10 Must-Haves When Building Ecommerce Sites

    by Greg Wise

    Date

    October 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    small__4896996561So, you’re ready to launch your new ecommerce site... Or are you? An ecommerce site requires much more than images of your products and a link for buyers to purchase. You need to build an awesome user experience or risk losing them forever after their first visit to your page. If you’re not sure what you need for your first ecommerce site, take a look at our list of must-haves. Some of these may have already occurred to you, while others might be a surprise.

    Quick Load Time

    Believe it or not, you could lose 40% of your shoppers if your site takes more than three seconds to load. Be sure you know all the tips for designing a site that will load quickly, including image size and type, as well as other media files.

    ecommerce-site-speed-1

    Not only does a slow site discourage buyers, but it can also hurt you in Google search rankings, too. Before you launch your ecommerce site, be sure to test load times with YSlow and Page Speed.  

    Mobile Version

    Now that 55% of people shop from mobile devices rather than from PCs and laptops, it’s imperative that you incorporate responsive design for your site into your design budget. Your website should be easily viewed on any device, which means the mobile versions will often differ from the full site. Responsive design should include resized text that’s easy to read on smaller devices, changing navigational position according to how the device is held, fewer images to boost load times, and enough space surrounding links that thumbs can click with ease.

    necessary ecommerce site features mobile design

    Calls-to-Action

    Your customers need your leadership. A call-to-action should appear at least once on every page, whether that CTA leads customers to make a purchase or to gather more information. Your CTAs should inspire excitement, while also letting customers know exactly where the link they click will take them. There should be primary CTAs, which are for making purchases, and secondary CTAs, which lead to more information about products, services, and the company as a whole.

    necessary ecommerce site features cta

    Easy Checkout

    MarketingSherpa estimates 59.8% of buyers abandon their carts before checking out. One reason for this may be a difficult payment process. The customer’s progress should be step-by-step, meaning each page should lead directly to the next and never back to a previous step. If customers must have an account before buying, require that step first. Don’t let them get halfway through the process and then direct them to an account set-up page. Make sure all fields in your forms are clearly labeled so buyers don’t get error messages when submitting payments. Finally, make sure all directions are clearly labeled. Instead of “Continue” as the direction, specify if they will continue shopping or continue checking out. If buyers feel they’re being led in circles, they’ll give up. 

    necessary ecommerce site features easy checkout

    Security Certificates

    Consumers need to feel safe when handing over financial information. This study by Avira shows that nearly 29% of shoppers feel their information may end up in the wrong hands. You can ease this fear by applying for security certificates and posting the badges in visible areas. Popular security providers include Veri-Sign and GeoTrust.

    necessary ecommerce site features security certificates

    Contact Information

    A contact form is fine, as long as it’s not the only option your customers have for reaching you. Nothing frustrates a buyer more than chasing a seller down to receive customer service. Be sure to include a phone number and an email address, at the very least. If your ecommerce site is part of a larger brick-and-mortar chain, include location information so buyers can go straight to a store with concerns and returns.

    necessary ecommerce site features contact information

    Blog

    Websites with a blog receive up to 55% more views than sites without. Not only is your blog excellent for helping customers find you through search engines, it’s also a great way to build trust with buyers. Your ecommerce blog should include information about all your products, from how-to’s to product comparisons. The more information you share on your blog, the more likely your customers are to consider you an expert in your field. People like buying from experts; it makes them feel safe.

    necessary ecommerce site features blog attached to site

    Social Media Links

    Several reports show social media has a huge impact on ecommerce. For instance, 77% of companies report they acquired customers through Facebook. Websites using the +1 button receive 3.5 times the Google+ visits than those without. Shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than referrals from other social networks. If you’re not using social sharing buttons on your site, you could miss out on huge returns.

    necessary ecommerce site features social sharing

    Customer Reviews

    According to this study, 49% of buyers consider reviews before buying products. Since people will search for product reviews, your review page could help your rankings in search results. You’ll also claim ownership of the information rather than allowing a third-party review site to enjoy all the website views. Those reviews might as well be available on your ecommerce site to keep buyers in one place. 

    necessary ecommerce site features customer reviews

    Education

    Not everyone will be the first time they visit your site. You must include information that keeps the conversation going. The best way to show your customers you care is to continually educate them on the virtues of your products. You can do this through how-to videos, tutorials, whitepapers, and ebooks. Along with boosted search results, you’ll also experience the benefit of positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Also, customers will feel much more comfortable purchasing a product they know how to use.

    necessary ecommerce site features education

    As you continue building your site, you’ll find other must-haves that work just for you. When you discover a new feature you think we should know about, tell us here in the comments.

    photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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