A Better E-Commerce Site: Is a Little Lipstick the Trick?

As e-commerce gets more sophisticated and consumer expectations continue
to rise, many retailers are considering prettying up their existing Web
sites with improved graphics or new features in order to make them more
attractive to consumers.

While such enhancements can make your site more appealing in the near term, they won’t change the makeup of your online store.

So, is your site better off with a few enhancements, or do you need to fundamentally re-think your approach toward e-commerce based on meeting your key performance.

Here are some questions to ask:

> Is your site delivering pages at lightning fast speeds and will it scale to meet seasonal peaks in traffic?

> Does your conversion rate beat the industry average or can you improve your order size by adding deeper merchandising functionality?

> Have you thought about the strategic nature of your site?

As an online retailer, you need to determine return on investment (ROI) across the business — customer experience can’t be your only benchmark for deciding how to improve the Web site. When starting the evaluation process, first benchmark your site statistics against the industry averages to get a rough idea of your performance. Some industry averages that deserve consideration include the following:

* Site uptime better than 99.88 percent (should be shooting for 99.95 percent or better)

* Sub-second page loads

* Better than a 3 percent conversion rate

* Shopping cart abandonment under 60 percent

* Average order size uplift year over year of 4 percent (excluding price increases)

* Site maintenance cost growing 15 percent year over year

In the age of sizzle it may be fashionable or easy to make incremental improvements to your e-commerce site that simply look good, but eventually, that lipstick will wear off, once again revealing the limitations that have always been there and holding you back. Just remember that you can’t sell if the site is down or your new graphical pages take 20 seconds to load. If that’s the case, your site may need more than a light makeover.

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