A great ecommerce website is a great ecommerce website, period—no matter its branding, sales volume, or the types of products it sells. Although specifics vary from store to store, the features that make certain online retailers great are universal across categories and niches.
And make no mistake: Customers are expecting increasingly better user experiences every time they shop online. If your website falls short in any way, customers may very well take their business elsewhere. A flawless online shopping experience from start to finish is expected these days, while a subpar experience stands out as a red flag.
Looking to deliver an optimal on-site experience to potential and returning customers? Here are six characteristics the best ecommerce websites share.
#1: On-Site Search
Customers want to know if you have what they need, and fast. Some visitors will manually navigate through your category and product pages first. Many will cut to the chase and look for the search box right off the bat.
The most effective search boxes are highly visible, most often found near the top right of the screen, oftentimes on the main navigation bar. Another helpful feature associated with on-site search is suggested queries. This can help save people even more time and effort when they’re entering the desired search terms.
#2: Detailed Product Pages
In lieu of an in-person experience, customers must be able to glean all information they want and need from your product pages. The quality of your product listings directly affects customers’ ability to make a purchasing decision.
The best ecommerce websites display products in an appealing way, using enough copy and imagery to make viewers familiar with a product’s finer points. According to Forrester research cited by Target Marketing Mag, details like specifications, ratings, sizing information and related products “are essential to helping shoppers feel comfortable in completing a transaction.”
#3: Customer Ratings and Reviews
People trust, and expect, social proof. They want to see other people have bought your product and to know the outcome. It looks downright suspicious nowadays to abstain from posting customer ratings and reviews.
And don’t worry too much if you get the occasional negative review: It lends an air of authenticity to your store. The important thing is you make the criticism constructive to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
#4: Personalized Recommendations
Cross-selling and upselling are important strategies for increasing average order value (AOV) in ecommerce. Upselling involves convincing a customer to buy something more expensive or additional; you may be able to get a customer viewing Product A to buy Product B, a more advanced version, simply by recommending it—and highlighting its additional features—before checkout. Cross-selling involves offering complementary products, like offering accessories to accompany a large purchase.
The point is: Personalized recommendations go a long way. Harness the artificial intelligence technology available today to make smart suggestions for your shoppers.
#5: Secure Checkout
What is the difference between ecommerce and ebusiness? Shopify notes ebusiness includes all aspects of running a business online, but that ecommerce specifically relates to transacting goods and services. As you can imagine, this makes transactions the pinnacle of your store. No conversions, no revenue. Optimizing your checkout is a must.
People need to trust your store enough to hand over their personal and financial information. How can you reassure them your checkout is secure and that your ecommerce company has taken all measures to ensure cybersecurity? Start by displaying trust seals near checkout to inform customers of the anti-virus and encryption efforts your store makes. Work with trusted payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe. Use a platform with built-in Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. Offer two-factor authentication for users who want to protect their account data more deeply.
Anything you can do to improve cybersecurity and garner customers’ trust will go a long way in swaying their purchasing decisions in your favor.
#6: Live Chat Customer Service
Phone and email have been longstanding customer service solutions, and sometimes these methods are sufficient. But people are increasingly expecting immediate gratification. Think about it: If you can reach a customer while they still have a question, you have a better chance of earning that sale—and their residual loyalty.
Live chat marketing takes a few forms. Optimally, customer service specialists are able to assist shoppers in real time via live chat. But smaller ecommerce operations may not yet possess that human power. Plus, there’s usually a chunk of time when customer service specialists are off the clock. For situations like these, live chat bots powered by artificial intelligence can help—responding to customers’ inquiries intelligently, offering up helpful FAQ responses and making product recommendations.
These are just six major characteristics the best ecommerce websites share, all centered around providing the best on-site customer experience possible.