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The 10 Key Essentials Every E-Commerce Website Must Have

November 9, 2023

The global revenue from eCommerce is projected to reach US$3.64 Trillion or INR 248 Lakh Crores in 2023, and is expected to grow to US$5.56 Trillion or INR 413 Lakh Crores by 2027. It accounted for over 19% of all retail sales in 2022 and is expected to rise account for a quarter of total retail sales by 2027 (Source: This Market Insights from Statista).

If you’re someone who’s looking to enter the industry, then it’s critical that you ensure having the 10 most important essentials in your ecommerce website to succeed in the virtual space. One of the key yardsticks you require to figure out to know if your ecommerce website is performing at its best, is to make sure that your site is converting as many visitors as possible into paying customers.

Having said, it doesn’t mean you need to incorporate the most recent fancy features like dynamic product search functionalities and 360 degree product previews. It does mean, however, that you need to have certain key elements that ensures that your customers have a satisfactory experience on your website, therefore allowing your business to stay competitive.

So let’s dive in.

1)  Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
2) Simple & User-Friendly Navigation
3) Design Should Match Product Category
4) High Quality Photos & Videos
5) Have an Effective Marketing Strategy & Strong USP
6) Have a Call To Action (CTA) Button
7) Impress With Social Proof
8) Provide Detailed Contact Information
9) Provide Exceptional Customer Support
10) Have a Good Email Marketing Strategy

1) Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

As of the 4th quarter of 2022, the percentage of mobile website traffic worldwide was over 58% (Source: This Market Insights by Statista). There are also studies that say that 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from mobile-friendly sites than sites that are desktop and laptop friendly.

In fact, conversion rates, or the percentage of people making a transaction, is 64% higher on mobile phones than on desktops or laptops. That’s a clear message that you need to ensure that your ecommerce website is completely mobile friendly.

So if your store does not look on mobile and doesn’t function the way it should, you should stop reading this article and get it fixed – right now!

What are Responsive Websites?

Responsive sites are websites that adjust to the screen of the device the user is using when they view your site. Adjusting to the screen they use means your site looks great and works perfectly on laptops, desktops, tablets, and most of all – mobile.

On a frequent basis, Google announces updates in its algorithm to enhance its users. Just a few years ago, they mandated that all websites adopt and use responsive web design, and that sites who don’t adopt the change will be downgraded in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is what makes responsive web design a must in the 2020s.

In case you’re using an old platform or an outdated theme that’s anything but responsive, you need to drop everything and upgrade it immediately! No matter how impressive an appeal your products have, no matter how competitive your pricing is, if your potential customers are unable to have a seamless experience while browsing your page on their device, you’re definitely guaranteed to lose your sale. And that’s not all? The visitor will never want to be back on your site, ever again.

2) Simple & User-Friendly Navigation

Simple, intuitive and easy-to-use navigation is one of the most essential feature an e-commerce website should have. Period.

Just think about it: If you can’t quickly find what you need on a site you visit, for sure you’re not going to browse long enough. And if you can’t find the product you’re searching for in the first place, there’s no question of adding anything to the shopping cart, let alone making a transaction!

So make sure the menus are in easy-to-find locations, like across the top of the page, preferably across the website and not just in the home page. Just browse a dozen ecommerce websites at random, and you’ll be amazed by the number of sites that don’t even stick to the basic essentials of navigation.

Ensuring the basics allows your users to not only sort the products, but also filter them by price, style, size, etc. Having said, the features you will use will depend on the kind of products and the range of products, which matters a great deal from your customers’ and prospects’ point of view.

3) Design Should Match Product Category

A vast majority of your site visitors are going to make assumptions about your ecommerce store within just the first few seconds, literally; and they do it predominantly based on the imagery across each page they visit.

As they say: “Pictures can say a thousand words.”

So make your product images are of high-quality photography and as clear as possible. To make your ecommerce store work well, consistency across pages is key. It is important therefore, that your design is aligned with what you’re selling. Only then will they be comfortable, and most of all confident that they’re in the right place for what they’re looking for, and you have what they want.

Let’s understand this with an example:

Let’s say that your e-commerce website sells gaming consoles for teens. Since your product is specifically targeted to children whose age fall across a seven years’ range, your design should look fun, exciting, colourful and electric. Ideally, it should also have some eye-catching animations and motion graphics.

Since the product you’re selling is of a specific nature (what we saw above is the ‘specific people’ part of it – the teenagers), the theme should be clean and catchy, and your design should be very peppy, funky and modern.

4) High Quality Photos & Videos

Think of ecommerce sales, think of colours and visuals. Unlike other websites, your ecommerce website is all about colours and imagery. These are the two things that together gets the attention of your users, makes you look professional, and most of all, helps your prospective customers to make purchase decisions.

That’s why you must ensure using high quality images and videos when showcasing your products. Larger the picture, more is the attention you get from first-time visitors to your website, who are also your prospective customers.

You should never settle for just one image of your product. Rather, you should include photos from multiple angles. For instance, take at least five pictures of the product, like from above and all four sides. It would be better if you can also take pictures from all the four corners too.

This means you can take not less than 5 to 9 pictures, which can let your shoppers to zoom in on the image and get the next-best experience to actually holding and seeing your product. And of course, nothing can beat a simple 20 or 40 seconds’ video. After all, just one video of even 10 seconds can be 20 times more powerful than 10 photographs!

Added multiple pictures? Better. Added multiple videos? Great! Studies show that prospective customers are 85% more likely to purchase if they view a product video (just one). And 85% is a significant number, which means having a video of the product should be a top priority for your ecommerce website. Knowing is not the same as doing. So get it done.

5) Have an Effective Marketing Strategy & Strong USP

If there are no visitors on your website, having a good looking ecommerce website doesn’t mean anything. That’s why your marketing strategy should be such that you’re able to target your potential customers as specifically as you possibly can. This is where marketing strategy comes in.

And to do that, you need to have absolute clarity about what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) really is.

From your customers’ perspective, they should know what you’re good at, within the shortest time possible as soon as they visit your ecommerce website? They should know (among others):

a) What is that one problem you can solve for them?
b) What makes you stand out from other online retailers in the same category?
c) What is it that that you do better than them?
d) Do you have a wider range of products?
e) Do you have better overall design?
f) Are your products priced competitively?
g) Are your products better in terms of quality?
h) Do your products have Premium pricing?

As regards USP, you need to be able to communicate them in a handful of sentences. It shouldn’t be a long-winding story, as most of your website visitors don’t have what it takes to go through long-form content, even if it is a video. That’s why you need to ensure it is short and succinct.

Here’s an example of a Baby Clothing brand:

We sell the highest quality hand-made baby clothing made from 100% combed cotton. The cotton we source is organic, meaning they’re grown without using any synthetic chemicals on them such as fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. Each of our products are designed to ensure utmost comfort for your baby in terms of fit and functionality.

As you can see, the USP is covered in 3 sentences, takes only about 20 seconds to read, and highlights not less than 8 of the following features across three aspects:

Sentence 1 – Specialty   :  Hand-made | Highest Quality | Combed Cotton

Sentence 2 – Ethics         :  Organic | No Chemicals

Sentence 3 – Benefits    :  Comfort | Fit | Functionality

So make sure you communicate your business model in a simple and clear manner, which makes it easy to understand for your visitors. This ensures that your visitors know what makes you truly unique and stand out from ‘the rest of them’.

By communicating the way as given in the example above, you attract only those who matter to you – those who appreciate your specialty, ethics and features. As the old adage that goes: “If you try to attract everyone, you’ll end up attracting no one.”

6) Have a Call To Action (CTA) Button

Do not assume your users are going transact with you simply because you’ve communicated the USP to them. Because once you have communicated your USP in an effective manner, you also need to tell them, specifically, about what they have to do next.

Being specific, is to add what is called the ‘Call To Action’ button, also called CTA buttons. The button should be in every single page that contains a product’s copy. Just use simple buttons with text like “Add to Cart” or “Shop Now” or “Buy Now”.

This will encourage and direct your users to take the necessary action, which are nothing but 2 important (and logical) steps:

a) Adding the product to cart, and
b) Making the transaction.

7) Impress With Social Proof

Here’s a question for you: Do you read reviews online, be it for products or services before you make a transaction? Well, there is at least a 90% chance that you do. In fact, there are studies that show that 70% of site visitors will never make a purchase, until they’ve read social proof of some nature. This can be in the form of a review, a star rating, a testimonial, or watching a customer reaction video.

Your very experience of making a purchase after going looking for a review, which is nothing but your online behavior, is proof that having reviews and ratings is one of the top must-haves for your e-commerce site. After all, people trust people more than any brand, which is something that’s been proven time and again, over a long period of time.

When you facilitate your customers to review your product on your website, you let them do the selling for you. This makes your prospects (people) to trust your customers (people). Additionally, you can also encourage your customers to leave reviews on third-party sites like Facebook, Google My Business, and other product review websites.

8) Provide Detailed Contact Information

If there is one thing that your customers and prospects will neither expect, nor accept, is your being cagey about providing your complete contact information. It would be an understatement to say that making it easy for them to contact you is important, as it is absolutely vital!

That’s why you need to provide them with multiple options to contact you, which they can choose from. It can be a contact form, email id, fixed line number, mobile number, WhatsApp/Text number, your office address, or even direct messages (DMs) to you on your social media.

If your store provides only email as a means of communication, your prospects are invariably going to see this as a red flag, therefore making it less likely that they’ll do business with you. And of course, you can’t expect them to visit your site again.

9) Provide Exceptional Customer Support

Integrating live chat on websites is becoming increasingly popular, and is being adopted by more and more business today. This is especially the case with ecommerce businesses, because it allows customers to get help with a clarification they have or an issue they are facing – well before they’re actually leaving the site.

Live chats can be incredibly helpful, especially from the perspective of making sure that you’re encouraging as many conversions as you possibly can from your visitors. If there’s one thing that both prospects and customers value immensely over a website, it is quick response time.

Just think about it. If you really want to stand out from the ‘rest of the pack’ (read ‘competitors’), there’s nothing better you can possibly do than providing an awesome customer service experience – even if it means you need to invest some money to set up the system. And by the way, investing is not spending.

There are many instances where businesses got crushed in a matter of months or even weeks, all because of the word-of-mouth traveling across the web about a crappy experience someone had with a brand.

Always remember, that people love to complain. So much so, they don’t need anyone to encourage them to complain. It’s kind of a basic human instinct. It there is upon you to make sure that you make it really, really hard for them to even think of doing so – through your exceptional customer service!

10) Have a Good Email Marketing Strategy

One of the most critical tasks an ecommerce business needs to perform, is to capture not only the email id of the customer who transacted, but also the prospective customer’s email id too who hasn’t transacted – as yet.

It’s also important to remember that a customer making a purchase may technically end with a transaction, but it begins a potential long-lasting relationship. It is kind of a journey that both you and your customer undertake to add value to each other, over time.

When you follow-up with your customer through an email after they make a purchase, you get to make a good impression on them, to begin with. It is also an opportunity to specifically thank them for trusting their product, and appreciate them for making the purchase.

You can also let them know who to contact, in the event they have any problem or grievance, along with how and when to contact. This, in turn, only strengthens their trust on your brand and your products.

One of the key objectives of setting up an email campaign is to let your existing customers and your prospective customers know about sales promotions that are coming up in the near future. Most of all, an email marketing strategy helps you subtly remind your customers that you’re in business with better products, greater value proposition, and an awesome customer service.

Having said, make sure that you’re careful about sending emails too frequently, as it can put off even those customers who are fans of your products, forcing them to either unsubscribe from your list or mark you as spam – or both!

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