2022 is proving to be quite a year. Still reeling from a global pandemic that essentially stopped the world in its tracks, people are still figuring out what exactly “new normal” means – if normal even applies these days. But one thing that is undeniably clear is that as people have stayed at home more, their fingers have been forced to do a lot more walking. So if your business has an online presence, now more than ever, you want to make sure you’ve got your ecommerce game properly sorted out.
So let’s take a look at what successful ecommerce sites are doing right. What features do good ecommerce websites have?
Best Features for Ecommerce Websites
1. Easy Navigation
In an age where speed and convenience are minimum requirements, you need to ensure your users are able to get to what they want to go in as few clicks – or taps – as possible. So helpfully organizing content so that navigation is easier really improves the user experience and casts your ecommerce site in a favorable light. Add categories and implement filters so that your app users can quickly and easily narrow down their searches and save their thumbs some scrolling mileage.
2. Search Tools
Your users may not always be looking for products by category, so add a search feature to help them instantly find specific products or brands without having to navigate through a maze of sub-categories. Go a step further and provide suggestions for popular brands and products as users type search terms in, and make the experience on your ecommerce page even more seamless for your users. From the business’ marketing perspective, this feature can also provide you with valuable data about customer preferences and help you make improvements.
3. Footer Navigation
Besides offering the usual social media links, contact page links and company info, the footer area can be optimized to offer even more convenience to your users. If a site visitor is looking at this part of your website, they have traversed the entire length of a page and, most likely, haven’t found what they were looking for. You can save them the trouble of having to navigate back to your categories by placing navigation links right there in your footer.
4. Sorting And Filters
Anything that can lessen the cognitive load on your site visitors and leave them to go about their shopping experience unhindered is a plus. Filters are a great way to help your customers see only what is relevant to them. Give them enough flexibility to narrow down their searches based on as many parameters as necessary. Filtering by things like product type, brand, and price are a given. Is same-day delivery available? Is it possible to filter out items that are out of stock? Provide enough parameters to enable customers to browse without having to visually sift through the products on offer.
5. Product Reviews
Buying anything online always carries an element of risk on the customer’s part. The experiences of people who have already purchased a product therefore play an important part in the decision-making process of a buyer. Shoppers will want to look further into an item of interest for some sort of social proof before they make their choice. This transparency helps build confidence in your platform. Give your users even more helpful information by enabling them to upvote or downvote reviews based on how useful that feedback is.
6. Flexible Return Policy
Foster even more trust by offering generous terms on your return policy. This immediately communicates to the customer that you are confident they will be satisfied with your product. You can maximize the effectiveness of this by placing your offer near the call to action where the customer is likely to commit to a purchase – close to the button to add an item to the basket for example.
7. FAQ Section
Customers usually want to be well-informed about a product before they make a purchase. Answering the most frequently asked questions makes it easier for them to quickly settle any lingering questions they may have before buying a product. This also gives your customer service staff a leg-up by ensuring the most common questions about products are answered on your website so they can dedicate their time to mostly attending to more pressing customer issues. You can also provide information about your store. Things like privacy, more details about returns, international shipping, and so on.
A chatbot gives round the clock service to customers even outside working hours. With the improvements AI technology has made, chatbots have become a lot more helpful and can help you answer questions in a much more relatable way. Your customers may not want to sift through pages of information, or poke around the FAQ section of your site. In these cases, a customer can simply type their question into a chat window. The bot will do the work for them and provide the information they need or lead them to the relevant product or support page. Your customer staff can attend to more complex queries during business hours.
9. Responsive website and Mobile App
The mobile platform is arguably the most important one to ecommerce . Your site design should take this into account and ensure your platform is as usable on a mobile device as it is on a laptop or desktop computer. If for no other reason than the SEO benefits it brings. Search engines rank pages that are responsive and mobile-friendly.
Add a mobile application and you have a very good chance of staying top-of-mind for your clients. You can push messages to them using the app, glean deeper insights into their preferences using the data you get back, and you will be assured of better quality leads from that channel as they will all have willingly downloaded your application and shown their interest.
10. Informative videos and images
The most obvious disadvantage to online shopping is the fact that customers are unable to see the items they are purchasing. They rely on the media provided by the website. Having good, clear images that accurately depict the product is absolutely vital, but adding product videos can help you increase sales even more. Videos can provide more information about a product, help you highlight specific features, and give your customers a better sense of the item they are buying without physically interacting with it. This can help you increase conversions.
11. Reliable shipping options with tracking
One of the biggest advantages of online shopping is its convenience. Customers can shop from the comfort of their homes, or whatever location they may be in, and have their orders brought to them. If the reliability of this feature becomes questionable, the whole shopping experience is jeopardized. By adding reliable shipping options, with reasonable delivery times, and fair terms and conditions in the event of damage or loss, you can set your customers’ mind at ease. Adding tracking options so clients stay updated on the status of their order at all times and manage expectations on when the delivery will be made.
12. Email Opt-In
Adding an opti-in feature is a great way to increase the lifetime value of your customers. You want them to keep coming back and not just remain one-off clients. Even if visitors to your site do not make a purchase, offer them the ability to subscribe to notifications on the latest products, offers, or any specials you might have going on. Turn those who make purchases into repeat customers by keeping them updated on your new offers too.
13. Reward Programs
Another way to keep customers coming back is by having them enroll in loyalty programs. You can offer members access to exclusive offers, give them early access to new products, or special discounts on future purchases. Loyalty programs can be free or paid, and your customers can accumulate points that they can use later for more discounts and rewards. Having them enroll in loyalty programs will also enable you to offer them email subscriptions and keep a foot in the door for promotions and campaigns.
14. Coupon Codes
Everybody loves freebies. The promise of getting good discounts on a purchase will help you get more sales. Throw in other offers too, like free shipping for certain products, or purchases above a specified amount, and this will let your clients understand that there is value being added to their purchases. A significant portion of consumers actively seek out coupon codes to help them get good deals on products. Providing them on your ecommerce website will help you attract more customers and improve the number of conversions.
15. Support for Multiple Languages
Your ecommerce store should of course be in the primary language of the region it serves. However, bear in mind that there may be a good number of clients who would feel more comfortable using the site in another language. Start by providing for the primary language used in that area, and also add support for, and the ability to switch between common languages. In a non-English speaking country, your default language should be that of the region, but you will also want to add English for example, as there will probably be a significant number of consumers who use English as their main language.
16. Personal Data Policy
Make sure you don’t err on the wrong side of regulatory requirements. In most jurisdictions, your site should let visitors know about the data that is collected when they visit your site, how this data is used, and give you express permission to collect it. So ensure you provide them with the ability to accept or opt out of your policy.
Examples of successful ecommerce websites
We took a look at some of the most visited ecommerce websites in the world to see what best practices can be applied to other similar sites.
The Amazon website’s ease of use makes the buying process as easy as possible to visitors. The product and its features are deliberately placed in uncluttered white space to make them stand out. Information about discounts is placed very close to the price. There is a rating out of five stars, with the number of reviews shown next to it so visitors can clearly see the user community’s opinion of the product. And on the right pane, there is information about shipping, returns.
Walmart’s website features a clean design that works very well on mobile devices. For navigation, there is a hamburger menu which must be clicked and opened in order to navigate to different categories. This has come in for some criticism. What the website does very well is show content that is relevant to the visitor, with suggestions based on their browsing history, and items that are popular in the area in which the customer is located.
Alibaba’s website offers the immediate convenience of being able to change the language and currency. The options are shown in the top right hand side of the page and expand when you hover your cursor over them. You also get a dedicated ribbon with a link to a COVID FAQ page. With shipments having been affected by the pandemic, taking this proactive approach to address these questions is a good step. The footer area is used most for information but also features an email signup field, as well as links to the Android and Apple mobile apps.
From the very get-go, the ASOS website lets you easily navigate to where you need to go. The buttons for men’s or women’s clothing are placed right at the top, next to the main logo, and then the various departments are shown just below that. You can filter and sort the extensive catalog of clothing by type, price, brand, color, price range, and many other parameters. The website is mobile friendly and will shift elements to fit smaller screens. They also make good use of the footer and use it, among other things, to suggest their mobile app.
Building your own site
For your own ecommerce website, it is not strictly necessary that you have all the bells and whistles, all the fancy features that the industry leaders have poured lots of resources into developing. Instead focus on making the user experience as seamless and pleasant as possible, and you will be well on your way to building an ecommerce website that your users will appreciate.