10 essential elements ecommerce websites must have

by | Mar 7, 2018

Over the past few years, many design trends have come and gone especially in ecommerce websites. All gimmicks and latest trends to one side, there are some key elements that all online shops should concentrate on no matter if you’re selling cupcakes or kitchen sinks.

1) Don’t make ecommerce websites a chore

It sounds obvious but people like to be able to find and buy a product online easily and safely and with minimal fuss. Studies have shown that 76% of consumers rate this highly when shopping online.

You should aim to allow shoppers to find and buy what they want as fast as possible and without any obstacles. Make the purchasing process as few steps as possible to really help you sell more.

Your ecommerce website should be intuitive and well designed. Think about how to ease a purchasers journey on your website, things like login with Facebook, pay on your mobile device with PayPal and fingerprint authorisation all make for a trouble free user experience.

You need your online store customers to focus on quickly paying for your goods rather than endlessly searching for what they are looking for.

2) Quality product images make ecommerce websites stand out

High quality photos on your ecommerce website will help you stand out from the crowd and can really help to boost your sales. The days of slow dial up modem connections have long gone so having just one picture of a product just won’t cut the mustard. People expect to see lots of great quality images and enjoy scrolling through them and zooming in – they let you get a real feel for what you’re about to buy.

That being said, all of your images should be fully optimised so they download like lightning, nobody likes the “spinny wheel of death”, they may just give up and click off your site.

3) Ecommerce websites HAVE to work on mobile devices

This is something we’ve covered in a previous article and it’s a must for any website, online shop or not. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

Search engines may penalise your website rankings if your ecommerce website isn’t mobile friendly. About one third of all online purchases are now made via smartphones so if your online shop doesn’t work on a smaller screen then you could be missing out on sales

4) Product reviews

Shoppers nowadays are a savvy bunch and they love to read other people’s reviews and comments, in fact 92% of shoppers regularly read reviews left by buyers.

One strange fact is that some negative reviews amongst many positive ones can actually convince a person to make a purchase. If every review is a glowing five out of five stars, some disbelieve the ratings and consider them bogus.

There are many independent review sites that can be added to your ecommerce website and for your products. Independent reviews give extra confidence to potential customers who are looking for unbiased, honest reviews.

5 ) Special offers will sell more products

Everyone loves a bargain, so make sure you include special offers on the main parts of your ecommerce website, they subliminally help a visitor feel good about buying from you. They can also encourage extra sales and will motivate your customers into spending more.

A great way is to offer deals in the shopping basket, these are called upsells. As an example, if a product bought requires batteries then offer these at the checkout stage with a discount, maybe 10%, more than likely it will just get added to the basket.

You can also use offers and codes in email marketing campaigns, like discounts off future purchases. This method is good at building loyal, returning customers.

6) Help your ecommerce website visitors by offering wish lists

Some ecommerce websites aren’t geared towards buying instantly, there and then. Websites such as booking a holiday villa, flights or more expensive items were a lot of consideration is needed to finally make a purchase should offer wish lists.

A wish-list will allow your website visitor to ‘save’ their searches for ease of use. They can instantly find their favourite products and services and then purchase them easily instead of searching again or trying to remember where the product or service is.

7) Sell more on your store with related items

When a visitor to your website decides to buy they are mentally entering into a different phase. They no longer need to build trust in you or that your prices are right, they are already past that, they are now feeling a sense of achievement, excitement and anticipation of their new buy.

It’s a really good idea to offer other items at this stage as all barriers to a sale have gone and your purchaser is in a ‘buying frame if mind’.

They MUST be related however, for example, if they have just bought a new beach bag then a good ‘match’ product would be a beach towel, or a bucket and spade, it’s no good offering a random item like a coffee grinder.

8) Social sharing is caring

A lot of people today have many social media accounts such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter etc. When a customer buys a product from you make sure your ecommerce website has a social share on each product page.

Having this will allow your buyer to share this product on their own social media channels, it’s a great way to spread your message and brand awareness.

Imagine if only a small percentage of your customers did this, the cascade effect in social media may result in more visitors, extra purchases and shares, which would result in more visitors, more purchases… you get the picture.

The use of social media is extremely cost effective, especially if it’s just the click of a button that your customer needs to do. It costs you nothing and can bring you additional business.

9) Don’t hide your shipping costs

Honesty, as they say, is the best policy. One of the main reasons for ‘abandoned shopping carts’ (people that leave your store when they were at the point of paying) is unexpected shipping costs at the final stage. Potential customers need to know upfront what they will pay.

No one likes surprises, especially when it’s an extra charge at the checkout. Make sure that you make it perfectly clear on your homepage the cost to deliver your goods.

Interestingly, online stores that offer free shipping normally see around a 20-30% increase in the amount spent by individuals compared to stores which charge for shipping. Decide whether free shipping could work for your ecommerce website.

10) Your ecommerce website should have an easy returns policy

As you’re selling your goods at a distance, you need let potential buyers know that if what they have bought isn’t right for them then you will happily accept returns. Not only that but the process must be simple, anything that makes the buyer believe that sending an item back will be difficult may discourage a sale in the first place.

Statistics show that over 30% of internet shopping is sent back, and you must ensure that returns from your customers are dealt with promptly. A bad returns experience for your customer will mean they are unlikely to buy from you again.

Your returns policy should be clearly visible on your ecommerce website and preferably be “no quibble”.


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