As head of SLI’s customer success management team, I’ve had lots of interactions with online retailers and have seen many instances of companies not doing all they can to turn online visits into sales. Simple things like not utilizing empty space on a web page or offering easily viewed company contact information can amount to lost opportunities – or basically, leaving money on the table.

Based on my own experience (and that of my colleagues), working closely with retailers to improve the usability of their sites, as well as industry research I’ve come across, I’ve put together some fairly simple tips for online merchants – no matter how big or how small the company – to improve the visitor experience and generate a higher ROI (Return on Interaction) online. Below is the first set of tips. In my next blog post, I’ll offer more suggestions for enhancing your site to give customers better access to information and drive stronger interactions.

Feature a new “Item of the Week”: This can catch customers’ interest and is also indexed by search engines as refreshed content each week, so it helps generate more visibility. You can feature it right on the home page – as a banner or in a special content box, or in another way that fits the look and feel of your site. does this by showing “this week’s newest products” in a prominent box on the home page.

Make the most of empty space: Use empty white space on the right side of the webpage for a list of “bestselling items” – again, because this content refreshes on a frequent basis, it’s indexed by search engines. Also, research shows that most sites don’t utilize the right side of the page, so it’s valuable real estate that’s likely available, and can help clean up content that may be cluttering the left side of your site pages. On its site’s right-hand margin, Beauty Bridge lists “best sellers” to highlight product options for shoppers.

Show rotating “featured items” on front page: This is a good way to showcase different items you offer, perhaps popular sellers or items you want to promote more. You can do this in a rotating banner – perhaps midway down the page – where every few seconds a new item shows up. The feature can help keep customers engaged, reduce clutter on the home page, and increase site usability. Hansen’s Surf Shop does this on its home page with a rotating banner, allowing visitors to see a constantly changing selection of clothing, accessories, and even special offers like free shipping.

In my next blog post, I’ll tell you how to make your online retailing site more user-friendly.

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