Ecommerce success? Think like a high street shop

Are you in ecommerce? If so it helps to think like a high street shop, a real life bricks-and-mortar store. Here’s why.

Think like a real shop for ecommerce success

It’s competition Jim, but not as we know it…
The natural search results pages are very like a shopping mall. The mall is owned by Google, which means they set the rules of engagement. But the scary thing is, in this mall every shop sells the same products as you. Unless you can compete effectively with all the other shops in the same space selling the same stuff, you’re sunk.
On the bright side, there are plenty of things you can do to make your online shop stand out from the crowd.

10 ways to stand out from the ecommerce crowd

  1. Take Google’s advice – Google’s requirements are often opaque, presumably in an effort to prevent marketers unfairly manipulating the algorithm and taking the piss. But their Webmaster Guidelines provide incredibly useful information about how to get every aspect of a website into the best possible shape, from meta data to url structure, backlinks, the content itself, the overall user experience and plenty more. You’d be a fool not to take advantage. Luckily plenty of ecommerce site owners don’t bother, which can help give your shop a handy edge.
  2. Keep your shop window fresh – Like any great high street shop, the more often you change your shop window display the better. Google loves fresh content, as do humans. So give them it. If you haven’t got a blog yet, you’re so far behind the curve you probably don’t even realise there’s a curve in the first place. Do it now!
  3. Do basic competitor research – What are your competitors doing to overtake you? If you were in a real shopping centre you’d take a walk and nose around a bit, establishing everything they do better and finding ways to redress the balance. You can do the same online. Take every site on page 1 of Google for your top-performing keywords. Examine everything about them, from design, branding, content and coding to accessibility, service, deliveries and so on. Then do it better, referring to Google’s Webmaster guidelines to find out how to get the technical bits absolutely spot on.
  4. Take accessibility seriously – Would you shut your doors to visually impaired people in a real-life shopping centre? Of course not. So don’t do it online. There are very clear guidelines, supported by English law, so there’s no excuse for non-compliance on site accessibility issues.
  5. Cohesive branding – How powerful and compelling is your brand? Is it a damp squib or instantly, powerfully recognisable? You wouldn’t survive on the high street without a strong, appropriate, cohesive brand and the same goes online.
  6. Provide excellent customer service – How’s your customer service? As just one shop in a vast mall where everyone’s selling exactly the same goods and services to the same audience, pulling out every customer-facing stop can make all the difference.
  7. Give plenty of payment choices – Do you only offer one payment method? A real shop offers punters all sorts of ways of paying including credit cards, debit cards, cheques and cash. The more choice you give people, the more likely they’ll be to buy. If you don’t offer payment by PayPal, do it now. People love it because it’s so safe and secure and simple, as well as much faster than typing in all your card details every time .
  8. Speak plain English – If you blind your customers with science in a high street shop situation, they’ll soon leave. You need to speak plainly. Jargon doesn’t go down well face to face, nor does it work online. And what about your tone of voice? Is it appropriate for your target audience or way off the mark?
  9. Make navigation simple – Can your customers find what they want easily, without having to click through a load of irrelevant pages first? The easier you make it for your visitor to find what they want, the more likely they’ll be to buy something and come back later for more.
  10. Do more marketing – Are your competitors all over t’internet like a rash? If they’re marketing, advertising and promoting like people possessed while you’re as quiet as a mouse, you’ll need to up your game to compete in the same space.

How do you beat the ecommerce competition?

What have you done to improve your ecommerce performance above and beyond similar businesses in the same search space?

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