The Fast Ecommerce Advantage: Why A Speedy Site Helps You Compete
By Tom Wintaugh
Whether you're underwhelmed by your online sales or simply exploring ways to enhance your website, an ecommerce assessment can help you determine what you really need to succeed.
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Even if your website is bringing in sales, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay competitive, serve your customers, and position your business for long-term success. Performing an ecommerce website assessment can be a great place to start.
An ecommerce assessment evaluates your website’s usability, effectiveness, and overall performance, helping you uncover weak spots and discover ways to drive sales and stay competitive. Read on to learn what a 6-step website assessment can show you about the viability of your online store—or click here to perform your own ecommerce site evaluation.
In the context of evaluating website performance, an ecommerce assessment (also known as ecommerce testing or ecommerce evaluation) involves testing various elements of your website like its design, pages, functionality, and features to determine its performance and overall success.
When completed thoroughly and consistently, an ecommerce assessment can help you:
Whether your store is underperforming, you’re fed up with a clunky back-end, or you’re simply looking for ways to enhance your online experience, running an ecommerce assessment can be game-changing for your business.
In this article, we’ll discuss six steps you can take when performing an ecommerce assessment that will help you get a complete picture of your online store’s performance.
A comprehensive ecommerce assessment starts with analyzing the technical performance of your online store. The specific data you choose to measure and track will depend on your specific business needs. Keep in mind that a successful ecommerce website must consistently generate traffic and sales. Metrics like site traffic, order frequency, conversion rate, bounce rate, and customer lifetime value can reveal how effectively your site attracts visitors, turns them into paying customers, and keeps them coming back. The insights you gain through this technical ecommerce testing can help you strategize to improve your website’s overall performance and efficiency.
Another critical area to include in your ecommerce assessment is your website’s SEO foundations. Strong ecommerce SEO is the backbone of a successful online store—if your website is not ranking for keywords within your niche or has a high exit rate, your store is likely missing out on a huge amount of sales. Give your store a technical SEO audit by looking at all metadata, evaluating your site speed, and examining your site structure.
Product merchandising is the practice of displaying products on your site with the goal of increasing sales. Merchandising plays an instrumental role in attracting your users’ attention and driving them to take action, making it an essential component to analyze during an ecommerce assessment.
Effective ecommerce product merchandising allows shoppers to browse and explore your products with the same level of engagement they would enjoy in a brick-and-mortar store. One key to accomplishing this is to provide detailed copy and imagery in your product descriptions. Not only do highly detailed product descriptions mimic the experience of physically handling and comparing products in a store, but they also help build trust with your customers by ensuring they know exactly what they’re buying.
Other methods for recreating the “look and feel” experience of brick-and-mortar shopping within your online store include:
A website’s user experience (UX) or customer experience (CX) has enormous impact on its performance—one study shows that almost 90% of users won’t return to a website with poor UX. For ecommerce merchants, failing to optimize your UX can be the difference between a shopper staying on your site or bouncing to a competitor. On the other hand, great ecommerce UX not only persuades visitors to perform desired actions on your site but goes a long way toward retaining them.
When conducting an ecommerce UX assessment, evaluate your site’s usability and content. Your website’s design, speed, structure, and navigation should all be carefully coordinated to help visitors find what they’re looking for. Meanwhile, your content—your product descriptions, company blog, industry resources, and more—should be tailored to capture your customers’ interest, answer their questions, and meet their needs.
The goal in testing your website’s CX is to provide a delightful, memorable purchasing experience and optimize your customers’ path to purchase, decreasing any points of friction and hesitation while enabling them to get what they need. Consider taking a full-funnel approach that looks at what customers want from your website during each stage of their purchasing journey.
The effectiveness of your checkout process is another important indicator of your ecommerce site’s selling potential. A smooth, secure, and efficient checkout keeps shoppers within the sales funnel, drives their purchase, and boosts order value. On the other hand, a clunky checkout could cause customers to abandon their cart and hold a negative perception of your brand in the future.
During your ecommerce assessment, consider both the form and function of your store’s checkout process. Most shoppers respond well to a focused, transparent, and secure checkout. Take a look beyond the aesthetics of your checkout and examine its payment flexibility, form fields, path to purchase, and upselling functionalities. Optimizing your checkout in this way captures more opportunities for revenue and ensures your site is operating at maximum profitability.
Your ecommerce store’s “behind-the-scenes” capabilities are just as important as its front-facing functionalities. A capable back-end runs like a well-oiled machine, allowing you to maintain your website, streamline your operations, and make changes on the fly.
A few metrics to consider when assessing your ecommerce site’s back-end include:
If you’re still not sure where to begin in assessing your ecommerce website’s back-end, ask yourself this question: Does your back-end enable you to sell the way you want to sell? If the answer is no, it may be time to consider making a change.
Your ecommerce website doesn’t perform in a vacuum—it’s supported by a web of marketing channels that work in tandem to direct customers to your store and drive sales. So it makes sense that your ecommerce assessment should include an evaluation of your marketing efforts.
For example, assessing your business’s social media efforts can indicate the strength of your brand and online store. Are your followers engaging with your brand’s social activity? Do they click through to your site to make purchases?
Similarly, you can assess the effectiveness of your website content and email marketing. Is your content pulling in views and shares? Are you sharing customer product reviews on your website to build trust and drive sales? Are customers signing up for your newsletter or mailing list? What are your open and click-through rates like?
By evaluating your marketing strategy and making improvements to it, you can help ensure your ecommerce site is operating at its full potential.
Beyond the six steps reviewed here, a complete ecommerce evaluation enables you to dive deep into your website and discover new ways to acquire quality traffic, maximize your selling potential, and reach the right customers.
Now that you are familiar with the types of opportunities an ecommerce assessment can uncover, it’s time to put your online store to the test. Use our ecommerce assessment tool to self-evaluate your site on these key components, obtain results on the effectiveness of your website, and get recommendations for improving your ecommerce business.
This blog was originally published on June 10, 2020 and updated on June 6, 2022.
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