Breaking It Down: Five Essential Elements Every Ecommerce Site Needs

Every ecommerce website needs certain key elements in order to succeed. Here is more information from the experts at Infomedia.

Man working on a computer with a coffee mug next to his hand

So, you have products to sell and want an ecommerce website. Good idea — ecommerce websites are extremely popular today and are a way you can offer excellent products to your target audience. But not all ecommerce websites are created equal. You need an ecommerce website that has the essential pieces that work together to create a welcoming and effective shopping environment.

As we’ve shared previously, making an ecommerce website work is easy once you know how to assemble the pieces. Here is a helpful guide to get you started.

1. Use an Attractive Layout

What makes for an attractive layout? While it is subjective, there are some tried-and-true design elements you can use. People respond to clean, sharp layouts, with a minimal use of color except for accents. A crisp, white backdrop is the most popular because it helps your products pop and stand out.

People these days love simplicity. Highlight your products with concise product descriptions and avoid overwhelming them with colors, objects and text. The product is the star, not the website.

2. Showcase Superb Photography

No ecommerce website is complete without exceptional photography.

You want to use large, vivid hero images, or pictures that showcase a product or call-to-action. These will often be the first things your visitors notice about your website. A featured product is a great selection for a hero photo, accompanied by a call-to-action to learn more or order the product.

If you can include photos of your product from different angles, go for it. Also, try to include user-generated images – images you solicit from others from social media and email. The best ones are photos of people using the product.

Product photos should be consistent in size and large enough to enlarge (we recommend about 600 to 800 pixels square). Software can automatically make the photo you use smaller for a thumbnail image, but software cannot make the photo you use larger without dramatically sacrificing quality.

3. Make Sure Your Site Uses Responsive Design

As we’ve counseled our clients time and time again, responsive design is a must since we are seeing that 30-50% of traffic is coming to website via smartphones. Responsive design helps your website look its best no matter what format it is viewed in — from a widescreen monitor to a small smartphone. You want people to get the essential information they need in an attractive and easy-to-navigate form.

Making an ecommerce website responsive is even more important than a website that doesn’t sell products, because you need your products to be front-and-center no matter which devices your customers are using.

4.  Excellent Customer Service and Same-Day Shipping

People who shop online are expecting excellent customer service, so you need to be ready to handle any orders you get the same day you receive them. Think of how you feel when you walk into a store, pick out what you want, walk up to pay, and there is no one to take your payment. This is the same with an ecommerce site: People expect you to be there servicing the website. You can get the orders sent to your cellphone and make it text you if you want to take orders from the beach, but you have to be responsive with customer service and try and ship out every order the same day you receive it.

5.  Go after Lifetime Value, and Keep Your Customers Coming Back

A good ecommerce website also pursues the full lifetime value of a customer. That means you want to give your customers every opportunity to continue to do business with you after they make an initial purchase.

We recommend you give them some little gift every time they make a purchase. You can also use follow-up emails to keep in touch and offer new products or products that go with what they have already purchased. Offer special discounts just for them. Send them a blog post or a cool Instagram picture. Do something to capitalize on the fact that they purchased your product and chose you.

Related to this concept is the abandoned cart email. An abandoned cart is when people put items into a cart but change their mind and don’t check out. You can send an email to these people reminding them of their shopping and asking if they want to complete their check out or browse for more items. Setting up this feature and other features can involve a bit of work, but is worth it if you can recapture a sale and retain a potential customer.

You will be collecting customer information from your visitors as they make purchases. You can also collect email addresses by offering special discounts or introductions to new products if they will leave their email addresses. Let them know you will not be using their email address for anything but what you promise them. You can then set up an email campaign to send those who sign up special discounts, new product announcements, etc.

Combining all of these elements together can forge a powerful ecommerce website. The next step is to put together a strong marketing platform to drive traffic to the website and boost sales. But a solid platform for business comes first.


About John

John’s need for speed goes way back — he raced go-karts as a kid, and now he gets around in a souped-up Mini Cooper — so it’s no wonder he’s known for putting clients on the fast track. Since seeing the potential of Internet development way back in 1995, he’s shaped Infomedia into a company that translates the potential of tech into real-life web applications that make companies and organizations efficient and profitable. He loves fast cars, movies and good food, but his favorite thing is spending time with Wanda, his wife of almost 50 years, and their three kids (Michael, Jen and Jason) and nine grandkids.

See more articles from John Lovoy

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