A well-designed e-commerce site means an improved overall image of your brand, more trust from customers, better search engine rankings and higher conversion rates, among other benefits. You want to put some thought into the elements you include into your online store as well as its design. And while each e-commerce site is unique, there are several essentials most of these stores have, which, along with product and service quality, ensure their continuous success. Here is a list of features that will help increase your site’s usability and boost your profits. Take some time deciding on these elements’ design and placement.
1. Intuitive Navigation
A well-designed yet simple navigation menu is one of the key components to your e-store’s success. Buyers don’t want to spend any more time than they have to on the site, and feeling lost among multiple product types will quickly drive them away to your competitors’ stores. Make it easy for people to find what they need by splitting the products into clear categories and subcategories. If you want your navigation menu to include more items in it, consider a vertical option as opposed to the horizontal one, which usually fits less links.
2. Visible Logo
A lot of the time when browsing the Internet for the product they need, people randomly run across a site that carries the item, without having any previous experience with the given merchant. You want these types of visitors to get a strong first impression about your brand, making your store memorable and ensuring that they do come back to do more shopping with you in the future. A logo is your trademark, business card and a symbol of trust that buyers can put into your company. Make sure your logo is clearly displayed in a prominent place on your site, especially on your home page. The top left-hand corner is a popular place for this.
Trustmarks are one of the first things shoppers are looking for when visiting a site they’ve never dealt with before. These are the small icons that show the trustworthiness of the website as guaranteed by established names in the security field. Some of the most popular ones are BBB, VeriSign, McAfee, GeoTrust, TRUSTe, Authorize.Net and PayPal Verified, to name a few. Trust icons are usually placed in the footer of the site, although you only really need them if your store is still building up its reputation. The more established brands don’t have to rely on these anymore.
4. Contact Information
People like to buy from real companies that have a physical presence and a number they can easily be reached at. Many online stores these days place their main customer service number in the top right-hand corner of their home page. Providing a live chat option is another great communication channel for your customers to quickly get their questions answered. Make sure you also have a dedicated contact page with several ways to reach you. If your business has any physical locations, including a store finder is also a good idea.
5. Featured Products
Your front page is a great place to have a slideshow or a grid with your featured products, which should be updated on a regular basis. This can include anything from the latest arrivals, to items that are hot right now, to holiday specials, to deals and sales. Featuring several items with large and catchy images, as well as their prominent placement is a great way to grab the buyer’s attention.
6. Payment Icons
Payment icons displayed in a visible spot on the home page are another popular feature to have for somewhat less established online stores. This is a good way of boosting your shoppers’ trust and showing them you are flexible when it comes to payment methods, which can be key to retaining new customers. Some popular payment system icons you should consider adding are PayPal, all major credit cards, Western Union, Money Order and gift card. The icons are usually placed in the footer or in the top right corner.
7. Shopping Cart
No e-commerce store can do without a shopping cart, no matter if you have been around for a while or are just starting out. It’s common to place the cart somewhere in the header and display it with an image of a standard physical shopping cart or a basket. You can have a number next to the cart, showing the amount of items currently added to it. Clicking the cart should be a shortcut that takes the customer to the checkout page. You can have the contents of the cart displayed in a vertical bar to the right or the left of the main product area, letting buyers quickly see what’s been added and remove items with a click of the X button. Some sites even let shoppers drag and drop items in and out of the cart. If space is limited, you can add a feature where hovering over the shopping cart’s icon with one’s mouse gives a preview of the contents, providing a quick reminder for buyers placing larger orders. Small but convenient elements like this add to the usability of your store, so they shouldn’t be overlooked.
8. Search Box
A visible search box placed in the top navigation menu or in the top right-hand corner of every page of your site is a must. You should make it as easy as possible for your customers to quickly find what they need without having to browse the entire site. To achieve this, you might want to include the advanced search feature, where people can find products by category, keyword or gender, for instance.
9. Wish List or Buy Later Option
Many times shoppers will find something they like, but won’t buy it right away. They either want to browse around and look for similar items in your store, or go to other sites and compare prices. In other cases they will want to save the item and buy it when a birthday or holiday approaches. For this reason, failing to provide a wish list or an option to buy the item later can cost you a lot of potential and repeat business.
10. Social Media Links
Lastly, make it easy for customers to keep in touch with you via social media sites or share the products they like. Add sharing buttons under individual items, as well as in your site’s header or footer area, or both. Offer incentives for following and liking you, such as possibility to win products in contests and giveaways, or to receive discounts unavailable to others.