A clear path to the checkout
And the first failing of some websites that I have seen is to not give a clear link back to the shopping basket page. I have seen beautifully graphic designed websites for ecommerce that just simply forget to give the visitor a link to the basket page. Not everyone will checkout immediately after adding a product to the basket, so allow them back.
Solving the payment question
Another problem easily solved is payments. Many website owners try to cut costs by using secured hosting and then processing credit cards using the Cardholder Not Present function. However, many customers will (rightfully) not trust this set-up. Always offer easier alternatives, even if they cost more, such as PayPal. Something that the user trusts and already has an account created for and maybe even a balance can be a huge persuading factor in a purchase.
Keep the navigation simple
On top of this never confuse visitors with navigation. I have struggled on websites in the past to find the products I want, even when friends have told me to use the site to buy from them. Keep the categorisation simple and make sure that products are easy to find. A hidden product is unlikely to be found.
Show them what they have liked
A lot of visitors will not actually buy, or add the item to the basket, straight away. There can be many reasons for this but there are 2 simple techniques to support them. First, why not provide a list of recent items that they have looked at, maybe even removing from that list anything that has been added to their basket? This makes it easy to go back to a previous item if, for example, they are looking at various products to find a present.
Give an alternative
The other alternative is what if the item they are looking at is not quite what they want? Well add to each item an automatically updated list of items that people who have also browsed that item have gone onto buy. If a lot of people have thought about that item and then always bought an alternative, then it is likely that alternative is a good choice. So highlight it!
You can also try a similar trick with the shopping basket once they have added items. Look for other items that other visitors often buy with what is in the basket and offer them as add ons. Make them easy to find and people will buy them!
Don’t hide extras
Finally, many potential visitors will want to check the postage and other charges that they will incur. So not provide a clear link to that information and highlight it? I have often left websites just because I am not clear about how much postage I will be paying.
Make it easy for visitors to find the products they want and to find alternative products and they will buy more from you.