Long ago, when the Internet was young, and the term “smartphone” did not exist, online e-Commerce seemed like rocket science. Few people managed to add a product to the online cart, and even fewer were brave enough to punch in their credit card number.
Today, everyone I know shops online from time to time. Some communication patterns – or stereotypes – have emerged. If you run a digital e-Commerce website, you have to know this language.
Here are the first pages of e-Commerce phrasebook.
- Big Images and White Space
That could be translated as: “This product is expensive, and you will pay for the luxury”. Visit apple.com for instance. Right now, there is a single image of iPhone X above the fold (and a lot of white space).
- Small Images, Lots of Text and Buttons
Everything clumped tightly means: “We offer you the lowest prices in the market”. It’s like a food market in a crowded place. Probably, the website owner has simply abandoned it and does not care about the updates.
- Total Sale
Sales on all items are like saying: “This place is a tourist attraction”. Unless it’s a holiday season when all stores are desperate for customers.
- Exclusive Discounts
Several time-limited promotions on a couple of products mean: “We want to keep you interested, check back often”. When the discount is only 5-10%, nobody takes it seriously. If it is 25%+, customers really stop and think.
- 24/7 Live Chat
Live chat with a consultant online translates to: “We are mature enough to have someone on staff to answer your questions”.
Live chat that pops up immediately asking: “How can I help you?” actually means: “We really, really want to make a sale, and we are not afraid to be annoying”. Most likely, this popup will haunt you on every page of this website.
- Strange Product Names
Weird product names and descriptions are literally translated from the foreign language. In most cases, it’s because the seller has poor knowledge of English, or does not have the resources to invest into a proper product presentation. It is also an indicator of the product quality.
- Best Seller’s Title
Calling yourself the Best Ultimate Absolute Super Top Seller whatever means: “I want to sell it so hard”. No matter what it is and how good it is. Experienced shoppers intuitively avoid such titles.
- Annoying Ads
Ads all over the store mean: “We can’t make a profit out of our own goods and are looking for other ways to make money”. The sad part is, if your products are not good enough, you do not get good traffic. Therefore, the ads will bring you no money.
- Advanced Options
Multiple currencies/languages to choose from is a strong positive message: “We have clients all over the world, and we want to make sure using the website is convenient for them”.
This list could go on and on, but the true message is – we all know this anyway. Every time we open the new e-Commerce website, we quickly scan it, and in under 7 seconds translate the visuals into our own language.
If the shop owner speaks our language – great. If we see something strange, we do not trust this website – we go away. Bye-bye, store owner. The experienced store owners know that they should study their customers’ language, or they risk losing revenue.
A month ago I was approached by the client who said:
“Look, all of my customers are artists. They don’t want to be distracted by colors or graphics on the website. I want my new website to be purely black and white, with a minimum of graphical elements.”
At first, I didn’t want to comply with these requests. However, I gave it some thought and realized that this person knows her customers perfectly, and she is really on the same wavelength with them. Speaking your customers’ language matters more than offering low prices and discounts. Do you want more sales? Talk to your clients in their language, first of all.
I could also talk about public relations on Twitter, the importance of prompt response on Facebook, or Live Chat’s best practices. All of these communication areas are important, but not as much as the first impression. The first messages you exchange with your potential customers define whether they will make a purchase in your online store or move on to your competitor.
About the author
Roman Korzh is a Chief Partnership Officer at Zfort Group, a full-service IT provider. With more than 10 years of experience in the software development industry, Roman is a senior level results-driven leader with exceptional knowledge of establishing long-term cooperation and generating revenue.