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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Must Have Elements For Ecommerce Sites

Ecommerce websites is no more a niche market. Women, men, teenagers, kids – there are products being sold online addressing the needs of everyone in every category. But a good eCommerce site is much more than nice product images and a shopping cart. It is a complete user experience – very much similar to an experience in a shop or a store. Before you start building your eCommerce site, here are few things you need to keep in mind.

#1: Product Pages

The product display is the heart of the eCommerce website. Ideally the product page should have:

  • A very clear product title and a clear image of the product
  • 4-5 images of the product with different angels with an option to zoom in the image
  • Information about availability of the product
  • Price (and discounts, if any) along with available payment methods
  • Shipping options
  • Returns policy
  • Item reviews contributed by other users

#2: Mobile Site

According to comScore, a web and mobile measurement firm, 55% of all time spent with online retail occurs on a mobile device. With such a high number of users accessing online retail sites from mobile devices, you cannot afford to have your site non-compatible with mobile devices. 

Make sure your site appropriately adapts to the device screen size and overall usability. Make sure you talk to your website developer about making the site adaptive/ responsive for mobile-friendliness. Your mobile site cannot be just the cramped version of your full desktop site. Ideally, you need to design it separately to offer key functionality and optimal user experience.

#3: Page Load Time

According to KISSMetrics, if an eCommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 sec delay in page loading could potentially cost it $2.5 million in lost sales every year. Optimizing the page loading time therefore becomes very crucial for eCommerce website. Slow loading can cause not only potential customer loss but also can hamper search engine ranking because Google punishes the slow loading websites with lower ranking.

#4: Easy Payment

Give your customers the feel of a shopping store by offering a shopping cart by allowing them to add the items they wish to purchase in the cart and continue shopping. Even if the user leaves the site without completing the purchase and later on returns to the website, store the items in the shopping cart. Make the checkout an easy, step-by-step process. Letting users know how many steps are in the ordering process is a good way to guide them and giving them a clear indication in terms of how far (or near) they are from the process completion. Don’t forget to the buyers review the order before they submit it. 

Display shipping and delivery options very clearly. If you are offering free shipping, then display it prominently, as it leads to higher conversion rates. Provide a support number or chat option if possible so that customers can quickly ask questions to salespersons just before making up their mind.

#5: Search

According to research firm MarketingSherpa, half of online shoppers go immediately to the search box when they arrive on an eCommerce site. You need to empower the shoppers by offering them a powerful, easy to use in-store search feature which can help them find relevant products quickly. Support all search types, provide parameters such as maximum/ minimum price or specific product specifications like size, color, weight etc. If you provide an auto complete or spell check feature, it is unlikely that the shoppers will land on a “no results” page. 

#6: Security Certificates 

One of the biggest challenges of eCommerce is building of trust. Your eCommerce website needs to make the consumers feel comfortable while handing over their financial information on your website. Getting security certificates from security providers like Verisign, BBA, GeoTrust and displaying the badges prominently on the website can help you build the trust factor in the minds of the online shoppers.

#7: Up-selling and cross-selling features

Up-selling and cross-selling features are more or less must-have for any eCommerce website. If implemented properly in a well-thought manner, they can add real value to the user experience for the shoppers and also increase your sales transactions. While higher revenue is the ultimate goal, always remember to keep customer-focus at the center of your strategy. Offer intelligent suggestions based on customer interest (rather than based on your inventory) and customers are sure to respond more positively. 

For up-selling or cross-selling, keep the objective in mind that provide logical options and clearly show value for money. For example: If a shopper is buying a camera, showing options to buy batteries, camera case etc. is good way of cross-selling. And showing other high-end camera brands with clear price differentiation and features addition is a good way of up-selling. Some of the commonly followed techniques are:

  • While cross-selling, choose the logical products which go with the main selected product and those should be of a smaller price
  • Offer discounts on multiple quantities
  • Offer free shipping with some minimum spend

#8: User Management

Online shoppers don’t like to enter their billing and shipping details again and again. Provide an option to your customers to register on your site and enter such information once so that they don’t have to enter it again and again when they return to your site. This gives them the flexibility to quickly checkout items and make quicker purchases. But it is advisable that you don’t make registration a mandatory step for making a purchase. Don’t make it a barrier in purchase, else this will make the users drop out and affect your conversion rates.

#9: Social Media Links 

Letting your customers and prospects know that you are also available on social networking sites creates additional avenues for them to interact and engage with you. It is not about just being present on Facebook or twitter. You need to engage with your audience on these platforms. Provide answers to their support queries, answer their enquiries about their orders, offer exclusive discounts or announce exclusive previews – all these things will enhance your brand and will also help you build a loyal customer base.

#10: Contact Information

Contact pages facilitate interactions and help prospects in asking questions and getting in touch with you. Especially for an eCommerce website, where you need to build trust in the mind of the online shopper, you need a well-designed contact page with multiple options for connecting with you. Don’t make Contact page as one of the neglected pages. Include all possible ways of getting in touch with you, such as – email, phone, helpline/ support number and even social media links.

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