This is a guest post from Cody Landefeld, founder at Mode Effect and senior web strategist. In 2010, Cody and his wife Raquel founded Mode Effect after creating WordPress sites for clients over the past 8 years. They’ve since found their stride in providing solutions for enterprise companies, technology innovators, and eCommerce store owners.
Creating an eCommerce store that stands out from the competition is not a task to be taken lightly. For example, WooCommerce, the eCommerce platform we specialize in building and optimizing at Mode Effect, now powers over 30% of online stores and has over 11 million downloads. That represents a lot of stores competing for consumer dollars with new online stores joining the Internet ranks daily.
In years past, it was enough to simply be online — a presence was all that was required to generate sales. Unfortunately, the eCommerce environment is no longer that easy. Running an online store has become a business where you must look for every possible advantage, no matter the size, if you want to stand out and generate sales.
The good news is that even with all the competition, there are some common mistakes and oversights that many WooCommerce retailers continue to make. More often than not, it’s the little details the can make a difference between a sale, or not. In a business where low single digit conversions are the norm, every little edge makes a big difference.
We’ve pulled together three simple design tweaks that might help your WooCommerce store gain a competitive advantage. But first, let’s get a handle on why these tweaks are really important.
Before we jump into some specific ideas, it’s important to explain where design tweaks fit into the bigger picture. There are a lot of WooCommerce store owners who are under the impression that there is a simple set of rules that apply to all WooCommerce stores. By simply following a predefined set of rules, you’ll be able to maximize your chances for success.
While this theory can hold true in the most basic sense (everyone knows responsive design is critical, right?), it’s not necessarily the best approach to take. Here’s the problem:
Every store, every customer, and every interaction is different. There is no hard and fast way of doing things guaranteed to work for every store. In fact, as soon as you adopt the attitude that “this is the right way”, your progress can grind to a halt.
A much better approach to take is one where you realize that your WooCommerce store is unique. What works well for a competitor might not benefit you at all. The only way you can figure out what really works is through experimentation and testing.
With this big picture concept in mind, let’s discuss three design tweaks that can provide a jumping-off point for your WooCommerce store that you can mold to your unique shopping environment and product offering.
As of the time this article was written, Listrak is showing the average shopping cart abandonment rate to be 79%. That figure consistently sits between 65% and 90%, depending upon the season. Cart abandonment is a real problem that demands your attention. But how can the design of your site be tweaked to help compensate for this unnerving statistic?
It’s more important than ever to build some type of stickiness with your potential customers even if they are in research mode. Create an offer in exchange for an e-mail to encourage a potential customer to buy using a discount code.
One thing you can do is examine your checkout process. The method in which you sequence your checkout and how quickly you grab a visitor’s contact information can have a dramatic effect upon your long term marketing efforts.
When a visitor arrives on your site and fills up their shopping cart, more often than not, they’re just window shopping — checking out prices and comparing shipping costs. If they abandon their cart early in the process and leave your website, there is a good chance that they’ll never return — unless you’ve managed to capture their contact information.
There are a few ways to accomplish this objective. One idea worth considering is to capture some of your visitors information at the very beginning of the checkout process. Even if you start with just a name and email address, you’ll have opened the door to further communication (such as sending recovery emails following abandonment).
You could also take a buyers club approach similar to Huckberry: have your visitors register to receive access to your store and special offers. Or, maybe presenting a special offer or coupon in exchange for an email address might be more appropriate (using your email marketing software’s welcome email is a handy tool for this).
Whatever method works better for you, the objective remains the same: Find a way to open up a channel of communication between you and your potential customers as quickly as possible.
Our Stinkweeds case study showcases a great example of why relevant images are important. While Stinkweeds is not an image-intensive site, one important thing you’ll notice is that the images are very relevant. If you’ll excuse the pun, they reek of nostalgia. For a record store that’s 27 years old and places a huge emphasis on the local music scene, it was critical to bring as much of the in-store atmosphere and experience to the website as possible.
It goes without saying that images are not an optional component of your WooCommerce store. ConversionXL put together a great post that talks about how you can use images to boost your conversion rate.
Sites like Made.com, Bestmadeco.com, and even one of our own clients yurbuds.com, do an exemplary job of selling products with great images. Seriously, I challenge you to visit those sites without filling up your shopping cart.
If you spend some time looking at sites that use imagery to sell, there are some commonalities worth noting:
- Professional images are a must. Good quality photographs cost more but quickly separate the amateurs from the professionals.
- Surroundings and environment are important. Are your products displayed in a context that makes sense to the end user?
- Do your images provide an appropriate amount of detail? When purchasing online, you need to compensate for the fact that your customers are relying on only one sense (sight) to make a decision.
- Use real life scenarios. By showing your products being used in a real life scenario, your visitors will be able to imagine themselves using it.
The images on your WooCommerce site deserve as much attention as any other element. People shop with their senses — the more you can use that to your advantage, the further ahead of your competition you’ll be.
The final design tweak that we’ll propose is making sure you communicate your value proposition as quickly and clearly as possible. Too many WooCommerce stores take a “me too” approach, and it leaves visitors feeling uninspired and unmotivated.
When a visitor lands on your site, you want them to know what makes your store, and your brand, different than your competitors. It could be the quality of your products or a statement about your customer service.
For example, Bose frequently uses “Better Sound Through Research” to convey an image of high-quality, great-sounding speakers. Zappos uses “Powered by Service” to put their amazing customer service at the forefront.
Conveying your value proposition is one of the easiest design tweaks you can implement on your WooCommerce site. It’s also something that you can easily experiment with in order to discover what resonates best with your visitors. Just remember, your value proposition can’t live in a bubble. It has to be backed up and reinforced by the other elements on your website.
We’ve covered three very specific design tweaks in this post. Hopefully these ideas have you thinking about some potential changes or improvements you might consider implementing on your own WooCommerce site. The possibilities are quite literally endless.
Just remember that any change or tweak you make has the potential to give you a competitive advantage. However, the only way you’ll know for sure is by measuring and tracking your results. Never assume that there is only one “correct” way of doing things. Different images, different value propositions, and different checkout sequences can all provide you with a leg up on your competition.
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