Sunday, April 5, 2009

5 Things All E-Commerce Websites Need To Succeed

Hello online shopping fans! Welcome back to ShopWorthy - A Blog About Online Shopping!

In our ongoing effort to provide you with information about all aspects of online shopping, we are taking another interesting twist for this post.

Last time, we shamelessly wrote about our own online store and shared how we are trying to live up to our own standards about online shopping.

This time, to approach things from another angle, we have asked Ken Ramirez, owner of, to share a perspective from the side of an experienced Web site developer, who has helped many other e-commerce biz owners. At the end, we'll share a special link where you can learn more about Ken as a person and his businesses.

But without further ado, let's learn from a real expert about the...


5 Things All E-Commerce Websites Need To Succeed
By Ken Ramirez
Axsys Technology Group

When Mike and Kali from asked if I would be interested in composing a guest post for their awesome blog, I jumped at the opportunity. What I didn't have at that point was a solid topic to write about. Little did I know that the topic would find me.

In case you don't know who I am or what my company does, a short introduction is in order. My name is Ken Ramirez and my company (Axsys Technology Group) provides website design, hosting, and e-marketing services. A very common task for us is to design and build e-commerce websites.

Most clients start by telling us what they wish to see visually, but have no clue as to what should happen behind the curtain. These days, of modern search engines, Web 2.0, and computer savvy users, what goes on behind the scene is just as important (if not more important) than what you see visually.

Furthermore, when I present our options list to our customers, at first, most don't understand what the options are, let alone why they need it. When I thought about this, it became clear as to what I would want to guest-post on a blog operated by the owners of an e-commerce website. That way, perhaps we could help a few of DreamWorthy's readers in case some are in the process of building an e-commerce website, and have no clue where to start (other than what they'd like to see visually).

Think SEO Now, Not Later

As a brand-new online store owner, one of the first decisions you'll have to make is to decide what to name your domain name. Easier said than done. When picking your domain name, think utility, not coolness. You'll probably come up with fifty cool names that you're proud of. Perhaps because you think that they are witty or slick. But your name should be blatantly obvious of what you sell. Stay away from words like Best, Greatest, NumberOne, or other adjectives that seem more like boasting than actual facts.

Next, don't forget the big three meta-tags in your pages: Title, Description, and Keywords. Many websites make the mistake of using the same title, description, and keywords across the entire website. It is especially important that you DON'T make this mistake in an e-commerce website. Your product pages should contain meta-tags that represent what is actually being displayed. For example, if you sell chairs, and the currently viewed product page is a black plastic chair with chrome legs, that is what you should put in your title, description, and keywords.

Another common mistake is the use of parameters in the URLs provided as links. In order to explain this one, let me provide an example. Let's say you have a page containing a list of products for a given category. Each item in the list might have a link to view the full details for each product. The link is followed by search engines (when crawling your website). However, each link looks something like this:

http: //

http: //

This doesn't provide the search engines with any information about the actual products that you sell on your website. A better choice would be to have URLs that resemble the following:

http: //

http: //

These last three examples have information that a search engine can sink its teeth into in order to rank you better.

Don't Be Anti-Social

Many new websites are incorporating social media websites into their marketing plan. Doing so could be as simple as joining and incorporating the buttons into your website. These buttons can then be used by your visitors in an effort to spread the word about something interesting they found on your website. When one of your products makes it to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and other social media websites, it could mean the difference between success and failure. Furthermore, you can incorporate this feature into every single one of your products to make it easy for your visitors to spread the word for you.

Another upcoming practice is the ability to update your status on various social websites with new product entries as you add them to your website. This can be automatic if your website developer is familiar with the Application Programming Interface (API) supported by the social website you wish to provide updates for. On most social websites, as you add an update, the status is viewed by all of your friends (connections). If your friends comment on your status, their comment is viewed by their friends. This means that you could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people...all from a single product update that made itself over to one or more social website.

Get Your Feed On

These days, it's becoming incredibly important for your products to appear on multiple shopping websites that point back to you for the final purchase. These sites provide product comparisons for the consumer and ease their product purchase decisions. The point is, you have to spread your wings a bit to make a bigger sale (or at least more of them). Sites that provide comparison features, pricing, discounts, etc., include: Google Base,,, and many more.

Again, an experienced e-commerce development company will know how to add features to your store that will allow you to automatically forward your products to these other sites, based on a feed from your website to theirs. You should not have to perform double-entry. Most of these websites provide a public API that can be used by your website to communicate with them, easing the path to reach more customers.

This essentially translates to more sales for your company.

More Than Just A Pretty Picture - Rotating Banners

This is a visual component that can be used to display multiple products, specials, discounts, new items, etc. to your customers. However, just displaying pretty pictures is not enough. The images should act as clickable regions with specific words that state "click here to learn more" or something similar, in order to make it obvious what is expected of the customer if they see something that catches their interest.

When the potential client clicks on the image, they should be taken directly to the product's detail page, where they can view options, sizes, and most importantly, be able to add the product to the cart with a simple click of a button.

X-Sell Marks The Spot

X-Selling (a.k.a. cross-selling) is a technique that sometimes causes a customer to additionally buy something beyond what they intended to buy. For example, say they came to your website in order to buy one specific thing. When they got to the detail page, they clicked on the "Add To Cart" button. Next, they're shown the cart displaying their grand total and the list of products that they've added to the cart. Finally, right below the cart, or sometimes above the cart, they're shown a few other products that either:

A. Complement the last product added to the cart.
B. Other customers typically have brought when they also chose the last product added to the cart.
C. Is a good alternative product than the one last added to the cart (especially if it is more expensive).

When deciding how many products to X-Sell, a good number is 3. More than that is a bit overwhelming for the customer.


Now that you know what your online store should have, you're probably wondering the same thing that most of our customers start to think about next...what's it going to cost in order to add these features? There's good news and bad. First the bad, it does add more cost to your initial base when you start to add these features to your website. Now the good news...most of the features that I've discussed above, are now available as an add-on for most e-commerce engines. If your design company builds your e-commerce store on one of the existing e-commerce engines, the added expense should not be overwhelming.

You'll probably have to pay for a license (if there's a cost involved for integrating the add-on). You'll also have to pay for the extra time that your e-commerce development company will need in order to add the component to your e-commerce website.

If your e-commerce website designer has never heard of any of these features for your potential website, walk away and find someone else to build your online store.

And remember, if all else fails, feel free to give us a call at 954-499-5594 or write us at If you want to learn more about what it takes to run and operate a successful online business, read our blog at


Well, faithful readers, this is the end of this special post. Even for you die-hard shopping fans, I hope it has been intriguing to see things from the perspective of a potential e-commerce site owner and the professionals who design sites to be efficient, effective, marketable, and profitable.

As always, please feel free to provide feedback to Ken or us, by leaving a comment or writing to us at Mail @ And to learn more about the kind of person that Ken Ramirez is, and more about his business, see a special post at our other blog called DreamWorthy Friends.

And with that said, faithful readers, we'll wrap up this ShopWorthy post for now. Thanks for reading, and as always, happy shopping!

Until next time,

Your friends and Shopping Advisors at DreamWorthy Gifts

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