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We’ve seen trends in eCommerce website design such as animation, 360-degree product previews, advanced filtering, and dynamic product search.
However, trends do not guarantee conversion rates or strong user experiences. There are certain elements that every eCommerce site must have in order to be relevant and competitive.
Here is a list of 15 must-have features that attract online shoppers.
All websites are unique in their own way
1. Easy to use
Simplicity should be a goal in good design, and you don’t have to sacrifice elegance to achieve it. In fact, studies show that 76% of consumers say that the most important feature of a website is the ease of use.
The goal is to help shoppers get to what they want, faster, and without running into unnecessary complexity that can get in the way of buying. Online sellers have minutes, if not seconds, to make a sale. Focus on the user experience by providing shopping categories, filters, and comparison capabilities.
To make your eCommerce site more user-friendly, consider the following:
- Enhance search functionality with an auto-complete option
- Create effective visual navigation
- prefill forms
Ecommerce sites should be a competitive advantage rather than a problematic experience.
2. Mobile website
Google declared it, so you should do it. All websites must be mobile-friendly by 2017 or suffer SEO consequences.
In fact, mobile purchases account for 50% of online transactions. With a responsive website, content intuitively adapts to any device you have access to provide the most user-friendly experience. Walmart increased mobile sales by 98% after optimizing its mobile site.
And, Intelligentsia created a better mobile shopping experience that led to a 16% increase in mobile transactions. It doesn’t matter if you have millions of product pages or five, creating a mobile-friendly experience for your shoppers will improve sales and potentially your rankings.
3. High-resolution photos and video
Gone are the days of posting a photo with a few stitches and a price tag.
Buyers want to see multiple angles and people using the product in different settings. They want to be able to zoom in and get a feel for the product.
Technical considerations for images are crucial. Images that don’t load or take too long to load will see a 39% consumer drop rate, according to Adobe. And we’re not just talking about professional photos. Vanity Planet found that adding Instagram photos to their product pages increased signups by 24%.
Images sell. E-commerce websites should display multiple photos per product. Photos should be high resolution and optimized for page load.
4. User-Generated Reviews
Buyers read reviews. About 95%, in fact. And, 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars.
You might think that having negative feedback is a sale killer. The opposite is actually true.
Negative feedback can often be positive. Products without negative feedback have been shown to be considered censored, and in turn, buyers will assume positive feedback to be fake.
Depending on the functionality of the website, eCommerce sites may use plugins from popular review platforms such as Yelp, Foursquare, and Facebook. Thinking of e-commerce sites, like Paiwen paddleboards, they’re using reviews as user-generated content to drive social proof and build fashion fans.
5. Special offers
Most eCommerce sites use special offers in their standard marketing practices via email, social media, text messaging, etc.
Next Level Ecommerce Sites Leverage Top Real Estate in Header Section to Promote Special Offers.
When shoppers realize they’re getting a special deal, it motivates them to buy more and spend more time searching the site. If e-commerce sites use ongoing promotions, providing a single web page listing the offers will not only drive more sales but also improve SEO.
6. Wish lists
Oh, how I love wish lists!
One for fashion, one for reading books, one for Christmas gifts. Buy, save and share.
E-commerce sites that don’t use wish lists are turning a profit on the virtual desktop. What’s better than having customers check off items they want and are likely to buy in the future? That’s just gold in your pocket.
And a remarketing campaign dream.
Retailers are creating these individualized options to drive engagement. In this webinar by Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, he shares how these can drive open rates as high as 80 percent, and 5x-10x higher return on the purchase.
It is also an opportunity to share a brand with new buyers. When shoppers share their wish lists with family and friends, it sends FREE traffic with built-in social proof to a website.
7. Search in the store
Not all eCommerce sites have physical stores.
However, those that do should have a search function in the store. Sometimes you don’t want to wait for an article to ship.
Buyers go online just to research and then complete the purchase in person. This is especially true for millennials, as they tend to do their research online before buying from a store.
This makes it incredibly useful to see which local stores have products in stock.
8. Related Articles
Just seeing the phrase, “you might like this” triggers a release of serotonin that signals curiosity and excitement.
A “Related Items” feature on an eCommerce site creates the desirable stickiness effect that many marketers strive for.
Here’s how it happens: You’ve put the AeroPress coffee maker in your shopping cart. A section pops up that says, “you might like this”. Would you like some freshly roasted, fair-trade whole coffee beans? Maybe a digital scale to measure the exact amount of ground coffee to achieve the perfect cup of coffee? You get the picture.
When an online seller uses the related items feature to sell more, they are actually signaling to the buyer that “they get me”. Related items can also include product categories similar to the comparison store, “people who bought this item also searched”.
9. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Complex purchases require trust in a seller and detailed information when purchasing products online rather than face-to-face.
At Forthea Interactive, our client, “Fine Watch Bank”, sells high-end watches designed by experts. The company’s buyers need confirmation of the watch’s authenticity and detailed product information to feel comfortable making a purchase.
An additional information section details frequently requested information that establishes credibility and builds trust with the buyer. The FAQ sections also provide a self-help area to address common customer issues.
Buyers often ask about product support, returns, lost account passwords, etc.
10. Social proof
Brands and online sellers that connect with their shoppers on an emotional level build brand trust and advocacy.
The social connection is undeniable and the opportunity to bond with an audience is easier now than ever.
Linking social profiles and user-generated content with an e-commerce site are must-have features that will brand online sellers.
Shoppers are inundated with a constant stream of “buy now” and “get this.” It is those brands that relate to customers socially that create customers for life. They are offering products that help others and that people care about.
Social media allows eCommerce brands to show authenticity and associate an emotional connection with their products. Check out Nike’s Pinterest account to see how incorporating products with motivational images makes a big impact.
See how Ikea uses user-generated content to share design ideas and inspiration on how to use its products. See how Lowe’s produces how-to videos that teach people how to use their products.
11. Security Features
Online transactions are an integral part of our lives.
As such, e-commerce websites can be a lucrative target for cybercriminals. It is crucial for online sellers to protect customer information and take steps to ensure privacy. It all starts with a secure eCommerce platform. With their sophisticated security features, it’s no wonder that Magento and WordPress combined with WooCommerce are the top two platforms for online sellers.
Other eCommerce security features you should be aware of include:
- SSL Certificate: Establishes secure connectivity between a user and the website. Look for HTTPS and a green padlock in the address bar before trusting your information to an online store. Select a name-aware SSL certificate provider.
- Two-Factor Authentication – Adds an extra level of security by requiring a username/password and a system-generated code that is sent via email or text.
- Use a firewall: Provides a gateway or wall between two networks, allowing authorized traffic and blocking malicious traffic.
12. Advanced payment options
In the world of Apple Pay and PayPal, advanced payment options are a must-have feature for an eCommerce site.
Just consider the ease of use associated with Amazon’s one-click shopping. Shoppers with registered accounts can literally shop with the click of a button. There are many popular online payment options. The key is understanding who the buyer is and implementing the most effective solutions.
If a website limits payment options, be sure to explain why.
For example, an e-commerce site may not offer Bitcoin as a payment option after determining its value to be unreliable. If buyers are tech-savvy people who tend to use this payment method, it’s important to be transparent as to why it’s not an option. This transparency establishes that the brand understands its buyers and builds trust.
13. Detailed shipping information
Alarmingly, unexpected shipping costs are the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment.
It’s critical that e-commerce websites include shipping information at the beginning of the checkout process, including a zip code calculator that shows the cost. It is also helpful to include the delivery time and options for faster delivery.
Sites must list countries that are outside of normal shipping zones. Interestingly, shoppers spend 30% more per order when free shipping is included.
Be sure to present free shipping codes on all site pages via header navigation, if applicable.
14. Multi-touch contact page
When it comes to running an e-commerce site where most business is done online, nothing builds more trust than an overly obvious and well-presented “contact us” feature.
This is especially true when selling high-end products or technical products. Never make it difficult for a buyer to get in touch or request assistance.
Consider the contact page as a feature of the website. Include multiple ways to communicate, including phone, email, and an online form. Some companies with brick-and-mortar stores offer online dating through their contact page.
Be sure to add social customer service links and Google maps for locations.
15. Return Policy
Return policies are an essential feature of any eCommerce website. The statistics below really speak for themselves, but a return policy must be clearly visible and well written or illustrated.
This is another trust-building feature of online selling. It assures shoppers that if they are unhappy or just need a different size, the brand is there for them. These must-have eCommerce site features can be grouped into categories like Duh, DOH, and AHHH.
Marketers and web designers can say “duh” when it comes to incorporating ease of use, high-resolution photos, security features, and contact information. As they are good practices and marks of good design.
There are others who would say “DOH!” When considering things like special offers, user-generated reviews, and social sharing. They know they should be using these features, but they just haven’t been able to implement them.
It’s never too late!
Finally, the “ahhh” moment where you get excited about planning related items, shareable wish lists, and in-store search features.
No matter what category you’re in, eCommerce sites have an incredible opportunity to use tried and true features combined with new and innovative elements to create fantastic shopping experiences.
Vivek is Digital Marketer as well as an SEO Strategist by choice. His aim is to help people to expand and grow their businesses through digital media and marketing. He helps midsize to enterprise-level companies & marketing agencies generate more traffic, leads, and sales with compelling, SEO – friendly content.