If you think about the reasons why you like some of your favourite online retail sites, you might think about the brilliant product range or the great prices. Most people aren’t consciously aware of all the carefully considered factors that go into making online shopping enjoyable, but they definitely notice when it’s done badly!
It’s more important than ever to get it right
In 2020, the e-commerce sector has grown massively. According to a recent Kantar report, over half of all purchases were made online during lockdown, compared to one of every five pounds of retail spend beforehand.
How this will change again in 2021 is uncertain, but it’s clear that online shopping is becoming the first choice for many people. The fact that the technology in our hands continually improves, to make it easier and more convenient to shop online, means that the e-commerce sector is only going to get bigger!
In this blog post, we take a closer look at what makes a successful e-commerce website.
- First impressions count
The first time someone lands on your site, they decide within seconds if they’re going to stay or go elsewhere. There is such a short window of time to grab their attention and start them on the journey to becoming a customer, so you need to make it count!
A visually pleasing design is the first step to success, creating a positive perception of your products and your brand. The design needs to be clear, uncluttered and organised in a way that makes browsing not only tempting, but easy.
Your shop front and every other page on your website need to convey exactly what your brand is about, in a way that resonates with your target customer. A UI (user interface) design expert will consider everything from colour psychology to the visual hierarchy of information to create a website!
Basically, it all comes down to specific web design details, like the fonts, colours, copy and images that you choose. These aspects of your website don’t only need to look good; they also need to work together in a way that makes it easy for users to quickly scan the page and find the information they need. This brings us to the next point…
- The user experience is considered in every detail
A visually appealing website alone won’t hold your visitors’ attention for long if they can’t find what they need or find it frustrating to use. If your pages load slowly, have broken links or don’t work across mobile devices, you’ll lose customers and revenue.
Successful e-commerce sites keep the customer at the heart of every design decision. So much of this comes down to UX (user experience) design: creating a positive shopping experience that makes visitors want to return to your site again and again.
For example, visitors should be able to navigate seamlessly through the different sections of your website to intuitively find the product or information they need. If it seems confusing, they’re more likely to shop elsewhere. Getting the navigation right will also help improve the SEO of your site, so you’ll rank higher in Google and get more visitors.
Part of a user-friendly design means having a really effective search function. The search box should be prominent, and there should be lots of filters to help people drill down to find what they need.
When a visitor has got as far as the checkout page, make sure that there is nothing to make them abandon their cart! People should be able to clearly see the shipping costs and have a payment option that suits them, without having to leave the site. Reduce any chance of them not checking out by giving them the option to sign up after they’ve made their purchase, rather than before.
The big players in online retail invest heavily in testing and improving the ‘usability’ of their websites, and for good reason – even a simple change of button colour can be enough to increase conversions!
A cleverly designed website takes users by the hand and directs them through the site in the most efficient, and profitable, way!
- Brilliant product presentation
Website visitors obviously can’t touch your products, so you need to showcase them in the best possible light, giving people all the details they need to make a decision!
High quality photos are essential; try to show different angles and highlight significant features. A mix of lifestyle imagery along with product shots against a plain background has the benefit of showing a product on its own while also letting people imagine what it might look like in real life. This is really effective for furniture and fashion.
Four times as many people would rather watch a video of a product than read about it, so including videos of your product can take your online store to another level. A quick video tutorial or product presentation can be really helpful and engaging to potential customers in the decision-making process.
Augmented reality is even being used to great effect in online retail, with the likes of IKEA utilising it to show customers what a piece of furniture would look like in their home!
Another way to encourage visitors to make a purchase is to show user-generated content – seeing images taken by real people can be even more effective than a carefully styled professional photograph, and it builds trust in your brand.
Product descriptions are important too. The best sites have a clear tone of voice, concise copy and the right balance of information. They list the key facts, such as sizing or materials, in a way that is clear and easy to read. Watch out for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, as this can raise questions about your attention to detail.
Finally, make sure that your images and tone of voice are consistent across your online store, social media and email communications.
- They convey trust and credibility
Trust is a crucial aspect of any e-commerce store.
If people don’t have trust in your brand or your website, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to use or how great it looks. Trust and credibility are communicated in lots of different ways. Something like not having an accurate address on your contact page could make people feel sceptical about how legitimate your business is!
As well as giving accurate contact details, another way to build trust is by having an ‘About’ page that shows your company is owned by real people. Showing testimonials and feedback from other customers provides proof that you are credible and adds another ‘human touch’.
Even after a customer has made a purchase, continue to help them feel secure by providing shipping details, estimated time of arrival and a tracking code through follow-up emails.
A customer service team who are friendly and know their stuff will show that you genuinely care about your customers!
There are so many aspects to getting e-commerce right and lots of challenges to overcome. You’re not only competing with other retailers but also with everything else going on in your website visitors’ lives, from social media notifications to the postman knocking on the door!
Are you ready to start selling online or scale-up your current offering? If you’d like us to help you get every part of the process right, get in touch!