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10 Essentials for an e-commerce website

It is no secret that online shopping has moulded our shopping habits. With 20% of all retail sales happening online, it’s so important that your website is high-performing and grabs your audience’s attention.

The main focus of any e-commerce site should be the user experience (UX). Online shopping can’t replicate the experience the customer has in-store, but it sure can try! There are certain aspects of in-store shopping that should be translated into your online store, for example, the easy access to customer service and the easy to navigate storefront are just a few. 

Equally, e-commerce sites perform in ways that in-person stores can’t. The beauty of the internet means instant access to information that you need quickly and the ability to shop whenever, wherever. A good e-commerce site should not only replicate the in-store experience, but elevate it by utilising the features that the internet has to offer.

Online shopping is the way forward and we have put together a list of the top 10 features that your e-commerce site should have in order to maximise its potential!

  1. User friendly navigation
  2. Mobile friendly
  3. Security
  4. Use high-quality images and visuals
  5. Social proof through reviews
  6. Easy to navigate checkout process
  7. Return policy and shipping
  8. Offer different payment options
  9. FAQ’s page
  10. Ways to get in contact

1. User friendly navigation

The average attention span of an adult is around 8 seconds and the average time spent on a website is around 53 seconds. Scary right? The bounce rate of your website is the percentage of visitors that leave your website without taking any action. This is what you want to avoid! In order to keep your bounce rate low, you need to engage the people who land on your website before they lose interest. An easy way to do this is to make sure your website is easy to navigate. If users can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will find it somewhere else. Here are some ways you can make your website navigation user-friendly:

  • A clear menu in an easy to find location (most commonly found horizontal across the top as a navigation bar or vertically hidden in a burger menu in the corner)
  • Clear buttons with obvious call to actions (buy now, order, learn more)
  • Product filters that are organised with the most popular categories at the top to personalise their search
  • A site search tab so that you users can quickly find exactly what they want

2. Mobile friendly

Over half of all website traffic is generated from mobile phones and 61% of consumers say that they are more likely to purchase from mobile friendly sites. Being mobile friendly is not an option anymore, it’s an essential! Being ‘mobile friendly’ covers everything from the layout, to the speed, to the payment methods, and everything in between. You need to make sure that users have a seamless website experience on their mobile device because if they don’t, they’ll bounce!

And it’s not just mobile devices that you have to consider. Having a responsive website means that your website adapts to a variety of screen sizes, including phones, laptops, tablets and desktops. Website flexibility is a super important feature and you won’t get very far without it. If you’re struggling to adapt your website to different screen sizes, or need some help with device responsiveness, why not get in touch with our web team?

3. Security

Trust is another key factor that will drive consumers to conversion. If people feel as though your website is secure and trustworthy, they are much more likely to form a relationship with your business. With the risk of hacking and security breaches on the rise, it is imperative that you are taking practical steps to protect your consumers’ data, as well as letting your consumers know that any data that is collected from them is being used responsibly. 

Here is a list of things you can do to increase your website security:

  • Purchase an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This is a protocol that provides a secure link between browsers and servers and protects all customer data. It is also indicated as the ‘s’ in https://
  • Make users are creating secure passwords and updating then regularly
  • Set up multi-factor authentication when users log in to their accounts for extra verification.
  • Use an address verification system (AVS) and credit card verification value (CVV) at checkout to prevent fraud.

4. Use high-quality images and visuals

Visual content is much more likely to grab users attention and keep them engaged. I think we can all agree that we are much more likely to buy something if we can get a clear understanding of what it will look like and how it will perform! The quality of your visuals affects the users perception of how trustworthy and professional your business is, which will affect their purchase decision. 

Here are some features you should consider when using visual content:

  • Have variety. Use multiple angles, different models and a variety of settings to display your product so that customers can get a more accurate idea of how the product will work in their life.
  • Consider the layout. Image galleries or carousels work well for engagement and allow you to show more than one image.
  • Videos. Over 50% of shoppers said that online videos helped them to decide which brand or product to purchase. They can be very influential and a great way to educate users on how the product works.
  • Zoom feature. Allowing users to zoom in on the image gives them more information on the product so that they can make a more informed decision.

Important note: Make sure that the images aren’t affecting your website speed! 

Whether that’s in file size or dimension, large images can slow down your site. People don’t want to wait around for your site to load, so make sure that your images aren’t larger than they need to be and they’re being uploaded in its smallest size possible.

5. Social proof through reviews

Social proof is the psychological concept that people make decisions that are influenced by the behaviour of other people. When it comes to e-commerce sites, users are unable to feel or experience the product in person, so they have to rely on other people’s experiences to help them make a decision. More than 70% of users won’t make a purchase until they have read reviews. It is important that your site allows users to leave reviews and that they are displayed clearly on the product page, or consider pulling through online reviews from other platforms like Google and Trustpilot.

Accommodating for reviews builds trust with your brand and increases conversion rates. Other people’s opinions matter, and it’s important that your website makes a space for people to share their experience with your business, good or bad. It allows you as a business to show that you are listening to your customers and can validate what you share about your products.

6. Easy to navigate checkout process

Once your website and all its wonderful features have persuaded the consumer to buy the product, you want to make sure they spring into action and close the deal, ASAP! People want fast transactions with minimal effort required. Having a clear checkout process will allow the customer to have control over their shopping experience. Be sure to include checkout buttons on every product page, their basket and easy to find in the navigation.

When it comes to checking out, you want to avoid ‘cart abandonment’ by designing a process that is easy and efficient. The key features of a successful checkout experience are:

  • Fast
  • Transparent (don’t give them any surprises!)
  • Easy to navigate
  • Easy to control
  • Minimum information needed

7. Return policy and shipping

Sticking with the theme of transparency, it’s important to be upfront with consumers about your policies around shipping and returning items. Around ⅓ of products purchased online will be returned and how you deal with these situations falls under customer service. Customers want to know that they are going to have a smooth sailing experience with you and that if they don’t, they won’t be losing out. It’s all about making sure that the customer is comfortable making a purchase with you because this will lead to brand loyalty. 

We’ve pulled together some information you might want to include on your website that will affect the customers decision to buy from you:

  • Display whether or not you offer free shipping (this is likely to win customers over!)
  • Inform people on your return process BEFORE they reach the cart so that they have all the information they need to make a decision.
  • Include expected arrival times for added transparency, and inform customers of what stage their order is at through the process
  • Display your shipping and return policy clearly (places could include the header, footer, FAQ section, cart, product catalogue page etc..)

8. Offer different payment options

Imagine your customer getting all the way to the checkout and finding out they can’t pay. That doesn’t look good for you. Offering a wide variety of payment options means that you’re being flexible and accommodating to your customers. And to put it simply, the more ways you accept payments, the more payments you will receive! You should also consider that, in the off chance that one of the payment methods fail, you are able to offer backup methods which increases the likelihood of a transaction.

You should also consider how you advertise the different payment methods you accept. This is another factor that will sway the customers decision to buy from you, so you should make the options clear. A common way of doing this is displaying the payment method icons or logos in your website footer, as well as on the product pages and throughout the checkout process. It’s all about being transparent and upfront. Here are some popular payment methods you should consider:

  • PayPal
  • Apply Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Klarna
  • American Express
  • Visa Checkout

9. FAQ’s page

Having an FAQ’s page makes the customer’s experience much more convenient. It helps them to find answers quickly, without having to reach out which will increase the conversion rate. Equally, as a business, it shows that you have considered them in the process and listened to them which helps them to create an emotional connection with the business. 

Furthermore, You can also reduce the amount of time you spend answering customers’ questions and put that valuable time into something equally as beneficial, so everyone wins! 

10. Ways to get in contact

In some cases, the internet has eliminated the desire to speak with a real person, but that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone! Sometimes, you need to speak to an actual human being to get some answers, which is why perhaps the most important feature of them all is having clear ways of getting in touch with you. Quick access to customer service will help to grow trust and build consumer relationships, as well as increase sales. The internet has created this need for instant access to information and high-quality customer service is certain to satisfy that need, when done right of course! 

Here are a few things that should be included in your ‘contact us’ page and throughout your website:

  • Easy to find phone number and email address
  • A simple contact form
  • Your social media platforms – to turn the transaction into an ongoing relationship
  • Information on local stores (if applicable) – to boost offline sales and cater to the more conservative shoppers
  • An online chat box – perhaps something you hadn’t considered before, but with the advancements of AI technology, e-commerce chatboxes are an excellent solution to fast and effective customer service. 

Need help with your e-commerce site?

If you’ve looked at this list and realised that your website has some work to do, don’t fret! These are just a few suggestions on how you can optimise your e-commerce site and drive more sales. 

However, if you are interested in giving your website a fresh lick of paint, our experienced website designers and developers are here to help! Get in touch today to have a chat with us about how we can help you get the most out of your business. Or you can visit our website to find out more about our website services.

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