If you’re an online retailer (of really any kind of business!), you need to showcase your merchandise in the best way possible. This means paying attention to how it looks and ease/speed of navigation, which should play into your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and your hosting solution. Your customers have a lot of options to choose from, so even if you provide the biggest selection, the best quality items, or the lowest prices they still might go elsewhere. Don’t lose them.
There are a few reasons a customer might move on from your gallery. Maybe they got frustrated having to constantly click “next.” Maybe they couldn’t find the specific item they were looking for because the search function or set up was confusing. Perhaps they were looking for an item but the images loaded so slowly on their smartphone they just gave up.
There are multiple tools to help you tell if any of your website pages, including galleries, are performing well. In addition to SEO, make sure you have a quality analytics program in place that will tell you which pages are performing, which aren’t, shopping cart abandonment statistics and so much more. Just because you think a gallery or page is succeeding doesn’t mean it is. Analytics don’t lie.
Choosing the Right Gallery
You’ve got options, so consult with your web designer about what works best for your site. CSS-based designs are popular and attractive. Flash web design lives up to its name (it’s certainly flashy) but might not load well or quickly on some platforms or slower connections. Keep mobile-readiness in mind, because as of last year the majority of North Americans use a mobile device to get online. This means they’re also shopping and window shopping online, so having a mobile version of your site, maybe an app, and ensuring pages load quickly and beautifully on all platforms and devices is a must.
One of the first things to consider is just how much information is provided within the initial gallery page. Obviously, a photo, title, perhaps prices, and brief description are required. Are you going to make viewers click on the gallery image for more information, or is a hover option better?
What Customers Want
Just like a brick and mortar store, customers want to get what they need as quickly and easily as possible. If you have hundreds of items, this can get tricky. Choose high-quality images that are large enough (even as a thumbnail) for shoppers to see what they’re considering. It’s smart to include a price so you don’t waste someone’s time if it’s out of their budget.
How galleries are displayed is critical. People don’t want to scroll down infinitely only seeing one item at a time. Opt for a grid layout that is not only more attractive, but allows shoppers to “read” the web site and digest more information at a time. You can also fit a lot more onto a site this way.
The Gallery Opening
How do people get to your gallery in the first place? Navigation design is part of gallery design. Clues like “Search for products” or “Shop now” are right to the point tabs that can be included in your navigation bar. Include options like “search all” within that tab or “search by product/keyword” to get shoppers started.
Be smart when it comes to organizing your galleries. If someone is shopping for valve covers or duvets, that’s all they want to see. Don’t get cute and try to include “pillow shams” or “bedside tables” in the duvet search list. That’s not what shoppers want; it wastes their time, distracts them, and might drive them away.
Short and sweet is the best way to go.