What do customers look for in an e-commerce website?
Many think that all you need is a website as the first point of contact with potential customers. But is that enough? If you want to convert website visitors into paying customers, you should also let them shop for their products and services on the spot. In short, having an e-shop or an e-commerce website is becoming increasingly vital to your profitability.
There is nothing better than a few numbers to convince even the skeptical: the global online shopping market size is predicted to hit 4 trillion in 2020.
In the US alone, it is expected to have almost 300 million online shoppers in 2023. That’s more than 90% of the actual USA population (if babies could shop, the number could reach almost 100%).
So far, 69% of Americans have shopped online at least once, and 25% of Americans shop online at least once per month.
Converting website visitors into e-shoppers
Converting website visitors into e-shoppers is not an easy task. Competition for the online market is fierce, as the marketplace is at the fingers of the shopper. Online shoppers are notoriously volatile: one flaw in your e-shop can be enough to detract their attention towards a competitor.
There are many deal-breaking pet peeves of online shoppers. These are mainly related to receiving the final product: delivery delays, a product that does not fit the online description, wrong sizes or colors, bad packaging, non-refundable or non-returnable products, etc. All these are logistics and distribution problems directly related to running an online shop. However, they occur after the sale and are related to operational procedures.
Getting the sale in the first place is a whole different task that depends almost exclusively on your website.
Here is what customers expect, appreciate or love in an e-shop, and what breaks the deal for them and turns them away to a competitor.
Choose an attractive web design
Creating an aesthetically pleasing website is important to attract initial attention and have visitors start browsing your e-shop.
There are no rules for a “beautiful” website. Rather, this depends on the customers targeted and the nature of your products or services. A calm, elegant, expensive look might be ideal for a clothes e-boutique with more expensive clothes, while a busy, colorful, over-the-top design could attract younger clientele to a sports brand. A simple, easy to use e-shop might be ideal for a hard store, while a high-tech, interactive one could be perfect for selling e-gadgets. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to web design.
The website aesthetics should convey the brand spirit, image, and message. Know your brand, know your customer, and then you can decide on what is aesthetically correct for your online clientele.
A visually attractive online shop also defies boredom. If online visitors get bored, they will scroll past your website and move on to more interesting competition. If you target customer groups renowned for getting bored easily, such as millennials, maybe you should look at some of the more modern trends. For example, gamification could reinforce customer interaction while they are browsing your product portfolio.
E-commerce websites need intuitive navigation
One of the most common off-putting issues with e-shops is difficult navigation. To put it simply, if visitors have trouble locating the products and services they are looking for, they will not stick around for long.
Make navigation easy by taking special care of menus, lists, and links. To provide an intuitive navigation experience, you should think out of the box and go with the customer preferences and flow. The most successful online commerce sites, like Amazon, prioritize the most searched products and categories and place them at the top of their menus. The list of categories and subcategories of products and services come after that.
Menus might need to be adapted regularly to reflect search priorities and to reduce the number of clicks needed before the customers find their way to your best sellers or to the products you want to focus on.
Reducing the clutter during navigation and minimizing the need to go back and forth to continue shopping is crucial to keep the customer on your e-shop. This is a key way to create a positive online shopping experience on your e-commerce website.
A design principle worth remembering is this: if it’s not information, it’s noise.
Showcase your products
If you have managed to get visitors to your e-commerce website, then successfully helped them find exactly what they are looking for in a quick and easy manner, don’t let them down on the product page!
Present your products in as much detail as necessary—no more, no less. This is crucial not just to close the sale, but also to avoid returns, which is a nuisance to both you and your customers alike.
There are many things you can do to present your products in an appealing and realistic way that will seal the deal, starting with the product name.
Label your products in a way that’s meaningful to the customer
The product name and description should contain the necessary information to identify the product, without going overboard.
Keep your product name informative but simple, steering away from codes and technical jargon that does not help recognition of the product. “Black velvet strapless dress” is much better than “BVS dress 234567.”
Add details in the description
This is where you have the occasion to present your product’s multiple features. Add details that are interesting and not overwhelming to your customers. Here are some tips to help you with this:
- When filling in the details, think about what your clients will search for. Think of your e-shop as a mini search engine. What keywords will your visitors use to find what they are looking for?
- In describing the product, mention when and how you can use the product. If you are selling a black dress, in the description you could specify it is ideal as a cocktail dress, or as an office dress, etc.
- Add technical details, like materials, sizes, dimensions, voltage, batteries needed, weight, packaged product dimensions, etc.
- Specify other important information that could be crucial for specific customer groups. If you target eco-minded customers, mention allergy risks and include any certifications or labels such as “Gluten-free”, “Bio” etc.
- Provide product codes. This is the right place to provide the product code. IKEA searches by product name and code are famously common. Even if you’d rather not code your products in a Viking alphabet, product codes are useful for customers who compare prices while shopping and are looking for a particular shoe model in various e-shops.
High-quality product photos are essential
Shoppers like the tactile experience of going into a shop and actually touching the product they want to buy. Many visitors hesitate to buy when they are uncertain about the look and feel of the product.
That is why photos are a crucial element of your e-shop. To help people make a choice:
- Include good quality, high-definition photos.
- Offer multiple viewing angles of the products (front, back, sides, etc).
- Show the product in all available options (colors, etc.)
- Provide zoom-in and zoom-out when texture plays an important role in the buying decision (clothes, shoes, furniture, linen, etc.)
- Offer photos of the product in context (a piece of furniture in a real living room, a piece of art on a coffee table, clothing worn by models, etc). This lets customers better understand product size and style.
- Offer videos of the product. Some websites offer short videos that allow customers to understand how a product works. For example, if you are selling toy drones, you could have a video of the drone flying and how to use the remote to handle it
Allow for reviews
One area where online shopping beats brick-and-mortar shops hands-down is reviews. Letting verified customers add a review is helpful both for you and customers. If you really care about improving your product portfolio, getting feedback is crucial. It is also helpful to customers to know how other shoppers feel about your products, in which circumstances your products perform well etc.
Reviews don’t have to be free text only. You could require specific information you consider important. Major clothing e-shops, for example, often ask their reviewers to provide the size they bought and to comment if the fit was right, smaller, or larger than usual. This helps customers understand when a garment has a tight fit and if they should order one size up.
Add helpful guides
This is particularly important if you sell clothing or shoes, where a size guide is one of the most sought-for features. Attach user manuals or any other documentation that could help customers understand how your product will work, how difficult it is to assemble it, or any other information that may be crucial to an informed buying decision.
Provide a seamless checkout experience
Shopping cart abandonment is a crucial metric of online shopping. It has been calculated that almost 68% of the customers abandon their online cart without concluding the purchase. Cart abandonment may happen for various reasons:
- Almost 35% are not ready to purchase for one reason or another.
- Almost 35% stop the purchase because they can’t or don’t want to create an account.
- 10% of customers abort their purchase decision when they don’t find their preferred payment method.
- 55% of registered customers who need to re-enter payment and address data simply stop the purchase.
- 24% of customers who face sudden extra fees (delivery etc) abort the purchase.
- 27% of customers are willing to stop a purchase if the returns policy is poor, unclear, or impossible to find.
The data goes on and is overwhelming: as said, online shoppers are volatile and if anything is not at their satisfaction, they simply move to the next online shop.
Checkout is where many of the things that put customers off may happen. Setting up your check-out page as effectively as possible, and monitoring that it is delivering as it should, is crucial for converting carts into purchases.
Here are a few things you should pay attention when designing and operating your checkout e-shop page:
- Ensure that your cart is easy to edit. E-shoppers should be able to add and delete items easily, modify quantities, and go back to shopping easily.
- Make registration easy. Lengthy registration forms that take too long to complete distract customer attention and allow time for second thoughts. Avoid requiring information that the shopper might not carry on him, as most purchases happen on mobile and on the go. Allow for purchases as a guest, without registration.
- Make policies easily available. International shipping, shipping fees, return policy, all should be easily visible and available. Make them clear and simple and avoid “small print.”
- Allow many alternative payment methods, and especially those your targeted customer base seems to prefer.
- Have a clear “contact us” section. E-shoppers may find suspicious a lack of clear contact details and avoid business with you.
Make your e-commerce website fast and secure
It is estimated that almost 25% of online visitors abandon a website when it fails to load under 4”. Make sure that your e-shop is loading fast at all stages, including checkout.
When shopping online, security is paramount. Your website should have all the necessary features for secure payment, but also feel secure: e-shoppers need to trust you to complete a purchase. Downtimes or loss of data during checkout, for example, can have a huge impact on your respectability as an e-shop operator.
Have a clear personal data policy available and all necessary legal notices, so that your customers can see that you are trustworthy.
Don’t forget your back office
Succeeding in the online marketplace is a challenging business adventure. It requires constant monitoring and a clear understanding of your customers, their search patterns, and their inhibitions.
To uncover and track of all these, you need tools built right into your webpage. So, don’t forget that your business is also an important user of the e-shop: you will need to keep the product portfolio updated, maintain the website, upgrade it, monitor e-metrics, etc. All these are important features that you should also detail and include in your e-commerce website design.
Whether you have an e-commerce website and wish to increase your sales or wish to develop one from scratch, we’re here to help. Contact us now and let us skyrocket your sales!