Each e-commerce site has a unique design, and finding the features that work best for your users takes a bit of trial and error. Creating a better shopping experience helps with customer experience (CX) and reduces the number of bounces away from your site. Ideally, people will think of your brand when they want to buy the type of product you sell.
The e-commerce market is worth approximately 0 million at a 9.3% growth rate each year. People are buying online more frequently than in the past. Improve your site to tap into the vast number of new customers potentially visiting. Once you get visitors to your site, you want them to stay there and look around for a bit.
A better shopping experience doesn’t require a bunch of fancy scripts. Going with a more minimalist approach can actually improve CX. At the same time, you need enough features for the customer to feel comfortable buying online from a merchant they may not have used before. Put yourself in the shoes of the average consumer to see what might be most beneficial to them.
What Are the Essential Features of Effective Online Shopping Sites?
Think about your favorite shopping sites and why you love to frequent them. Is the layout intuitive? Perhaps they offer a shipping calculator you appreciate or fun animated graphics. Spend some time taking note of what you like and don’t like about the digital shopping sites you frequent.
We spent some time doing just that with popular sites such as Amazon and Walmart.com. We also looked at the ones we shop at most frequently. After listing the features we loved, we broke things down into what works best for most e-commerce types. Here are the ones we feel lead to a better shopping experience.
1. Mobile Responsiveness
Datareportal notes that 92.1% of internet users go online via mobile devices at least sometimes. Ensuring your shopping site translates well on smaller screens ensures you don’t lose customers due to frustration.
Mobile responsiveness is a broad category as far as features go, so what can you do to ensure an excellent experience? Start by testing your site on your own smartphone. Does everything align correctly? You may need a different font that translates better in smaller sizes.
What about the images? Do they adapt to the smaller screen or take over your entire phone? Pop-ups should go away with a swipe or a click.
2. High-Resolution Photos
The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words, and you can certainly say a lot with a well-placed image. Adding more photos to an e-commerce website almost always reduces the number of questions you get and improves customer satisfaction with purchases.
When you showcase these things in photos, people don’t have to guess about an item’s size, function or color. Some of the top shopping websites, like Amazon, feature multiple angles and closeups of an item to help users make an informed decision.
Bliss offers multiple images of its products in bright, eye-catching colors, showing its fun side. Note how the images appear in circles to the left of the product description. Click on any option for a closeup of the picture.
Do you want to create a better shopping experience for your vision-impaired users? Make sure all images have alt tags, enable keyboard navigation and watch out for time-constrained items.
WordPress-based sites offer plugins to ensure Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Install a reader on your cell phone and desktop and test for any potential issues.
4. Mailing List Signup
You must capture emails for your mailing list to increase conversions. This provides a direct line of communication with your subscribers. You can also send them messages when you get new products, offer discounts and provide information they might not get from your website.
It’s smart to segment your audience so you can personalize offers. For example, if someone frequently orders women’s skirts, they might go in a group called Women’s Skirts and Dresses. You would then send out newsflashes about sales or new arrivals to that segment.
Biocare Medical features a call to action (CTA) button in a bar titled “Join Our Mailing List for the Latest News from Biocare!” Giving the user an action they can take increases the chances they’ll sign up for news and become loyal fans.
5. Fast Load Times
People have a lot going on. The average person works, cares for a family, has friends to keep up with, and may even have a side hustle or hobby they’re passionate about. They don’t have time to wait around for your site to load. If it takes more than a few seconds, they’ll likely move on to something else.
Some of the large shopping sites we’ve mentioned in this article load so quickly it seems to be almost instantaneous. Make sure your website loads fast on desktop and mobile.
You can speed up your site’s load time by cutting unnecessary scripts, compressing images and investing in a fast server. If you can, opt for a dedicated private server as soon as possible. Shared plans often lag a bit as far as how fast they load.
6. Share Reviews
Most people consult online reviews before deciding whether to buy a product or try a new merchant. You can help them find feedback by sharing it on your site. Either offer the option for customers to leave a detailed review or embed reviews from Google or Facebook.
Depending upon what type of company you run, you might also want to sprinkle in a few testimonials here and there. Think about the topics your customer service staff gets asked most frequently. How can you answer those questions via reviews?
Reviews also add a trust factor to your business, showing other people have bought from you and were happy with the purchase. Even a poor review is an opportunity to show you care and are willing to fix issues customers might have.
Welly offers bandages in unique styles and handy carrying cases. You can buy refills for your case to match your mood and personal look. Note how it provides a star rating under each product.
If you click through to the product page, there’s an option to read the reviews in-depth. You can also leave a testimonial of your own.
7. Live Chat
Out of all the trust factors you can add to your site, live chat is one of the best. It signals to users that you are available should they run into an issue with their purchase, and you can answer questions immediately to complete the sale.
Utilize a chatbot and a frequently asked questions list to answer the most common queries. Train live agents to step in if the customer needs more help.
8. Social Proof
Nearly everyone has a social media account of some type. Fortunately, you can grab comments, reviews and ratings and add them to your website to showcase what people are saying about your brand on various social platforms.
You can also add a ticker showing how many followers and likes you have on your social media pages. Integrate social platforms with your website, and those who enjoy sites such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok will feel more in sync with you.
Carrollwood Florist adds a few testimonials and asks you to review it on Google or Yelp! It includes links to both locations, showing it isn’t afraid of some feedback and are confident in its excellent CX.
You can incorporate social media into your site in various ways, such as this one, by adding links to reviews or even adding a post feed to show what people are talking about on social platforms.
A crucial part of the online shopping experience is filtering. People who land on your website are faced with several options. Perhaps they want a shirt, but the term “T-shirt” pulls up 900 options.
Filtering lets the user narrow the options down to a handful so they can make a decision. Filters for T-shirts might include color, size, sleeve style and character names. The more filters you add, the more specific the search results will be.
Don’t forget to also allow users to sort by new arrivals, best sellers and clearance specials.
Tweaking Your Site for Better Shopping
The nine features above are a great start to enhancing any e-commerce website. However, adding new functionality allows your site to improve over time. Try different techniques and elements, and conduct A/B tests to see how your users respond.
The best e-commerce sites never stop growing and improving. They listen to customers’ needs and strive to fix coding issues and bugs before they become problematic. This leads to an ideal CX, repeat sales and a local customer base.