There has been a huge rise in the number of eCommerce stores on the web in recent years. Anyone with products to sell is setting themselves up online hoping to promote their products far and wide.
This influx of online stores is making the online competition more intense and allowing customers to be far choosier over where they shop. This results in other factors, such as the user experience on your eCommerce store, becoming as much of a deciding factor to their purchase as the price of your product.
Just what are customers looking for in an eCommerce store?
What do they want to see when they enter your online shop that will make them want to stay and convert into sales?
And what is it that makes them return in the future and buy more?
We have generated the following factors based on our years of experience in designing, developing and marketing successful eCommerce stores to help you answer the questions above.
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Factor #1 - Fast Load Times
Google's ranking algorithm has put a huge emphasis on the user experience in the last few years. This means that if users are not engaging well with the site, you are less likely to rank well.
There is absolutely no point in designing a fantastic eCommerce store and having all these great products at fantastic prices if your website is so slow to load. People will bounce off your site and back to search results if it takes more than a few seconds to load - not good news for UX (user experience) and SEO.
You'll want to consider mobile, desktop, and tablet speeds. eCommerce stores can be huge beasts due to the high number of images and security features needed for successful shopping. Efforts must be made to ensure that everything from code-level up is optimised for fast loading speed.
Don’t skimp on hosting either. All successful eCommerce stores are located on powerful servers which can cope with the high number of interactions expected and the volume of data flying back and forth between yourself and your customers.
Key tip: Optimise your eCommerce store and invest in good hosting.
Factor #2- Accurate and Useful Product Images and Descriptions
When a customer purchases from your online store all they have to go by is what you provide them with.
To ensure your customers are happy when they receive the item, and that customers are not wrongly led to believe the product is what they are looking for, make sure that you have accurate and useful product images and descriptions.
You must provide your customer with high-quality imagery of your products, ideally in many formats. A good guide to keep to is…
- a white background image of your product from a key angle
- a white background image of your product from another angle (if different from above)
- if it is clothing or worn accessories (bags etc.) – then many images of it being worn and zoomed-in images of garment details (zips etc.)
- lifestyle images and/or product in situ images
It is best practice to have many useful images for each product. When creating images for your products think about what a customer would want to look at if they were to pick that product up in a high street store.
Good descriptions of the product further help you to assist customers in understanding what the product looks like, as well as explaining some of the key features of the item. This will also help your products show up in search.
The following are just some of the elements that could appear in your product descriptions to help your customer in their shopping experience:
- The colour
- The size/fit of the item
- The material/fabric that it is made of
- What features the item has
- Whether it has matching items
- It’s weight
- How it can be used
- Any safety information that the customer is required to know
Key tip: Ensure good quality images and product descriptions for all your products.
Factor #3 - Accurate Stock Levels
A popular reason for shopping online is convenience. Rather than needing to take a morning to go to the shops we can dip in and out whilst relaxing in the evening or commuting to work via train.
Imagine how annoyed your customer would be, how annoyed you would be if you purchased something to then find that it was out of stock and you only received part of your order.
For this reason, it is important that your stock levels are an accurate reflection of your real stock levels. Real-time inventory software, often a standard feature in good eCommerce platforms, will help you to ensure accurate stock levels.
Top Tip: Invest in real-time stock inventory
Factor #4 - The Option to Buy as a Guest
Following on from our last factor in what customers want from an eCommerce store, convenience, and the convenience buying online provides many, is a key reason why people want the option to buy as a guest, rather than having to create an account.
If a customer has never bought from the website before, or they are not familiar with the brand, they will be more hesitant to create an account with your website. To allow your website to build up some trust you should allow your customers to purchase as a guest. Forcing them to set up an account may just lose you that sale.
Another reason to allow the option of buying as a guest is if someone is purchasing using a mobile phone it can sometimes be harder for them to complete the account creation process with a slower internet connection or whilst walking down the street.
If you are concerned about losing valuable marketing information there are other ways to get this information. You can have quick sign-up fields to newsletters or popups that give them a discount code if they enter their email address.
Top Tip: Allow for Guest checkout to avoid alienating new customers
Factor #5 - The Cost of their Shopping
Transparency is a vital part of building trust with your customer online. In the eCommerce store world, this means being transparent with your costs and any delivery information. In a world of Amazon Prime, people expect fast and cheap delivery and they expect to see that information before they purchase.
One of the biggest pet peeves for an online shopper is when they are surprised by additional costs they were not expecting when they get to the checkout.
Your customers want to be able to clearly see the price of the item, whether VAT is included in that price, (if not then show what the VAT is), and also if there are any associated delivery costs for their product.
Get this right and your abandoned basket rate will not be unnecessarily high and you will see your sales flood in.
Top Tip: Show clearly all costs for the product, including VAT and delivery to avoid surprising your customer.
Factor #6 - Website & Payment Security
A big element of a customer’s wish list for the perfect eCommerce store is for it to be safe and secure for them to enter their payment details.
They do not want to have to risk their personal information just to purchase something online. Customers will abandon baskets if they feel that the site is not secure.
Ensuring the use of secure payment gateways, SSL certificates and good security protocols in your eCommerce shop will help make your eCommerce shop secure.
Just making your website safe isn’t enough though, you need to show that it is safe. Using logos such as VeriSign and major credit cards and payment acceptance symbols offer that reassurance to customers.
Having a secure eCommerce store also benefits you, the owner. A secure site means that there is less chance that a hacker will succeed in gaining access to your website. It has also been proven to help with your appearance in search engines, as big search engines like Google give higher rankings to those sites that have high-security ratings.
Top Tip: Keep your customers and your website safe with a secure eCommerce website.
Factor #7 - Social Proof
The final factor in this blog post that customers have proven to want in an eCommerce store is social proof.
Social media is a key element in many people’s decision-making process, it can even start the decision-making process.
Many customers will look at online reviews by other customers and search social media channels to see what customers have stated about a particular product, brand and/or company. It is therefore important that you are active on social media and keep your online presence positive through hard work and good customer experiences with your products, brands and company.
You can take steps to encourage people to write reviews about their experience with your company or even product reviews about items they have purchased. It all helps to provide customers of your eCommerce store with evidence that you are reputable, trustworthy and worth buying from.
Top Tip: Encourage online reviews to help build up evidence that you are worth buying from.
Ensuring that your eCommerce store provides these elements for your customers is a step in the right direction.
There are many more elements that customers want in an eCommerce store, and these can help push customers towards making a purchase. You can find out more about these elements by contacting our team today or simply fill in the contact form below, we would be happy to share our eCommerce knowledge with you and your business.