E-commerce is the heart of retail today, with U.S. e-commerce spending expected to reach $605.3 billion this year. Is your business attracting its share? If your numbers don’t hold up to digital growth trends, it may be that your website is poorly designed. The following page elements are must-haves for e-commerce businesses, so make sure they’re accounted for on your site.
A Simple Search Bar
We live in the era of search. Any time we need to know or find something, we turn to Google, and we do this because it’s efficient. Unfortunately, many e-commerce websites lack a search bar, or only offer it on the homepage. Equip your site with a search bar that's visible on every web page so that users can easily look for items, rather than filtering through product categories page by page. This solves a common problem: users see an interesting product, continue scrolling and then decide they want to purchase it, but can’t find the item again.
Strong site search functionality is important for all websites, but it’s especially important for brands with many product categories and SKUs. This is a key part of user-friendly site navigation, along with speed and overall legibility. Don’t let navigation hold your site back.
Give a Guarantee
When shopping online, customers often worry that products won’t live up to the descriptions — and they’re right to be concerned. There are a lot of unscrupulous sellers out there with low-quality or misrepresented items. Luckily, there are several ways that your business can allay these worries.
First, be sure to present your buyers with a guarantee; it doesn’t have to be a long, complicated statement. For example, The Three Graces, an online jewelry seller, promises buyers a “complete money back no-risk guarantee” on purchases, which is the kind of thing customers want to hear when spending thousands of dollars online. Use whatever language is true for your company, just be sure that you’re offering the necessary assurances.
Reveal Your Reviews
A second way to help consumers feel more confident in their purchases is by including user-generated reviews on your site. Consumers trust reviews, and young people in particular write them. What’s most important about reviews, though, is that according to research by BrightLocal, 57 percent of consumers will only patronize businesses with four or more stars.
User-generated reviews offer more than just a star rating, however. Reviews bring a variety of new voices to your site, and they’re voices that consumers can readily relate to. And, of course, consumers want to hear what actual customers think about your products. Therefore, give those voices a place of prominence.
Consider Virtual Enhancements
Finally, as e-commerce continues to become more popular with consumers, the ability to interact with sites will become more important for companies that want to be competitive. What this looks like will vary depending on your industry. Retailer websites selling apparel, for example, might offer virtual fittings, while furniture stores can provide augmented reality tools to help visitors envision how products will look in their homes. Many companies are already beginning to offer these tools, such as Zenni Optical’s virtual try-on feature for glasses. Tools such as these can provide an edge over businesses that essentially force consumers to make purchases without added context.
A great e-commerce site shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, it should be easy to navigate and offer site visitors a transparent experience. Still, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the features. Make sure your site has all the tools users need to have the best overall experience. These features will get you off to a strong start.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in technology, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.
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