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What is eCommerce?

What is ecommerce
Corinne Boyd

By Corinne Boyd Digital Marketing Manager, Updated 17 May 2017

Many businesses are based on selling products or services online, but ecommerce is frequently being used as a supplementary source of income or a more practical way of collecting payment. However, if your business utilises ecommerce, you will need an ecommerce website.

Because commercial businesses are so diverse, with a variety of business objectives and target audiences, it follows that each ecommerce website needs to be tailored to its organisation, which should be borne in mind when designing the website. You need to start with creating a persona you wish to convey, and building a website around that. Then the site needs to be rigorously tested for user experience and user flow with the goals of conversion, upsell and completion in mind. It also needs to be checked for responsiveness to platforms such as tablets and mobile devices. You can monitor user experience and easily make changes to optimise your site’s effectiveness.

What Features Should an eCommerce Website Have?

Relevant Design

A design needs to be pleasing, but it ought to suit and reflect whatever your organisation is about. This is relevant to the persona of your company that you want to create; do you want to seem friendly and informal, or professional and authoritative?

Images

Images are the easiest way to grab the attention of your site visitors. A quality well-selected image can catch a user’s eye and immediately convey what your business is about. You can use images to direct your customers’ attention to something specific, such as a call to action or a link to the checkout. Clear, high-quality images aren’t difficult to find and are frequently used, so you need to adopt them if you want to compete with other websites.

Navigation

Never underestimate the general public’s capacity for laziness. It’s crucial that customers can find what they’re looking for as easily as possible; any obstacles in their way can reduce your sales significantly, as customers can get frustrated and ditch the site. The key is to design the website with a user’s intuition in mind. They should be able to get from the landing page to the checkout without really thinking. One way this can be done is through emphasising the most important pages on your site through the main navigation, and consigning less important pages to drop-down menus.

Compatibility

As mobile shopping becomes more and more popular, websites increasingly need to be able to adapt to any device of any screen size and browser. Responsive design is a way to satisfy this requirement. This method of design automatically scales a site’s appearance up or down depending on the screen that’s viewing it. Again, because a website that doesn’t match the screen is maddening, customers give up and you lose sales.

Loading Times

Have you ever left a website because it’s taken some time to load? Well you’re not alone. According to one statistic, 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. A successful website ought to load its assets quickly. It may seem like a balancing act between a beautiful, feature-rich website and excessive loading times, but there are many ways to maintain a quality site without keeping your customers waiting. For instance, you can use compression tools so that your images use less space. You should check to see if your host is suitable for the needs of your website, and if it isn’t, then consider upgrading. You may also be able to utilise content delivery networks, which can run a cached version of the website from a local server.

Social Media

Social media accounts are a great way to bring customers to your ecommerce website. It makes sense to promote your social media presence on your website, whilst also promoting the site through social media. You can do this by adding the logos of the social media channels that your business uses. You can also use your social media networks to provide a customer support system, and engage with their enquiries and problems. Using social media in this way boosts your online presence, which can lead to many more sales.

News & Events

An e-commerce website is also an excellent method for keeping your audience updated with new products, events, and other news related to your business. It should be easy for customers to find out about sales and deals.

Shopping Cart and Login

The shopping cart function lets users select items to buy later, and calculates the cost of their order. Virtually every ecommerce site includes a shopping cart (or ‘basket’ if you’re on this side of the pond), conventionally with an icon depicting a shopping basket. There’s no reason not to also stick to this convention. You can also offer your customers personal accounts which allows them to view previous orders, and see recommendations of what else to buy. Customers who sign up on an ecommerce website with a personal login are often offered discounts, and are easier for the business to keep track of.

Search

A search box is essential to help your users find what they’re looking for, especially if you deal with a large stock of products. This is also useful for customers who are looking to order something in particular.

Once you’ve decided that your business would benefit from an ecommerce website, there is still the problem of finding a web developer. You need to find a web developer who can create an ecommerce website tailored to your business’s needs and objectives.

Software Advisory Service can provide you with non-chargeable buying advice, and provide you with a shortlist of web developers who would be ideal for your website. Fill in a form here and we’ll provide you with the solution you need today!

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