The merchandising 101 of e-retailing that can make or break your venture

1.Think Like Your Customer
2.Don't Run With Turkeys
3.Use Cross-Sell Effectively
4.If I Can't Find It...You Ain't Got It!
5.Why Should I Buy From YOU?
6.Every Product's Worth a Picture
7.You Gotta Be Easy
8.Create an Impulse To Buy
9.If They Wanted to Call...
10.Learn to Feed the Need!

You Gotta Be Easy

In a recent poll of internet shoppers, most indicated that some of the top reasons for abandoning a retail site without placing an order included frustration with sites that were difficult to use or navigate, and sites that were slow to respond.

In order to grow your online retail venture successfully, you need to convert the maximum percentage of shoppers possible. To accomplish that, your website needs to be very easy to use, and respond reasonably quickly to each mouse click.

Some basic precepts of a highly usable retail site include (but are not limited to):

  • Clear, effective navigation:

    • Keep your merchandising navigation (departments) separate from your main site navigation. This immediately gives shoppers a subconscious pointer to where they can find things on your site.
    • Use consistent navigation – don’t change the location of your navigation from page to page on your site, or change what the navigation options are.
    • Make sure your navigation uses a big enough font, with enough spacing between lines to be fast and easy to scan visually.
    • Keep it simple – never use more than 10-12 top-level departments, maximum. Using too many top-level departments makes your navigation difficult to scan and quickly browse.
    • Make sure your department structure reflects the way that shoppers define their need (versus using industry terms that shoppers may not be familiar with).
  • Keep your site visually simple and non-cluttered. If you want high impact graphics, have great product photography – that’s the best investment in high impact imagery you can make. Use fonts that are large enough to read easily, with enough spacing between letters and lines that it’s easy for the eye to follow.
  • Use your page space effectively to minimize the shopper having to use scroll bars to view the entire contents of the page. When scrolling is necessary, always make it a vertical scroll. Avoid ever making the shopper use the horizontal scroll bar.
  • Make sure that key buttons and links (like “Add to Cart”) are colored and positioned to stand out and be very easy to locate on the page. Anything you really want the shopper clicking on needs to stand out.
  • Make sure that the shopper can always easily locate the link to their shopping cart, and checkout. They should appear on the same position on every page view, and should sit apart from other navigation on the page so they are very easy to locate.
  • Make sure your product search feature is effective.
  • Make sure that when I’ve clicked into a sub-department, or to view a product detail page, there’s a link that easily takes me back to where I was previously (often called "breadcrumbs"). Also make sure I can easily navigate back to the home page.

    If you’re unsure if you have usability issues with your retail site, contact our retail analysts. We’ll be happy to provide our expert opinion.

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