Last monday night we had our monthly WooCommerce Meetup in London. We had a last minute change of venue which saw us head to the garden of the Dogget Pub by the Thames river.

We had an informal discussion about how to improve your WooCommerce store. I’d previously chatted to the other co-organisers, Marina and Gabor and together we have put together our top ten WooCommerce hit list for improving your store.

Below you can find our top ten tips. We hope you find this useful and if you have some more ideas, please pop them in the comments.

1. Site Speed

Make your site faster and error free. It will improve user experience which will result in improved conversions. Speed can broadly be broken into three areas:

Hosting

The quick win here is to move to a WordPress hosting company. They will have the server optimised for WordPress. They are also likely to have caching and a CDN (Content Delivery Network) which improves the front-end speed; the speed your customers will notice.

Error Logging

WordPress has a fantastic error logging facility built in. If you have a staging site (and you should) then make sure this is enabled and outputted to a log. This is usually the job of your developer or agency, so make sure they are error checking.

Error checking should also involve spotting JavaScript errors that occur in the browser. This is spotted by checking the browser console.

Optimisation

Every time a file is loaded the browser makes a request to the server. If we can reduce the requests we reduce the load and increase site speed. There are a few ways we can do this.

Your pages styling is controlled by CSS. In WordPress it can be frustrating that every plugin loads it’s own CSS file, but you can make sure your theme loads only the required style.css file by only using one file. The best way to achieve this is to use SASS or LESS which are styling languages that are pre-compiled into a single CSS file. Ask your developer if they are doing this as it’s a quick win to speed your site up.

Javascript files can also be minified. This means they are compressed in size. This makes them hard for humans to read but your browser will be just fine and the smaller file size means things go that little bit faster.

If you optimise all the little bits the cumulative effect can be powerful.

2. Simplify simplify simplify

Having too much choice is bad for conversion rates. Customers can be uncertain what they need and/or are overwhelmed by the options. They never commit because they aren’t sure. Always think about your customers perspective. Check out our guide on conversion optimisation for more information on this.

Check the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle). That’s to say: does 80% of your products get purchased by 20% of your customer base. If so, try and optimise for the 80% of your customers. Reorganise your shop, reconfigure your products into simple products or provide buying guides that clearly explain the benefits and differences between products without overloading the customer.

Some of the most successful shops deliberately sell a small range of products. Keep it Simple.

3. Get Team feedback

A free but neglected resource: your own team. They are the operational elements in your company and have a unique perspective that helps you see the wood for the trees.

woo-teamwork
Teamwork Yay!

Talk to customer services and find out what are the most common problems. Talk to your purchasing department, your warehouse manager. Each element of your business will have important feedback. They’ll show you snagging points and frustrations you hadn’t spotted. List out the chain of events, from a customer discovering you, through to them receiving the product. Examine this with your team and get feedback on optimisation.

There may be multiple customer journeys; always revise these and get feedback. This should be a blueprint you can constantly return to and improve.

4. Get Guerrilla Feedback

This was mentioned at London WordCamp 2015 by Lily Dart. It’s a fantastic (and fantastically simple) way to get feedback on how visitors use your site. Head to your local coffee shop with your laptop and a ten pound note. The idea is to find someone at the coffee shop and ask them to use your website.

Watch (and screen capture if possible). You’ll learn a huge amount about how people navigate the site, learn about your brand, about what they like and don’t like. You’ll be screaming (inside I hope) if they get lost and don’t understand how to go to the next stage of your user journey. If you hadn’t guessed the £10 note is there to say thanks and buy the subject a cup of coffee.

Head over to the WordCamp presentation slides for more info.

5. Shipping

Once you have a prospective customer in your basket you want to reduce anything that can make that sale into a fail. (Aside… did I just say that Brentism?!)

Like it or lump it, the large retailers have set a consumer expectation of Free Shipping. Even if it is a few pounds you might loose the sale. If you can absorb the price into the product then you have an easy solution and should see an improvement in conversion. For shops that sell in multiple marketplaces and channels, this probably won’t be an option. A common solution is to strategically place your Free Shipping option for orders over a certain amount. You can offset the free delivery with an improved average order value.

In any case try and keep things simple. Having a fixed price is good. Having free shipping is ideal. You’ll have to look at your specific setup to determine what is best for your business.

6. Give your Product Pages some love

Good product photography goes a long, long way. If you can make your product look super-awesome-sexy-fun then you’ll be on to a winner. Don’t stop there, make your copy unique, authoritative and on-brand. Unique will improve your search rankings, authoritative and on-brand will improve conversion.

Make sure that each element of the product page is considered. With WooCommerce you can set specific related products. Make sure you optimise here. Have you got reviews? Check if you can reply to them – you’ll demonstrate you are a pro-active company, the kind of company that listens and works hard to help your customers.

7. Email

Email is huge. Every year I heard stories about the decline of email but a big pooh-pooh to the naysayers: email marketing is here to stay and is an amazing way to build a strong relationship with your prospects and customers. Build lists. Add signups at the bottom of your posts, add product enquiry forms to your product page. Have an out of stock product? Add a signup form on the product page so you can email them when it is back in stock. All these things are not only possible, but super easy with lots of email companies such as MailChimp and MailPoet integrating easily with WooCommerce.

Make sure you segment your lists. Send relevant and interesting content. I normally give a marketing email a few chances before I unsubscribe. Others are more ruthless or simply won’t bother opening. Add incentives, whether that be offers or promotions or perhaps links to your latest posts. This ties into your content strategy: if you write fantastic and educational content, then your missing a treat not emailing this to your customers. Email can drive sales and build your brand – a critical tool.

8. Leverage social

Social can be done good and it can be done bad. It’s about opening a dialogue with your customers. I heard the old marketing paradigm was a one way conversation. The company just told you what it wanted you to believe. Our product makes you cool, our chocolate is the best, our eCommerce platform is the best. If you keep ‘pushing’ what you want people to believe, you better be confident in what you are saying.

Today’s marketing is a dialogue and it’s happening on social media. Be a part of the conversation, make connections with your customer base and allow people to stay in the loop easily:

  • Social share buttons on products and posts
  • Follow buttons
  • Dedicate resource (people!) to social media and make sure they follow your brands voice

9. Understand your data and act on it

It’s one thing to collect all the things. It’s another to make sense of it and use it to inform your business. Earlier we talked about simplifying your site; find which products are used and re-organise based on this information. That’s a fantastic example of understanding and acting on analytics.

Look into what products are selling. Why? Is it seasonal, is it price related? Are they just better? Make sense of the data.

Examples

  • Change your home page hero product based on the data.
  • Experiment with payment gateways – Paypal vs on-page credit card
  • Check where your visitors are coming from – if international would it help to have a unique landing page for that country / different payment gateway?

Successful eCommerce companies recognise the power of data and confirm their strategies with data. Experiment and optimise. Use your analytics data as your guide.

10. Have contingencies in place

This article is how to improve your store RIGHT NOW. Well, do you know how your store is doing right now? What if it was offline. What if the hosting was down and orders were not being taken. Would you know about it? And if you would, would you have a plan to fix it?

You’ll never think this is important until you really need it. We’ve had panicked emails as sites go down on a Friday. If there is no plan in place you might find your site down for 4 or 5 days until a developer can look into it for you. That’s an expensive wait.

Suggestions:

  • Setup multiple downtime ping reports (normally with your hosting company and Pingdom)
  • Agree emergency downtime support from a freelancer / agency
  • List out possible scenarios and solutions (eg. If payment gateway goes down is there an alternative, if site is hacked is there a backup offsite, if courier goes bankrupt how can you fulfil orders?)

You can’t protect yourself from everything, but you can minimise the risk. As Marina said: “Hackers gonna Hack”.

BONUS – Meetups

This last one is a bit of cheat, but still holds true. There is no end to how you can improve your site. You can learn the best tricks, tips and tools by meeting others.

If you are the smartest person in the room; you are in the wrong room.

Head to your local WooCommerce/WordPress meetup. Setup an eCommerce meetup & hook up with others in your profession. Perhaps your local business community has a networking event. Making real life connections can be a huge boost and it gives you ideas and insights that you could not get on your own.

Perhaps even visit us at our next WooCommerce London Meetup.