Hot Topics:

5 Ways to Jazz Up Your Store Design

Enhance your online store's look to increase sales.

The New Year’s fireworks have just faded, and you’re already thinking about restocking your inventory and researching new products. You’ll need to do this to keep your store going strong in 2012, but is there anything else you should be doing? What about taking another look at your store’s design to see if it needs any adjusting?

A well-designed store will foster trust, credibility and encourage repeat customers, according to the experts we talked to. A less-than-stellar design likely will lead visitors to make a quick exit.

To ensure you’re not missing out on shoppers and sales because of your store’s look, we talked to a group of experts to see what design elements you should review as we start 2012.

1. Product images

“If you take the extra time to take good photos, then you probably take the extra time to do good business in other ways”

Our experts agreed that product images should be at the top of your design checklist. That’s because photos of the items you sell tell a lot about your business—and not just what you sell. Good images let people know you offer quality goods and take pride in your work, notes Chrystal Jaeger, the lead designer for Auctiva.com, the largest third-party developer of marketing and listing tools for eBay.

“It shows that you go the extra mile,” she explains. “If you take the extra time to take good photos, then you probably take the extra time to do good business in other ways.”

Good product images also give buyers a good understanding of exactly what you’re offering—an important accomplishment since shoppers can’t personally inspect the items they browse online the way they can at their local retail store.

So take a minute to review at your item images. Ensure they’re clear, uncluttered, crisp, contain no shadows and show shoppers every detail of an item, Jaeger says.

If you need to redo any shots, use a light box to get professional shots, adds Tony Camarota, an Auctiva designer of four years.

Camarota says product images are so important, they can actually be one of the best ways to improve the entire look of a shop, and one of the easiest ways to add some pizzazz without using HTML code.

2. Your logo

Your logo is another important design element to consider. It will represent and identify your shop, and it will be one of the first things your buyers see when they stop by. It should be professional and reflect the image you want for your store, Jaeger says.

She suggests having your logo designed by a professional to promote a “serious seller” vibe. If you’re unsure where to find a designer, a simple Google search for “logo designer” will help. You can even put a classified ad up on your local Craigslist site to get some help for a reasonable price. Just be sure to ask for references and some examples of previous work.

As you work with a designer, though, don’t forget to tell him or her as much about your business as you can so they have a good understanding of what you want to convey—and don’t be afraid to have fun by incorporating elements that reinforce this.

“If you are designing a logo for a children’s toy store, it would be appropriate to use a childish font and color scheme,” explains graphic designer Jacob Cass, the creator of design blog Just Creative Design.

However, don’t add elements to your logos just for the sake of it, he cautions. “The Harley Davidson logo isn’t a motorcycle, nor is the Nokia logo a mobile phone. A logo is purely for identification,” he continues.

He says logos should be simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate for your business.

3. Colors, layout and nonproduct images

Once you’re done examining your logo, take a step back and look at your entire store’s look. Consider fonts, colors, nonproduct images and descriptions. All of these elements should work together, complementing each other and the products you sell, Camarota says.

Keep the types of fonts and colors you use to a minimum, and use background colors that enhance your items

He advises staying away from “loud” hues like reds and yellows that are hard on the eyes, make text hard to read and create disharmony. He also suggests keeping the types of fonts and colors you use to a minimum, and using background colors that enhance your items.

“Take a less-is-more approach,” he says.

But make your items pop. “If you sell a lot of brightly colored clothes, go with a background color that lets the clothes stand out more, so a white or black, or a nondistracting color,” Camarota notes. “If you sell a lot of white products, then use a lot of different colors in your design.”

Just keep that “less is more” idea in the back of your head so you don’t overwhelm visitors and take the emphasis off buying, he adds.

4. Usability

Now you’ll need to take a look at your store’s functionality. A good-looking store is important, but good function is vital for success. If a shopper doesn’t have a good buying experience, odds are they won’t be back to shop again, Jaeger adds.

The buyer may not even complete the transaction, leaving you with an abandoned cart.

Take a minute to go through your checkout process, or have a friend do so to see if your checkout is at all “clunky.” Jaeger explains that buyers don’t want to—and shouldn’t have to—jump through hoops to buy an item they want. If your checkout process requires too many steps, they’ll go elsewhere.

She also suggests reviewing your product descriptions and shipping costs and services to ensure they’re accurate, easy to understand and easy to find. She reminds us that shoppers are impatient and seek out fast and easy-to-use Web stores.

Navigation menus should contribute to this, Camarota adds.

He says navigation menus should be clearly presented and easy to find, adding that every product should be easy to find in a top-level category or one sub level.

“The idea is, you don’t want users going on an Easter egg hunt for your products,” he explains. “There are always some Easter eggs that never get found, which is not good for business. The quicker they can find the product they are looking for, the better.”

5. Upsell and cross sell

Finally, you’ll want to look at your opportunities to cross sell and upsell. This means making sure you offer customers related or upgraded products at the right time—before they leave your Web store, Jaeger says.

For instance, if you’re selling a flashlight, offer the batteries required for that flashlight to function before the customer checks out, or use a “related items” feature to display an upgraded flashlight alongside or below the lower-end version your buyer is viewing.

Sell clothing? Suggest a scarf or other accessories to complement the shirt your buyer just added to his or her cart, and so on.

Several shopping cart solutions allow you to cross sell and upsell on product pages or right before checkout. You just have to make sure to present these items as suggestions, and not be pushy, says e-commerce expert Dennis L. Prince. Otherwise, buyers may get annoyed and leave.

Prince suggests using thumbnails of your suggestions and a brief description of the cross- and up-sell items so buyers can easily see what you’re offering them. But keep it mild and limited to eight related products, he adds.

“Cross-selling is a time-honored method to increase sales while you have your customers’ active attention,” he writes. “When they’ve indicated they’re ready to buy, try indicating another item or two that they might also want or need. You’ll be amazed at how many will say, ‘Yes, I’ll take that, too!'”

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



Newsletter Signup

Subscribe!