E-commerce has been a dominant sales channel for the past decade, and will continue to grow rapidly within these few years. Hailed as the great equaliser when it first reached the primary market, e-commerce helped many start-ups to rapidly scale. This was because it allowed them to bypass intermediaries and get straight to you, the consumer.
The Great Equaliser
No longer did you need a large amount of capital to secure reliable retail and storage spaces. Gone were the days where the big boys could maintain their market position solely based on their network connections, access to market and price controls. Instead, you were free to setup a website, list your products and have them visible to the world. This lowered the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs.
A Different Type of Competition has Emerged
Ask anyone who runs an e-commerce store and they will tell you that all e-commerce stores are hardly equal. Rather, depending on the quality of the e-commerce web design, markedly different sales results emerged. Similar to the appearance, layout and systems within a retail store, how your e-commerce store functions could well make or break a sale.
Introducing our Checklist for E-commerce Web Design
A number of different factors affect the success of an e-commerce store. If you are developing an e-commerce website, then this article is for you. We have developed a simple 5 pointer checklist containing both strategic and technical factors in e-commerce website development.
The Importance of Using a CMS to Manage your Store
An e-commerce website is a complex system owing to factors such as:
- Large number of pages that it has in order to host the different products
- A purchase process that accommodates your add to cart, checkout and payment processes
- Stocktaking processes
- Dynamic product uploading and editing
Given these complexities, we strongly recommend the use of a Content Management System (CMS) as the foundation of your e-commerce store. CMS are platforms that provide you a user-friendly interface to manage your products, content and your website in general. When set up correctly, CMS offer you lasting value, giving you the ability to quickly manage your products and offers on the fly.
A great example of an e-commerce CMS is that of Woo Commerce for WordPress websites. Woo Commerce offers you all the most in demand e-commerce features such as product categorisation, stock management, fast page creation, product price & promotion setup, shipping & tax options and ready-made checkout process.
In fact, Woo Commerce is used by nearly a third of all e-commerce websites in the world. While 9 in 10 WordPress e-commerce websites are powered by Woo Commerce.
Upselling & Cross Selling
If you are used to sales lingo, then the terms or techniques known as upselling and cross selling should be no strangers to you. In essence, it involves either getting a prospective consumer to upgrade their chosen products to premium versions or to purchase other complimentary products along with it.
This increases the value of a checkout basket by each individual consumer and thus boosts your sales without needing to acquire additional consumers. Similar to traditional sales, the cost of upselling or cross selling is much lower than the cost of acquiring new customers. As such, these techniques hold plenty of promise for e-commerce stores.
In actual practice, e-commerce website designers often achieve these techniques by combining the following approaches:
- Displaying best sellers, complimentary products or products that have been bought previously by similar consumers.
- Placing the abovementioned listings on both individual product pages and the checkout page
The central idea here is to suggest products that might catch the attention of the consumer at critical junctions that leads them to rethink their purchase decision. When done right, your users will be tempted to add these products to their cart or upgrade their currently chosen products.
Length of User Journey
Have you ever had a tiring experience when attempting to make a purchase online? Did it feature you having to spend a large amount of time simply trying to find the product you are interested in before also having to take many steps to purchase it? Don’t worry, chances are that you are not alone. The truth is, many e-commerce website user journeys or funnels are poorly designed:
- Require users to click through to several different pages
- Not having an easy way to narrow down searches
- Mandate the keying in of large chunks of information
When it comes to e-commerce stores, the fewer the steps and the lesser the overall time needed for users to buy your products, the better. This has been proven in multiple market studies to reduce the chances of users quitting or fatiguing out while exploring your website.
As a rule of thumb, any product should be within 2-3 clicks from a landing page of your website. Following which, users should not have to go through more than 3-4 pages in order to successfully purchase the products. To achieve such, do ensure to create precise product categories that allow users to quickly zoom into the area in which they are interested in.
Furthermore, effort should be made to reduce the amount of information that you require your user to key in. Make sure to also install cache options so that mobile users do not need to type out their details each time they checkout.
In 2019 market studies, a couple statistics stand out. Firstly, more than half of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. Secondly, nearly 2 in 3 smartphone users use their phones to make e-commerce purchases. Additionally, it was found that 1 in 3 e-commerce shoppers used their mobile devices exclusively to shop online.
Simply put, your e-commerce store must be mobile friendly. In addition to the need to make the checkout process on mobile easy as covered before, other steps can also be taken. This includes:
- Ensuring that content is readable in terms of size and spacing
- Having a layout that conforms to the common standard expected by today’s consumers
- Optimal page speed and minimal bandwidth consumption
A final design consideration for your e-commerce website development would be ensuring that it is visible on search engines. In practice, this is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which seeks to have your website featured for search queries made by potential consumers.
While the art of SEO involves many different strategies and techniques, we will be covering one that is highly useful in e-commerce web development – canonical tags. Canonical tags are used in websites to help search engines identify the primary source for a piece of content.
On an e-commerce store, you will likely have many different variations of a single product. For instance, they may vary in terms of size or colour. As a result, duplicate content emerges on these pages in form of similar product names or descriptions.
The issue here is that when multiple web pages on your website are highly similar in terms of content, search engines may not consistently rank a single page for your targeted keyword. As such, the overall visibility of your website would be compromised.
The technique of implementing canonical tags is a simple one. You would simply need to map out the primary page for a piece of content. Thereafter, all pages within this group will require a canonical tag to be inserted into their header code. These canonical tags should be pointed towards the primary page, thus indicating to search engines which page to be primarily used for indexing.
Choose Mediaplus Digital as your Web Design Partner
Mediaplus Digital is a web design Singapore agency with more than 10 years’ experience.
Our web development team provides mobile responsive websites that are both intuitive and attractive to users. As a premier web design agency, we pride ourselves on providing sound advice to clients and effective project management.