Imagine this… you’ve been pondering buying a new pair of jeans for this winter season and finally decide it’s time to make the deal. At the shops you visit two stores; one is disorganized, clothes have fallen off the shelves or hangers, you're not greeted by staff and overall, the atmosphere is underwhelming and uncomfortable. The second store you visit is tidy, clean, the staff are well presented and happy, store signage is clear, and the appearance of the store as a whole is quite comforting.
Now, which shop would you buy your jeans from? Probably the second one, right? The same goes for your online store. A good eCommerce website is not just its design, but a combination of user-friendly features. You must think about the experience you’re giving to your online customers. Online shopping, no matter the industry, is extremely competitive. The smallest negative encounter can mean the difference between a customer buying from you or your competitor.
Your eCommerce store is your chance to prove your brand value to your customers. Here are some of our top must-haves to make your eCommerce store a success.
Make Sure It's User-Friendly
The user-friendliness of your website is one of the main components of software ergonomics. In simpler terms, it refers to how easy it is for your online visitors to navigate your website and find the information that they sought out after. You always want to be thinking about how you can make the experience of your visitors as meaningful and valuable as possible. By ensuring the experience of your users is effortless, they’ll stay; make it difficult and they’ll leave. Here are some of our top user-friendly tips:
1. Design is clean
We know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…but in the case of a website, you do. The cover matters. Imagery, colours, white space, font, buttons, content, everything and anything you put on your eCommerce website, it matters. Ensure your layout is clean, easy to follow and not crowded. Above all, do NOT use yellow coloured text on a white background. Make sure your content is readable… please, for everyone’s sakes.
2. Links are not broken
A broken link is a webpage that cannot be found or accessed by your users. This could be a link in your navigation, a button on a page or even a link to a product on your online store. Links that go to a non-existent page or a wrong page will negatively impact the experience of your users.
3. Product filtering
Now, we don’t know about you, but we love product filtering on an eCommerce website. Isn’t it so disheartening when you’re scrolling through and come across a top that you immediately like to then find out it’s not in your size? Product filtering is even more important for large eCommerce stores that have hundreds of products within a category. Product filtering enables visitors to find what they're looking for quick and easy, increasing the chances of them buying.
Good Product Imagery
As the phenomenon that is eCommerce shopping increases, so does it’s relevance to the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. One of the biggest barriers in online shopping is a customer’s hesitation to buy because of the inability to try the product before buying it. Now more than ever visual marketing is essential to not only eCommerce success but building and growing a brand online.
High-quality imagery has consistently proven to improve engagement, brand credibility and conversion rates. Despite how user-friendly your website is, poor quality, small and blurry images won’t cut it. People want to know exactly what they’re buying from you. These are our top product imagery requirements:
To put it simply, small images are not effective and nor are larger blurry ones. Producing quality and high-resolution photos doesn’t require an expensive camera. Most digital cameras and even smartphones today can produce acceptable quality imagery.
Similarly to image size, many eCommerce websites use an image zoom feature which shows the details of the product. To use zoom features, your original product image needs to be large enough in resolution so that when ‘zoomed’ across, it's still a clear and crisp photo. On the other hand, taking close up pictures of your products also works well.
Put yourself in your customers' shoes, would you buy a product or garment of clothing that you could only see from one angle? It's critical you offer multiple views of your product, trust us when we say it WILL improve your conversion rate. Shoot it from the back, front, side, side, top, bottom, inside and out – and don’t forget to take close up photos of the details!
4. Product colours
Colour is another important product feature that you need to showcase through imagery. It’s fine to adjust the brightness of an image during editing but remember to represent the colour accurately online. If you have a product that is available in many colours and shades, make sure you’re also including photos of them.
If you didn’t already know, eCommerce websites, whether big or small are the biggest targets for hackers and fraudulent behaviour. So, what makes them so enticing? Think about the thousands of user ID’s, personal information and financial details, such as credit card information. Investing in cybersecurity for your online store is not expensive nor difficult. These are the top security essentials we recommend:
1. Choose a secure web host and eCommerce platform
There are many hosting providers and eCommerce platforms to choose from, each with their own security practices. We encourage you to research different hosts and platforms to find what best suits you, your business, and your customers. We use Australian hosted web servers and eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify.
2. Get an SSL certificate
SSL certificates are small data files that tie a cryptographic key to an organisation's details online. Once installed it activates the ‘padlock’ and the https protocol, allowing secure connections from a web server to a browser. Having an SSL certificate will not only ensure your customer’s safety, but it will also help improve your SEO performance and position on Google.
3. Choose payment and data processing extras
The best way to protect your customers is to not keep any of their data, unless absolutely necessary. A third-party payment software ensures your customers' personal and financial information are secure. Some of the more well-known companies are PayPal, Afterpay, Stripe, Apple Pay and VISA. Offering your customers a choice of multiple payment methods has become the norm, giving them more control. This has also proven to increase conversion rates!
Clear Returns and Shipping Information
91% of consumers say that a store’s return policy is important when making a purchase decision. As we covered earlier, online shoppers rely heavily on your store’s product descriptions and imagery to decide. A clear and reasonable returns policy gives your customers a feeling of security. Besides, it increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. In online retail, your returns policy might be the last push your customer needs to feel confident in following through with a purchase.
A good shipping experience is as important as delivering a great product and is the key to repeatable customer purchases. Many successful eCommerce businesses use strategic shipping options to differentiate themselves from the competition. A great example of this is offering free shipping over a certain amount or even gift wrapping around the holiday season.
It's important your shipping policy page is straightforward and answers frequently asked questions, such as:
- Tracking shipments
- Shipping options and delivery times
- International shipping availability (if required)
- Lost or damaged packages
Your returns and shipping information pages should be easy to find by your online viewers. Most commonly they're placed as links in the footer section of the website. Above all, make sure your customer service is top-notch. Often customer service is a ‘true test’ of how much a brand values its customers. If your customer can’t find an answer to their question on your website, they'll want to contact you. Make sure you're accessible. Online message chat, contact forms and emails are the most popular communication channels for shoppers. We shouldn’t have to say it, but don’t leave them hanging, they’ll go to your competitor. You should aim to reply to all customer enquiries within 24 hours!
Building a successful eCommerce website is not easy, and there are many elements and processes that surpass this list. But, putting in the time and effort at the start will set you up long term for success.
People are on your site because they want to buy, so make it easy for them to do so. We don’t want to be biased but we've seen too many doomed eCommerce websites, if you don’t know what you’re doing, seek advice from experts. If you would like to discuss your eCommerce website with us at Gordon Digital, whether that’s building from scratch or optimising a current one, you can find more information about our web design service and book an intro call here.
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Senior SEO Account Manager
Toby has been in the digital marketing industry for over seven years now,
working both in-house and agency side and focusing mainly on SEO.