Among the multitude of web stores, yours needs to be the one that users will remember and keep returning to. You’ll need not only a well-conceived ecommerce strategy, but also specific features that draw customers to your site like a magnet. Make sure you have these 6 visual essentials on your ecommerce website!
As well as looking good, your website needs to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. People don’t want to go on a wild goose chase to find what they are looking for. No matter how good your marketing activities are, if your website is not great, you have higher chance of missing out on potential sales.
Therefore, if you want to ensure your ecommerce site is slick, stunning, and easy to navigate, you need to check off these six must-have features that will attract customers and keep them coming back.
1. Responsive or adaptive design
A large percentage of any consumer base is likely to be doing their shopping on mobile devices. Over 300 million U.S. consumers own a smartphone or tablet—of which 80% made online purchases on these devices in the last six months.
As your site is likely to receive high volumes of traffic from customers using a variety of devices, you need to ensure any design you use is malleable to the different layouts and resolutions of mobile phones, laptops, or tablets. As a good proportion of online purchases are made on smartphones, it’s particularly important to make your site with a mobile-first mentality or at least mobile-friendly as part of your business plan for an online shopping website.
So, how do you do this? First off, it’s important to ensure that the site is built using either responsive or adaptive design. While the terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually different.
Basically, adaptive design corresponds to a web page with a fixed number of different layouts. Depending on the device, your system will select the layout that is most suitable. On the other hand, responsive design uses a single layout that resizes itself depending on the screen size.
There are pros and cons that apply to both, but the most important factor here is that your web page has one. Ensuring your site renders properly on any device creates a visually appealing and professional impression that will help you make conversions when potential customers find your website.
2. Site search bar
Adding a search bar is a simple way to make sure your site satisfies customer needs. Site search bars are found on all top web stores, and allow the customer to find exactly what they want easily.
By adding an auto-complete dropdown as they type, they can narrow their search down by category, brand, price, color, or another variable. This is the type of functionality that users are used to and has been tried and tested. A great perk is that customers can stumble upon more of your products while typing and potentially trigger a purchasing decision!
Seeing the site search bar also provides an element of comfort for the customer. It shows that your website is thorough and professional. The proof is in the pudding, too, as average conversion rates increase by 50% when they’re carried out through well-thought-out site searches.
Last but not least, site search bars provide a technical benefit for the website owner. Having the search bar enables you to track the analytics behind what most people are looking for, what your web store doesn’t stock, and other minor issues that need fixing.
3. Product Catalogue
A product catalogue is another highly effective feature that can be found on all top e-commerce websites. The product catalog goes hand-in-hand with your site search bar and allows users to browse through your offerings.
Imagine a customer who wants to purchase a gift for a loved one’s birthday, only to find out that the item is out of stock. Your product catalog can quickly display this information and offer alternative suggestions if the item is unavailable. Instead of losing your potential customer, they can find alternatives more easily.
The larger the number and range of products in your store, the more difficult it may be to ensure that everything is accounted for. On the back end, many web stores make use of a multichannel ecommerce inventory to manage a large database of products through a centralized system.
4. High-quality images and videos
A picture is worth a thousand words – and, sometimes, increased conversions too. A perfectly framed snap of your products from a great angle can be worth a million sales. There are different product photography tips you can follow for staging the perfect photo shoot.
Printed promotional materials are a great way to peak customer interest and direct them to your site, but you can really seal the deal with an aesthetically appealing web design with high-quality images. The first thing that meets a customer’s eye is how your site looks, and this is often a deciding factor in whether or not they stay on the page.
Your images should link to the products they are showing. Videos such as product-in-action clips and testimonials can serve as social proof speaking to the quality of your brand. Another approach is to leverage user-generated content. In addition, your customers should be able to submit their own testimonials and reviews with images and videos.
Your brand needs to send out a message, and needs a consistent tone, look and, feel. There is nothing more suited to do this than the use of visual content. It is more than worthwhile to invest in high-quality branded content.
5. Contact page and information
Every good e-commerce site provides customers with ample opportunities to contact them about product information, returns, shipping information, and more.
Communication can be a via a contact form, a dedicated email address, or a telephone helpline. Depending on the size and requirements of the business, helplines can range from a dedicated traditional landline to sophisticated virtual PBX systems. Your site may attract buyers from different countries, hence you may also want to get an 800 business number. An 800 business number is toll-free and is perfect as a customer hotline.
Remember you can and should include a Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs – section. There you can address beforehand most common or possible questions your potential customers may have about your products. This saves both you and them time.
Along with your business address and contact details, you can also include links to your social media pages in this section. These may prove to be the main avenue for communication between you and your customers, so including a call to subscribe or like your page is not a bad idea.
6. Security features
Hacking and other forms of online crime are in fact a much better prospect for criminals. Every customer can protect themselves by buying prepaid cards for online shopping and have a safe transaction without putting their own bank details at risk.
There are many ways to ensure and display security on your site. It’s advisable to make use of every feature available and ensure they are visible to your customers so they also feel safe when purchasing! While installing these security features may come at an extra cost, it’s worth it.
The first priority should be to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which is an encrypted network in which personal data can be shared safely and securely. This should be a basic requirement for any business running an ecommerce store.
It is also wise to set up an SSL (Secure Socket Layer), which provides an extra level of protection. It’s also a recognizable form of web security that shoppers will be familiar with and therefore provides another layer of reassurance.
Annoying as it might be, multi-factor authentication is another great way to secure devices and connections. This is geared more towards the customer and adds a second layer of protection when they are logging into their accounts from new devices.
Finally, be careful of the add-ons, plugins, and website pop-ups that you add to your site. While they make running a website a lot easier, extras from unknown sources can compromise the security of your website.
Let’s Sum It Up!
These six essentials form the backbone of an effective e-commerce website:
- Responsive or Adaptive Design
- Site Search Bar
- Product Catalogue
- High-quality Images and Videos
- Contact Page and Information
- Security Features
Once the fundamentals are in place and running smoothly, you’ll be able to keep adding new functionalities to make your site even more customer friendly and engaging.
There is a plethora of add-ons and features available, including multiple payment options, wishlists, online chat, review, and feedback functionally, video guides, and discount code tools. By taking small, incremental steps, you’ll soon be up there with the best e-commerce sites around!
Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration with the help of Dialpad’s guide to business enterprise transformation. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace has written for domains such as Apollo Technical and VMblog. Here is her LinkedIn.