Hold on a second and imagine how much information we have to deal with everyday.
Too much.

Now, think about the visitor on your website. How many websites has she been through before landing on your eCommerce?
Probably a lot.

In a perfect world, we want her to stay on our website, find out more about what we do, and come back to buy or sign up.

Even better, we might think she would convert right away. The minute she lands on our online store.

Trust us, this won't happen. She will buy only after she has checked your competition. And Amazon too, because well, it might be just cheaper there.

To cope with this, we see one mindset to embrace. Make your eCommerce as simple as possible.

We see different reasons why you should keep your eCommerce simple. And they all come down to the same ultimate goal: Because it works! To drive more recurring traffic and to help you can sell more.

Have this attitude and your website will be more attractive. Your life, as an eCommerce entrepreneur, will be easier. Last but not least, you'll gain the authority needed to grow your sales.

Less Is More

It’s complicated to have a simple design but it’s worth it.

“Design is so simple. That's why it's complicated.”—Paul Rand

Don't overthink design when you start your own eCommerce store. Keep it light. There are different rules you can apply depending on how big your website it.

Say you start from scratch. You have a blank canvas. Don't clutter it with colours and weird fonts from any sizes. Implement a step-by-step approach that would fit to your branding and your customers expectations.

On the other hand, how would you simplify the design of your existing online store? Think distractions. Assess where they might be and minimise them. We're talking here about details like colour fonts, backgrounds, animations.

Your goal is to make your website as accessible as possible on desktop and mobile. Don't try to be original for the sake of being different.

Also, don't try to use a funny font. It won't help. Make it as easy as possible for your reader to get it. Use a regular size too. People read everyday fonts at the size between 10 and 12. Go for that one.

These are basics. Assess your website, and ask yourself. Is it too difficult to get within 5 seconds—even less? Try another version, and compare.

What happens when you open your website from a smartphone? Is it still relevant to your visitors? Mobile visitors might convert less than desktop ones. Yet their first experience on mobile often determines what they do next. (Source: Adobe 2016 Mobile Retail Report)

It's not because you have catchy colours that your visitor will stay longer. If she is not able to read the first message, you've lost.

Your landing page must have the simple formula:

  • main image
  • bold tagline
  • clear call-to-action

See this ad for example. Ideally, you want your landing page to follow the same structure.

This is a classic ad from John Caples. He wrote this in 1927.

The drawing (1) drives your attention to the headline (2) which is intriguing.

Then you are ready to dive in a more complex read (3), because you want to find out what the article is about.

You end up giving your contact information (4).

You can dig more about the history of advertising and learn from the best. Doing this will help you come up with new ideas to simplify the design of your landing page. They all developed priceless concepts which are still relevant today.

Check out these books respectively from David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins:

We now focus our attention on smaller screens rather than newspapers. Still, the brain has the same mechanism to focus.

Think of your landing page as the door your visitor needs to walk through. Is it easy to open or locked?

Make your life easier with products — Focus on the Things That Matter

We all have 24 hours in a day, and running an eCommerce full-time or as a side-project is time-consuming. Hence our goal is to have as much impact as possible focusing on the right things.

Ever heard of Vilfredo Pareto?

He was an Italian engineer born in 1848 who studied as well economics, politics, sociology.

You know him because he developed the principle about unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. What Pareto proved is simple: 20% of the invested input accounts for 80% of the results obtained.

In other words, the greatest impacts on your revenue night resulted from just 20% of your products.

Imagine your eCommerce and the list of products you are selling right now. By products, we mean SKUs (stock keeping units). You might have 10, 50, or even 100 SKUs. Try to calculate your revenue per SKU to see which items are performing well.

Keep only the 20% generating 80% of your revenue. Just get rid of the rest. You can either run a special promo to liquidate, or sell at bulk price to another eCommerce. Up to you.

The idea here is to make your eCommerce simpler so you can focus on the right items to sell, with less work to do.

If you are running an eCommerce and the Pareto principle helped you sell more. Send us a message so we can feature you.

Less SKUs mean less time to spend to update product descriptions, images, or to promote them. Another approach you can try is look at who your customers are. Ask yourself this:

Who are the 20% of customers representing 80% of my total revenue?

When you know that, you know what to write to attract them, you know which items work well, you can focus.

Be the Authority

Your website is now simpler to read, and you have more time to focus on your customers.

So what's next? Become an authority of what you sell. You have less products and you picked them because you know they convert.

But how well do you know these products? What do they do? Why do people buy it? How do they use it? What does it bring to their lives?

All these questions are worth digging. They bring you knowledge, expertise, and you can write about it to gain trust.

The ultimate advantage of simplicity for your eCommerce is you being in charge and in control. You now know exactly who your customers are, and what they want.

But this can only happen when you focus on writing more about what you're selling, and who you are selling to.

That's how you begin to gain the trust of your visitors, and keep them coming back. That's how you get featured as well on other popular publications too.

People want to buy from someone they can trust. Not from a clown. If they keep hearing about you and want to hear from you, you got something priceless: their attention.

How do you think bloggers or Internet marketers / entrepreneurs are able to become New York Times best sellers?

They spend their time giving first. They do give a lot before asking for something. Articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, Snapchat / Instagram stories.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Jay Baer, Tim Ferriss. They show up every single day to help their readers and provide actionable tips. And yes, from time to time they ask them to buy their books. It's easier to convert them.

The more you know about your customers, the closer you are to the top of the mountain. The view is clear. You know where the trends are going. You might define the trends. You are an influencer.


Conclusion

Keeping your eCommerce simple is hard. It's a philosophy. There is no right or wrong direction to go. We just lay down some options you might want to consider.

To succeed, you need to assess whether your online store is appealing. On desktop and on mobile. A straightforward design is an act of authenticity, which people will appreciate.

Focusing on the right products to sell to the right people is another key to success. Don't waste your time on dumb products no one wants. Keep the SKUs that have a clear impact on your total revenue.

Once you select them, dig in. Know more about the items you're selling and explain to your visitors why they should buy them. While doing this, show your visitors how they can achieve more with you. Be an authority people listen to.


Credits for pictures to Unsplash.