6 Must-Have Elements for an E-commerce Website

May 10th, 2016

E-commerce // Zee

Besides being attractive, these days a good e-commerce resource has to be done in such a way that user experience would be at maximum efficiency. In addition, this website should also have a number of must-have elements, without which the main goal of the project - making successful sales - won’t be reached.

E-commerce projects combine content requirements, user-friendliness, and thought-through but non-intrusive communication with the client.

Sometimes some elements are forgotten in the process of development, but their presence might be critical for the success of the website. Check out our list of must-haves and make sure you don’t forget about them if you’re working on an e-commerce project!

Easy-to-Use Cart

One of the major e-commerce problems is the problem of abandoned cards. Some e-stores’ stats show 50% of abandoned carts - that is, half of their potential clients chose products they want and yet didn’t complete the purchase. 50 percent, Carl! It’s a disaster!

So what can be done about it? Imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes - you have spent a long time getting all the products you need at a supermarket according to the shopping list and when you’re at the cashier’s, suddenly something breaks in the system and you can’t pay for what you need. If you are really persistent, then you can stand in another line and bring the matter to an end. But how many people would simply abandon their carts and leave the store?

That’s exactly what’s happening at the e-stores. Customers collect the items into the cart and they can leave right before checking out at the virtual “cashier” - and it’s much easier to do online than in real life.

There are many reasons this situation might happen and one of them is an inconvenient order form. The processes of how to buy something and pay for it should be simple and understandable. Remember: users don’t like to fill out forms. They hate forms, they avoid them like a plague. So if you can figure out a way how to get your customer to buy something without having to fill anything out, that’s what you should aim for.

Many e-stores already achieved this “One-Click” purchase process. Yes, customers still fill out a simple form to complete the deal, but the main thing is - the form is simple. Therefore, you should ask your customers to register at the very end of the purchasing process, ensuring them that this is the only place where they will have to deal with forms.

Security: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

When a customer decides to purchase something online, he’s not just interested in the price and quality of the goods, but also in the safety of the website, including the payments. You cannot control users’ computers and make sure there are no viruses on them, but you can make your website secure. The use of an SSL certificate is an absolute must for e-commerce sites today.

An SSL certificate is used to encrypt data between your website (server) and user’s computer (or smartphone). Data encryption means that the information transferred between the server and the device is protected from the outside interference. In other words, even if hackers can intercept the SSL transmission of the credit card data, the information won’t be compromised due to encryption.

A secure website that uses the SSL certificate contains the “HTTPS” instead of the usual “HTTP” and has an image of a closed padlock in the address bar.

An additional argument for the choice of SSL can be that Google recently reported that website security issues will be taken into account when it comes to search rankings - protected websites will rank higher than their weaker alternatives.

Call to Action (CTA)

The user can come to an e-commerce website to explore trends, read reviews or other useful content. In order for the user to become your customer, however, sometimes you need to gently guide him to the main purpose of the website. For this very reasons, Calls to Action (CTA) exist. Ideally, each page of an e-commerce website should have its own CTA. If not, such calls should be placed where they are logical to encourage the user to make a purchase.  

Calls to action may look different. For example, if users click “Learn more” link, it means they are at least interested in the product. This may lead to purchase as well as gathering product information for a future purchase. If the user clicks through several pages, this means that the user is interested and can respond to a simple call to action and make a purchase right now.

The longer the visitors are on the site and the more pages they visit, the easier it is to understand what exactly are they looking for. For example, a visit to a smartphones’ list page means that the person is interested in getting a cell phone. But if he then goes to Android devices with 5” diagonal and 3G support, then you know the person is looking for a specific device. This knowledge can be easily used to make popular products more “visible” and easier to find than the less popular products. Correct call to action on this page would lead to almost guaranteed addition of a product to the cart.

Search and Navigation Functions

To buy something, you first need to find that something. We have already written about the importance of the search window placement, but it doesn’t hurt to remind that this interface element is an ideal guide for the user to take him to the product he wants.

The search function is the easiest way to navigate the website. Nonetheless, there are other navigational functions that will help the customers to narrow the search area and quickly find what they are looking for. Most often, they are called “filters.” You should offer the customer not a simple search window, but an opportunity to find what he is looking for among the numerous search results, for example, shoes of his size, smartphone with a desired screen size, TV that costs no more than set amount.

Sales and Discounts

Any buyer who visits an online store website, regardless of his salary, would like to spend less. And less. And even less. This magic word “Discount” (or “Sale”) always attracts attention - everyone loves discounts and freebies - some even end up buying stuff that they don’t even need but “It was on sale!” Therefore, why not take advantage of that human nature feature and offer goods at a discount?

A clear demonstration of this purchasing habit is “Black Friday” sales. When planning sales, retailers pay special attention to Black Friday because they know that it’s the day when you can sell something that didn’t sell for months. That’s that day when Americans (and now more countries support that tradition) buy a new toaster, a latest improved model of a coffee maker, or banana slicer - even they don’t really need that thing in the first place! (Granted, the reviews for that banana slicer are funny.) It’s all about the discount - if they bought it at discounted price, many people believe they have saved a lot of money.

The main thing for an e-commerce website is not just to offer a variety of discounts, but try to make the visitor see a good deal they like and hurried to take advantage of it.

Discounts, promotions, and other special offers don’t even necessarily have to deal with a direct reduction in the price of goods. For example, you can offer your customers free shipping for their chosen products or hot deals on certain days of the week (for example, have a sale every Friday and every last day of the month - a 40% discount on certain product groups). It has to be said, however, that if the sales are too often, shoppers will not buy anything at the regular price, but wait for discounts.

A good alternative to methods above is a “Deal of the Day” - a deal that is only valid for a day on a random day. While looking for a deal they are waiting for, the visitors will come to your e-commerce website every day or so to see a discount on their desired product.

Useful Content

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section can be useful information for the customer that will also help your support team stay away from answering all the same questions all the time (there are some curious customers, but hey - at least, not all of them would ask you how to register.)

Products’ description and the offer to purchase them is certainly the most important you should have on your e-commerce site. However, to make this information more useful for the customer and more visible for the search engines, create content aimed at promoting those products.

For example, an active blog will increase site traffic - sometimes even by 50%. Additionally, if your blog doesn’t just have company news or news related to your products (for example, smartphones market research or a story about latest fitness band), but other useful content for the consumer (for example, how to keep oneself in a good shape using the fitness bands), your site will be visited more frequently. Besides site visits, your number of orders will also increase. For example, video reviews of new devices - smartphones or tablets, or tips on how to choose one or another product you sell, will be popular and bring you visitors from the search engines.

Another useful section for e-commerce websites is a page with customers’ feedback and clear product rating. Ordinary stars of various colors will tell the visitor about whether this product is good or not in a second. Real customers’ feedback, in turn, will make the audience more loyal to the site. It’s not a secret that nowadays most people read the users’ feedback previous to buying the product themselves. So why lose visitors who are looking for feedback? Also, keep in mind that users want to see all kinds of feedback - both positive and negative because if you have too many positive feedback, that seems suspicious and actually leads your visitors away from the purchase.

As a Conclusion

The main goal of an e-commerce site is to sell. How to do it? By informing your clients that your store does sell things and tell them why they need to make that purchase. If you get a visitor who is looking for a specific product, he has to find that product as well as maximum information about it and with a minimum number of clicks and be able to order that product as easily. Keeping these simple rules in mind, you can create a good e-commerce website. Just make sure all its elements are helping your clients to get what they want.

Author: Zee

Zee is in charge of the Marketing at the APP Solutions/Grossum. Her areas of interest include quantum physics, astronomy, new trends in the web & mobile development (especially in the areas of AI and machine learning) and digital marketing instruments.

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