An ecommerce brand of any size can wind up with a huge website. Think about all the page types that can prove useful to shoppers. Product pages, category pages, educational pages, testimonial pages… the potential is there to run to hundreds upon hundreds of pages if there’s enough content (and enough products) to justify them.
Creating those pages is one thing, but perfecting them is another entirely. It takes the work to another level of complexity, and even a brand with a massive budget won’t want to spend the amount it would take to make every page on its site completely optimized. If it were a one-off process, perhaps things would be different, but perfection for a web page is ephemeral. New standards develop, expectations shift, information changes — and suddenly a page seems old.
Accordingly, if you want to put time (and other resources) into perfecting your website, then you should pick out the pages that are most valuable. Given that customer loyalty lies at the heart of online retail with lasting success, it makes sense to focus on the pages that are most likely to drive retention. To that end, let’s take a look at which pages you should consider:
You already know this, but your homepage is the most important page on your website
in almost every sense. It’s essential for making a good first impression, obviously, which is why it demands top billing in a store launch assessment: if someone arrives at your site and isn’t hooked by the homepage, it won’t matter how good the rest of the site is because they won’t stick around to see it.
It isn’t just for new visitors, though, because it’s also where previous customers will return to — and if you don’t put enough work into it, you might end up losing them. Suppose that you update the layout in an ill-considered way: returning customers might be taken aback and see it as a good reason to try other stores. If you never update it, however, it will start to look mediocre by comparison as other brands make their homepages better.
Most of your design and development time should go towards your homepage, then. Only when you’re very confident that it’s in good shape can you start diverting resources towards the other pages listed here (the difference in importance is that substantial).
What happens when a customer has a question they need answered or a complaint they need addressed? They start looking for direct support. They might find it in the form of a live chat window (or even a chatbot), but if you don’t offer anything like that — or you do but some of your customers still prefer to operate the old fashioned way — then the logical destination will be your contact page.
What you have (and say) on that page will make a big difference. In short, the more contact options you provide, and the more assurances you can make about the speed and quality of your responses, the more likely the customer will be to engage with the process. If you give the impression that your support system is mediocre, there’s a good chance that they’ll assume it isn’t worth their time and go elsewhere.
The point of conversion is the moment of truth. Anyone can frivolously add an item to their basket, head to the basket stage, venture into the checkout to see what the total is, then back out because they were only curious. Similarly, someone with actionable intent can reach that stage with the intent to buy, only to reconsider at the last second for whatever reason.
Even if someone is generally a loyal customer, they won’t feel beholden to complete a purchase if they’re unhappy with some aspect of their order. Shipping is a key element here. Take an option like click-and-collect: if one of your main competitors starts offering it while you don’t, you can take a major hit. Worse still, perhaps you do offer it but it isn’t clearly communicated.
Pay close attention to your store analytics. Whenever the conversion rate among those who reach the checkout stage starts to dip, it’s a sign that you’re falling behind (perhaps you are indeed being outperformed by a rival, or there’s simply an issue with your page that’s recently come to light). Stand ready to put some major work into overhauling your checkout page.
If my description sounds vague, it’s because there’s no clearly-defined way to describe this page. It’s often called “About Us” or something similar, but not always: regardless, it’s the page that tells people about your company. Why you do what you do, how you got started, what your business plans are, and what you hope to achieve beyond the corporate world.
For a long time, this page really wasn’t very important. It was actually irrelevant for the most part, only proving useful when other companies interested in doing business visited and wanted to learn more. But things have changed due to the rising interest in corporate ethics. More and more shoppers want to know that the brands they support are worth supporting: positive social impact is particularly important for younger shoppers.
Now think about someone who’s purchased from a brand several times due to its pricing, but recently developed a concern about ethical material sourcing. That person might look for some kind of confirmation about how materials are sourced, fail to find it, and decide to support a business with a transparent ethics policy instead. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you need to ensure that your brand identity moves with the times.
Working on the entirety of your website is obviously important, but these pages are more important than all the others when it comes to customer retention. Focus on your homepage above everything else, then put time into your contact page, your checkout page, and your “About Us” page (or equivalent). That should achieve the best ROI.
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