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Essential Things Every eCommerce Store Should Have

essential things every ecommerce store should have

What can you do to make your eCommerce store stand out this coming year? Choosing the right eCommerce platform can mean the difference between a successful site and falling online sales. Nowadays, customers expect a fully-featured web store which delivers an exemplary shopping experience as they want to know exactly what they’re buying and from whom.

However, how do you know if your eCommerce platform will help fuel greater sales in the long run? And what are the best eCommerce features that can take customers from just browsing to fully converting?

As an eCommerce agency that’s been in the business for over 10 years, we feel like we know a thing or two about all this! So, here’s our list of the top eCommerce website requirements that should set your online channel up for great success.

Responsive Website Design

Have you ever arrived on a website via your smartphone and immediately thought to yourself “Uh, this looks awful” then just leave before going any further?

Whenever we stumble on websites that don’t look “right” it normally has something to do with the fact the people who built it haven’t implemented something called ‘responsive design’. In other words, the site might look great on desktop, but when visiting on a mobile device it just looks wrong and out of place.

This is why responsive design is extremely important for your online eCommerce store going forward as it’s the web design that responds to the user’s environment and their behaviour which is generally based on these three things:

  • Orientation
  • Platform
  • Screen Size

To make sure web design is responsive, people who run eCommerce stores must ensure their layouts, grids and images fit the overall criteria required by each platform so that their website is viewable on all devices.

If layouts, grids and images don’t fit the criteria, your site might end up with text that runs off the screen, images that are displaced, or just generally a site that looks a bit avant-garde and super off-putting to potential customers who are there to do some shopping rather than working out a puzzle.

Attractive And Easy To Navigate Design

An eCommerce agency works at building attractive and with easy to navigate designs for a reason – seamless stores deliver results.

When you have a good looking, easy to follow eCommerce store, it supports customers through each step of their journey: whether that be enticing a shopper to visit the website, inspiring them to explore the store and its products, or being able to charm them enough to complete the purchase.

It’s said that you have only 10 seconds to leave an impression on an online visitor and tell them exactly what they’ll get out of your website and company. If you’re unable to capture their attention within that time span, then more often than not they will just leave without interacting.

Making your online store intuitive for the visitor is a valuable way to draw in their attention to the correct places. For example, having your products organised into categories that are logical and making sure those categories are highly visible will help shoppers find the products they are most interested in quickly and efficiently.

Making your online store intuitive for the visitor is a valuable way to draw in their attention to the correct places.

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When you display larger items with higher image quality on the homepage along with showcasing individual products, it will arouse curiosity and temptation for the customer. Incorporating images of the product, both on its own and in use, helps customers better visualise using the products themselves. Also, showing related products is a great way of persuading shoppers to make that purchase. For example, if they’re already spending some time looking at a product they’re interested in, then chances are they’re going to be more amenable to looking at similar ones.

Page Loading Speed

Page speed (often confused with “site speed”) is actually the page speed for a sample of page views on a site. Page speed can also be described as “page load time”, which is the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page.

But why is page load time so important?

Well, search engines like Google use page load time in algorithms to help them determine search engine rankings – meaning they’re far more likely to guide shoppers to websites which load quicker. Speed isn’t the only thing you need to focus on as there are more than 200 signals in Google’s search algorithm, but page load time is one of them and even making tiny adjustments can help shave time off to help support your rankings.

Looking beyond the rankings, optimising your page load time is a great way to try and help users get where they want to be faster, and happier shoppers are more likely to convert into sales. Users who are frustrated by a slow-loading site will abandon their journey and as a consequence bounce away from your store – as an eCommerce agency, we’ve seen slow site speed affect website conversion time and time again and can verify it’s a big issue in the world of eCommerce.

The thing is, online shoppers are looking for one thing, convenience. Convenience is the reason why people are online shopping in the first place so the last thing they want to do is waiting around for a page which never seems to finish loading. The online shopping experience should be seamless and easy, especially when 40% of people will abandon a site which is taking more than 3 seconds to load. While 3 seconds may not seem like a long time, the ever competitive world of eCommerce boasts impatient users.

Product Details

When starting out an online business, eCommerce owners tend to underestimate the importance of some crucial quality content. A lot tend to focus on the technical aspects and the use of top quality images which is important, but having decent product descriptions is equally important to help boost your sales.

A lot of entrepreneurs who tend to not pay attention to their product descriptions will likely lose customers, no matter how much investment they will be making in advertising. Now, while your eCommerce site is making some decent efforts to try and post unique and more attractive descriptions for every product they stock, others forget to do this and there are some out there who will just copy and paste all this information from site to site.

But how should you start writing your unique product descriptions, and what does this actually do for your customers?

Enticing The Customer

The aim of the product description is to describe the benefits of the product and try to convince the customers to understand how this product fulfils their requirement. You want it to grab the users attention by answering any of their queries if they should have any.

Helping In SEO

Unique product descriptions help and improve search engine rankings, which means people will be able to find your products a lot more easily. It’s important that you don’t just copy the descriptions from other sites as the SEO automatically identifies your content and affects your brand’s overall SEO ranking.

Enhancing Knowledge

Your product catalogue attracts viewers and potential buyers. Products which are clearly visible with good aesthetic presentation will definitely bring you more customers. Unique product descriptions alongside images of high quality and simple-to-use interface work together hand in hand when it comes to driving those online sales.

Keep It Short But Effective

When you’re writing your product descriptions, try to keep one thing in your mind – “less is more”.

For your eCommerce store, try and explain your product descriptions in bullet points rather than using long and lengthy paragraphs as it’s easier for your customers to digest.

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Another thing to try and keep in mind is that having any grammatical or spelling errors can adversely affect your eCommerce impression, so make sure you properly cross-check and edit all of your content to be 100% sure it’s all error-free.

Search And Filter

Some customers will arrive at your site knowing exactly what they’re looking, but others won’t – which is why it’s important to provide a shopping approach which is focused around both search and filtering functionality.

Having a search bar or box helps customers instantly locate what they need. Other important features such as search word auto-fill and searching by the most used word can support efficient browsing. The ability to filter products by various attributes also helps to narrow down products quicker in order to meet the customer’s desired criteria. A search bar or box can be developed so that it’s visible even when the customer continues to scroll up and down the page.

Videos

Product videos allow people to better understand the product you’re trying to sell.

While there is no correct way of creating a content video, there are steps to take to help consumers make informed choices about the product they want and where to purchase the product from.

Here are a couple of things you should be looking at before creating product videos for your eCommerce business:

  • Context: If your product video doesn’t make much sense, people will be less likely to purchase. When videoing your products they need to be shown ‘in use’ and how it all works, this is what makes the customer want to keep coming back for more.
  • Concise: When it comes to product videos, you don’t want it to be long and boring. Try and aim to make your video topping out at about 30 seconds, especially when it comes to sharing on social media.
  • Relatable: Videos showcasing content should relate to your brand and to the person watching. You ideally want the video production to try and show emotion, transparency and also more importantly honesty.

Customer Reviews

Online reviews have created a new field in marketing and communication that bridges the gap between the more traditional word-of-mouth method and form of feedback which can influence the consumer’s opinion. But why are customer reviews of your products so important to new potential customers?

You Can Understand Your Customers Better

When you have the chance to analyse reviews left by your customers, it helps keep your feet on the ground due to the fact they can provide your business with crucial feedback regarding what your customers really want. By using this sort of information, you can help improve customer service by quickly and efficiently resolving the issues that your consumers are facing.

Credibility And Social Proof

As a whole, we are very social creatures. We’re interested in knowing what others say before we make our own buying decisions. Much like we would ask friends and family for recommendations, review sites now allow us to do this online with just a couple of clicks. Unlike family and friend reviews though, these are from complete strangers who you won’t have, and probably will never meet, but somehow this unbiased view makes us trust their opinion more.

Allowing Customers To Have Their Own Voice To Create Loyalty

Consumers that take the time leaving positive online reviews for your business are the ones who are most likely to feel a certain loyalty to you. Through the act of leaving a review and establishing more of a relationship with your business, consumers feel like they have a voice (even from behind a computer).

Now, of course not all reviews will be positive but it’s important you try not to take the negative ones to heart too much – instead see them as constructive feedback. You should always try to make your service better over time and remember, you won’t be able to make everyone happy all of the time.

Consumers Are Doing Your Marketing For You

Positive online reviews are worth a great deal and can offer your business benefits which a simple marketing campaign can’t. In a nutshell, online reviews are like micro-marketing campaigns that keep on working long after the online review has been posted, providing a constant positive image to potential customers and also creating continual brand awareness which benefits the business in both the short and long term.

Beth Woolley

Managing Director

Jollybrolly

Due to the nature of our products, nearly 90% of Jollybrolly’s sales are to new or one-time customers. So for us it is essentially to build consumer trust as clearly and quickly as possible. Displaying reviews on every product page, as well as on a tab which displays site wide has allowed us to do this. Years of collecting reviews has also been a great tool for helping us find gaps in our catalogues, identify and eliminate product faults efficiently, and offer the best possible customer service.

Powerful Shopping Cart & Simple Checkout

A shopping cart isn’t just a place for customers to store items pending checkout. The shopping cart is another important touchpoint that can deliver conversion opportunities. Cross-selling on the shopping cart helps target customers far more precisely with products they are most likely to be interested in based on the items already placed in their cart, working to increase the order total.

Total visibility into the products awaiting purchase and their costs, including shipping and sales tax, keeps customers aware and decreases the likelihood of abandonment. Having a complicated or lengthy checkout process can make customers abandon their shopping carts at the last minute. If you can, try and eliminate this friction with an easy checkout page. We, an eCommerce agency, favour OneStepCheckout which makes all the steps on the checkout page visible for just one page, avoiding page reloads. Having the checkout steps all on one page also allows customers to quickly fill out only the most necessary information providing a much faster and more streamlined process.

Social Media

In today’s world, social media spending makes up just a small fraction of most business marketing budgets. On average, social media spending accounted for just 9% of the overall budget, however, experts have predicted that number is set to rise to nearly 22% in the next five years.

eCommerce marketers recognise the power of social media as a way to connect with their audience. For web businesses, using effective social marketing represents real value. Social networks can offer new ways to reach out to first-time customers, engage and reward existing customers, and also showcase the very best your brand has to offer.

Your eCommerce store’s social network profiles are just as important as the front sign on a physical store.

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Rule number 1 of using social media for eCommerce is to go where your customers are. There are many different ways social media can help improve the way you interact with customers. Here are a couple of examples:

Customer Research: Marketers are able to see real-time what your audience cares about most, their interests, conversations they have and what they like. You can use your social networks in the same way to better segment your audience and understand your target demographics. Doing so, will help you better optimise your campaigns and work to deliver more targeted messaging.

Customer Service: The big thing about social media is immediacy; “we want all the information and we want it now!” This is why social networks are so great for customer service as they enable businesses to quickly respond to customer enquiries. Plus, social media makes it far easier to spot and respond to unpleasant customer experiences. Try and develop a standardised strategy for responding to any customer enquiries across all your social media channels.

Customer Engagement: Don’t just think of social media as another way of generating sales and to drive traffic, try and use your platforms to demonstrate value and validate your marketing efforts. Your customers are your best brand champions, so allowing them to promote your company and publicise your products on their social media profiles is great for your store visibility and reputation. Don’t forget to ensure the links to your company’s social media accounts are visible so people are able to connect their social networks with yours.

Security Symbols

One of the best ways to eliminate any fears your customers may have is pro that their information is safe and secure while using your site. 17% of customers will abandon online shopping carts due to concerns about payment security. Posting security and certification symbols from reputable third-party security companies are powerful reassurance for any wary shoppers.

Return Information

Internet shopping is great but sometimes an item we purchase isn’t quite what we had in mind. Making returns an easy process helps clear the final obstacle towards completing any purchases. If people know they can return a product easily and cost-effectively if it doesn’t quite work out for them, then there is no stress about buying it in the first place.  

When an eCommerce business offers free return shipping, it helps ease any concerns the customer may have. Shoppers want to see great products and consume great content, at their convenience. So, delivering a seamless shopping experience which informs and entertains will delight customers, causing them to not only buy but make repeat purchases time and time again. Understanding the eCommerce website requirements that help promote visits and conversions is an important part of meeting this goal.

Summary

So, if you already have an existing eCommerce store or are about to venture into starting your own, these are the things you need to make sure you have in place in order to keep both you and your customers happy while shopping online.

If you’re working with an eCommerce agency, they should be putting all these features into your online store for you anyway – but if you already have a store up and running, be sure to double-check that these are already in place!

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