14 Useful tips for setting up webshops and selecting webshop software

Webshops provide many companies with access to interesting new business opportunities, which can mean additional revenue for your company, allowing you to:

  • make your assortment is readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • supply an international market around the clock.

E-commerce, however, does not run on its own; after all, customers are now used to large and elaborately implemented platforms such as Amazon. Read this article to find out exactly what you should consider when setting up or relaunching your web shop and how you can optimise your shop.

1. Address target groups and individuality

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From existing customers to first-time visitors, every customer is unique and wants to be treated as such. Include the option for customers to register and for corporate customers in particular, who have negotiated special conditions, to see their bargains after registration and not just the list prices.

2. Utilize a modern, responsive design

Apply a responsive design to your webshop
Examples of responsive design on a PC, tablet and mobile phone.

Just as physical stores update their equipment to keep up with the times, so should your webshop implement more modern technology. Over the years, new technical innovations have emerged that appear appealing to users.

In particular, the internet is no longer exclusively accessible via desktop computers or laptops, with most people now using their tablets or smartphones to surf casually. This means that webshops need to be responsive, meaning the layout of a page changes depending on the size of the screen accessing it. Webshop pages in particular should be operable on a smartphone or tablet without having to scroll through them. Less relevant information can be found by scrolling through a page, but a customer should be able to place an order without having to do so.

Responsive design has become so important due to a far better user experience, that most pages have their own responsive design, even Google considers this when it comes to SEO, giving clear disadvantages to pages that are not responsive.

3. Make it easy to navigatie, clear and intuitive to use

Webshop users should be able to understand and use your site at first glance.

Usability is a term often used to describe many functions and ways a customers user experience can be optimized. An example of usability would be a logical page structure that can be navigated fluently.

Be sure to follow many usability guidelines in order make your webshop both appealing and intuitive. Don't forget to apply usability to the search and order functions in your shop!

Consider working with companies that have expertise in usability and offer software that is optimized in terms of user experience and usability, such as ANTEROS.

4. Offer various search methods for a fast find

Use the right search method in your webshop
Examples for searching by article number, vehicle, product category or parameter filter.

Your web shop should offer different search options so that as many users as possible can quickly find something to meet their needs:

 

  • Customers who know exactly which products they want to order should use an article number search. In some industries, this search should also include other numbers, for example in the automotive industry a search for original part numbers (OE numbers) would be useful. Saving of shopping carts is also useful to speed up repeat orders - this saves searching again. For corporate customers, uploading several article numbers via EXCEL may also be helpful, as internal coordination is often still conducted via EXCEL.

  • Users who know exactly what they want but do not yet know the appropriate article numbers should be able to limit their search using a good search structure and parameter filters. Product categories that refine their products step by step in a tree structure serve as a key search structure. Parameter filters should differ in the categories if you offer different product ranges (for example, a filter by pressure for valves and by shaft length for drills). If you want to offer numerous spare parts in your shop, then a search via the main products can be useful (e.g. search for the defective pump and there display and availability of the spare parts via an explosion drawing). In the case of vehicle parts, a search via manufacturers, models and vehicles is often relevant, since users are familiar with this from TecDoc-based systems (such as ANTEROS.tecdoc). In any case, it is important that the customer does not receive hundreds of search results, but can limit the number of results as required.

  • Users with general requirements should be able to refine their search by keyword and category.

5. Offer detailed product information

Offer as much product information as possible
Examples of product detail pages.

Users often leave a web shop because they find either no product information or completely insufficient product information. If customers are left in the dark about the exact specifications, they are more likely to leave the shop. This is particularly important for technical products, as many applications require technical constraints to be met. Provide your customers with as much information about the products as possible: sizes, materials, dimensions, certificates and documents such as safety data sheets or operating instructions.

To avoid having to manually maintain this product information for the web shop, although it is already maintained for print catalogs, data sheets, dealer exports, etc., PIM systems such as ANTEROS can help. These mean product data for various media only have to be centrally maintained and changed ONCE, for example the technology-leading PIM software ANTEROS.

6. Think product images: not too small, zoomable and several per product

Since you can't physically pick up the product in the web shop - unlike in a store - good pictures are particularly valuable. The images should show the product from different perspectives or in different applications. A zoom function should show the product in a larger size and in a better resolution, so that the customer can recognize the details even better and thus consolidate his purchase decision.

Shop systems with an integrated media database, (e.g. ANTEROS), are ideal so that they do not have to convert the images themselves into different resolutions and at the same time can use them in print, Amazon, etc. formats.

7. Boost sales with cross-selling

Use exploded views to sell spare parts with cross selling
Example of ordering spare parts via an exploded view of the main product.

Products in specialist retail stores are grouped according to how they will later be used in practice. This way, the customer can find suitable additional products and supplements without having to walk through the entire shop, and even grab additional products that they did not initially plan for when they entered the shop. This so-called cross-selling should also be used in the web shop. Web shops with technical products can be used to provide accessories, consumables, or spare parts. Some shop systems only offer fixed relationship types for this (such as Magento), while others can be configured as required ( like ANTEROS) - with which you can present the additional products in different groups, e.g. separately for standard accessories and special accessories. In any case, it is important that you manually set these relationships between the products, e.g. between a fitting and the matching wheels. If the shop user then navigates to the product, the accessories are also displayed so that they can order them directly. If you offer intensive spare parts in the shop, then a function that presents the main product (e.g. a pump) to the user in an exploded view is advantageous, simply click on spare parts directly in the drawing to see details about the spare part or place it in the shopping basket. Incidentally, if you save the relationships in a PIM system right away, you can also use them in your print catalogs, data sheets, dealer exports, etc. Some webshop software (e.g. ANTEROS) allows you to import spare part relationships with comparatively little effort via the parts lists of an ERP system or link spare parts in an exploded view with a graphical editor.

8. Order enquiry or order: a short and efficient order process is important

The webshop should make it as easy as possible for the customer to complete the order process. If the customer has already registered, this customer data should appear directly with the next orders and can be corrected if necessary. The more individual steps you build into a shop, the greater the probability that the customer will lose patience and abandon the ordering process. You should decide whether you primarily only want order enquiries and do not yet want orders, e.g. because you offer complex, consulting-intensive products or do not want to undermine your own dealers. Then it is sufficient for the web shop to send the shopping basket with the products put together by the user to a clerk at your site by e-mail. If, however, many inquiries are to be expected, because, for example, your existing customers are expected to order from the web shop, then more efficient processing is necessary. In this case, the web shop should be integrated with your ERP system. ANTEROS has standard interfaces (e.g. iDoc or REST) to transfer the purchase order to the ERP system and phase it into the standard processes for delivery and invoicing. Such an ERP integration of the web shop can also display customer-specific prices, visualize the availability of the requested order quantity using a traffic light, display the order history, and much more.

9. Offer the right payment methods

More is not always better in the area of payment methods. The selection of the payment methods available should be carefully thought through. If, for example, your web shop is limited to existing customers only, then the payment method "invoice" can be quite sufficient. However, if you offer a payment by invoice for new customers, the risk of non-payment is quite high. On the other hand, your prepayment risk would be zero, but new customers would be afraid of not receiving their goods, and would rather not start an initial order with this payment method.

10. Ensure clear presentation of shipping costs

In Germany, a clear overview of shipping costs is required by consumer protection regulations like the German Preisangabenverordnung. Usability aspects also play a role. This prospective buyer would like to find a complete, detailed list of shipping costs, from which the shipping costs for their order can be deducted, and then order the desired product.

11. Optimize your page for search engines (SEO)

In order to attract a variety of new customers, we recommend utilizing search engines. Google searches can be used to immediately redirect interested parties to appropriate subpages (e.g. product pages). Optimize your most searched or most relevant pages in order to rank higher in online search results pages, as the easier you are to find, the more people will find you. To do this you will need to apply search engine optimization (SEO for short).

Factors such as sufficiently long product descriptions, frequent data updates, image descriptions, how long users stay in your web shop, etc. play a role in SEO. Bettering your page in these regards can lead to your page being displayed on the first page when one of your kewords is searched for online. The further up your site appears on a online search, the more potential customers will see and hopefully click on your page. Having an entry page for each product area will help your ranking. If, for example, a user searches for "fittings" and finds your web shop home page that shows an assortment of products but can not find the fittings they were looking for, there is a chance that they will leave your page to rather find a search result that will lead them directly to what they want. This means that you not only lost a customer, but due to their short stay on your page, the user has now signalled their search engine that your website does not offer what they are looking for, which can impact your ranking negatively.

As the competition in SEO is becoming more and more fierce and it is getting increasingly difficult to rank on page 1, it my be worth your while to invest in search engine advertising (SEA) in order to attract new customers to your web shop on a regular basis.

12. Watch the conversion rate and access behavior statistics

Keep an eye on your webshop's statistics
Screenshot of a web analysis tool that structures and partially graphically visualizes access statistics.

The conversion rate indicates how many visitors really made a purchase in the webshop. Using statistics, you can not only analyze this percentage, but also which categories or search words were used more frequently, from which page or search engine the users entered the shop, etc.. This is very valuable information that you can monitor regularly to improve your shop step by step to meet customer needs. This can mean adjusting the category structure, offering more parameter filters in specific categories, displaying more product information or images, placing or improving search engine advertising. Good search engine advertising tells customers exactly what they can expect on the specified page and is not misleading. Misleading advertising, on the other hand, leads customers into your shop who can't do anything with the articles - this results in a low conversion rate. A good online shop is not only visually appealing, but also efficient.

13. Show your contact details

For most customers it is important to know who runs the webshop, especially in the corporate customer area (B2B). You want to know who you can contact if there is a problem and you want to be personally catered for. If contact information is difficult to find and can only be accessed with several clicks, potential customers will have less confidence in you and may therefore refrain from shopping in the webshop. In addition, there are also legal requirements that require certain information in the imprint and a privacy policy page.

[Translate to English:] Ein paar Beispiele unserer Webshop Software ANTEROS

14. Use the right webshop software

Maximize your profit and increase customer satisfaction with the right webshop software. Follow this link to learn more about INCONY's award-winning ANTEROS software and how it can help your business and webshop succeed.