By Henry Brown
Ecommerce stores are something of a modern gold rush at the minute. It’s becoming easier than ever for you or me to set up a website and start turning a profit. Like any business model though, running an ecommerce store isn’t a walk in the park. If you want to be successful with it, there are essential features your ecommerce website must have.
The first thing on your checklist should be easy navigation. This is one of the most essential elements to any kind of website. With simple, straightforward navigation, your customers will find using your store a breeze. With dysfunctional or confusing navigation, you’ll only be boosting your bounce rate! Unfortunately, there’s no set model for easy navigation. As a general rule though, you should be showing all of your customers a clear, easy path from the landing page to the checkout. This landing page could be almost anything, so tabs are the best way to go. Use wide categories for dropdowns if you have a lot of products, along with your standard search bar. Aside from that, make sure the customer can always see a link to the checkout.
Another essential is that your site stays compatible with all devices and screen sizes. This can be fairly easy to overlook, especially if you don’t have much experience with web design in general. In 2016, there are more mobile-only shoppers than ever before. This means that if you’re not using responsive web design, you’ll just be cutting yourself out of a huge amount of business. Google now factors responsiveness into their SERP rankings too, so you could even lose out on people who never browse with a mobile device. If you’re using a template for your ecommerce store, then it will usually be responsive without you having to do anything. If you’re having it made by a professional designer though, make absolutely sure that it has responsive design.
Finally, smooth performance. This is a more general tip, but it’s important nonetheless. Various studies have found a distinct pattern between loading times and bounce rate. As you can imagine, modern consumers are a little spoilt when it comes to loading times. Everyone’s used to having whatever they want when they want it, and I bet you don’t have much patience for slow web pages either! Make sure your pages load quickly, any animations and images are reliable, and so on. Other features, like the way you accept credit cards online, should also be tested for reliability. No matter how beautiful your site’s aesthetic features look, you can’t afford to have a dysfunctional ecommerce store. Test every single part of it rigorously, and ask yourself if you’d stick around if you were a customer. If the wrong consumer has a bad experience just once and spreads the word via social media, it could stigmatize your brand forever!
Obviously, there’s a lot more that’s needed for a truly groundbreaking ecommerce site. You’ll have to learn the rest through inspiration, trial and error. However, taking care of these essentials will ensure you don’t fail immediately!
Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London; uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.