Before you Embark on the Shopping Engines
If you're a merchant trying to compete on the shopping engines, you should first make sure you are selling your products on a quality site that captures your shopper's attention and makes them feel comfortable completing a purchase.
While there isn't a one-size-fits-all formula for creating a quality site, there are some elements I always look at when assessing a site's 'Shop-Ability' :
Clean, modern design - With so many easy-to-use design templates available today, there's really no excuse for a site that looks like it was designed in your basement, is cluttered or unattractive, or has an unprofessionally-designed logo. Although shopping engines can attract quality traffic to your site- your shoppers simply won't convert.
Clear, concise and complete product information- Probably the most important element, after the design, is including descriptive product information that gives the shopper everything they want to know about your products to make informed buying decisions including color, sizes, product features, etc...
Quality Images- Shoppers want to know exactly what they're getting, so having high-resolution, clear photographs, is absolutely crucial. When was the last time you bought something without seeing it first?
Trust- Why should shoppers feel comfortable entering their credit card information in your site? Make sure you have trust-seals, BBB (if applicable), security policies, payment options and customer service phone numbers clearly visible on your home page and checkout pages. Having a clear return/exchange policy is also imperative.
Simple Navigation- Make it simple and clear for shoppers to be able to search for and get what they want...fast.
Clear Shipping Rates- While I always advise merchants to include shipping rates while sending their feeds to the shopping engines, having clear shipping rates on your product landing pages is always a good practice, as it will avoid shoppers from abandoning the shopping cart due to shipping "sticker shock."
Accessible Promotions- Do you have free shipping, sale items or a discount coupon code? Make sure your landing pages feature relevant promotions to give your shoppers the extra incentive they need to complete the purchase on your store.
About Us Page- It always lends to the credibility of an online store to have a store/store-owner profile that shoppers can read to let them know they are buying from real people and a legitimate business.
To recap, while shopping engines are a great, cost-effective way to bring qualified shoppers to your site, make sure your site has all the necessary elements to make shoppers feel confident shopping, and returning to, your site.
Lin, great article! It's a subject that's discussed so often yet not often enough. Reiterating time and time again how important the landing page is from the comparison shopping website is fundamental to eCommerce success.
Even with solid data feeds and intelligent shopping engine account management strategies, shoppers will not convert without a site that contains the variables you present like a clean design, trust, and easy navigation.