Practical Ecommerce

10 Tips to Freshen Your Ecommerce Site

One important strategy to grow your ecommerce revenue is to keep your store fresh and vibrant. That includes your content, products, and promotions. It may also mean regularly refreshing your navigation, themes, and other design elements.

When was the last time you really looked at your online store with the same level of critique as you did when you first launched it? Are you featuring seasonal products in your featured items or are Mother’s Day gifts still at the top in August? Are your promo banners the same ones you used last month? When is the last time you created a completely new promotional idea? When did you last add a blog post? A Facebook wall post? Tweets? Do you have your “back to school” category created? Is your navigation optimized to get traffic to the right parts of your website?

Chances are, when you launched the last version of your store, you micromanaged everything about it for several months to ensure it worked properly. But over time, for many of us, critical details of our sites go on autopilot.

Don’t fall into that trap. You may have missed an opportunity to sell something more seasonal. Worse yet, your repeat visitors start seeing the same products over and over and decide to go elsewhere for new ideas.

Your store is the most critical asset you have. Keep it alive and fresh.

10 Freshness Tips

Here are 10 tips to help keep your store current, fresh and relevant. Many of these borrow from basic merchandising concepts. Others are simply common sense.

  1. Clean up the site weekly. Assign someone to go through the home page, category pages, shopping cart, any other parts of your store where content might be changeable. Clear our old promotions and seasonal content. Make sure there are no missing images. Look at customer product reviews to make sure postings are appropriate. Make sure you don’t have featured products that are out of stock.
  2. Feature new products. Consumers want new products. Make sure you launch new items, and then tell your visitors about them. Create categories that feature new items. Move new items to the top of your product listings. Write a blog post about them.
  3. Rotate your promotions. If you feature daily, weekly or seasonal specials, rotate them regularly. In my previous online jewelry stores, our “sale” pages were among the most trafficked. They were the first place many visitors went. If visitors see the same promotions week after week, they stop noticing them at all.
  4. Experiment with different navigation. When you set up your store, you probably did some level of testing on how people were interacting with your website. When is the last time you did that? Look at your analytics and see what paths people are following. If you have categories that are not drawing attention, but you want people there, then set up an easier path. Likewise, if people are not using a link, get rid of it and try a new one.
  5. Change your theme. With many modern shopping carts, it is easy to “reskin” your site with a different color theme or background. Give it try. It can give your entire store a new look without a lot of investment. Try a red and green theme at Christmas, and gold and brown one for the fall. Even putting some more theme-oriented images throughout the store will add some freshness.
  6. Be competitive. Pick your top five competitors and review their stores at least weekly. You may find one offering a 50-percent off sale, or a 2-for-1 deal on your best selling products. You may not decide to match the offer, but you should at least be aware of it and be prepared to modify your promotions or featured items.
  7. Be aware of design trends. Web design changes continually. It used to be that three columns of category images on your home page were standard. Top and left navigation was required. Not any more. For many retail sites, minimalist is in. White space is good. Huge rotating product banners are now common. Product videos are becoming mandatory in some retail segments. When you shop online, note the things you like and incorporate them in your wish list for your next redesign. Investigate the amazing capabilities of CSS3 and HTML5. Your site may look dated if you don’t keep up.
  8. Post fresh content. If you maintain a blog — or post to social media sites — add new content regularly. Make sure you monitor posts and communications from customers and prospects, and respond to them quickly.
  9. Maintain your inventory stock messaging. Nothing annoys me more than a store where the majority of items are “out of stock”. You may give a store the benefit of the doubt, but in most cases it’s just being lazy. If you know items are going to be out of stock for more than a day or two, hide them.
  10. Do a complete redesign every three-to-five years. It should be more often in certain competitive and trendy industries. Design is trendy. If your website is more than five years old without a redesign, chances are your store looks pretty old, which affects visitors view of it.

Summary

There are many ways to keep your website fresh. Most are easy to implement. Be sure to assign time and resources to it. If you don’t, that old Christmas promotion may still be lingering somewhere in your store.

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Dale Traxler
Dale Traxler
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Comments ( 9 )

  1. The eWAY Team August 2, 2012 Reply

    You couldn’t be more right about the importance of competition. But remember there’s more to competing than just price matching (we compete on service as well as on fees, for example).

    Kind regards,
    The eWAY Team

  2. Elizabeth Ball August 3, 2012 Reply

    Great tips, Dale.
    If you notice an increase in visitors from another country, you might want to re-run an occasion category that runs at a different time from yours. So, for example, you would run your Father’s Day promotions June in the US and again in September to target Australian customers etc.

  3. Dale Traxler August 3, 2012 Reply

    Great input on the other countries and their cultural and holiday differences.

    Strategies for selling in other countries is probably worth a lot more focus in the future. Thanks for reminding us all!
    Dale

  4. Payleaf Consultancy August 22, 2012 Reply

    Nice Feature,
    As you said Change Site Navigation, But what i have learnt or my search says that Changing Navigation leads to inc in Bounce Rate, coz Visitors are accustomed to what they loved before, changing website now n then, website will loose site loyalist, so improvements can be done, but should not change many things on website, Anybody if i m wrong or want to suggest pls welcome

  5. Dmitry Nikitin August 27, 2012 Reply

    Agree with prev note… If you are 2-3 years online store it seems to be not a good idea to change your product catalogue. Of course some directries more popular than others, and some of them vaisite rarely. But your customers used to see them on their places. They dont visit them but they know about them and if they wont find them when they need it scarcely increace their loyality.

  6. Keya Gee August 30, 2012 Reply

    Great article. The only comment I have is about items that are out of stock. First of all, you shouldn’t have that many out-of-stock items because you would organize your inventory more efficiently than that, but in the case where you do have items out-of-stock, the trick is to display it online as if you have the inventory, but once the item gets added to the cart, then you display the note about the item being out-of-stock.

    Why? You may ask. Because you can track shadow demand. You can count the amount of clicks on the item and use the information to determine if you would like to buy inventory or know how much more you will need to purchase for the next season. This is something my company always recommends. It’s a great tool for merchandising.

  7. D&L Web Design September 1, 2012 Reply

    Dale this is a great article and very well written!

    I’d like to expand a little on the discussion and invite others to comment on my thoughts.

    THE eWAY TEAM mentioned service over price… BRILLIANT!

    This is something that I feel very strongly about as too many businesses have invested in expensive e-commerce websites and then felt the need to be the cheapest in order to get noticed, before realising that it’s not profitable to operate in this manner.

    I always advise my clients to focus on things like DELIVERY, QUALITY, SERVICE, anything that helps them to stand out and offers the customer something of value.

    E.g. If you sell a popular product, where competitors take 10 days for delivery, try to get this down to next day delivery and focus on that key point.

    OR – If you’re despatching fragile items by courier, invest in the best possible packaging as this is a sure sign of professionalism and help to reduce loss or damage, resulting in higher margins.

    Keya Gee mentioned not having Out Of Stock items, but instead informing the customer that the item isn’t available for purchase, after having added the product to their shopping cart. Keya, I think this would encourage visitors or potential customers, to abandon shopping carts and ultimately would have a negative impact on the overall site performance.

    Think of it in terms of being in a supermarket and you’ve added several products to your basket, but by the time you get to the checkout, the cashier tells you that some of your items aren’t fr sale, even though you have them in your basket. I know that it wouldn’t reflect very well on that supermarket and I’d be reluctant you return in future, when I can go elsewhere and if it’s on the shelf, I CAN buy it.

    However, I feel that there a few things we can do that will allow us to keep the customer engaged and still allow us to measure the important statistics that you refer to.

    1) Replace the ‘Add To Cart’ button with a ‘Notify Me’ button on any products that are out of stock.

    Here, you invite the visitor to enter their email address and they will receive an email when the stock is replenished, this would be much more helpful and would perhaps increase customer loyalty in the long term, provided that the turn around time on stock replenishment is reasonably quick.

    2) Include an element of Cross Selling by displaying products of a similar type. For example, ‘Similar Products’ or ‘Customers who Bought This….’.

    This way, the visitor thinks they are being given a choice between the product they are looking at and similar products which are less or more expensive, but at the same time, highlighting that if this product is out of stock, we do have others for you to choose from.

    I’m sure i could rifle on for hours and bore everyone to death, so apologies if you found my comment long winded or irrelevant… Thanks for reading and please do feel free to provide your thoughts on my points.

  8. miglenan November 14, 2012 Reply

    D&L your comment is great for me. I agree with everything you said but what I like most is the idea 1) Replace the ‘Add To Cart’ button…. I’ve never seen a site using it, but as a customer I will appreciate the merchant’s effort and will be pleased and return back for sure.

  9. cathlyn November 21, 2012 Reply

    In a highly competitive market, nothing’s more important than keeping a fresh site. I couldn’t agree more with your tips, Dale. This is a good article worth sharing. Of course, aside from staying true to your site’s freshness, you need to also be updated on the latest trends. This article highlights the 2012 ecommerce trends: http://smallbusiness.printplace.com/2012/10/19/2012-ecommerce-trends-small-businesses-need-to-know/ . Check it out.

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