Skip to main content
13 Jul 2016

10 things your ecommerce website needs to have

10 things your ecommerce website needs to have


2016 has been yet another big year for ecommerce, with more sales through mobile than ever and same day delivery becoming more common everyday. However, there is also a lot of noise out there around what works in ecommerce and what doesn’t. So today, let’s bring it back to the basics - what are the 10 things your ecommerce website needs to have in order to be successful?

1. Make it obvious what you sell

This may sound silly, but you need to make it obvious what you sell. The average bounce rate in ecommerce (meaning those who leave after reading just one webpage on a site) is 33.9%, so already you’ll typically lose a third of your traffic on arrival. Then you’ll only have a few seconds to convince the remainder to stay on your site.

It should take someone less than 5 seconds to figure out what you sell and what your unique value proposition is. Your proposition should follow this format:

We sell __________ (unique product)

that ____________ (the benefit)

for ____________ (target customer)

that want ____________  (desire/problem)

You don’t need to say that on the homepage, but you need to make sure that this is conveyed. Use imagery, copy and branding to make it obvious. People don’t have time to figure out who you are and what you sell so show them what you have to offer.

2. Add clear contact details

Would you ever want to lose a sale because a customer couldn’t figure out how to contact you? Thought not.

Our Creative Director Piers says that "You should give visitors a quick and easy way to contact you at all points through their visit to your site. This is especially important during checkout, where if they're having a problem you most definitely want to know about it."

Contact details should include your postal address, email and a contact form at the least.

We always recommend including a phone number too. Adding a phone number is not only a great way to find out if you have problems, it also increases trust because customers know they can get hold of you if they need to. You may worry that every idiot in the world will begin ringing you if you do this, but it won’t be as bad as you think and you’ll find that conversions go up as customers feel more comfortable shopping on your site.

3. Add trust logos

Trust logos include:

  • Your payment gateway’s logo.
  • Visa, Mastercard and Amex logos, based on what you accept.
  • Site security seals from Norton, Trustwave or similar. These badges authenticate your site when clicked and show the user they have a secure connection.
  • Badges from review services like Yotpo and Trustpilot. These typically display a trust ‘score’ or review count too

Adding trust logos will help convince customers that you are reputable and that payment is taken securely. It’s amazing what a difference it makes just showing this information.

For new or less well known brands, showing this type of information helps to seal the deal for first time visitors who are unsure whether to trust you.

4. Add more social proof

When people go on about how much they love something, chances are you’re more open to trying it. We are constantly influenced by those around us and it doesn’t stop online.

Examples of social proof are:

  • Customer praise/testimonials - showing positive feedback you’ve got from customers in your footer or on relevant product pages.
  • Customer reviews - collect these automatically using Yotpo or similar and display reviews on your product pages. Make sure the star rating is prominent
  • Press - rather than show full page images of any features, just show the press logos for the publications that you’ve appeared in above the footer.

Showing one or more of these prominently on your website to help gain the trust of others.

5. Add Bestseller, New In and Sale menu items

Your main menu navigation should be dedicated to selling. Move other links such as Blog and Contact in to the footer. Customers that want these will look for them. The priority of your website and therefore your main menu is to allow people to browse your full product catalogue.

As well as your main product categories, we recommend having:

  • Bestsellers - this is handy for new customers, showing them the most popular products you sell increases the chances of showing them something they want to buy.
  • New in - this is useful for existing customers that want to see what’s new.
  • Sale - there’s always bargain hunters out there that will click this first. If you want to make this sounder classier you can call it ‘Clearance’ or ‘Outlet’.

Use dropdown menus where necessary to list out sub-categories and make sure that you have sensible starting points for your menu items. For example, if you sell furniture or items for the home:

  • Shop by room
  • Shop by style
  • Shop by price
  • Shop by category

You should also include a ‘Gift’ menu option if what you sell can be bought as a gift. The sub-menu items for ‘Gift’ should be price ranges, since that’s where most people start when buying gifts. Other good example of gift subcategories are ‘New home’, ‘Birthdays’ and ‘Can’t go wrong’.

6. Ask for an email address with a pop up

Pop-up windows can be annoying but the secret is to have a valuable Call To Action (CTA). You are asking for something valuable, an email address. This is a direct route to someone’s attention. So you should give something in return such as 10% off the next order or free shipping.

The return on an email address is huge, The Direct Marketing Association has calculated it as high as 4000%. So using a special offer to get that email can be well worth it.

You can editorial content, product launches and special offers to your list. Over time you build familiarity and trust and when people want to buy what you sell, they’ll think of you.

Pop ups have become more advanced in 2016 and the ‘exit intent’ pop up is becoming popular. This is when the pop up doesn’t appear straight away but only when a visitor looks to be leaving the site. This way, the pop up isn’t displayed right away, before they’ve even seen the page they’ve requested. So an exit intent type pop up will reduce your bounce rate, but still allow you to constantly capture new email addresses.

7. Differentiate yourself

In the world of ecommerce, it is good to be different. There are an insane number of ecommerce businesses now. So how do you differentiate yourself?

Get back to basics. Whether you’re the Amazon of the ecommerce world or you’re just starting out, you must always follow the brand’s principles to help define your positioning. 

You need to realise your selling. It’s more than just the product.  “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want to buy a quarter-inch hole” as Theodore Levitt said.

There is a benefit, concept, or idea behind what you sell. Conveying this with your photography and copy will make you stand out.

8. Offer free shipping in some form

Today more than 74% of shopping carts are abandoned, with 56% ditched because of unexpected cost the customer hadn't anticipated. [J - need reference for this]

Free shipping is becoming the norm as large retailers like ASOS and Amazon have been offering it for a while.

If you do charge for shipping, this should always be shown as early as possible, for example in the website header and/or on product pages, so that it’s not a surprise at checkout. Free shipping solves the technical problem of having to calculate shipping costs before the customer reaches the checkout.

If you don’t have enough margin to offer universal free shipping, add in a threshold, such as “Free shipping over £50”.

This will increase your “Average Order Volume” as most people will add one more item if they are close the the threshold. Great!

9. Set up automatic cart recovery emails

According to the Baymard Institute, 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned. So for every 100 customers, 67 of them will bail before giving you their hard earned cash.

Cart recovery emails are automatically sent to customers that have started checkout but not finished. This is a common feature of most ecommerce platforms now and each will let you choose how long to wait before sending the cart recovery email. We recommend around 30 minutes.

It is astonishing how effective cart recovery emails can be. SalesCycle states nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened, and over third of those actually lead back to complete purchases. The reason behind this is that often people simply get distracted and forget what they’re doing, so a gentle reminder later on very often closes the sale.

10. Show all upfront costs as early as possible and delivery dates

You need to provide all the information a visitor would need to buy from you as early as possible. The product page is the place to do this. Make sure you don’t miss basic information like:

  • If there are shipping fees, what are they.
  • What is your returns policy.
  • When will the item arrive. If you can’t show this, instead show how soon items are dispatched e.g. ‘Items dispatched next day’

Wrapping up

The price, proposition, product specification and estimated delivery date are the main things people want to know when buying from you. Use the product page to provide this information but also make sure that any selling points, like “Free Shipping on all Orders”, are displayed throughout your site. This means that customers will understand what you offer no matter which page they land on first.

Once you’ve nailed these basics on your ecommerce store, you’re sure to see an increase in your conversion rate. If you already had all ten - well done, next step, world domination!