Continuously increasing numbers of shoppers are heading online to compare prices, read customer testimonials, and verify the businesses they’re purchasing from are reputable and deliver high-quality goods. Ecommerce sales have been and are projected to steadily increase, with eMarketer predicting a growth to $2.489 trillion in 2018 from $1.077 trillion in 2013. For website design for a retailer, ecommerce options are a vital component.
Increasing sales through an online platform only works when certain security, payment, and product features are in place, though. Whether a Web developer uses an ecommerce design template or designs a site from scratch, here are five essential factors to integrate into an ecommerce website.
1. Secure Payment
A hack of an ecommerce site can cost companies millions, as retailer Target found out during a 2013 data breach that exposed the debit and credit card information of 40 million customers. The retailer settled a lawsuit for $10 million, which makes this a significant example of why security is so important for brands to maintain their clients’ trust and save the business money.
During the check-out process, customers should be using a secure connection for purchasing. Secure Sockets Layer authentication encrypts data while it’s transmitted, protecting data from being stolen. The PCI Security Standards Council recommends keeping only a minimal amount of consumer data for refunds and charge-backs and not storing consumer data long term.
2. Responsive Design
If a website isn’t mobile-friendly, potential customers will purchase somewhere else. A 2012 study by Google reported 67 percent of users are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site while 61 percent of people said they’d quickly leave a site if it weren’t mobile-friendly. It’s imperative to responsively design your ecommerce website to have products that are both easily viewable and purchasable from any device, including desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet devices.
Important factors to include in responsive design are making sure the site is easy to read and easy to navigate, ensuring buttons are easily clickable, and making sure scrolling and panning function correctly. The site should load quickly on any device, and be easy to navigate on smartphones.
3. Customer Data Capture
While an ecommerce business should not hold on to sensitive financial payment data, other data gathered during the sales process can give a business clues as to where drop-offs are occurring. You need to be paying attention to form field data, which can offer insight into how businesses can better lay out their form fields both on the page and how to evolve form field content. There are also services available, including Click Tale and Crazy Egg, that can help a business track data.
Also, entice customers who don’t make a purchase the first time around to come back by prominently featuring a special offer in exchange for signing up for an email list. While a business could just have visitors input a simple email, going a step further by asking them a question or two about the types of products they like allows the business to better optimize their email marketing, including the products promoted and the deals offered.
Constantly testing and evolving a business site is crucial, and built-in analytics in Web design allow businesses to better refine their ecommerce platforms. Analytics allow a business to learn where their traffic is coming from, what keywords they’re searching for when they find the business, what pages of an ecommerce store are most popular, and where a business is losing customers within the site.
Google Analytics is a must-have. In 2014, 93 percent of worldwide online and mobile Web organic traffic came from Google. Google Analytics provides insights including real-time activity, the demographics of website visitors, where visitors came from (referrals versus direct traffic), what pages visitors head to and in what order on a website and sales funnel actions. The search engine walks developers through how to set up Google Analytics for an ecommerce site here.
5. Easy Update Capabilities
Once the ecommerce site is designed, it needs to be adaptable for customizations including:
- New featured products
- Deals and specials
- Removal of discontinued products
- Addition of new products
- Inclusion of new payment forms
The Web design should allow for simple, instant updates, so the ecommerce store always stays current and customers can be immediately notified about recalled products.
Bolster these ecommerce features by adding a space for customer testimonials. A constantly updating social media feed featuring hand-picked, positive Facebook posts, Instagram photos, or Tweets touting the benefits of a brand encourages visitors to get in on the conversation through social media.
Prominently featuring a customer support channel shows website visitors a brand is always there to help, and integrating a live chat option allows potential customers to instantly get answers to questions they have.