Roughly 27 % of the world’s consumers shop via the internet.2 It means that almost 2 billion people in the world regularly visit one of 24 million online stores.3 Obviously in these circumstances, the competition is immense. That’s why being aware of consumers’ expectations is so crucial. Knowing which online shop features are an absolute must have and which would be a nice addition is a first step toward a successful e-commerce store.
Must-Have Online Shop Features
1. Clean navigational menu with an In-Site Search and product categories
In order to attract consumers, your website should not only be eye-catching but also user-friendly. 25% of consumers abandon the purchase because they find website navigation too complicated.4 That’s why your layout should be transparent, menu sections clearly divided and navigation intuitional. Make sure that the most important call to action – the add to cart button – is always visible. Pay special attention to the organization of your products. Divide them into sections and subsections, preferably in few different ways. The products should be easy to find by brand, product type and price range. Don’t forget about including an In-Site Search button. It will allow your consumers to find what they are looking for in a few seconds.
2. Detailed product descriptions
No matter how great your products are your customers won’t know that unless you provide them with proper descriptions. This is one of the most important and surprisingly one of the most often neglected online shop features. So remember: every product must have clear and extensive description! Especially if we talk about items that are similar to each other such as laptops. They may differ only in details such as RAM or display card types. Bullet points are usually the best option here. They’re transparent, concise and quick to read but at the same time informative.
“Concise product descriptions are far more likely to be read by your customers than long rambling descriptions.“
Chris Sutton, Co-founder of SiteSuite Australasia
3. Good quality product photos with image zoom and thumbnails
The description could be perfect, but no consumer will become a customer if they can’t see the product. One blurred, small-size picture is really not enough. According to Forbes, 67% of consumers say that an image is “very important” when selecting a product.That is why this feature is an absolute necessity. You should have at least 3 good quality photos, showing the product from different angles. When it comes to size, 600 pix is an acceptable minimum. Make sure also that you provide consumers with a zoom option so that they can see any given part of the item. Thumbnails are also important. They make navigation between products much easier.
4. Demo videos
Let’s be honest: nowadays pictures are not enough. Consumers expect a 3-D experience so don’t disappoint them by not having product videos as one of your online shop features. Demo videos enable consumers to familiarize themselves with products. Detailed visualization and showing the features in use make it easier to imagine using the product and as a result, encourage customers to purchase. 57% of consumers admit that product videos make them more confident in a purchase and less likely to return an item.6 But remember that videos on your page should be of a good-quality, nicely integrated and free from ads. So better forget about YouTube and invest in a professional video e-commerce solution.
5. Review box
Another way your consumers can learn about the products is by reading through reviews and comments. Nothing is more encouraging than recommendations from other pleased customers. 63% of customers are more likely to purchase from a site which has user reviews.7 That’s because reviews make a shop more trustworthy. If you allow customers to comment on the products, you clearly believe that they’re good. Yes, reviews are risky. You must take into account that some of them won’t be positive, but you should treat these as advice. Thanks to negative reviews, you know which products to withdraw and which aspects of your business to work on. So don’t hesitate to include review box as one of your online shop features.
6. Engaging and informative About Us page with contact details
If you’re not a giant like Zalando or Walmart, it’s likely that some consumers will doubt whether your shop is trustworthy. An About Us page is your chance to resolve these doubts. Provide a brief history of your business and the main facts such as headquarters, owners and founding date. Be professional but at the same time not too formal. Consumers want to feel like they’re interacting with real and friendly people. That’s why it would be useful if you included some pictures of the employees and ensured that they are always willing to help. Last but not least, don’t forget about contact details. It’s one of the most obvious of online shop features, but still many stores forget about it.
“The About Us page inspires trust, reassures your visitors and makes your store seem reliable. It gives a face and story to your website.“
Mareva Jeandel, E-merchandiser
To avoid answering basic and obvious consumers’ questions, don’t forget to include one of the most important online shop features – an FAQ section. How long does the shipment take? How much does it cost? What is the returns policy? What are the payment options? Is shipment abroad possible? These are only a few of the questions you should provide answers to. FAQs can be regularly supplied with questions you often encounter. That will not only make customers better informed but will also save you time. Make sure that the answers are written clearly and concisely so that your consumers won’t spend hours reading through them.
8. Mobile responsiveness
One of the most essential online shop features nowadays is mobile responsiveness. Mobile e-commerce accounted for nearly 50% of online shopping time in the first quarter of 2015.8 This means that by not adapting your platform for smartphone and tablet users, you consciously reject more than a half of potential customers. So make sure that your store is mobile-friendly. All pictures, videos and payment options should be as easily accessible on mobile devices as on desktop.
9. Various payment methods
Individual consumers have a different perception of which payment methods are the best and the most secure. By not providing the possibility to choose the option that suits consumer best, you risk losing him. For fans of traditional transfer provide account details and automatically generated wire transfer form. Be aware, however, that most people prefer integrated payment gateways such as PayPal or EBS. It’s an absolute must have of online shop features nowadays. Choose the gateway that includes banks and credit cards most popular in your sales region. Don’t forget also that some customers prefer cash on delivery.
10.Tracking option for orders
A tracking option enables customers to predict the arrival time, which is especially convenient in the case of cash on delivery payment. It also gives the sense of security, if the products gets lost in delivery. No wonder, thus, that 79% of online shoppers desire a tracking option with their delivery.9 It should be desired by you too because it saves you time. No more answering e-mails and phones from customers asking if their product has already been sent. Therefore, make sure that a tracking option is one of your online shop features.
Nice-to-Have Online Shop Features
11. Live chat module
Another form of contact you could ensure is a live chat module. According to Econsultancy‘s research, live chat has the highest level of satisfaction out of any customer service channel at 73%, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone. However, if you decide to include live chat, you should really make sure that it is live. If round-the-clock availability is not possible, specify a time during which the chat can be consulted. And remember, it’s absolutely essential to reply fast. I really mean that, because although chat is one of the most popular online shop features, it’s rarely managed properly. So if you suspect that you won’t have time for live chat, it’s better not to include it.
12. Social media buttons
Social media allows consumers to quickly and easily share what they have bought or are considering buying. It also provides you with free advertising. Every time your product is shared, you gain new potential customers. It is expected that this year, 5% of overall e-commerce sales will come from Social Networks, 11 so it would be useful to include social media buttons as one of your online shop features.
It may be more of a gadget but it’s a really good one to have. A wish-list gives customers the opportunity to store all of the products that they like in one place. Some of them will surely be bought later by customers themselves. Others may be bought as present by those to whom a wish list will be sent before Christmas or an upcoming birthday. Adding a wish-list as one of your online shop features definitely won’t harm your store.
So how many of these online shop features does your store already have?
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