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Retail Development: The Importance of Proper Web Development in E-Commerce

Retail Development The Importance of Proper Web Development in E-Commerce

On any given day, I spend probably 3 to 4 hours tinkering with a user interface of an e-commerce website. I might be simply browsing what’s on sale on Steam, salivating over the dozens of terrific watches from NOMOS Glashütte or just checking out for new jeans because you could never have too many pair of jeans. Two decades ago, doing any of the above things would require me to walk into an actual store and do some window shopping, the progress made in web development in the past 20 years means that I now can do all of the above things while sitting in my bathroom.

What this shift means is that the time businesses used to spend on coming up with just the perfect layout for their store now should be spend on coming up with the ideal website for their business. Functional should be the minimum requirement, not the ultimate goal, and if there’s anything you can do or add that would make the website more appealing or easier to use, you should definitely give it a shot. Now that small businesses are dime a dozen, it’s not enough to have a great product line-up, the importance of having an equally great space to house all of those products should never be underestimated.

The digital store layout

It turns out that I apparently have a relatively higher standard when it comes to store layouts as I once walked out of a fast fashion retail store once it became clear to me that whoever designed the layout must’ve done that under the influence of at least a dozen shots of tequila. I know that people like to say that visiting the actual store makes for a better shopping experience but from what I’ve seen from the typical retail stores, that hasn’t always been the case. There are some genuinely great ones but those are usually the exception instead of the norm although that could simply because of my high standards.

This is not to say that the landscape in e-commerce is perfect, far from it in fact, but if you came across an e-commerce website that you deem to be subpar, finding an alternative is simply one new browser tab away. In the physical space that would mean more walking and that’s not always welcomed. This sheer convenience is why e-commerce has been slowly but surely killing the once-ubiquitous retail space, as can be seen in the dozens of abandoned malls in America.

One downside (or upside, depending on your perspective) of this new normal is that it has made the playing field considerably more equal. In the bygone era of physical retail, big brands have the advantage of putting their products in front of the highest amount of people possible while small businesses with meager resource don’t have that kind of luxury. With the era of e-commerce, even the smallest of brands could have their moment in the sun with their very own website and the competition would be in which business have the ‘best’ website based on the following characteristics.

How easy is your website to navigate?

Near where I live, there’s this new-ish rooftop cafe that became one of my favorite places to hang out with friends. For one, they serve all-day breakfast and one of my lifelong dreams is to be able to eat eggs benedict three times a day. Secondly, being situated on a rooftop of a six-story building in the suburbs, they have quite a lovely view. They have a private elevator for access but the problem is, back when the place was first opened, there were no signs indicating that you have to use the elevator to get there, which was quite confusing when I invited some friends for a gathering of sorts.

They’ve changed this and now there are signs indicating the way to the elevator all the way from the entrance to the building but this analogy illustrates the importance of navigation. If potential customers can’t find what they’re looking for in your website just from a glance, you’ve got your work cut out for you because the back button is always accessible. This is one reason why minimalist design has started to become the norm; it won’t be hard to find what you’re looking for when there’s very little on display to begin with.

Don’t make your customers jump through unnecessary hoops

Forgive me if I’m boring you with anecdotes but here’s another one. A female-friendly bar just opened near where I work and a close friend asked me to check the place out because she’s an attractive woman and whenever we’re out in a bar, she always have to deal with unnecessary attention. The bar had a pretty great atmosphere and the pink decor was chic without being girly and we had a pretty good time there, at least until we wanted to close the bill. Apparently, they had a problem with the system and since we didn’t have enough cash on hand, we had to walk to an ATM a couple hundred meters away. Needless to say, I doubt we’ll be coming back in the near future.

The main thing that makes e-commerce so attractive is the sheer convenience inherent to the practice and businesses has to do everything they can to make the process as seamless as possible. Try to include as many popular payment options as possible and don’t ask for more data from your customers than necessary. Additionally, make sure to include supplementary information about the product to spare potential customers the burden of having to ask for additional information.

Aesthetics should take a backseat

In an e-commerce website, the product and the accessibility of the website should always be the priority. This isn’t to say that the aesthetics of the website should be neglected but you have to make sure that they won’t overwhelm the two things mentioned above. Ensure that the designs remains consistent and clear across all sections of the website and then you can worry about additional adornments. Once you’re done with adding those little touches, check to see if they’ve made the website any less usable. Once you’re confident they haven’t, you can then call it a day.

The Kind of Website that Your Target Audience Can’t Help Visiting Everyday

The Kind of Website that Your Target Audience Can't Help Visiting Everyday

I love online shopping when it comes to buying skincare products or makeups (except for light-coloured lipsticks, I have to be careful). 90% of my skincare products are bought online. Why? That’s because the discounts offered in online shopping are crazier and more effective than buying straight from the mall. More importantly, mall tenants tend to be pleonastic when they offer discounts, saying “If you buy one, you will get 10% discount, if you buy two, you will get 20% discount, and if you buy three, you will get 35% discount.” Every time I see that kind of promo, I immediately brush it off, because I’m like, “Dude, are you offering me discounts or are you trying to rob me of my money? Who the hell needs that many things?? I only need one.” Online shopping is very direct when they are giving out discounts even up to 80%. When they say it’s a 50% discount; it really is – no lies, no strings attached. However, not all online shopping websites apply the same method. There are some factors that make the websites not worth visiting, whether it is about their web design, or simply their way of giving deals, or even payment methods. Well, if you have an online business, let me give you a piece of advice, not as a digital marketer, but as a customer from a customer’s perspective. Keep reading to learn more!

First impression

I will never get tired of saying that first impression always matters. Even though I’m not lying when I say I love beautifully designed websites with flash and all, their navigation is still the most important first impression to me. I need to know where I should click and I need to make sure I can find the stuff I want to buy easily. Complicated design, although it looks beautiful on the appearance, sometimes has inevitable errors that might occur anytime without notice. I once came across this beautiful looking website. At first, it was fun to see objects moving on that website, until I clicked and nothing happened. Yes, I clicked the stuff I want to buy, intending to add it to my shopping cart, but it didn’t add the stuff to the cart, nor could it be clicked at all. I thought it was the internet connection, but when I tried to reload it, the page refreshed easily but I still couldn’t click a single thing on that website. Lesson from this is that first impression that I’m talking about is not about the looks, but it’s more about function. Ask these questions when you are browsing your own website:

  • “If I look for my stuff on the search box on my website, will it provide relevant and complete results?”
  • “If I want to see the product page, will I find helpful categories that make it easier for me to find specific product?”
  • “Are the images loading fast?”
  • “Can I click the buttons and the calls to action buttons?”

Create a fun design but watch out for the content size and the navigation part.

The can’t-help-but-visit-everyday website

Before explaining this part, let me tell you my real-life example. I am a loyal customer of Sociolla, a big online shopping website for skincare and makeup products in my country. There is not a day spent without visiting Sociolla’s website. Why? That’s because they have consistent daily discounts that will either stay up till a month or just daily. Yes, it’s DAILY. Every day they always come up with something. On one day, they have discounts for some brands up to 70% off, and it is always different on the next day. This, of course makes me not able to stop myself from checking out their website every day. I’m not telling you to offer daily discounts, but maybe you can learn from this. Well, there are other ways you can make your website enchanting that makes everyone not be able to resist:

  • Giving interactive daily quiz that will benefit your customers in some way. For example, daily quiz about your products and if they answer it correctly, those correct points will turn into their membership points.
  • Customers will often visit your website not only for that quiz, but also for browsing all pages on your website to know your products and business better so they can answer the quiz correctly. The more visitors to your website, the more traffic you get and this can increase your website’s chance of being ranked well on search engines.
  • Make sure the quiz’s design doesn’t cause slow loading pages on your website. Consult this to your web designers and they will provide you with solutions.
  • Pay attention to your content. Believe it or not, striking visual and design are already attractive enough, but if it is combined with a set of perfect words for the text, your website can be unbeatable. Consult this to your content writer to make meaningful content for the catchy web design.

It’s all about marketing and creativity. No matter how good your website looks like, if it lacks content marketing strategy, it would be meaningless. Good content and good design should be a balance with each other because not only will it increase the possibility to improve your website rank and awareness, it will also determine your customers’ choice later, so make sure you prepare for the strategy and consult it to the content and the web design specialists you are hiring for your business.

Risky Business: 4 Common Black Hat SEO Tactics You Have to Watch Out For

SEO tips

One of the more bizarre pieces of news I read this week, which is saying a lot given the current state of the world, is of something called abdominal etching. I don’t fully understand the procedure of abdominal etching but from what I can understand, it’s like plastic surgery but for your belly instead of for your face. I’m not exactly familiar with the kind of work required to have chiseled abs, my exercise routine is limited to 5k runs and a simple yoga routine, but I can’t help but see this procedure of abdominal etching as degrading, not to mention expensive.

Despite all of my personal faults, of which I can assure you there are many, I like to think of myself as having a proper sense of integrity. I prefer to always do things the right way if possible, and shortcuts like abdominal etching or one that’s more relevant to this discussion, black hat SEO, aren’t something that I approve of. Black hat SEO in particular is something that SEO services should always take note of as while they could be helpful in the short term, the penalty associated with them could be much more trouble than it’s worth.

When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is

The results gained from your search engine optimization efforts is directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you’ve put into them, as with almost everything in life. Amazon didn’t become the technological behemoth they currently are overnight and it took 10 years and more than a dozen films for Marvel to go from Downey Jr.’s debut in the first Iron Man film in 2008 to Endgame being the pop culture zeitgeist of the moment. Rome wasn’t built in a day so the promise of a quick result possible with black hat SEO is understandably alluring.

The idea of a viral hit is something that’s only ever been seen in the past few years. It took 75 years for the telephone and 38 years for the radio to reach 50 million users but it took merely 29 days for Pokemon Go to hit that same number. Viral videos are even more insane, the video for Taylor Swift’s newest single, ME!, reached more than 100 million viewers in a week. It’s these mind-boggling numbers that is promised by black hat SEO but the problem with black hat SEO is how it tries to reach for that number.

Pokemon was already a multi-billion dollar franchise before Pokemon Go came out and Swift is a household name in the entertainment industry so for them to reach that kind of numbers wasn’t exactly surprising. For a no-name business to reach even a tenth of that number would require one of these things, really great content, a miracle or some underhanded tactics. Those underhanded tactics come under the guise of black hat SEO and since partaking in them could lead to penalties from search engines, you’d want to watch out for some of the more common black hat SEO tactics that are still being used today.

The practice of keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of including keywords at a frequency above the average for the purpose of ranking higher on search engines. If you feel like certain words keep popping up in places they shouldn’t be, that’s probably a sign of keyword stuffing. Search engines are now smart enough to determine how often should certain words appear naturally in a given text and they’re also smart enough to figure out what you’re talking about without you having to stuff down certain words down their throat so try not to go overboard with the keywords and that includes the page title and the meta tags.

Using unrelated keywords to take advantage of current trends

This practice is especially common on websites relying heavily on clickbait articles to gain traffic. For example, Prince William’s cheating scandal seems to be the trending topic in the past few days and to take advantage of this, some unruly websites would include words related to the scandal in the hopes of gaining more traffic. Say you’re running a fashion e-commerce store and to hop on this bandwagon, you put up a blog post with the following title; “Prince William would never cheat on you if you follow these fashion tips”.

It’s cheap and again, search engines are now smart enough to figure out the actual contents of your blog and would be able to easily determine that your content isn’t really about Prince William’s cheating scandal.

The bait-and-switch

Are you familiar with the term catfish in online dating? I first heard the term from the 2010 documentary Catfish in which someone put up a fake profile online in order to build up a relationship, usually for less-than-savory purposes but not always so. In the world of SEO, there’s a similar trick of bait-and-switch. The trick is to first have a unique and quality piece of content and once that content has been linked numerous times, switch that content with one that has a more commercial purpose in mind, even when the new content has no connection whatsoever to the older, higher quality content.

The practice of content spinning

Content plagiarism is bad and easily detectable but in the past few years, we’re seeing a rise in the trend of content spinning, in which an article is doctored through an online tool to make it seem like a new content even when it’s not. This is incredibly dumb and quite frankly, an insult to the art of writing. Besides, content freshness and originality is something that is highly prized by search engines and when they caught wind of what you’re doing, recycling old contents and passing them as new, they’re not going to think highly of your website.