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E-commerce Success Show #2 with Antony Chesworth

ecommerce success show episode 2

Magento E-commerce website breakdown

Welcome to the second e-commerce website evaluation by me and the team at EKM.

In the first of our series, we looked at how Tring Astronomy Centre could make a few small tweaks to improve overall sales. In this edition, we give a full critique of Fabulous Furniture (www.fabulousfurniture.co.uk)

Once again, more than 70 EKM team members – including account managers, design experts and SEO specialists – have done a full review of the website and shared their insight. This article details a range of measures that this business can do to improve their site, ranging from small design upgrades to fixing a serious security flaw.

And remember, if it sounds like we’re being harsh, that’s only because the purpose of this series is to highlight the ways in which Fabulous Furniture can improve the results delivered by their site, leading to improved sales and greater profits. And hopefully you can apply these lessons to your own business. So on to the site.

Keep design current

First impressions are hugely important. Online shoppers will make a decision in just a few seconds, and this website passes that test. It’s got great images of its products, you can see that they operate a real showroom which proves it’s not a back-bedroom operation, and there’s a phone number which gives added confidence.

However, looking at the site a little longer and it’s easy to see that its design is very outdated. A scrolling bar of information has a very 1980s feel, and the main image is a scrolling banner, meaning there are three or four images used in rotation. Our stats show that customers don’t like these, it makes it difficult to know what’s most important and where to look.

Each page uses large images as a background, which is cluttered and messy. I don’t like the look, there’s no reason for the busy background.

In addition, the website doesn’t work very well on mobile phones. Most shoppers visit websites with a mobile device, making it so important that you don’t turn them off with a site they can’t navigate.

Don’t turn customers away

It can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and attract visitors to your site. So when a potential buyer arrives, it’s crucial that you don’t make silly mistakes that’ll make them leave.

In this case, the website has a big problem building trust.

First of all, it doesn’t do enough to showcase its products – the number of photos certainly don’t match the price tag. While the descriptions of the furniture are detailed, if I’m buying a sofa for my home – whether it’s £600 or £3,000 – I need to see more than one photo. And as videos are so easy and cheap to make, there’s no reason not to include them, too.

This lack of photos is compounded by the site’s ‘no returns’ policy! Not only does any customer in the UK have the legal right to return a product they bought online for any reason, it would be good business practice to offer the option even if it wasn’t a legal obligation.

Worse still, while there is a phone number at the top of the first page, the ‘contact us’ page itself is blank. And the social media hasn’t been updated in nearly a year. Now I’m not even confident they’re still in business.

All in all, you’d have to be a brave shopper to buy an expensive piece of furniture based on one photo, knowing that it can’t be returned if it’s not quite right, and from a company whose contact details are missing.

Simplify the buying process

Your goal as a retailer is to make the transaction as smooth and simple as possible. Anything that’s overly complicated, doesn’t work, or is a distraction, is one more reason somebody might click off your site and buy from a competitor.

First of all, I love the search box this site offers. It’s predictive, which makes finding products super easy. However, the shopping cart procedure is old fashioned. There’s no need to take me to my shopping basket any time I add an item to it. Keep me viewing products until I choose to check out.

Once it’s time to pay, get rid of any unnecessary clutter. Remove any elements of design or information that doesn’t help the buyer continue with the purchase. This site’s checkout process is loaded with extra stuff, and it’s certainly not clear where to click next.

And one more time: I hate ‘discount codes’. If I’m about to make a purchase, and you ask me if I’ve got a discount code, I’ll feel cheated if I don’t – like I’d be a mug to pay full price. So you know what I do if you advertise the fact that there are discount codes out there? I’ll get on Google and look for one. And maybe I’ll find your products on a competitor’s site and shop there instead. The idea of a discount code isn’t a bad one, but give it a better name, such as ‘gift voucher’.

Keep on top of marketing

This website is missing out in two key areas: firstly, it’s not on top of its SEO game because of a simple mistake. Where both www.fabulousfurniture.co.uk and fabulousfurniture.co.uk point to different places, Google thinks they’re two separate sites. It assumes one is a copy-cat of the other, and it’ll penalise both. Make sure everything points to one site.

The second missed opportunity is remarketing through Facebook and Google. Once a customer has visited your site, you can continue advertising to them through these two platforms. It’s very effective, because you already know that they’re interested, and it’s easy and affordable to set up.

Use up-to-date software

Here is the biggest problem of all for Fabulous Furniture: the whole site is built on old software, Magento 1.9

In fact, there’s no real reason why a shop of this size should be running its own software anyway. Sure, you get full control, but it’s really not worth the hassle or the expense. Imagine buying, fueling and maintaining your own generator when you could just plug your house into the National Grid instead.

Old software can make your site look outdated, sure, but in this case it’s much worse. Magento v1 is known to have a major security flaw which enables hackers to steal the credit card information of your customers – and that’s something you simply can’t allow to happen for legal and reputational reasons. Unfortunately, the best way to prevent this is to upgrade to the latest Magento version, and that’s no easy task.

Instead, I would highly recommend using a hosted platform. (Naturally, I’d suggest EKM, which is by far the best, but there are others, too.) Not only are the costs much lower, but we’ll shoulder the burden of keeping everything up and running – and safe from cyber criminals.

In conclusion

There are a number of small tweaks that can be made to improve this site and increase sales, starting with adding more photos and video, tidying up the design (including the checkout process) and rewriting that awful (and inaccurate) returns policy.

But in truth, this site requires new software. This version of Magento is outdated and unsecure, and in my opinion running any version of Magento is just too much of an undertaking for a company of this size.

Once more, we have been purposely critical of this site. It’s easy to see that a lot of passion and effort has been put into building it, but the aim of this series is to learn ways in which we can all improve sales and generate more money. Which, after all, is what your website is for.

If you would like to nominate your site for an evaluation by our team, send your details via our Twitter or Facebook profiles or find out more about how the EKM platform can help improve sales while keeping your business safe and compliant.

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