Complete Guide To Ecommerce Website Design – Part 5
9. Site security badges to build trust
As online commerce grows, so does online hacks. Hackers are always trying to steal social security numbers, credit card information, and so on. For an ecommerce startup, the site security should be watertight so that scammers are thawarted and phishing attacks foiled.
Use https for encrypted communications. ‘Encrypt Everything’ is the name of the game.
Use strong SSL authentication, display secure payment icons like PayPal, VeriSign, etc. and let users track their orders.
10. Connect with customers and become a part of their lives through social media
Nobody can ignore social media these days and the 800 pound gorilla in the social media universe, Facebook. Others are relevant as well including Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter as well as Snapchat.
Social media is mostly about playing the ‘long game’ though you can have paid social media marketing campaigns as well to gain followers quickly or when you are offering end-of-the-season or other discounts or clearance sales.
But, social media messaging should be subtle. In your face marketing is expected when it’s a SuperBowl half-time ad — not on social media.
Run interesting trivia contests or share interesting trivia. Baby videos or cat videos are always kosher.
Use social media tools for getting the most out of your social media presence and activity. Time to post on social media matters as does identifying the latest hot topics and trends that may have some relevance to your business vertical and brand identity as well as product category. Master social media technicalities such as hashtags.
When a State dinner comes around, every women’s clothing retailer should presumably share the photo of the stylish First Lady — whether they stock that particular black dress by that particular designer, or not.
Needless to add, social media sharing buttons should be present on all of your product pages.
As businesses become more dependent on social media like Facebook, Facebook in turn grows smarter and seeks to be remunerated well for providing the platform to connect the seller and the buyer.
So, more likely than not, you may need to have a social media marketing budget as part of your overall digital marketing budget.
Product newsletters are a must but live chat feature is optional
Regular newsletters to registered users is a must-implement feature since that is easy to do on most ecommerce platforms. Magento lets you configure your newsletters including their frequency and format. (Check for addsons/extensions/plugins)
And Shopify …
Newsletters allow you to be at your creative writing best. Customers may even appreciate the newsletter that informs and entertains. So, if you have some new items or seasonal specials or time-sensitive discounts, do make that clear in the newsletter.
While implementing a newsletter is easy and essential, Live Chat feature on your online store is optional. It will take some resources to implement this feature.
However, if you can afford to do it, you should go for it. Customers would surely love to have their queries answered instantaneously by live customer service representatives online and you will likely get a sale.
Data shows that customers prefer online stores that have Live Chat feature.
Live Chat features on ecommerce websites are similar to shop assistants in real world shops or supermarkets. Properly trained staff can really help increase sales.
There you have it!
The Top 11 tips and best practices of ecommerce website design.
Some other aspects of ecommerce website design did not make it to this Top 11 list.
They include: creating an interesting About Us page, asking customers for feedback, and smart targeting of products to individual customers.
About Us Page
If you are going to keep an About Us’ page up on your website, you should try to make it as interesting as possible. Telling the story of the founders and how the business came to exist is certainly one way to build a human and ‘real’ personality around your brand.
Interesting ‘About Us’ example. From Beardbrand https://www.beardbrand.com/pages/about-us
One more interesting ‘About Us’ example. From Farm Fresh to You
One more interesting ‘About Us’ example.
Adirondack Winery has all the good stuff and a nice About Us page too.
Same goes for Riviera Wines.
There’s an Exception English Wine Company.
Interesting About Us page of olive oil producing folks.
Seafood restaurant in Portland, Maine About Us page.
One more seafood restaurant in Bangor, Maine and its About Us page.
Seafood restaurant About Us page with a bit of history.
About Us pages are about history.
One more About Us page
If you have something to say, say it. On the About Us page.
If you have something to share, share it. The About Us page is the place to do it.
Customer feedback in the form of reviews is very important. Online shoppers like to read reviews of products before making a purchase and their buying decision is influenced by what the reviewers have to say.
So, implement a product rating feature and product reviews on the bottom of product pages.
Amazon does it. So should you. Ask your Magento ecommerce development partner company to do it using the necessary Magento customer feedback extension. Same applies if you are developing a Shopify-based ecommerce website. There are officials Shopify apps which are free.
What having product reviews on your site will do is create more trust among customers for your brand and persuade more customers to buy from your website.
So, reviews can increase sales. Also, reviews mean fresh and original content for free for your website. This helps you rank well for long-tail keywords.
All reviews help. Don’t fear negative reviews. Having both positive and negative reviews will only add to the authenticity of the reviews and increase the trust factor and trustworthiness of your site. And negative reviews do not necessarily dissuade potential customers from making a purchase. Typically, customers will browse half a dozen reviews; so, they’ll come across both the positive as well as the negative reviews, if any.
Personalized Product Targeting
This is the sort of high-tech, Big Data and analytics-driven algorithmic approach to sales and personalized marketing that Amazon has pioneered and which others are trying to replicate. Clearly, not many ecommerce businesses have the scale and resources of Amazon. Netflix has gained a reputation for its recommendation engine and software which is a continuously improving mechanism that improves itself by analyzing a lot of customer data as well as Netflix performing different A/B tests.
So if you have the product variety and diversity and are not constrained by resources, you can try to implement some forms of personalized product targeting.
If you are a small ecommerce startup, you can however leave it at the beginning. Which is why this is not a ‘must have’ ecommerce website design feature or best practice.
Product page best practices
The product page is arguably as important as the Home Page, if not more. A visitor will land on a product page via the Home Page or may even land on it directly from a search engine result page.
The product page must have the right SEO content, and be designed keeping user experience aspects and best practices in mind.
Here are the Top 12 Product Page Best Practices for ecommerce product pages that result in sales.
1. Big Product Images
High quality and large product images have become the norm on ecommerce websites these days. Zoomable images let the user get a feel for the product without actually touching it. Superb high-resolution product photos will likely lead to greater number of sales or conversions when the look of the product is a key ingredient in the buyer’s decision-making process — think women’s dresses or kids’ wear or shoes and fashion accessories in general including ladies handbags.
(Multiple, zoomable images on the Robert Cavalli website)
And you can see in the next image how a zoomed-in image of the product is available. You just have to hover your mouse over the image and a larger version of the image shows up.
(Robert Cavalli website has the feature to let users zoom in on product images)
(You can zoom in on multiple images of products on DKNY using ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons below the images)
2. 360-Degree Rotating Views
Data shows that users prefer 360-degree rotating product images to static images. Data shows that products that feature 360-degree views have higher conversions.
Duematernity.com and golfsmith.com (from VWO’s blog post on ‘ecommerce product page best practices.’)
3. Product Videos
Product videos are like icing on the cake along with product images and 360-degree product views. Professional quality videos can serve to inform and excite. They enhance the recall value of the product since videos capture more of a viewer’s mindspace compared to images. If your product is a complicated one, instructional videos will surely be helpful for customers and these thus assume added significance. Refer to above blog for more.
4. A Stand-Out Call-to-Action (CTA) Button
The product page CTA button would say ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’ and it should be prominently displayed on the right side with the left side displaying an image of the product. And when shoppers click on that pivotal CTA button, show them confirmation by showing a detailed full-page preview of the current cart. The cart page should have both ‘continue to checkout’ and ‘continue shopping’ CTAs or similar buttons.
And of course don’t wait for a selection to be made to display the Add to Cart button.
Apple’s product page is a model of simple design. GoPro + Fitbit + Macy’s CTA.
5. Create scarcity or urgency or try an offer
Creating a sense of urgency is an effective conversion strategy. You could also create a sense of scarcity for your products on the product page. For example, ‘last 3 hours of an offer’ or ‘free shipping only for today.’ A genuine case of scarcity may be associated with a limited edition dress from a fashion designer or seasonal fresh fruits. An urgency factor may be introduced by announcing that prices are going to rise soon — say, in a day, or three days. A product specific offer on the product page also works. Example of such an offer may be ‘free shipping’ for a particular product.
6. Make it clear when you are out of stock
Ideally, you should never be out of stock but circumstances may create an out-of-stock situation. If it’s a seasonal fruit or dress, there is probably nothing much you can do about it and can at most merely make it clear to customers when the items will be back in stock.
If you stock hundreds or thousands of items, you may be out of stock with respect to a few items at any given moment. You should simply be upfront about it. Display the out-of-stock status of the product right on the product listings page so that the customer doesn’t face disappointment after browsing to the product page.
7. Customer reviews
Customer reviews have become commonplace since Amazon has them. You may display customer reviews and average product rating as well on the product page. The rating may be displayed above the fold while the reviews appear as you scroll down.
See fun4kids website for reviews. See Amazon and Best Buy’s product pages.
There are SEO benefits from enabling customer reviews as we have noted earlier in this article.
8. Social media sharing buttons
These are must-haves these days on ecommerce website product pages. No harm if customers share their purchases on social media. Fun4kids has them as do some of the biggies like Nordstrom, Bergdorf, Nieman Marcus.
In fact, you could think of creative ways — offer a discount when a user joins your Twitter or Facebook account or subscribes to that Facebook newsfeed of your company — to incentivize such social sharing.
9. Clarify your shipping and returns policy
Customers are curious as well as concerned about the product shipping charges. Offer free shipping if you can. See these guys who do offer free shipping and mention it prominently on their website.
Fun4kids.brilliant.co. Boxed. Free shipping is one of the key USPs of a site like Boxed as we noted earlier.
10. Live chat
As noted earlier in this article, a Live Chat feature on your online store is like a virtual shopping assistant. If you can afford to have this feature on your ecommerce website, you might want to implement this. There are only benefits that will accrue to you from this. Apple’s Live Chat button is everywhere as you proceed from the home page and click on a product or two and then proceed to the checkout process.
11. Highlight your discounts
Always highlight the discounts you are offering — 33% off — or the savings the buyer would be making — you save $135! — on the product page. See fun4kids and brilliant.co for example scrnshots. These savings can and should also be displayed on the product listings pages as well. The benefits should be displayed close to the price of the product and the CTA button saying ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Order Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Add to Bag’ should be prominently placed very close to this. Let the discounts help trigger the buying decisions.
12. Trust badges help
Especially when you are a new online startup asking customers to purchase products worth hundreds of dollars or pounds.
There you have it. We have documented the essential features of all quality ecommerce websites and online stores. We have also identified the typical features found on the product pages of these ecommerce websites.
Have we covered everything? Not by a mile. There will always be stuff that is difficult to cover in a single article. For example, advanced filtration features in site searches and so on. But we have covered most of the “essential” features.
Business success will depend on not only getting these website aspects right but also having that unique inspirational idea that will set your online business apart from peers and competitors.
2016 is a time for beginning, endings, and a time for change. 2017 promises to be “full” and eventful as well. In the ecommerce sphere, growth will remain the only constant for the immediate foreseeable future. There are plenty of opportunities for those with creative business ideas to prosper.
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