Complete Guide To Ecommerce Website Design – Part 4
6. Intuitive menus and clutter free site navigation create a winning ecommerce site.
Nice images and easy navigation are the online equivalents to having the products displayed in easy-to-reach aisles in physical stores. Let users and site visitors browse without complications.
Navigation becomes an important issue as the online store expands and there are thousands of items to display to online visitors and customers. Smaller ecommerce websites should strive to put their seasonal specials or items on the main menu itself so that customers don’t miss them.
A. Why Hide It. A florist website should highlight its ‘Summer Specials’ or ‘Seasonal Collection.’ The same applies if you have a bakery or any other online business whose products vary according to the seasons. If existing online businesses have not changed their websites to reflect the seasonal nature of their business then that’s probably causing them some loss of business and you can gain a competitive advantage by offering those seasonal variations which others don’t.
(Florist Website should display its Seasonal Collection on the Main Menu)
B. New Arrivals or What’s New. Online clothing stores need to display this and they invariably tend to have this on their Main Menu. If you compare online clothing retailers, interestingly, Nordstrom and Bergdof Goodman both don’t seem to have an obvious ‘New Arrivals’ category at the moment whereas H&M does. When the main menu drop downs appear, each of them has a New Arrivals section or subcategory.
(H&M has New Arrivals under each of the main menu items)
Stella & Dot is even better in this regard as it has an option called ‘What’s New’ right on the main menu.
(stella & dot has a main menu option called WHAT’S NEW)
X Let Menus be Drop Down. A drop-down menu that opens up when you click on a main menu item is a better idea than a drop-down menu that opens when you hover your mouse over a main menu item. A click is a definitive action and the drop-down will appear and disappear in a predictable fashion. If you opt for the mouse-hover option instead, the drop-down menu may appear or disappear unintentionally and may irritate the users. However, most online retailers seem to opt for the ease-of-use aspect of showing the drop-down menu on mouse-hover. One less click of the mouse for the user.
Whether you have a bakery shop or a flower delivery business, the same principle applies. Fitbit has a different take. While the drop down menus open on mouse hover, when you take the mouse to a specific product, it does a little jump and a shadow appears underneath it as it does on this image below as indicated by the arrow.
(Fitbit home page showing its products)
^ Add a Recently Viewed Section. If you have recently viewed an item, it should be easily accessible from a ‘Recently Viewed’ tab or section when you move on to a different product. This makes it easy to switch between different products as the user makes comparisons between products before deciding which one to buy. Of course, Amazon has this feature.
(Amazon does a predictably thorough job with its Recently Viewed feature)
DKNY has an interesting take on the Recently Viewed feature. You see your recently viewed items right on the Home Page — towards the bottom of the Home Page — after you have done some browsing on the website and visit the Home Page.
(You see your Recently Viewed items on the Home Page of DKNY)
7. Unique Ideas and Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
In a way, unique ideas and a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the very foundation of your ecommerce business. If you are not offering something new and decide to go up against existing and well-entrenched businesses, you will likely fail.
Google succeeded because it did a really good job of finding relevant search results. It was not the first search engine out there but was orders of magnitude better than existing search engines. So many others have since tried to replicate Google’s success and compete with it but have utterly failed — some have entirely disappeared, like Cuil.
Amazon did a good job with its online bookstore and then spread its wings to other items. Many have since tried to replicate Amazon’s success but few have survived.
GoPro found a nice niche and has made a good business out of selling action cameras that are rugged and built to be used outdoors.
See the stuff that Beardbrand sells. “Beard care” products such as
And “Grooming Tools” such as
Soft Goat Pad
Now that’s pretty unique!
Boxed came up with the unique idea of solving the issue of shipping fees for grocery items and provided a free shipping alternative to attract customers.
(Boxed focuses on free shipping as its USP)
Think of customized or personalized baby shower gifts.
(Personalized baby shower gifts. Yep.)
Or personalized gifts for babies.
(Personalized gifts for babies are available too)
So, yes, companies have latched on to various unique business ideas but there is certainly scope for more unique ideas. A localized version of a nationwide online store — might translate to faster delivery — or a local florist in your area are some possible unique ideas.
Find your niche.
Why should customers purchase from your business rather than from your competitor? What is your USP? Your USP could be purely business-oriented — such as ‘the freshest fruits and vegetables delivered to your doorstep without any shipping charges in under two hours.’ Or, you could have a more community-focused USP such as selling locally grown, organic vegetables online.
(Many online home delivery options exist for organic fruits and vegetables)
And one more organic, farm-fresh vegetables online supplier.
(Organic vegetables and more. Delivery is nationwide too)
People of California love healthy living.
Or your USP could be more charitable. If you sell telescopes or other scientific equipment online, you could donate a portion of your products to local schools who lack those equipments or even to schools in Africa or Asia where students may be really in need of such scientific equipment.
8. A better shopping cart and a super shipping strategy
Shopping carts or baskets have become ubiquitous and universal features of ecommerce stores — both large and small. There are various premium Magento shopping cart extensions available and you can select one that may be a ‘proven’ option or has the features that you need and you like and let your Magento ecommerce development partner configure and set it up for your ecommerce website. Similarly, for Shopify stores, there are shopping cart options from Shopify itself. You can customize your themes including your cart in Shopify.
Just make sure you have a smart shopping cart on your ecommerce site. Dumb shopping carts will cost you business on your online store. People may add items to their carts and then abandon it when they get a phone call or the baby wakes up and starts crying. They may return a week later and still hope to have the products they had added to the cart in the cart. People will abandon their carts for many reasons. A smart shopping cart will enable you to make this possible. If the user happens to be registered, you can even send a gentle reminder email a day or two or a week later telling him or her about the stuff lying in their shopping cart. Don’t do too much of the email thing though as that can get irritating.
Of course, you can create these sticky shopping carts or carts that remember items that have been added to them even without the customer having an account with your store. And customers should have the option to checkout as ‘guest’ if they wish to.
When you hit the Buy Now or Add to Cart button on a product page, the cart page should appear and give you options to ‘Continue to Checkout’ or ‘Continue Shopping.’
Apple calls its Shopping cart ‘Bag’ and you can check what you have added to your ‘Bag’ by hitting the Review Bag button displayed prominently.
(Apple has a unique ‘Review Bag’ button)
You can also view the details of the number of products in your Bag and what they are by clicking on the little icon at the top right as shown in the image above. And once you hit the Review Bag button, the image below opens up which shows more details about the products and prices in your Bag. It mentions in prominent red color that the products ship for free.
(Apple’s Shopping Cart is known simply as ‘Bag’)
And when you hit the ‘Check out’ button on the Bag page, Apple lets you checkout as a Guest if you wish.
(Apple has a ‘Continue as Guest’ option for guest checkouts)
You can see on the next page after you hit ‘Continue as Guest’ that there are four steps in the checkout process.
(Apple’s checkout steps simply shown)
‘ADD TO BAG’ is also becoming common in place of ‘add to shopping cart’ or ‘buy now.’ Here are Roberto Cavalli and DKNY.
Customers will often abandon their shopping carts. This might be your fault or might not be your fault. Customers may be simply checking out product prices and shipping costs on your website versus those at competitor websites. Customers may be in the dreaming phase of the purchasing journey.
May be they are checking for the availability of ‘Free Shipping’ or volume discounts offers or some other offer.
You can try your best to reduce your rate of cart abandonment with some exciting shipping offers or creative checkout options.
With shipping and delivery costs, transparency is paramount. When a customer adds an item to the cart, the cart page should display the running total cost of prouducts and shipping costs.
Nothing beats FREE. So, offer free shipping if it works for you. Free shipping works in clothing, gift items, food delivery, etc.
These kids’ toy store has ‘Free Delivery on Everything’ and they make it clear in the sticky top part of the image — the ‘above the fold’ area that is always visible no matter where you are on the website.
(Fun4Kids has free delivery on everything and they highlight it on their website)
With food items, it probably makes sense to add a transparent delivery charge rather than jacking up the prices of all the items on the menu.
Customers may be more tempted by food that is reasonably priced and will be willing to pay a normal home delivery cost.
Of course, when you offer Free Shipping but also have international shipping options for overseas customers, you have to make it clear that the ‘Free Shipping’ option is for Domestic Shipping only or U.S. and Canada only.
Flat rate shipping is the next best option to free shipping and this works with small items, clothing, shoes, etc.
The most advanced option is to implement a shipping rate calculator. This will only be needed if you store a variety of goods and are more of an online grocery store, a hardware or home improvement store.
Remember that lots of customers like to revisit a store that offers free shipping. On the other hand, shipping costs are among the main reasons for cart abandonment in online shopping.
And almost every customer would like to be able to track their order. So, add that feature to your ecommerce store.
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