The e-commerce space can seem overwhelming and complex, not to mention saturated these days. As an e-commerce store owner, you may find yourself jumping from one idea to the next as you are building or updating your online store.
In saying that, e-commerce businesses are thriving. With retail e-commerce sales worldwide reaching nearly $5 trillion in 2021, it’s never been a better time to start an online business.
So if you can get it right, then you can find yourself with a high-converting e-commerce store that attracts and holds the attention of your ideal customers.
But how do you create a successful e-commerce store? Here are thirteen key elements to include in your e-commerce website to create a successful online store.
Let’s dive in!
13 factors to consider when creating your e-commerce website
Make it user-friendly
The best way to create a user-friendly converting e-commerce website is to imagine your own online shopping experience and what you enjoy or find useful.
A navigation rule of thumb is to ensure that a customer can get to what they are looking for in 3 clicks or less. For example, if a customer has landed on your homepage, how many clicks would they need to make to get a specific product page, to your contact page, or to your shipping and returns page?
Another essential user-friendly experience needs to be a simple checkout process. Have auto-fill available for details if you can, don’t ask for excessive details if it’s not needed for the payment and delivery of your product, and ensure that the customer receives confirmation of payment and order received so that they can confidently have proof of their purchase.
More than half of all internet traffic shopping is done from a mobile device. This is why it is extremely important to make sure your website is primed for mobile viewing.
Not only are significantly more users accessing the web from a tablet or smartphone than a desktop, but they are also doing so with more shopping intent than ever before. During last year’s busy holiday shopping season, a third of all online purchases came from smartphone users.
Statistics show that 40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience, yet an alarming 84% have experienced difficulty completing a mobile transaction. That is an incredibly high number, and it shows just how great the opportunity is for companies to capitalize on consumer conversion just by creating mobile responsive and user-friendly websites. It’s one reason Amazon focused on making an easy shopping experience and was able to gain a massive audience and grow.
What does mobile-friendly actually mean? Simply put, with a mobile responsive website, content intuitively adapts to whatever device is accessing it to provide the most user-friendly experience.
If customers can’t see what they’re buying due to grainy, poor quality product imagery, sales are going to suffer. Without quality images, your brand simply won’t instil confidence in the quality of your product.
A high converting e-commerce website will display multiple photos per product. The photos need to be high-resolution and optimized for quick page load.
Using cheesy stock photos can make you appear disingenuous, erode the trust customers have in your brand and turn visitors away from your website.
Not only should your product imagery be on point, but your branding also needs to be consistent across your site. Your logo should display at high quality, your brand palette should be consistent across all pages, as well as fonts and icons.
With e-commerce features available across nearly all web platforms these days, it’s important to do your research before selecting a platform.
Not only are there platforms dedicated solely to e-commerce, such as Shopify and Woocommerce (through WordPress), but platforms such as Squarespace and Wix now offer e-commerce features.
So it’s important to identify what features are important to your business and to your audience, as well as the development you will need to support these features.
Thinking about your long-term vision and goals at this point is really important. Consider the pros and cons before you just build your online empire on the cheapest and easiest platform. Is it going to be able to scale when your business does? Does it help streamline inventory management and the logistics of running your business? Remember, this is the online home of your brand and the key money-maker. Investing a little more in the beginning could save you a lot down the track.
Secure site/secure payment
E-commerce websites can be a lucrative target for cybercriminals, as so much valuable information is needed to process through online checkout. It’s crucial that online sellers protect customer information and take steps to ensure privacy.
With their sophisticated security features, it’s no wonder that Shopify and WordPress paired with WooCommerce are the top two platforms for online sellers.
Other must-have e-commerce security features to consider are:
- SSL certificate: Establishes secure connectivity between a user and the website. Look for HTTPS and a green lock in the address bar before trusting an online store with your information.
- Two-factor authentication: Adds an extra layer of security by requiring a username/password and a system-generated code sent via email or text.
- Use a firewall: Provides a gateway or wall between two networks and only permits authorized traffic while blocking suspected malicious traffic.
Multiple payment options (but not too many that it creates another decision for the user)
Ensure you can include a few different payment options, not just credit card. For example, 87.5% of online buyers use PayPal, while there are more than 3.6 million consumers who actively use Afterpay in the US, and it’s more than twice that globally.
Having flexible payment options available for your customers, straight through your checkout, is going to make purchases less of a barrier for your customers. However, keep in mind to choose just a few, to avoid creating an overwhelming decision for your customers.
How-to video content
It’s not uncommon that consumers shy away from making a purchase because they aren’t sure how to use a product.
A how-to video offers step-by-step instruction and is suitable for products with complex features and an audience that is eager and detail-oriented.
It’s also a great opportunity to show how the product works in context to help shoppers visualize how they can use the product in their lives.
Verified customer reviews
Shoppers read reviews. About 95% of them, in fact.
You might think that having negative reviews is a sale killer. The opposite is actually true.
Having negative reviews can often be positive. It’s shown that products without negative reviews are seen as censored and, in turn, shoppers will assume the positive reviews are fake.
Depending on website functionality, ecommerce sites can use plugins from the most popular review platforms including Google Reviews, Yelp, and Facebook.
Forward-thinking ecommerce brands use reviews as user-generated content to drive social proof and build raving fans.
Comprehensive FAQs (that address your customers’ pain points)
Online purchases require you to build confidence with your customers, along with providing detailed product information, versus face-to-face sales.
An FAQ section allows you to go into detail about your products while addressing any objections that your customer may have.
A frequently asked questions section also provides a self-help area to address common customer problems. Buyers often ask about product support, returns, lost account passwords, etc. so including these in your FAQ section removes a purchase barrier immediately, with the aim of getting your customers one step closer to your shopping cart.
Cross-selling is a useful feature on all kinds of eCommerce stores, but it’s come to be almost expected on a lot of e-commerce sites. Including a cross-selling feature allows you to incorporate a bundle offer, such as a ‘Complete the Outfit’ type service on a fashion site, something which many customers are happy to do.
This not only boosts sales, but can also make customers aware of products they might not have found otherwise. It’s important that you make sure you’re offering relevant products to those already in your customer’s cart. Aim to keep the cross-sell not too “in your face”, as this could have a negative impact on your brand as it can be seen as being too pushy or sales-focused.
Clear return/refund policies on the product page
One major barrier in the customer journey is the reassurance that the product they’re about to buy has a comprehensive returns, refund and delivery policy that will ensure that their order arrives on time, and can easily be sent back if it’s not right for them.
It’s as simple as creating a page on your store that is typically accessible from the footer on every page of your store, especially your product pages.
If you are contemplating whether or not you should accept returns, the answer is yes. It’s extremely rare to find a physical store nowadays that doesn’t have some form of a returns/refund policy in place, and online retail should be no different. There is no set rule of the terms, however, so do whatever feels right for your business.
A free shipping offer has been found to boost conversion rate, increase average order value, and improve customer loyalty. In fact, 93% of online shoppers say that free shipping would encourage them to make more purchases online. This is a huge statistic and a top deciding factor of a customer choosing your product over a competitor’s.
You can easily offer free shipping, or some form of it—for example, free shipping on orders over a certain amount—by building the average cost of shipping into the price of your product. That way, you’re not losing money, and your customer doesn’t get a nasty surprise when it comes to calculating shipping costs at the final step of their checkout, resulting in them abandoning the cart.
Leverage your customer data with follow-up marketing
Customers expect to enter their email address through the checkout process, as this is the easiest way to provide them with their proof of purchase and tracking information.
Email marketing is a wonderful way to leverage your customer data through abandoned cart emails, cross-selling emails, following up for reviews, and promoting sales. You can use your email list to build customer know, like, trust factor by offering VIP exclusive offers, free valuable content and behind the scenes to your business. Platforms such as Klaviyo are specifically built for e-commerce email lists, with almost limitless ways to target and segment customers based on their activity and actions across your site.