E-commerce websites have picked up a great momentum over the last 5 years. This definitely has a very accommodative and positive future. Before we go further into Must Have Features Every E-Commerce Website Should Have, let’s step back for a moment and look at why e-commerce.
The Internet is filled with small to big e-commerce businesses. Today it’s practically a situation where you name a domain and you have a corresponding e-commerce business catering to it.
A lot of people, with their busy life, choose e-commerce as the best way to buy a product. Amazingly e-commerce is not specifically designed only for a customer to buy the product.
There are several other benefits of using e-commerce websites.
Few advantages of using e-commerce websites are
- Ease of Use – Most e-commerce allows users to quickly view products and buy them
- Skip the Shop – To shop, you do not have to spend time traveling. Everything is at your fingertips
- Time-Saving – E-commerce makes shopping experience extremely time-saving by providing you quick and easy navigation around the website
- Opinion – E-commerce websites are a great way to understand what is trending in the market and get an opinion about a product from different people.
- Easy payment – There are multiple payment options including in certain cases Cash on delivery which provides seamless shopping experience.
- Recall – Most e-commerce websites have a great recall capability in terms of showing products you would be more interested in. The extensive analytics-driven e-commerce businesses provide relevant products.
- Search Capability – E-commerce business allows users to search for products quickly and easily.
- Availability – These websites are available 24/7 for users to place an
- Goodies – To improve their hit rate, most e-commerce businesses provide additional goodies such as time to time discounts, coupons, vouchers etc.
- Comparison – E-commerce websites are a great way to compare features, prices of two different brands.
The list of advantages is exhaustive and clearly indicates the reason why so many of us have an affinity towards e-commerce shopping.
Let us check few interesting stats about e-commerce business.
- 51% of Americans prefer to shop Online
- 96% of people with Internet access have made at least one online purchase
- Mobile shopping hit $2 billion on Cyber Monday
- US shoppers spent $5.03 billion online during Black Friday
- Nearly half of US B2B Business offer their full product line online
- 80% of US population shop online at least monthly
- 80% of consumers like when retailers’ e-mails recommend products based on their previous purchases
Let us now check the 10 must-have features that every e-commerce website should have
1. Mobile Reach
Top priority for any e-commerce website should be to have a design which is mobile responsive. Mobile renderable is different from being mobile responsive.
Mobile renderable just means that your website can be seen on a mobile device. However, this does not suffice the purpose of enriching the user experience.
With a mobile renderable website, a user will have to use multiple scrolls over the mobile to read a content and hence it provides a bad shopping experience.
On the other hand, mobile responsive allows websites to be made and designed in such a way that it is extremely simple and easy for users to browse through the contents.
Post 2017, as per Google, not being a mobile-friendly website can impact your SEO. Shockingly many e-commerce websites are not mobile friendly. A fact is, one in three online purchases are made through mobile phones.
While being mobile friendly is important, equally important is the placement of key icons and tabs to be displayed for mobile users.
Below is one such example, where the display is aligned with the display of the phone with the menu options hidden.
The display is consolidated and comprehensive, but at the same time, one can also view the menu as shown below-
The best thing about this design is, the number is readily available on the menu and in a single click you can reach them over the phone.
2. Search Option
Another extremely important aspect of any e-commerce website is the search option. Several stores do not keep very prominent search tabs.
However, e-commerce websites with a prominent search tab allow users to access things of their choice more easily. The placing of search option is usually preferred at the top center of the page or at the top right-hand side of the website.
This is strategically placed since most users tend to take notice when its kept over here.
3. User-Generated Reviews
Most shoppers read reviews before buying a product. To be precise star ratings is the deciding factor for most online purchases.
Stats prove about 92% of online shoppers rely on user-generated Users tend to look for both positive as well as negative review.
Reviews provide a social proof of product usability. Several websites are also allowing customers to post images of theirs with the purchased product.
Such features provide a good base to have substantial evidence of the product usability.
Depending on website functionality, e-commerce sites can use plugins from the most popular review platforms including Yelp, Foursquare, and Facebook
A good example of user-generated review. This can be viewed in more details and also has bifurcation of positive and negative reviews as shown below
4. High-Resolution Images
Every product showcased on an e-commerce website should be supported by several product images. As per stats, 94% of buyers look at all variants of the product image.
Different images of the same product allow users to better judge a product. The images added to the website should be of high resolution and blur-free.
Another feature associated with product images is the capability to zoom a product image. Users want to zoom and get a real feel for the product. Shoppers prefer to look at different angles of the product in different environments.
Technical considerations of images are crucial. An image added to an e-commerce website should be clutter free and should only focus on the product. Any other additional props added to the product will only distract the consumer.
When we speak about technical details, one needs to ensure the images load faster. The images should be optimized and pixelated for faster page loads.
According to Adobe, images that don’t load or take too long to load will see a consumer drop-off rate of over 59%.
Below is one such example where different images of the product are being displayed. Unique images of the product have been added for better clarity.
Along with multiple images, users can also hover over a specific portion of the product to zoom the image.
The images combined with a brief description of the product can do wonders for the selling of the product. This is as shown in the below image
Image inclusion of the product needs to be blended with loads of creativity to ensure the image is appealing to attract customers.
Based on the product category, one can also include the dimensions. Including the dimension provides users a better perspective of the product and the same product has several creative images showcasing its usage as shown below-
An image should be additionally supported with a good product description and include technical details. One such example is as shown below
In the above example, the product image is supported with a good overview of the product. Also, the product description is well categorized and easy to read, especially when a user is looking for a quick overview of the product.
5. Special Offers
Special offers such as discounts, coupons, vouchers help to enhance the shopping experience.
When shoppers realize they are getting deals on the purchase, it motivates them to shop more. E-commerce websites tend to showcase their deals on top of the page, to grab the attention of customers. An example of such special offer is as shown below
Special offers could be in the form of flash sale, happy hours in which case the discount is for a short duration. In order to communicate the special offer to end user, e-commerce businesses use different marketing techniques.
This could be via email, social media, text message or referral bonus. Many websites choose to place a separate Offers tab, to ensure customers can independently browse and avail offers.
One such example is as shown below
Along with special offers, another way to ease out customer’s buying by enabling free shipping and easy return policy. For example – Ask them to Sign up your newslettes, Fast delivery, discountsand cash backs etc
With such digital wallets, one can also use it for payment of other utility services such as electricity bills, mobile bills etc. This again provides cash back to customers which motivates them to use such digital wallets.
6. Wish List/Shopping Cart
Wishlists makes online shopping extremely simple. E-commerce websites which are not using wish lists are practically losing customers as well as potential sales.
It’s an amazing feature where customers can bookmark their favorite product to make any future purchases.
In case a customer is waiting for the right deal for the product they intend to purchase, then adding them to the wish list is a great option.
At any future date, customers can easily make a purchase, without having to spend much time searching for their choice of product.
Sharing the wish list helps to build social proof and drive traffic to your website. Based on a customer’s wish list, an e-commerce store can send relevant marketing campaigns to the customer. This is a win-win situation for both.
Another very interesting feature is where some e-commerce stores allow you to check your friend’s wish list and give them an appropriate gift. The shopping cart is also similar to adding a wish list.
The only difference is that when you add to shopping cart, the actual product from inventory is subtracted. However, this is not the case with a wish list.
A key principle that most e-commerce sites use is, to keep the shopping cart accessible on every page. This ensures, the customer can easily add items to the shopping cart and can review it at the end before finalizing the purchase.
While few customers do not choose to add any specific item or product to their wish list or shopping cart, it is a beneficial idea to show the recently viewed products.
This provides a clear list of items that the customer is looking for and also provides enough scope for the customer to buy a product which was recently viewed by them.
Creating a list is an amazing feature and can be done as shown below
This is not only time saving but also allows users to give relevant gifts and check for any price changes.
Along with a wish list, several e-commerce websites use analytics based on the search and provide a consolidated list of products which are inspired by the user’s choice of search. One such example is as shown below
7. Product Comparison
Another important feature for any e-commerce website is to allow users to compare different products.
Comparison of similar products allows users to get a better perspective of what they are buying and also get the best deal based on the budget. One such example is as shown below
While product comparisons are helpful, equally helpful is the suggestion about which products are usually purchased together. One such example is as shown below
With this, the website should be equally capable of filtering customer based requirement.
8. Social Media Links
An excellent way to amplify your website usage is by allowing it to be shared on social media. Social proof is a very critical parameter which can change the complete perspective about a product.
Brands and online sellers that connect with their buyers on an emotional level create brand trust and advocacy. Social connection is undeniable and the opportunity to bond with an audience is easier now than ever.
Linking social profiles and user-generated content with an e-commerce site are must-have features that will give online sellers brand character.
Social media allows e-commerce brands to show authenticity and associate an emotional connection with their products. One such example is the Pinterest page of Nike as shown below
Similarly, Ikea’s uses user-generated content to share design ideas and inspiration for how to use its products.
Similarly, e-commerce businesses can allow customers to connect through different social channels. Shown below is a website that also provide an app which can be easily downloaded.
9. Latest arrivals
Yet another important feature is to display a collection of latest arrivals. A lot of customers choose to view the latest in the market. This is an easy way of attracting customers since this makes browsing and searching of latest products extremely simple.
Many e-commerce ventures choose to send customized messages and emails to regular customers about latest arrivals.
This also includes dedicated section catering to the latest news and most popular products. When there is news, a sales period or upcoming events that buyers should know about the product, the home page is the best place to house them. Do not make it too hard for buyers to find exclusive deals and hot prices.
Moreover, recurring customers will more likely to look through several ‘new’ items on sale rather than spend half an hour browsing through the full inventory for something new and trendy.
This could also be a deal as shown below
10. Customer Support
A strong and dependable customer support forms an important part of e-commerce websites. Customer support services should be available and accessible at all times.
The most common way to reach out is through emails, voice call or by filling a form available over the website. Another important part of websites is the help section which is prefilled with FAQs.
FAQs provide deeper insights into the queries and can answer most of the basic questions around online shopping. Most big brands choose to have a dedicated customer support which can support live chat.
Live chat option is the best way to reach the desired contact person. An example of help section is as shown below
This is additionally supported by a guiding video. A good example of a contact form is as shown below
Similarly, there should be multiple modes to support the customer. One such example is
Through this post, we have seen 10 must have features every E-Commerce website should have. These are important features which make browsing a product and buying extremely seamless.
A lot of top giants, incorporate these features to ensure every aspect of online shopping is addressed.
Few other important parameters which need to be looked upon include-
- Security – Ensuring an architecture which is robust and hack-proof. This includes incorporation of features such as SSL certificates, Two-way authentication, Firewall and added privacy
- Payment Options – Support for multiple and advance payment option. No matter how many useful features you add, diversified payment options support is equally crucial to get the required conversion. This also includes Cash on Delivery option.
- Shipping – Shipping either has to be free or not tied with unexpected costs. Shoppers spend 30% more per order when free shipping is included. Along with this shipping has to be flexible as per user’s choice.
- Return Policy – Online shopping to a great extent depends on the return An easy return policy along with prompt refund provides a good potential customer base
- Ease of Use – 76% of customers are of the opinion that ease of use is what drives website traffic. Showcasing too many products or a website which looks cluttered will only confuse the user. The navigation through different categories, products and pages should be seamless
Creating a simplistic approach to online shopping is essential, however equally essential is the evaluation of potential usage of every feature that gets added.