How To Evaluate An Ecommerce Website

Published 2018-08-30T10:26:24 by Bryan Miller

When it comes to building a great ecommerce business, it’s important not to become complacent with your efforts to optimize your online presence. Even if your store is pulling in regular sales each month, it’s always worth going back and revisiting your site to see what you can do better.

But what exactly should you be looking out for, and what aspects of your ecommerce website can be optimized?

And if you’re looking to invest in a new ecommerce business, how do you effectively evaluate the business opportunity in front of you? How do you ascribe value to an ecommerce website?

Let’s look at how to attribute value when it comes to your ecommerce website.

Clean, customer-focused design with a solid UX

How to evaluate an Ecommerce store

A successful ecommerce website consistently generates both traffic and sales.

Consequently, a good webstore is one that is tailored to the user and has a customer-focused approach to design.

Looks are everything in commerce. A clean, tidy, pleasant environment is the difference between a successful brick-and-mortar store and a poor one. And it’s as true for ecommerce stores as it is for physical ones. A fluid, intuitive web design is a good indicator of a profitable business, and should serve as your first point of call when evaluating a webstore. Though looks aren’t everything, they definitely give customers (and investors) a feel for things to come.

Focus on the user-experience (UX)

It’s well established that a website should be mobile responsive. But good web design also goes beyond that: less is often more. A minimalist design means customers can find what they need quickly and easily. Product categories and menus should be clearly visible and easily navigable, not hidden away.

And a clean website also means a faster loading time, which in turn reduces your bounce rate. If a customer has to spend more than a couple of seconds to get the information they want, then they won’t stick around.

When you’re evaluating an ecommerce store, whether it’s your own or a potential business opportunity, make sure that user-centric design is one of your top priorities. Even though pushing through a design overhaul is possible, it’s nice to start with a well-appointed website in the first place. It will save you money and hassle in the long run.

Trust signals and usability

Trust Signals of an Ecommerce Store

So what should you look out for when you’re assessing an ecommerce store from a usability perspective? Firstly, it needs to be as clean and distraction-free as possible.

Your store’s checkout process is a crucial factor to consider when you’re assessing the value of an ecommerce store. A complicated checkout process accounts for 28% of cart abandonments. This accounts for a significant proportion of ecommerce sales, so it’s important to optimize it wherever possible. If you encounter a confusing or unintuitive checkout process, it’s a sure sign that the store isn’t at maximum profitability.

If you feature ads on your site, don’t include them on the checkout page. And keep fields to a minimum, including only those which are absolutely necessary. Ideally, all the required information should be entered on a single page, creating a seamless process that doesn’t prompt your customer to drop out at all.

Audit the store’s checkout process

Audit an Ecommerce store's checkout process

A smooth and secure checkout process is a key benchmark for evaluating an ecommerce website. It plays a vital role in keeping customers in the sales funnel. As a result, a solid checkout process is a reliable indicator of a successful (and therefore valuable) webstore.

And it’s not just aesthetics and UX that need to be taken into account with your ecommerce website evaluation. Allowing for a wide range of payment options also helps retain your customers, and including a reliable SSL trust seal lets them know that their bank details are safe and secure. Even the most inexpensive of webstore builders now include SSL encryption as part of their ecommerce package.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO Analytics

For novice ecommerce entrepreneurs, the concept of search engine optimization can seem like an arcane, impregnable concept. But while it can be daunting at first, it’s a vital aspect of ecommerce that needs to be addressed. The truth is that 93% of online activity begins with a search, so you need to do everything you can to ensure your store ranks well.

A core part of this is your website copy, in particular your product descriptions. To help customers find (and choose!) your product over your competitors, you need to create keyword-researched copy in your descriptions. By using the same terms and phrases that your target audience is using in their searches, you can ensure your site rises up the ranks.

Audit the store’s current and historical SEO performance

But it’s not all keywords and search terms. It’s important that you regularly give your ecommerce site a technical SEO audit to highlight any issues that you might have missed. For example, is your site structure optimized for search engine crawlers to index? If you can do an audit yourself, great — but a second pair of eyes is always helpful when it comes to technical SEO.

SEO is the backbone of a good ecommerce website, and if it’s not ranking in its niche, then it’s likely not a profitable business. Take a deep dive into current, historic, and future SEO data and potential to really color in your ecommerce website evaluation.

Marketing channels & reach

Your ecommerce website isn’t a standalone entity. It’s at the center of a web of marketing channels, all directing customers to your website with the aim of driving traffic and sales. So when you’re assessing your online store, it’s worth making sure that that web is intact.

To that end, take a look at your various digital marketing channels, such as your social media presence. A brand’s social media profile can be a good indicator of a strong ecommerce website. How many followers do you have? If you’ve really made an effort and it’s only in the hundreds, it’s probably not a good sign.

And if you do have a relatively small follower count, while continuing a significant social media effort, ask yourself why. What’s the social output like? Is it friendly and personable, or dry and reserved? A good social media voice helps create a rapport with followers, one that fosters sustained customer engagement. Look for social proof from followers — do you garner positive (and genuine) reviews? Strong social proof is the sign of a strong ecommerce store.

Create engaging content

Investing in a great ecommerce landing page will pay off

Check out your content too. A brand with a strong social presence shares a variety of interesting and engaging content. Look out for video especially — social video content creates 1200% more shares than any other forms combined. If a store has a strong video content strategy, that’s content you can leverage to bolster its presence online.

A store might have poor SEO, but it’s not everything. A strong social presence with a high follower count and regular, meaningful engagement is a valuable asset when it comes to evaluating a webstore.

Just as important as your social media channels is your email marketing presence. A website should have at least one method of capturing a customer’s email address, thus generating leads for your business, and most good online shop portals have a range of exit intent pop-up plugins for your store.

Your email, paid ads, and social media presence are an important part of a successful ecommerce store, and are what drives traffic and sales for a business. When you’re evaluating a business, check that there aren’t any missed marketing opportunities.

Continually assessing your ecommerce website means always stay on top of your game. The world of online ecommerce is an ever-changing landscape, and regularly evaluating your store lets you ensure that it’s always the best it can be!

Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

Bryt Designs

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.

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