If you have an e-commerce website, there are a few things that are essential if your website is going to be a success. Now I’m not talking about the products and services you provide, although obviously they are very important. I’m talking about the e-commerce website itself, in particular, the shopping cart and purchase process.
We’ve provided you with a 6 point checklist to ensure your website covers the basics of a trustworthy and effective e-commerce website.
Making sure your website is secure is one of the most important points within this checklist. I would be surprised if your e-commerce website doesn’t already have a valid SSL certificate meaning it is secure. This is because at the very beginning, before you even thought about your website design, you will have most likely purchased a domain name from a web host such as; GoDaddy. These days, most web hosting packages will include an SSL certificate. Although you might have to purchase an SSL certificate for an additional fee from your host but trust me, it’s crucial to your success! To show visitors that your website is secure, there will be a small padlock next to your website URL. For clarity, we’ve provided an image of our homepage URL below.
See the padlock? This tells a user that all of their details (such as credit card information and address) will be kept safe. Can you also see that the URL starts with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’? This also indicates that the website is secure.
For the budding techies out there, http stands for; hypertext transfer protocol. If a website has an SSL certificate, they are given the ‘s’ which stands for secure.
It is important to be honest about the price of a product including; tax on the product and cost of shipping. There’s nothing worse than getting to the checkout and being hit with a hidden charge. It makes your business feel untrustworthy and can cause people to abandon the purchase. Be honest about the total cost of purchasing a product from the very beginning, you’ve got nothing to lose at this point. If someone really wants your product, a $20 shipping fee isn’t going to put them off. Despite saying this, you could consider offering free shipping on orders over a certain value. This could make the buyer feel as though they are getting a good deal, further increasing the chance of gaining a sale for your business. Cost transparency, check. Let’s move onto point number 3.
Guest Checkout Option
It’s usually good practice to get people to create an account on your website before purchasing a product. Through doing this you can collect customer information for future marketing efforts. It will also make the purchase process quicker for a returning customer. When they come back to make a purchase, they can log in and their payment details will be saved. Saying this, you should also have the option of a guest checkout. This will stop people from abandoning a purchase because the process is taking too long.
After all, it’s been found that 23% of consumers have left a site because they had to create an account before purchase. For this reason, our advice is that your website should definitely have the option of a guest checkout. However, there should also be an incentive to make people want to sign up. Like a free Ebook or free shipping for example. In doing this, you not only have your bases covered in terms of guest checkout, but you are also giving people a reason to sign up to your website so you can capture their email.
Your potential customers need to be able to find the product they are looking for, and they need to find it fast! There are a few things that you need to have in place in order to make this happen. Let’s take a look at what can help achieve this.
You need to have a search bar on your e-commerce website, especially if you sell a variety of products. This way, potential customers can search and find exactly what it is they are looking for. The search bar should be one of the main focal points of your e-commerce website so users can see it at all times. Take a note from the most successful e-commerce website out there. Yes, we’re talking about Amazon!
Can you see that the search bar is very large and at the top of the page at all times? This is great practice as it allows users to easily navigate to the search bar and find the products they want.
Splitting your website up into logical categories helps to keep your site organised and easy to navigate. Every single website should be split into categories, not just e-commerce websites. However, it is especially important for e-commerce websites so that people can find the products they are looking for.
Let’s stick with Amazon for our example as they are the big dogs in the e-commerce world. Amazon split their products up into 19 categories from Electronics & Computers to Food & Grocery. Further to this, there are hundreds of sub-categories. We would be here all week if we went into detail about each of them and most likely your business won’t need as many. However, it’s important to know that you do need categories on your e-commerce website.
Clear, High Quality Images
Another thing you need to aid product findability is high quality images. This means a potential customer can look at your products in detail. If they can see the product they wish to purchase in a high definition image, they are much more likely to complete the purchase. Think about it, are you more likely to purchase a product you have seen from every angle, or a product you can’t see properly because of blurry images? I know which I would choose…
All of the features above make it easy for customers to find exactly what they are looking for. Product findability, check!
The 5th point on this checklist for all e-commerce websites is; making sure that customer shopping cart is always visible. In doing this, the user knows exactly where to go to complete the purchase. They can also keep track of how much their order is going to cost so there are no surprises at checkout. You should also make sure that the checkout icon stands out from the rest of your website design. Perhaps use a contrasting colour, or a white icon on a dark background.
We’ve got an additional tip for your shopping cart that could help improve your conversion rate if you have a WordPress website. You can add something called a ‘basket widget’ which you will find in the appearance tab in the back end of your WordPress site. Add this widget to your sidebar so that once a product has been added to the cart, a user will be able to see the cart in the sidebar on other pages of your website. This can encourage people to go to checkout and complete the purchase. This may be easier to understand through visuals…
We’ve provided a video below to show the shopping cart appearing on our website sidebar once a product has been added to the basket.
We’ve made it to the 6th and final point on our checklist for all e-commerce websites; reassurances. Now this section contains two things that your e-commerce website should have in order to instil confidence in your potential customers. Customer reviews and guarantees. When we buy a product online, we are taking a risk. This can often be the reason why people abandon their purchase halfway through the buying process. Perhaps they feel that the product isn’t going to be ‘what is says on the tin’ for want of a better phrase. If you display other customer’s reviews of your product it can irradiate this problem, especially if the reviews are positive. As consumers, if we know that other people have purchased a product and were satisfied with it, we are much more likely to purchase the product. This is known as ‘social proof’.
Guarantees are another great way to instil confidence in your potential customers. If you know you have a great product, then there is no risk for your business putting a guarantee on it. Perhaps you could even give a free trial. A great example of a free trial comes from silent night memory foam mattresses. They offer a 60-night comfort trail whereby the customer has a 60 day period to test the point on. If they are not, and I quote ‘totally satisfied’ with the product, they can exchange the mattress for another one.
And that’s it for our 6 point checklist for all e-commerce websites. Make sure your website has all of these features and you will definitely be on the right track to succeeding in the world of e-commerce.