With more and more businesses moving online, we are continually striving to come up with the best approach to selling online. What works best for the user, the shop owner and of course, what drives the most sales!

When putting together an eCommerce site, here’s a few key things to consider.

Homepage

Should contain the following:

  • Identity, branding, logos etc
  • Purpose of the store / site
  • Value proposition (Why should the customer buy from you, opposed to another store?)
  • Evidence of trust and credibility (brand logos, security notes, hacker safe notes, payment gateway logos etc)
  • Customer communication (support number, live help etc)

Help / Support pages

Make the user feel comfortable using your website, ensure they are only a click away from getting the help they need. Things to incorporate include:

  • How to order / help information
  • Shipping and handling information
  • Return policies
  • Customer service details
  • Details about the company
  • Privacy and security statement
  • Store locator

Information pages

While the focus of store is to sell, by providing a range of information pages, you not only build a great content base to optimise for SEO purposes, but provide great resources for your shoppers.

Information included should:

  • Allow customers to educate themselves about products
  • Help customers differentiate (products and competitors)
  • Be written in an SEO friendly manner

Site navigation

The most important component of the website is making it user friendly. Ensure the site work the way a user expects it to! Your site should provide

  • Global site navigation (the same across all page)
  • Quick link to key pages
  • Breadcrumb navigation (i.e. Men Clothing > Tops > T Shirts)
  • A site map so that a user can easily view all pages should they get lost
  • “Site search”
    • Make it easier for users who know what they want
    • Should be available on all pages
    • Report on keyword searches

Product catalogue

Here’s a few pointers to keep in mind when designing your eCommerce store.

  • Category and sub category pages should contain
    • Category description
    • Product name
    • Product description
    • Product image
    • Add to cart button
  • Detailed product pages should contain
    • Product name
    • Product description
    • Product images
    • Send to friend (viral tool)
    • Add to cart button
    • Design principles (important information “Above the fold” of the screen – i.e. “Add to cart”)
  • Shopping cart and checkout pages should allow:
    • Flexibility for adding, deleting and editing cart items
    • Ability to save shopping cart
    • Customer registration (should be voluntary)
    • Shipping and billing (allow transfer of customer information between shipping and billing pages)
    • Payment systems (Credit card, Pay Pal, Google Checkout, batch processing – i.e. manual via EFTPOS)
    • Design principles (Avoid requesting excessive information, place important information above the fold and add a progress meter)

Site administration

Your eCommerce store needs to be easy to manage. The less time you need to spend fiddling around in the back end, the more time you can allocate to marketing the website and making enhancement to the front end!

At a minimum, your eCommerce administration should allow the following:

  • Order management
    • Search for orders
    • Process orders
    • Delete orders
  • Product management
    • Manual product entry
    • Bulk upload
    • Shipping management
    • Sales statistics

Site hosting and security

The reliability of your online store can mean the difference between a site that delivers results and a site that fails. Things to keep in mind when evaluating your infrastructure for the store include:

  • Site performance (faster loading sites can increase conversions)
  • Security – Most important!
    • SSL (Secure connection)
  • Data center
    • Bandwidth
    • Backups
    • Ongoing support and upgrades

Merchandising Options

  • Show competitor comparison
  • Cross selling and up selling (suggest additional items on the product page, not at checkout)
  • Consider free shipping
  • Product guarantees and warranties
  • Return policies
  • Payment options (accept a wider variety of payment means)
  • Highlight special offers
  • Extra services and discounts (birthday gifts, referral points, gift wrapping etc)

Advanced features

Want more? New features are always being revealed in eCommerce stores throughout the world. Here’s a few things that just might put your store ahead of the competition.

  • Birthday reminders
  • Wish lists
  • Refer a friend / referral points
  • “Build your own” tools
  • Dynamic imaging
  • Zoom features on pictures
  • Ability for users to flip between front and back views on product images
  • 360 degree product views
  • Colour and pattern swatching
  • Shipping and item cost previews

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