What do all great eCommerce website design have in common?

Retailers are constantly looking at what they need to do in order to drive sales, and eCommerce is part of the supply chain now. With the annual sales from eCommerce sites estimated to reach around $434 billion in the US alone, it’s not something we can ignore if we want to prosper in retail. Customers are increasingly going online to shop and are increasingly doing this from their smartphone, which will see these numbers grow even further.

If you want to grab your fair share of the online retail business and launch (or refresh) your eCommerce presence, here we look at the factors that great eCommerce website design has in common.

A good first impression…

As many times as we’ve been told ‘never judge a book by its cover’, the reality is that we do. In fact it’s been proven that we take mere seconds to make a decision about what we see and whether we want to pursue looking at it or not. That means that eCommerce retailers have but seconds to capture their customers’ attention and encourage them to dive further.

Therefore it’s incredibly important that your eCommerce website design is visually appealing at first glance. Investing in this area is essential to capturing and optimising your store. Part of this investment is not just the digital design but also in great product and service photography.

Customers remember approximately 80% of what they see only a surprising 20% of what they read. This means that getting beautiful photography of your product online is paramount. Product photography should have an overview shot as well as a close up detail shot, along with the various angles of the product. Consistency when it comes to photography is the key - this will add to the overall effect of your site.

The combination of great website design and beautiful photography is essential in making an eCommerce site profitable and effective as a channel.

Easy navigation

The navigation of an eCommerce store is one of the most important parts of an online retail experience. Simple, easy and good navigation can help shoppers find what they’re looking for quickly and without hassle. However, poor and difficult navigation can lead to frustration and for customers to abandon your store.

Stress free navigation enables customers to easily find what they’re looking for and therefore buy it! Top things that aid navigation are a clear path from homepage to product and product to checkout. Other great ways to help returning customers is to have a ‘What’s New’ category. If they are regulars to your site this is a great way for them to skip the products they’ve already viewed and go straight to your newest items. This also tempts new visitors to delve deeper straight away without any further steps.

Having clear and straightforward categorisation is key to simple navigation. Presenting your most important categories in your main navigation and moving less important pages to drop downs allows majority of consumers to get where they want quickly.

Speed things up

Making sure that your site is quick and loads quickly can increase conversion significantly. Up to 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load and every 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversion – these are significant numbers for eCommerce retailers and goes to show that speed really is everything when it comes to online retailing.

By implementing a design that loads assets quickly, you can decrease your bounce rate. Some top things to consider, without having to compromise the look of your site, are; compressing large image files, content delivery networks like CloudFlare can deliver cached versions of your site to customers and making sure you hosting is suitable for your site.

Improve your shopping cart experience

Part of the experience of shopping has long been the enjoyment of window shopping, and window shopping has never been so popular especially in the online world. Customers stack their shopping carts with items they would like to buy, however many never checkout – up to 71% of shopping carts are eventually abandoned.

In order to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate the key things to look at are your shipping fees, the speed of your site, your payment options and the design of the checkout process. Simplifying the number of steps to checkout, as well as showing customers where they are in the process, having a persistent checkout along with a guest checkout option are important factors in guiding more customers through to finalise their orders. Don’t fill checkout pages with too much information as it acts as a distraction to consumers and can increase their likelihood of abandoning.

Ask for feedback, reviews and testimonials

Peer to peer reviews are an increasingly important tool for consumers shopping online. Up to 77% of online shoppers actually read a review for the product they are looking to buy as part of their search, and 90% of them will make their decision based on the reviews. That means the companies that have positive reviews are influencing 9/10 people that are looking to make a purchase.

The nature of online purchasing means that the consumer can’t see and feel the product before purchasing, therefore they rely heavily on reading reviews and feedback from other customers who’ve purchased and used the product. This user generated content is fast becoming an essential design element of great website design for retailers.

Incorporate social media

Following on from the importance of user generated content on your website is the need to incorporate social media into your site and your overall strategy. This plays into the peer-to-peer review setting and helps build your SEO and back links.

Social media icons should be placed somewhere easily visible on your homepage and you should try to be as active as possible. Make sure you balance your ‘selling’ posts with your general information posts – customers want to know the story behind the brand as well. Sharing relevant articles, recipes or information on how to use your products are great ways to disseminate information to your consumers whilst also building credibility.

As part of your eCommerce website design, consider your SEO strategy

This is something that many people understand to be important but don’t really understand why. Search Engine Optimisation is vital to having an effective eCommerce website in today’s competitive landscape.

With the amount of eCommerce websites out there competing for consumer’s dollars, a well established SEO strategy is imperative to attracting customers to your website. Whilst this doesn’t affect the design of your website it is essential in making your site effective. Without a well-optimised site the only way you will attract customers is via pay per click or other marketing activity that will likely cost you more to get the same results.

Like any aspect of a retailers approach, eCommerce website design needs to be constantly evaluated and evolving. Each design element should be purposefully chosen, measured, refined (or replaced) in order to drive growth and conversions.

Your design, like most aspects of your retailing will revolve around the customer and their needs. In understanding what they want and how they will use our site and brand you can make informed decisions about what elements are best for you.

An effective online store comes down to a smooth and consistent brand experience, which enables the customer journey to be as seamless as it can be. It’s important to remember that this journey often now incorporates many channels in a single purchase.

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