Setting up an eCommerce store is an exciting step in business. However if you want to attract those online customers and convert browsers into buyers, it needs to be done right. Here are 12 essential attributes any site which sells should boast.
1. Fast load time
According to a study by Akamai, 40% of visitors will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. In addition, 14% will start shopping at a different site if page loads are slow and 23% will stop shopping or walk away from their computer.
To ensure you keep your page speed high, there are a number of things you can do including: sticking to a simple design; using Gzip compression to reduce file size; enabling browser caching; minimising the use of plugins and redirects.
2. Clear, easy navigation
If a person can’t find the product they’re looking for on your site, they can’t buy it. In addition, customer satisfaction levels are greatly improved if the process is quick and efficient. Therefore, ensuring your e-store is easy-to-use and explore is vital.
What makes for a good user experience? Standard top and sidebar navigation; meaningful, clickable labels; drop downs for sub categories; and the inclusion of a search box.
3. Appealing aesthetics
A visually appealing eCommerce store not only has the ability to attract visitors and keep them on page, but it can also make a powerful positive impression regarding the kind of brand you. However, whilst looks matter useability matters more.
The key to success is keeping it simple, but beautiful – with clean lines and fonts and clever juxtaposition of colour and whitespace. While slick elements and moving graphics may look great, if they’re making your site harder to use, forget them.
4. Efficient shopping cart
An e-shopping cart enables efficiency. By letting customers store and manage multiple items, purchases can be tallied up and paid for in a single transaction. However, if poorly designed, customers can get deflected into cart abandonment – there goes that sale.
A common reason for abandonment is customers being forced to register their personal details before completion. To avoid this, offer users a ‘guest checkout’ option or clearly lay out the steps so they know what stage they’re at. In addition, be sure to include clear calls to action throughout.
5. Secure payment network
A payment network is the link between your eCommerce site and your merchant bank. It authorises your customers credit and debit card payments – much like a cashier at a physical store register. Whilst necessary for online transactions, it can be another cause of cart abandonment if not properly set up and secured.
Online customers want to know their details will be kept safe, so smart eCommerce sites follow industry best practice and ensure their gateway keeps personal data encrypted and protected. How? By obtaining and installing an SSL certificate.
6. Strong social elements
Customers today are reluctant to buy without first seeking reassurance from others. So, to ensure online shoppers convert to buy, you need to offer multiple avenues to satisfy this need.
Firstly, be sure to include social media links so people can like, share and tweet about their experience with your products. Secondly, set up product reviews and include customer testimonials. The more positive social proof you get, the higher the perceived level of trust – the key to that sale.
7. Clear imagery and descriptions
In the absence of seeing and touching a physical product, online shoppers have to rely on photographs and written descriptions. The importance of these two elements cannot be understated. Ultimately, if a customer can’t get an adequate sense of what a product is like, they’re unlikely to buy.
Sites that get it right use clean professional photography with multiple images for a single product to allow for different angles. In terms of the copy they keep it scannable, benefit-focused and personalised to the reader.
8. Effective calls to action
Even if your storefront looks great and runs smoothly, if people don’t know where to click you’ve got a problem. This is where call to actions come in. They tell visitors what to do, where to click and what to buy. Examples include ‘Shop now’, ‘See more products’ and ‘Proceed to checkout’.
According to Shopify – one of the leading eCommerce software providers – a good CTA contains urgency, has a clear button that stands out and is placed above the fold. Images can also be effective CTAs, tempting people to click.
9. Multichannel customer support
Providing an exceptional service experience in a timely, professional manner is critical to the success of your business. Nothing is more frustrating than a website that has no clear contact details and tries to send you through lengthy FAQ channels.
The key to getting it right is offering customers a range of options to get in touch. As well as a phone number and email address, a live chat feature is one of the most effective channels. Based on a study by Bold Software, eMarketer report that 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offers this feature.
10. Offers, deals and discounts
Shoppers love to pick up a bargain – just think how spend-happy people get on Black Friday. So if you’re not offering deals and discounts on your eCommerce site – from percentage-based reductions to coupon codes, free shipping and freebies – you’re missing out.
To facilitate this you should run a discount engine on your site. Many eCommerce platforms come with one already included. Through this you can set up and manage a whole variety of promotions quickly and easily on your e-store.
11. Mobile responsiveness
Every year more and more people are taking to their phones to go shopping, so if your online store doesn’t offer a mobile-optimised buying experience you’ll be left behind. In fact, according to a BI Intelligence report, by 2020 mobile commerce will make up 45% of total e-commerce.
Why is responsiveness important? Because if your site isn’t it will likely be slow to load, have an awkward layout and demand zooming and scrolling to read the text. None of these are conducive to happy visitors and will significantly discourage them from converting.
12. SEO optimised
Just like any website, your eCommerce site needs to be SEO optimised to succeed. Why? So it will rank higher in the search engine results. Including the right keywords in the right place is essential, as is ensuring your site is well-structured, easy to navigate and quick to load.
Many of the previous attributes recommended in this post will boost your efforts. In addition, creating a company blog will give you the opportunity to upload regular, relevant content – another tick in the SEO box.
Even though you might be keen to get your eCommerce site off the ground, don’t rush it. Take the time to get it right and your business will reap the rewards. Importantly, be sure to test every element before, during and after launch and continue to evolve in line with customer needs.
If you want help setting up or enhancing your eCommerce site, contact us today.