Live from MarketLive: The Five E-commerce Elements That Matter

Sonoma, CA–Wednesday morning’s keynote address at MarketLive’s E-Commerce Summit was touted as a contest of speed. Ken Burke, CEO/founder of Petaluma, CA-based MarketLive, wanted to know who could pack the most information into a one-hour session about improving e-commerce sites. Burke had already given it his best shot during the previous day’s opening remarks. Amy Africa, president of Helena, VT-based Web consultancy Eight by Eight, gave it a go on Wednesday, offering 48 tips for integrating online and offline marketing efforts. The winner? Attendees to both sessions, who walked away on information overload.

“Over 93% of e-commerce sites get enough traffic; they just don’t know how to convert it,” Africa said. She added that only five e-commerce elements really matter: a successful entry/launching page that propels customers into a site; clear navigation; a perpetual cart in the upper right-hand corner; e-mail programs triggered by activity; and new customer acquisition via search engines.

Africa told attendees that customers should spend less than 20 seconds on an entry or landing page before moving on to another page on the site. She also said that there should be 10-12 entry pages with equal traffic rather than fewer entry pages with lots of traffic.

Navigation accounts for 40%-60% of success online, said Africa, which is why she believes navigation should be predictable. “Users expect online shopping to be like a grocery store,” Africa said, where all of the produce, dairy, and meats are where they are expected to be. Navigation should also be obvious as users see graphics and but only scan text.

The upper right corner of your Website should include a perpetual shopping cart that includes an image of a cart, the number of items in it, and the total cost. Additionally, the checkout process should consist of no more than five steps, with each taking less than 30 seconds; the first step, in fact, should take less than 15 seconds.

E-mail programs can include more than messages about abandoned carts; try messages referring to abandoned searches, offering a sneak peak at merchandise, and based on past purchases.

Eliciting an audible reaction from attendees, Africa said that 75% of Website traffic should come via search engines, directories, price-comparison engines, and the like. Using an example, Africa said most people search on Google for Amazon rather than typing in the URL directly.

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