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How do you translate your trusty print catalog into a user-friendly ecommerce site?

Whether you’re a manufacturer with a hundred products or one with a hundred thousand, driving sales through your website requires a quality user experience, especially when it comes to your purchase path.

We’ve compiled three top tips below to help you improve your ecommerce, no matter how complicated your product offerings might be. Following these best practices is a great way to improve your conversion rates in the short term, and an important part of the foundation of any redesign and redevelopment.

So how do you help more of your customers get from search pages to buy buttons to checkout?

1. Figure out your end goal

How do you measure success if you don’t know what it looks like?

Make sure you have your visitor’s end goal in mind before you try to make any improvements to a complex cart path. Do you want your visitors to make it all the way through your ecommerce cart and purchase a product? Do you want them to fill out a contact us form somewhere on your site? Perhaps you’d like visitors to contact a salesperson at your company directly to help walk them through the buying process?

All three of these end goals require a different pathway for a visitor and potential customer. Whether you’re laying out the initial look and feel of your website or making improvements later to fine-tune conversions, these questions are essential to make sure you’re providing the best possible user experience. If you don’t know where your users should be going, they won’t either.

2. Tailor your experience to your customers

Make sure you understand who’s coming to your website. Not who you think is coming, or even who you’d like to be coming to your website, but who’s visiting now.

The best way to find out who’s coming to your site is by looking at your Google Analytics reports. Don’t have Google Analytics? It’s free! And relatively easy to set up, especially if you’re using a common content management system. If you’re a larger manufacturer, your development firm or agency probably already set up a Google Analytics instance that you can access.

Google Analytics provides a wealth of data that can be used to build an online catalog or shape your purchase path navigation. For example, when it comes to seeing who’s visited your site, you can sort you traffic by a wide variety of factors. You can easily see the location of the IP addresses that visit your site, as well as the common devices visitors use to access your site.

Make sure your site is built with your visitors in mind, both in terms of the content you publish and the design. One of the most common issues: If your site isn’t responsive (the most common way of being mobile-friendly), you might notice many of your visitors bouncing when they arrive on product catalog pages because the complex page structure is impossible to read on a mobile device.

I know what you’re saying to yourself right now: my customers aren’t browsing my site on mobile. But they probably are! Or at least they could be: find out!

3. Keep it as simple as possible

It never hurts to mention the old adage (no pun intended) K.I.S.S.. Always keep the purchase process as simple as possible for your users.

More isn’t always better: Try to limit the amount of options that users face while going through the purchase path. One easy way to do that: personalize your purchase path for each user and potential customer! Personalization is now common feature in most content management systems, and can used to great effect in concert with ecommerce.

So how do you segment groups to personalize the steps in your purchase path? Well, to start you can use the data in Google Analytics (see above), but you can also take it further by using factors such as purchase history, a la Amazon. Your development partner can usually help get your started with personalization with too much of an investment if your platform already supports it.

Another way to keep visitor frustration low: keep product filtering simple and logical. One common issue: blank pages and dead ends. Never have a search or filter selection result in a blank page. Set up your site logic such that there’s never a deadly cocktail of filter combinations that will yield zero results. Make sure there’s always another step for your customers to take towards your end goal.

So what’s the bottom line? Expectations for manufacturing ecommerce have grown significantly in the past couple years. Not only do your customers likely expect your catalog to be an easily navigated part of your website, but they expect to able to access it from anywhere on their smartphones.

There’s no silver bullet to ecommerce success, but starting with the areas above will help guide your website visitors on a path that will result in what everyone is chasing: more conversions and higher revenue!

Want to build a digital solution that can grow with your company? Start with the foundation of an industry-leading content management system.

As a Business Development Executive, Mike Kovach focuses on guiding and helping to grow current and new customer digital presence. Mike collaborates with the Adage team to make sure clients are following best practices aligning business goals with the ever changing digital world.