8 ways to Amazon-ify your Website

Want to be in the same league as Amazon? Here are 8 things that Amazon does which have helped make it the $30bn a year eCommerce business it is today…The best part is that you can implement all of these things in your business…

#1 – Keep your homepage fresh

Your homepage is likely to get the most visitors and probably has the most link equity over any other page on your website – you need to be taking full advantage of these facts and driving visitors to the right sections of your website and including internal links to build search engine visibility across your website.

You also need to regularly update your homepage to increase conversion and reduce bounce rate. In online retail, there are so many ‘events’ and ‘seasons’ to take advantage of – if you look at Amazon UK’s homepage at the moment they are highlighting their ‘back to uni’ offers, some of their most popular products and mixing in some recommendations that are personal to me. A stale homepage is a real turn off, by contrast, a homepage that is very ‘now’ will prove a powerful engager and hook visitors into exploring your site further.

#2 – Make internal site search obvious

There are so many ways for you to track visitors to your website and we all have an incredible amount of data at our fingertips that can help us better understand our customers however each individual is unique and none of us are mind-readers!

Internal site search can help you turn a potential bounce or exit (i.e. someone leaving your website) into a customer. If a customer lands on your website and can’t see what they are looking for right away but you have search functionality prominently displayed then there is every chance they’ll use it to find what they are actually looking for.

Tracking site search usage can also help you better understand your customers for the future – and adapt your website accordingly, particularly if you identify patterns or notice common trends.

#3 – Show off your social proof

Call it herd mentality, compliance, the human need to keep up with the Jones’ – we all want to know what everyone else is up to and what everyone else is buying.

Amazon helps us see this and enables us to go along with the crowd by buying the product ‘the crowd’ deems to be the best, search by features ‘the crowd’ associate with a product. We can read reviews by independent individuals and compare ratings; since they’ve clearly got customers who have bought these things before – it instills confidence that Amazon will deliver for us as they have experience so we can be certain that Amazon is a legitimate business. We all know that Amazon is a legitimate business but translate this to a smaller eCommerce website and it can be the difference between making and breaking a sale.

Amazon does eCommerce social proof at its best.

#4 – Invest in eCommerce SEO

There seems to be a myth that once you hit a certain status you don’t need to sweat SEO and whilst it certainly becomes easier to achieve prime search engine visibility when you are a big brand, in my opinion, no website (outside of Google’s stable) is above needing to be mindful of SEO. Amazon may be a colossal brand but they demonstrate that you are never too big to care. I ran a number of pages through SEOmoz’s On-Page Report Card Tool and it generated mainly A and B grades.

I particularly like the fact that all of the pages I analysed had a rel-canonical tag in place which so many eCommerce websites don’t bother implementing – it is well worth doing to indicate to Google which is the page you want to rank.

#5 – Look for ways to maximise revenue

Real world retailers are constantly exploring ways to increase the average spend per customer but from what we see, very few online retailers are actively trying to increase their average order value. Amazon of course has recognised the positive impact up-selling and cross-selling can have on revenue (and customer satisfaction) and has developed several ways to encourage its customers to spend more.

4tell is an inexpensive way for your business to deploy some Amazon-like functionality – their product recommendation software isn’t as advanced as Amazon’s but it is inexpensive, has some nice features and is proven to increase online revenue.

#6 – Invest in content on product pages

One thing I particularly like about Amazon is that despite their collosal selection of products, they have still invested the time and money in making sure each page is of a high standard including not just the boilerplate manufacturer specifications (as some eCommerce merchants do) but also user generated content in the form of customer reviews, bespoke content to enrich the product description as well as a host of images and sometimes product samples for example their trial book chapters.

Amazon set an example when it comes to eCommerce content creation and whilst you might not have the traction to generate the volume of user generated content that they do, it is of course possible to invest time and resources into making each product page a really worthwhile and engaging user experience. You’ll be rewarded with excellent long tail visibility in the search results and increased conversion.

#7 – Keep your checkout process clean and simple

Some Amazon pages could be described as quite ‘busy’. Not their checkout process though (see above) – this is straight to the point and extremely clutter free. You’ll notice a different header navigation, a very basic layout and a clear logical direction for customers to go through. Follow their lead to make sure your basket abandonment rate stays low.

Once you’ve taken a visitor to the point that they have added products to their basket and they are ready to give you their credit card details, make it as quick and painfree as possible for them to do this. Don’t give them any distractions, it should be a step by step process which might include an upsell or choice regarding delivery but keep them focused and constantly moving towards the point where they actually punch in their card details.

#8 – Jump on mobile commerce

Google says 44% of all last minute gift searches this Christmas will be from a mobile device – if your eCommerce store isn’t mobile-ready then you are missing a trick and you’ll soon be left behind.

M-commerce is only really just starting to gain traction but the industry is expected to reach $119 billion by 2015. The mobile revolution is going to be massive because the penetration of mobiles worldwide is far greater than laptops and desktop computers so it stands to reason that m-commerce could be as big if not bigger an opportunity than desktop eCommerce.

Amazon have invested in mobile Apps to make browsing via a mobile device incredibly intuitive, however if you don’t have the cash to invest in apps you can just ensure the mobile browsing and purchasing experience for mobile users is easy. Many of the leading eCommerce software platforms do this for you already (our favourite shopping cart, 3dcart, adds a mobile theme to its stores), if not talk to your developer who may be able to create a mobile-optimised theme for you at relatively little cost.

Read more about our eCommerce marketing & optimisation solutions.

3 Comments

  1. avatar
    Lace September 19, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    Hi James,

    First time on your blog and superb tips learnt from the Amazon website :) I find Amazon’s product pairing and suggestions really cool, have you used 4tell in any of your sites?

    This would be useful especially for the Christmas holidays when shoppers are frantically searching for gifts.

    Lace

    • avatar
      James Agate September 20, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Hi Lace,

      We have implemented 4tell on a couple of sites and whilst I am the first to compliment the software, I will readily admit that if you have few products or low traffic then it doesn’t work all that well.

      James

  2. avatar
    Wendi October 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Thanks, Lace and James for the shout out on our personalization recommendation solution. One of the first things we share with folks is that you should have a minimum of 50 products before considering implementing 4-Tell.

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