People are increasingly shopping online! There is a flurry of e-commerce websites usually carrying a wide range of product lines, catering to almost every segment of customers. The rapid growth of the e-commerce industry has also forced businesses to build an online presence where customers can easily access their products and order them. An advanced form of ordering from physical catalogs, online shopping involves buying and selling of products and services over the Internet.
Cashing on an efficient distribution network, online shopping is cheaper and more convenient than retail shopping and gives customers an international reach. E-commerce is no longer a niche market and therefore attracts a much larger audience than ever before. The rise of this industry has given birth to a fierce competition between e-commerce websites. As a result, e-commerce websites are moving beyond conventional website infrastructure to add features that appeal to the larger audiences.
Today, a good e-commerce website not only requires great content, good quality product images and an easy checkout process but other significant features that help improve the overall experience of the user. The expansion plan for any e-commerce website should, however, be based on goals it looks forward to achieving.
In addition to essential pages like Home Page, Products Page, Shopping Cart, Search Box, Checkout, etc. which are present in every e-commerce site, some new features have strongly emerged over the past few years which are an absolute must-have for your e-commerce website.
Some of these are:
1. Secure Socket Layer or SSL: Since online shopping delivers no instant gratification, your customers can be quite apprehensive about paying for stuff
online. They need some sort of an assurance or security that their payment information, and credit card or debit card data won’t be misused or intercepted by any third party. It becomes quite important therefore to safeguard the interaction between your website and the customer. This can be done by the use of an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate is used to encrypt data between the server (your website) and the client to ensure that payment data is not misused in any way. Encrypted data cannot be intercepted by hackers and therefore an SSL takes care of various privacy-related issues in e-commerce websites.
2. Deals, Discounts, Freebies and Shipping offers: Since there are many e-commerce websites available to the customer to choose from, it becomes highly significant to grab people’s interest before they switch to some other website. And nothing works better in grabbing people’s eyeballs than a sale or a shopping deal. Sales and special deals is a crowd’s favorite and is probably the first feature customers look for when they visit an e-commerce website.
Past precedent has shown that people end up buying more stuff if it’s on a sale than they originally planned to. Therefore shopping deals, discounts and unique prices have become almost essential to keep an e-commerce website relevant among the public. In addition to this, features like Deals of the Day, Festive Sales and Free Shipping are a huge attraction to customers.
3. Payment System Icons: The problem with most e-commerce websites is that you only come to know about the payment options when you’re halfway into the transaction which can be quite a drag if your preferred form of payment is not accepted by the website. E-commerce is about consumer convenience and so it becomes all the more important that user experience should be key while designing a website. This problem can be easily dealt with by clarifying the payment options accepted by the website on the home page by use of icons. This enables the customer to know in advance whether he can go through with the transaction or not. All credit, debit, and international payment cards that your website accepts should be specified on the homepage itself.
4. Social Media Links: A more common feature, social media links are usually present on all e-commerce websites. The purpose they serve is widely underestimated because your social media not only acts as a means of promotion but also helps build a loyal online community. Social Media pages keep customers updated on latest products and deals. They also help build public opinion and enable efficient customer service.
5. Phone No. /Online Chats: Since there is a delivery gap period in online shopping, an interaction between the customer and the website becomes that much more important. Transactions are no longer geographically bound and so communication plays a very important role in promoting the e-commerce culture. A support team available 24 x 7 gives the customers a sense of satisfaction that in case of a problem they will get all the assistance they need. Live chats also add value to your website.
6. Trust Marks: Trust Marks are images or logos that symbolize a guarantee by an external party and act as an indication that the website is safe to use. These marks act as accreditation certificates from third parties and reassure the buyer of a safe purchase. Having such a feature on your website develops customer trust and better online reputation for your brand.
7. CTA (Call To Action): A call to action feature on each page helps speed up the sale process. It not only increases conversions but also enables customer movement through the website which is always a good thing. CTA on every page gives maximum exposure to your products and also helps to gather data on customer needs and interests. The CTA on each page should be clearly identifiable and should lead the customer to find out more