you the elements you must address urgently if you want your eCommerce website to perform better.
4. Listen to Your Friends and Colleagues
Since you are evaluating your own website, your biases might affect the way you perceive certain elements during the scoring process. You need to see how others perceive your website based on the same criteria you´ve been using, and then compare results.
Share your spreadsheet with friends and colleagues, ask them to go through your website, and give each element a number in the scale. This is an excellent way to find out if your content is really engaging, or if other people can find your products as easily as you do. Make sure you listen to the suggestions of colleagues and clients when evaluating your website. This will help you sort out subjective opinions from factual criticism.
These steps might feel like a real chore, but they will give you a good idea of your eCommerce website’s health and hear what others consider important when evaluating a website. Chances are you will be greatly surprised by how they rank certain aspects that you consider vital or unimportant. If you’re in a hurry and want to start improving your online store´s stats as soon as possible, you can let us do a quick eCommerce SEO audit.
5. Evaluate your Content
This step requires a more brain-intensive effort as you need to revise your copy and try to compare it to that from other websites and competitors.
Remember that, for eCommerce SEO, content is king. Your copy should not only target the right keywords and be of a certain length. Your text, pictures, and videos should answer questions about your products and services, or give relevant information that Google users would want to revisit or share.
When going through your website’s content, ask yourself these questions:
Are your products properly described?
Each product must be described in both engaging and informative ways, giving the visitor an idea of how the product will satisfy their needs. You must also include technical specifications, requirements, and correct prices.
Are you offering something unique?
If you use cookie-cutter content for your product descriptions, people won’t have any reason to visit and tarry on your website. What’s more, you might get penalized for displaying duplicate content. Moreover, you have to make sure that you are providing a unique sales proposition that others are not offering to make sure the customer’s journey stops at your doorstep.
Are your payment and shipping options properly explained?
One of the biggest problems eCommerce websites face today is cart abandonment. Your text and visual cues must guide your customers through the process so they know exactly what to do and what their total cost is going to be. If your checkout process is not clear enough, your customers will feel there are hidden costs and abandon their carts.
6. Max-Out the Safety of your Website
One of the easiest ways to do it is to keep all your plugins up to date. However, there are certain measures that must be taken in order to guarantee that your store and your customers are safe.
Make sure your website uses HTTPS or SSL certificates. This is very important when you’re dealing with your customer’s personal or credit card information. Browsers let people know when a connection is not secure. Not being SSL certified will mean that users will see a big red sign of danger when visiting your website, prompting them to leave it.
Another way to keep your customers’ information safe is to install trusted checkout methods such as Amazon Pay, PayPal, Shop Pay, or Google Checkout. Your customers have probably used those payment methods before, and they will feel more confident seeing that they can entrust their information to them.
7. Evaluate your Marketing Channels
Search engines are, by far, the most effective sources of traffic nowadays. However, eCommerce SEO takes time to produce results. So, maybe you need a multi-channel marketing campaign to bring in more leads from different sources.
One of the fastest ways to get traffic is through eCommerce PPC campaigns. However, these need to be carefully designed so you only attack keywords that effectively bring in already interested leads. The same principle can be applied to social media marketing. If you don’t want to burn a pile of cash, you need to target the right keywords while building effective rapport with your audience through engaging posts.
Check how your alternative website´s storefronts are performing and decide which ones are worth investing in. Some channels are better than others depending on your industry and niche, so it is always a good idea to check how each one of your campaigns is performing before deciding if they are worth pursuing. If you are not sure your marketing channels are not providing the expected results, you can consult our eCommerce PPC management team
8. Check your Key Performance Indicators
Your key performance indicators or KPIs are calculated using specialized web analytics tools like Google Analytics. They can be daunting at first but, like everything in this life, they can be mastered after fiddling with it for a few hours (or weeks).
These tools give you an overview of how many users visit your store, where they come from, and how they spend their time when navigating. Other more advanced tools will even reveal how much revenue you make per visitor, and what steps are causing your users to leave the website. There are a few formulas to calculate revenue per visitor, customer acquisition costs, and average cart size. They are not hard to find online, but it takes time to have a clear idea of what pieces of data you need and how they interact with each other. This knowledge allows managers to make more informed decisions for your eCommerce business, but it takes time to master and craft infallible SEO strategies that reliably bring long-term success.
We hope these tips will give your eCommerce website a modest head start. But know that if you need any help or advice on how to grow your business with an effective digital marketing campaign, you can visit our eCommerce web design agency, give us a call at 888-982-8269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Marcel Casella
- August 3, 2021