Anyone who browses the internet will be aware of the multitude of online stores vying for your custom. Many of you will have already used at least one of these. Online shopping is used regularly by both men and women from the comfort of their homes.
If you have a business, isn’t it about time you joined the online shopping revolution? The following are the 10 most important things your e-commerce site should have.
Your logo should be unique, memorable and easily recognisable. Place it in a prominent place on all your web pages. It instils confidence and trust in customers and regular viewers alike.
2. Home Page
Pay particular attention to the format of your home page. This is your shop window and it is vital to give visitors a good impression of your business and the goods on offer. Place your special offers, new and best-selling products on the home page. Online customers are similar to any other shoppers. They will make almost instant decisions on whether they like your e-commerce site or not. The main objective is to encourage visitors to look further into the site and browse the products they are interested in, hopefully leading to orders. Another feature customers will appreciate is free shipping, but you must study the logistics of this. For example, if you are selling mainly small items, shipping costs will be much cheaper than if you are selling TVs or washing machines.
3. Write appropriate, quality content
It is important that your ecommerce site has quality content. Also, it is vital to apply search engine optimisation to ensure your site is rated as high as possible.
4. Brand products
Place images of offers and most popular products on the home page, especially branded items. This will encourage viewers to search for other merchandise. If applicable, provide ‘by brand’ ‘colour’ ‘size’ and ‘price range’ search facilities if you are selling clothes, bedding etc to make things straightforward for customers.
5. Login Box, Search Box and Shopping Cart
The vital tools you must include are tabs, login/registration box, shopping cart and search panel. Place these at the top right hand side of the page. Browse a few online stores to see how they set up their e-commerce sites – they are all fairly standard. Your customers will be used to this layout, so make yours similar. Most shopping cart icons are of a basket, which your customers will recognise as where they place their orders. You can provide your customers with access to their accounts to check the status of their orders. Visitors who wish to buy must register with a user name and password which they will use every time they shop.
6. Payment options
Customers usually pay by credit/debit cards and Paypal. Make your payment options clear to customers before they go to ‘checkout’. Add the logos of accepted payment systems to your website. Customers will not be amused if their payment option is not permitted when they get to the checkout.
7. Social Media
It is essential to have links to the main social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites are powerful advertising media and around one fifth of online sales are generated after interaction with social media sites. Create accounts on several social media sites and post regularly with news about your offers, new products, seasonal promotions, etc. Interacting properly with social media can significantly improve your sales and reputation. Check other sites to see where they should be located. Blogs are also a great way to promote your online store and interact with customers.
8. Contact details and online interaction
Your customers should be able to contact you by phone, email or via an online chat facility. These are available 24 hours a day and allow customers to provide feedback and ask questions. Ensure that these communications are dealt with quickly if a response is required. To run a successful online business, your customer service must be first class.
9. Store finder
If you have physical shops, a store finder facility is essential. Customers can enter their nearest town or postcode and click to find the location and address of their local store. Some e-commerce sites also provide a map. Even with the success of online shopping, many people still prefer to visit a physical shop to view items they may be thinking of buying.
10. Trust Marks
If you are a new online store, customers will want to be sure that their personal and banking details are totally secure when purchasing goods. You will need to contact trust rating providers to assess your site and certify that it is safe. A small banner can then be added to your website page.