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What are the most important elements of an ecommerce store?

Starting an ecommerce store can be quite similar to building a brick and mortar one. Although each store has a completely different context, they both have important elements to function properly. In a brick and mortar store, these are obvious: a door, a shop window, a register. 

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Starting an ecommerce store can be quite similar to building a brick and mortar one. 

Although each store has a completely different context, they both have important elements to function properly. In a brick and mortar store, these are obvious: a door, a shop window, a register. 

When we talk about ecommerce, not every detail is as obvious. (And if it is, why is it so clear that some shops are still missing out on them?).

Don't be one of them. Keep reading to know which elements you can't neglect to make your ecommerce thrive:

User interface

The user interface is one area that nearly all websites overlook. It should be simple and user-friendly.

Some of the most important elements of user interface are:

  1. Input controls
  2. Navigational elements
  3. Informational elements
  4. Containers

Let’s go through these one by one.

1. Input controls

Input controls provide visitors with a means to convey their intentions and information to your website, and perform desired actions. 

By making the input elements easier to use, you can improve the user’s interaction with the website.

If you make interaction easy, then your triggers will have a better chance at converting your visitors into customers. Ensure that:

  • Forms are short
  • Calls to action are visible
  • You're offering limited answers

For example, if call to action buttons (“Add to Cart,” “Buy”) are highlighted, it will be easier for the customer to find them once they decide to buy. 

If your page has multiple screens of info, make sure the CTA buttons are anchored. 

Ecommerce sites also benefit from adding call to action buttons on product thumbnails on category pages.

Navigational elements

How easy can your customers find what they need on your website? Navigational elements include search fields, breadcrumb navigation, pagination, tags, and icons. These items make it easier for the visitors to understand and navigate your website.

If your customer advances from the home page through product categories and subcategory pages to a specific product page, enable them to backtrack their progress — since they may change their mind or want to see other products in the same or different categories. That's part of an efficient breadcrumb navigation.

Make sure your prospect is aware of their page position at all times.

If a visitor knows what they want but not where it is, make sure they can find what they need immediately by using the website search. Search fields are some of the most important and useful navigational elements! 

This is another way to increase the ease of matching your visitor’s motivation, and making the trigger more likely to work.

Informational content

This content  includes tooltips, icons, progress bars, notifications, and message boxes. 

For example, tooltips can make it easier to fill out forms, and progress bars provide information on how long a process will take, alleviating visitor concerns. You can also use tooltips to show different available options for a product, like size or color.

Notifications are mostly used to correct errors and notify visitors that they’ve been successful at a given step.

Progress bars inform prospects of their progress through processes with extended user input — for example, adding information during purchase.

By indicating how much time the prospect will spend, you diminish their uncertainty. 

Containers

Ecommerce stores use containers to provide information that may interest some prospects, but not all of them. By collapsing this information (while still providing a clear indicator that it’s there), you minimize informational load for prospects.

Checkout experience

The checkout experience is a critical point in the entire user experience.

Once a prospect enters the purchase process, they need to proceed through it with as few distractions or obstacles as possible.

The perfect checkout process is smooth and quick: short forms, login options via social media accounts, payment using third-party systems like PayPal, and automating shipping forms by adding location recognition whenever possible. 

Shipping policy

Yep, a store’s shipping policy is part of the shopping experience. It also has a decisive influence on a visitor's purchase decision. Shipping policy and cost is one of the greatest complaints of prospects who drop out of the conversion process.

In fact, 68% of all people who drop out of the conversion funnel report that they quit because the shopping policies showed up too late in the process, or the shipping cost was higher than expected.

Put great effort into making your store’s shipping policy clear and transparent! And consider offering free shipping straight away (or at least for purchases above a certain amount).

Return Policy

If you have a return and refund policy, try to show feedback from customers who have successfully used it. Return policy is one of the best trust indicators you can employ!

If you promise to refund or replace faulty products free of charge, you’ll foster trust, and prospects will be inclined to believe you. Especially if the claim is backed up by testimonials

Contact page

To increase credibility, provide a contact page to show prospects that a real and legitimate business exists behind the website. 

Provide addresses and pictures of your premises, employees, and founders to prove your store isn’t a scam.

About page

Your store’s “About” page should provide more information about your business, its mission or focus, your unique value proposition, the provenance of the products you sell, and similar information.

If you’re connected with prominent institutions, companies, or governmental agencies, show those connections here. 

Homepage

The homepage, or front page, is the page that prospects see when they type your direct URL in their browser or search for your brand name online. 

Its function is to build brand awareness and to guide prospects toward the shopping area. To achieve this goal, your homepage needs to provide links to all the areas of your store, and offer the ability to find or compare products.

Help visitors find what they want immediately by adding a call to action to some of your most popular products. Include current deals or benefits on the homepage too.

Category page

Category pages are crucial to effective, easy navigation. They should enable prospects to reach different groups of products (think of, sections or shelves function in brick -and -mortar stores). 

Products on category pages can be displayed outright, or sorted into subcategories. You can also use category pages as landing pages for your PPC and paid search campaigns. 

Offer pagination and filters if there are more products than can fit on one page. Also, enable users to sort products by different criteria such as (price, most popular products, etc), and allow prospects to add products to the cart directly from category pages.

These simple navigational aids can greatly ease every visitor that comes to your website.

Product pages

This is where your prospects find information about your products. Each product page has one job to do: provide visitors with all the information they need to buy your product with confidence that they’ve made a good choice.

Product pages can feature product photography, descriptions/copy, specifications, user reviews, and testimonials, and customization opportunities. You can also add indicators of scarcity or urgency, such as the number of items remaining in stock, or notifications such as “Order by 2PM for items to be shipped today”.

Finally, the product page is also an excellent place to present cross-sell and upsell opportunities: for example, show prospects on a mobile phone product page a selection of phone cases and accessories).

Privacy page

Every ecommerce store needs a privacy page to inform visitors that their privacy is respected, and their personally identifiable data is treated with due care. In some countries, that is mandatory.

This is important to increase trust with your prospects, assuring them that it's safe to give you their address or credit card numbers.

Terms page

To further protect both you and your customers from any misunderstanding, your store needs a “Terms of Service” page, providing visitors with information about: 

  • how your website conducts business
  • how users can cancel their accounts
  • purchases, shipping, and returns/exchanges policies

Also, to be able to use most payment gateways, you need to have a terms page!

Reviewing these elements is the first step in your conversion optimization journey. The small details toward a smoother visitor experience can make a huge difference to conversion!

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