Optimize Your BigCommerce Website Now to Maximize Q4 Sales

With the holiday shopping season just two months away, now is the time to get your store ready for increased traffic and sales. More people will be visiting your store between October and December, and by optimizing your BigCommerce website to increase conversion now, you can generate exponentially more revenue during this all-important time of year.

Think about it – if you normally get 1000 visitors a day and have a 2% conversion rate, that equates to 20 orders a day. In 4th quarter, your traffic may increase to 2000 visitors a day. If you invest time now in increasing your website’s conversion rate to 2.5%, that will bump up your holiday orders from 40 to 50 a day. Multiplied by your average order size, this increase from a 2% to 2.5% conversion rate means significantly more revenue!

Here are some ways you can prep your store during the slow summer season to maximize your Q4 sales.

Upgrade to a Responsive Design

If your BigCommerce website was designed more than two years ago, chances are it’s not responsive. Responsive is a fancy way of saying that the design automatically adjusts for any screen size, providing a better and more consistent shopping experience for people on tablets and mobile devices.

Stores that switch to a responsive design see increased conversion rates and a corresponding bump in revenue. You’ll find dozens of beautiful responsive themes in the BigCommerce theme store which can be used as-is if you’re on a budget. But if you want to really “wow” your shoppers, I recommend working with a BigCommerce partner to customize your theme so it better represents your brand and highlights your store’s value propositions. Book a responsive redesign with us before August 31 and you’ll save 10% on the project cost.

Refresh Your Existing Design

If your website is already responsive or you don’t have the budget for a full redesign, a design refresh is a great option. Design trends are always changing and shoppers notice when a website looks outdated. A stale looking website can lead to concerns about your company’s credibility and trustworthiness, which can hurt your conversion rate and sales.

A design refresh involves making small updates to improve the look and functionality of your BigCommerce website. Updating default fonts to modern Google fonts, changing dated gradient backgrounds to solid colors, swapping out old icons with new ones from FontAwesome – these are all simple changes that can go a long way in making your website more appealing with shoppers and increase conversion.

Don’t leave money on the table because your website looks old when the crush of holiday shoppers arrives. Contact us for a website review and we’ll help you identify quick and inexpensive ways to refresh your BigCommerce store’s design.

Amp Up Your Customer Service Capabilities

More shoppers during the holiday season mean more questions and customer contacts. And having accessible customer service options makes shoppers feel secure and is a known way to increase conversion. Make sure you’re ready to provide top-notch customer service by ensuring your website offers all the contact methods that shoppers demand.

If you don’t have a toll-free phone number, now is the time to add one. Though many shoppers have mobile phones with unlimited long distance, a toll-free number shows you care about hearing from your customers. I recommend FreedomVoice, which offers standard or vanity toll-free numbers with helpful features like call routing and forwarding.

Some shoppers don’t want to pick up the phone and call, maybe because they’re shopping at work or just don’t feel comfortable calling a live person. For these customers, live chat is a great solution. I recommend Olark, which is an affordable and full-featured live chat service you can easily add to your BigCommerce store. Plus, they have a great company culture.

To pre-emptively answer questions that your customers might have, make sure you have a well-written Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on your website. If you already have one, now is the time to review it and see if new questions and answers can be added. I also recommend swapping out your default BigCommerce review system with Yotpo. Their advanced reviews and Question & Answer functionality will allow your shoppers to help each other, reducing their need to contact you.

Reduce Cart Abandonment

Once a shopper reaches the cart, you don’t want them to leave. By implementing an exit popup from JustUno, you can encourage shoppers to complete their purchase with a special offer. Exit popups can be run sitewide or targeted to your cart and checkout pages, and you can offer anything from free shipping to a percentage or dollar off discount. Done well, an exit popup can be just enough incentive for a shopper to finish placing their order.

But what if shoppers leave anyway? You can still draw them back to the purchase process with an abandoned cart email. Available on BigCommerce plans of Plus and higher, abandoned cart emails are sent when a customer leaves the checkout process before completing their order. You can configure the number of emails sent, when they’re sent out and the subject line and content. I recommend including a discount code to further encourage shoppers to come back and complete their order. If you haven’t been using this valuable feature, turn it on now to increase conversion rates during the holiday shopping season.

What other things are you doing to ready your website for holiday shopping? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Tips for Great E-Commerce Product Photos

In a retail store, customers can see products up close to better understand their quality and materials. But online, you have to rely on photos to make up for the fact that shoppers can’t touch or feel your products in person. Good e-commerce photography can make all the difference when it comes to converting shoppers to buyers. Here are five tips for making sure your online store’s product photos really sell.

Be Consistent

There are two main styles of product photography. The first involves displaying only the product on a white (most common) or colored background. The second type of product photography is lifestyle-oriented. These photographs typically display the product in its intended setting. Before starting photography, decide on one of these two types and stick with it. Consistency will make it easier for new visitors to “get” your website and contribute to how they view your brand. It will also make your product photos easier to scan on category and search pages.

Size Appropriately

If possible, you’ll want to use large photos that give shoppers plenty of detail and allow them to zoom in. But you don’t want your images to be so large that they load slowly. Therefore, I recommend making the longest side of your photos (height on a vertical image, width on a horizontal image) at least 500 pixels. If you can make them 1000 pixels, that’s even better, but don’t go much larger to avoid slow loading.

Get Oriented

When it comes to orientation, it’s best to be consistent when possible. A list of all horizontal images will just look better than a mish-mosh of some vertical, some horizontal and some square. And unless your products really only lend themselves to one orientation (such as apparel, which often uses vertical photos), I recommend using a photo editor to crop them all to a square shape. This will allow you to center each image nicely on category listings, search results and product pages.

Show Multiple Angles

Informative e-commerce websites will show multiple photos per product – a main image followed by alternate views. You main product photo will be the first representation your shoppers see, so you may want to pick one that shows the whole product. Use alternate images to show different angles (like a dress from the back), close-ups of product details (such as wood grain on a table) or the product in use (such as a cabinet with its doors open). But, keep in mind that shoppers might now scroll through through all of your photos. Therefore, order your product photos from most to least important, thinking about what information will be necessary for your visitors to make a purchase decision.

Use the Right File Type

In general, your product photos should be JPGs. This is the most common file type for photographs and will result in the sharpest, clearest result. If using a photo editor, make sure you are saving the photograph “for the web,” so that it is the appropriate file size for website usage. Non-web JPGs have a higher resolution and larger file size because they are typically for other mediums like print, but their super-high quality is not necessary for the web and can result in lengthy load times.

If your photos will have text of any sort, save your JPGs at a slightly higher compression or quality level to ensure the text doesn’t look blurry or pixilated. If you have an image that is only text or non-photographic imagery, you may want to use a PNG or GIF format, which will more show text more sharply. For images with transparent backgrounds, always use the PNG format.

This post was adapted from my ebook E-Commerce for Everyone: How to Launch a Successful Online Store Using Bigcommerce (or Other Hosted Platforms), available on Amazon.com.

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E-Commerce Product Categories: How to Best Merchandise Your Products

One of the most common situations my clients deal with is determining the best product categories for their e-commerce website. This is especially true for startups or new companies who aren’t as well-versed in e-commerce strategy or design. The following is a modified excerpt from my ebook E-Commerce for Everyone: How to Launch a Successful Online Store Using Bigcommerce (or Other Hosted Platforms), which outlines possible categorization strategies you can use to help shoppers find products and increase your conversion rate.


The importance of effective product categories and navigation cannot be overstated. After all, if shoppers can’t find the products they want to buy, they’re not going to buy them – at least not on your website. To further complicate things, not all shoppers navigate the same way or have the same needs. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide a variety of category options so that all types of shoppers will be able to quickly locate and purchase the products they want.

Hierarchical Type Categories

The most essential way to merchandise your products is by their product type in a hierarchical manner. This means you’ll have a set of broad main product categories with one or two levels of subcategories below – the lower the category in the hierarchy, the more specific it will be.

For example, a furniture store might set up categories by room. But within each room, a shopper will need to narrow the results by a more specific product type. So in a Bedroom Furniture category, a store owner might create subcategories for Night Stands, Dressers, Armoires and Beds. Within Beds might be Bed Frames, Headboards and Mattresses.

These are the most common type of product categories and are therefore likely to be expected by your website’s visitors.

Attribute-Based Categories

If many of your products have features in common, it’s worth setting up attribute-based product categories. This method of organization cuts across Type categories and may appeal to a more style-focused or feature-focused shopper. For example, an online store selling video games that are already categorized by genre (type) may also want to offer categories based on operating system or platform. A television retailer should consider offering categories based on features like resolution, size or number of HDMI inputs.

Think about the attributes that are important to your customers and expose them as navigational elements through categories.

Function-Based Categories

It’s safe to assume that people are shopping your website because they need an item in order to do something. This could be anything from cooking a meal to celebrating an anniversary. If there are functional or occasion-based ways to categorize your products and you think they might be helpful to shoppers, there’s no reason not to offer them. For example a kitchenware store might offer product categories by cooking type, such as Mixing, Chopping, Baking or Grilling. Alternately, a gift shop should offer categories based on occasion.

Organizing Product Categories

When organizing your product categories, make sure they aren’t too broad or too specific. It’s frustrating for shoppers to navigate categories with hundreds of products while others have only a handful of products. Look at the initial list of items you’ll be offering and organize your categories so that each one has a manageable number of products that can be easily browsed.

Category names are also important. By using descriptive and recognizable category names, your visitors will quickly be able to determine where to find the product they want. To decide on the best category names, use tools like Google Trends or the Google Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for online. Using highly-searches phrases as category names will help your SEO and make the shopping experience more efficient for visitors.

Whenever possible, list your product categories either alphabetically or by order of broadest to most specific. Don’t put them in a seemingly random sequence and make your shoppers hunt for them.

Found this post helpful? You can download my entire ebook for Kindle here.

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5 More Ways to Increase Conversion Rates

Last week I gave you some sure-fire tips for improving sales with my post 5 Ways to Increase Conversion on Your E-Commerce Website. If you’re looking for more ways to ring the register, here are five more things that will help increase conversion rates for e-commerce websites.

Streamline Checkout

BigCommerce released a new optimized version of checkout a few months ago. Initial results have shown the new checkout to increase conversion rates thanks to its simplified, one-page design. I recommend giving this new checkout a try if your payment gateway is supported.

Upgrade Your Product Reviews

Shoppers love reviews, and store owners know positive reviews can increase conversion rates, but most built-in review systems are fairly basic. I’ve been using Yotpo for a few clients and highly recommend their advanced review platform. Yotpo allows photo uploads, rating of reviews (helpful or not), social media sharing and you can add on Product Q&A to let customers help each other (reducing email and phone questions to you). Yotpo also has a cool social media integration which will publish reviews as ads on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re interested in learning more or seeing examples, schedule a free demo. You can also read my recent blog post about Yotpo, which goes into more detail about all their features.

Get a Professional Email Address

Are you still using an old AOL, Yahoo or personal Gmail account to communicate with customers? Don’t give shoppers pause by making them think you’re a mom-and-pop shop running out of your garage (even if you are). G Suite, formerly Google Apps, is an affordable way to get a domain-based email address for yourself and your employees. Plus, it comes with online storage, collaboration tools and more.

Do a Site Audit

If you’re like me, you are so busy day-to-day that you hardly spend any time looking at your website. Take an afternoon and go through your website as if you were a first time shopper. Has your design become cluttered or messy after lots of small changes? Do some pages have different size or color text? Could your product descriptions or policy pages use a rewrite? Forget what you know about your store and really think about the impression it makes to strangers. Then make a plan to tackle any issues you find. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, contact us about our website review service.

Go Responsive

If you’re still on a template that uses a separate mobile theme, you are missing out on sales. Responsive themes (designs that adapt to all possible screen sizes) increase conversion rates because they provide a better, more consistent experience for shoppers using any type of device (including those who shop your store on multiple devices). BigCommerce, SparkPay and 3dCart all offer responsive themes that will take your e-commerce website to the next level in terms of mobile-friendliness. If you want help customizing one of their base themes, contact us for a quote.

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Recognizing International Women’s Day and Day Without A Woman

On International Women’s Day, we  stand in solidarity with women around the world struggling for basic human rights, reproductive rights and equal pay. As a woman-owned business, we support all women who seek a better life free of discrimination, violence and job insecurity.

As part of the Day Without a Woman movement, we will be closed for business today, March 8, 2017.

Additionally, we will be offering one hour of free website or e-commerce consulting to women-owned companies now through the end of March. Please contact us by March 31 to book your free session.

Thank you for supporting women-owned businesses and gender equality.

#DayWithoutAWoman
#InternationalWomensDay

 

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