7 Essentials for a Successful eCommerce Site

John Berry

Senior Developer

The design and layout of your ecommerce site can have a significant impact on your sales figures. If customers can’t find the products they’re looking for, they’re not going to take the time to look harder. They’ll find one of your competitors to do business with instead.

Though getting the sale is the ultimate purpose of your ecommerce site, you can’t put all of your eggs into one basket. Your ecommerce site also needs to provide the right information at the right time so that you can help your customers make the right buying choices.

In this article, we are going to talk about seven of the most important things you should include on your ecommerce site to make it useful, engaging and just plain awesome to look at.

1. Feature Big, Beautiful Photos

Shoppers are not able to see and touch your product in person, so you need to do the best job possible bringing your items to them. If a customer has any hesitations about buying your product, low quality or stock images may turn them off completely.

Show your product from several different angles and highlight the product features that will help customers make an informed decision such as size, weight, material, fabric, color, etc. The images should be large and high in quality. Check out this guide on how to master product photography on a tight budget.

2. Show Some Real-World Images  

Some products look better when featured in real-world settings. Clothes or outdoor gear, for example, can be featured on people to give customers a better idea of what they would look like wearing a particular pair of jeans or carrying a backpack while hiking.

Other products do not need these real-world photos. Items like electronics and household appliances often look best featured on a white background so that shoppers can make out the details.

If your product could benefit from both photo styles and you’re not sure which one to use (i.e., furniture, toys, household goods), use A/B testing to see which images perform better.

3. Suggest Related Products

Shoppers love when they are shown similar products because it allows them to compare different items and feel better about their purchase. When shopping on the ecommerce site Amazon, for example, customers are shown items that are frequently bought together and items that other customers searched for. These simple suggestions will allow you to upsell and cross sell your products. They also engage customers and keep them on your site longer.

4. Display Customer Ratings

People want to see the ratings from past customers. You should have an easy rating system, such as the common 5-star rating system, as well as more detailed reviews that shoppers can click on. Reviews can make all the difference in getting a person to complete their order and feel good about the product.

Reviews aren’t just important for the basic “I like it, I don’t like it” reviews. Customers also need to know if clothes and shoes fit “true to size” and if the colors match the swatches. Providing this information in an easy-to-glance format is ideal so that customers can make quick, efficient decisions.

5. Include a Call to Action

I’m stating the obvious here, but don’t underestimate what the right (or wrong) call to action can do for you. You already know to make your CTA short, clear and direct, but you need to really think about why a person would be motivated to click. People need a sincere reason to go this extra step.

If you are a newer brand, you might find it better to have a static photo that lets visitors know who you are and what you have to offer right off the bat. A slider option can cause you to lose visitors if you’re not clear about who you are as a company.

If you do choose to use a slider, use the space to include quality images that highlight your products and unique aspects of your brand. Here is an updated list of CTA examples from Hubspot that is worth checking out.

6. Aim for Seamless Site Navigation

No one wants to shop on a site that is confusing or frustrating. When a website is intuitive and enjoyable to use, people will actually go on it just to see what types of things are new, what deals are going on and more. They don’t necessarily have to need a product to visit the site.

Aim for an ecommerce site like that. One that is easy, intuitive and useful to use. Organize products into logical categories and subcategories. People need to be able to find what they are looking for in just a few clicks.

Also keep in mind that many users will not be shopping off your site from a large screen. Many will be on their mobile devices, so it’s important that your ecommerce site is optimized for mobile. Large buttons, clickable links, clear images and fast loading times are all examples of features that mobile users need.

7. End on a Good Note

The checkout process is the final part of the customer purchase journey, and you want to make it great. Not only does a seamless checkout process leave customers with a good impression, but also it ensures that everything you’ve done before that is not wasted.

Many factors go into an ideal checkout process, including speed, a guest checkout option, easy form filling, progress indicators and the option to view the cart before putting an order through.

Some ecommerce sites put small notes on each page that a customer goes through to let them know where they are in the process and how much more they have left. Others use a progress bar or meter. I really like the idea of having a split screen where customers can view everything about their order and what’s in their cart on the same screen.

Conclusion

Your audience is unique, so it’s crucial that you split test different elements to see which ones work best. The above seven essentials are recommendations that will make your ecommerce site more engaging and successful, but you still need to do your homework. Regardless of the changes that you make, you should always be thinking in terms of the customer. What can you do to help customers stay on task and complete their purchase efficiently?

 
About the Author: John Berry

John is a former financial professional turned software developer. He has a passion and talent for creating innovative, beautiful software solutions. John is always striving to learn new software technologies and remain on the edge of industry solutions for his clients. He prides himself on being a team player who does whatever it takes to get the job done. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, the beach, and playing on the floor with his daughter.

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