By: Alicia Mina
Everybody is familiar with the credo, “first impressions last a lifetime.” While this often refers to putting your “best self” forward during personal introductions, the same thing can be said for ecommerce companies. After all, if you want to keep a customer for life, you’re going to need to make sure your first interactions are positive and lasting. This is why first impressions matter in ecommerce.
Of course, brick-and-mortar retailers need to consider first impressions as well. But unlike in-store retailers, ecommerce websites do not have the ability to meet customers with a smile as soon as they enter the door. Nor can e-stores wow shoppers with attractively organized and well-stocked shelves. However, there are plenty of things ecommerce stores can do to wow first-time customers.
Follow Good Design Principles
As an ecommerce website, you don’t have a traditional showroom floor. But you do have a homepage! And, if you want to make positive impressions on first-time visitors, you are going to ensure your homepage is easy on the eyes.
Be sure to follow good design principles when creating your homepage. Examples include:\\
- Sticking to three to five brand colors across your entire site. This gives your ecommerce website a consistent look without overwhelming visitors with too much visual “noise.”
- Using high-definition images. Grainy photos are an instant turnoff. Then again, too many HD images can slow down your website. Luckily, you can remedy this by compressing high-quality images to get the best of both worlds!
- Leveraging easy-to-read typefaces and fonts. It’s best to use sans serif fonts such as Arial or Verdana in text-heavy portions of your site including product descriptions and the like. Reserve fancy fonts for logos, headers and other eye-catching areas.
- Following grid-based layouts. Web users expect to see images, links, texts and the like placed in an orderly manner across your homepage. Follow the grid pattern to make your e-store easy to peruse.
These visual guidelines should be applied to every part of your website, including your logo and social media pages. Shopify offers tools to create a logo and pages following solid design principles. However, if you are not confident in your design capabilities, you can always hire a freelance web designer or agency to help you out.
Ensure Your Ecommerce Website Is Usable
If you want to make a good first impression on your shoppers, you’ll need to make sure that your site is user-friendly. The last descriptor you want customers to apply to your website is “frustrating.” Some of the issues web users most commonly label as such:
- Slow load times. Research shows web users are likely to abandon a website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. That’s not a lot of time, but in today’s go-go-go internet age speed is a necessity. Make sure your platform provider can handle large amounts of web traffic, quality images, numerous web pages, and more. Otherwise, you could be losing shoppers before they even get started.
- Difficult to find pages. Online shoppers are happier when important things are easy to find. A newbie visitor might want to review your About Us page, FAQ or terms of service before completing their first order. If they can’t find these pages, they might leave your e-store to find a competitor that does cater to their needs.
- Clunky checkout pages. Is your checkout page difficult to navigate, slow to load or full of distractions? If so, you are thwarting your own sales. Make sure that your checkout process is painless for first-time buyers.
- Broken links. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a link to your blog, product page or contact form, if the link doesn’t work, you will frustrate your shoppers.
- Neglecting Mobile Usability. Mobile ecommerce is growing rapidly. The simplest way to achieve and maintain mobile usability is to work with a platform that is already optimized for mobile.
Don’t let these common issues dishearten your customers. Remedy any issues before they become bigger problems.
When Things Go Wrong, Make Things Right
Despite our best efforts, things can go wrong from time to time. If a first-time buyer experiences issues with the quality of a product, the speed of delivery, or misunderstanding the return policy, it’s wise to give them what they want.
For example, you can tell the shopper to keep the first product and you will send them another, free of charge; you can waive their shipping fees or provide a coupon code for future purchases; you can allow a one-time late return with no penalty. The goal is to appease and satisfy the customer, so they keep coming back for more.
It’s not easy to anticipate how each and every portion of your business might affect first-time shoppers. But it’s nonetheless valuable and essential for ensuring a positive first impression.