Let's be honest, shopping online is one of the great innovations of the 21st century. The ability to order anything and everything from the comfort of your own couch is nothing short of a miracle, and the stats show the trend for online sales is still growing. Shopify's first State of Commerce report showed that online stores currently represent over 80% of sales, which means there are plenty of opportunities for ecommerce businesses to make a killing.
Thanks to the report, we now know more than ever about how online shoppers are interacting with ecommerce websites. While all that information is helpful for improving sales, there's one important aspect of running an ecommerce business that can't be overlooked: building an online store that's so well designed your customers will want to return to it for follow-up purchases.
Online commerce is a competitive space, and loyal customers can make all the difference to the success of your business. Design an online store that gives them a headache, and customers won't return. Fortunately, we have a few tips to help you create the perfect online store to keep your shoppers coming back for more.
Loyal Customers – the True Value of a Good Online Store
The ecommerce business is truly booming, and it's never been easier to create an online store for yourself. However, online shopping is no longer exclusively about attracting new customers. Shopify's State of Commerce report showed that repeat customers are where the real money can be made.
According to the data, nearly 62 million online shoppers had purchased products from the same store in the last 12 months. Additionally, 73% of North American respondents agreed that “once they find a product or brand they like, they stick with it.”
This points to a huge opportunity for businesses to cash in on customer loyalty, and the online store is the perfect place to attract this repeat buyers.
With shopping holidays like Black Friday and Prime Day becoming more popular by the minute, the opportunity for businesses to get a piece of the ecommerce pie is growing larger everyday. And with a great online store, you'll be sure to take advantage over and over again.
How to Build an Online Store that Customers Will Love
Having a well-designed online store should be your most pressing concern. First impressions matter, and a customer may decide in seconds if yours is the sort of store they will spend any further time on, let alone purchase through.
Remember above all, the design of your store is more than merely “decorative.” It should be carefully set up to drive sales and move customers through an effortless experience.
Yes, the looks matter (including on mobile). But it's just as essential to design an experience that ensures the shopping cart and checkout process works smoothly. Plus, you'll want to have features to communicate order status updates openly – while protecting customer data every step of the way.
Mobile Optimization Matters
In 2017, purchases made on mobile devices represented 34.5% of the market share of ecommerce sales, which might not seem like a lot. However, the same trend is expected to rise to 53.9% by 2021, which means that mobile shoppers will represent the lion's share of ecommerce buyers. Plus, according to Shopify's report, some countries, like Brazil, already spend more on their smartphones than they do on desktops or tablets, so you really need to have an online store that's mobile optimized.
With more than two-thirds of the global population using mobile phones, your online store needs to be optimized to caters to these users. That means legible text in mobile view; a simple site navigation that works on small screens; and a tap to add to cart or head to checkout approach that's simple enough to do even from a smartphone.
As the number of mobile purchasers is only going to go up, so you might as well invest in a good looking mobile site before it's too late. Be warned also – get it wrong on mobile optimization, and Google will penalize you in the all-important search result rankings.
Focus on Security Features
Considering the growing trend of privacy breaches and compromised personal data, it's no wonder one in five online shoppers aren't pressing the “buy” button because they're worried about security – and rightfully so.
Ecommerce businesses are one of the most targeted industries, with half of them getting hit with hacks in 2017 alone.
To combat these concerns, you need to make security on your online shop a priority, which can come in many forms. You could take advantage of two-factor authentication, which would put a bit more strain on your customers, but would assure them that they're safe.
Create a User-Friendly Online Store
Mobile optimization and security features are concrete, necessary features that will make your online store tolerable, but to really make an impact, you have to keep the user in mind.
A user-friendly online store will not only allow a new user to make a purchase with ease, but will also entice them to come back with seamless features, stylish design, and an overall sense of functionality.
So how do you create a user-friendly online store? It's all in the details. You need high quality images and videos for your products, you need easy-to-find user-generated reviews on each item, you need wishlists, special offers, advanced payment options, detailed shipping information, and a wide range of other ecommerce features that make shopping online as easy as it is fun. Let's look at each of these in a little more detail:
High Quality Images and Video
Whether it's on Amazon or Instagram, the value of a high quality image or video is invaluable when it comes to garnering the attention of online users. Your ecommerce store should be no different, particularly when you consider exactly how valuable some users believe high quality images to be.
According to data from Shopify, more than half of online shoppers believe that product images are more important than even product descriptions when it comes time to buy.
Online shoppers need to see the image before they buy it, and if your online store is full of blurry images and poor quality video, you're not going to make the sale.
Take a look at Squarespace's ecommerce platform
User Generated Reviews
How often have you checked with friends or family for their opinions before making a big purchase? Online stores rarely allow for that kind of personal connection. Fortunately, with user generated reviews, customers can be reassured by others who have purchased the product. And the stats back that theory up, big time.
According to Pew, 82% of online shoppers say they consult user ratings and reviews when buying something online for the first time. Additionally, 46% state that customer reviews help “a lot” to make consumers feel confident about their purchases.
Without user-generated reviews on your online store, you're leaving out one of the largest potential purchase drivers. The good news is that ecommerce website builders have apps and widgets you can easily install, letting you add a third-party user review plugin (such as for Trustpilot or Amazon). You can even install simple plugins that let your customers add their own unique reviews on your site, too.
Wishlists and Special Offers
Everyone likes saving money, which is why special offers are such a vital part of a well-run ecommerce store. Need convincing? One stat has found that free shipping offers will typically increase the revenue per catalog (RPC) by 20 percent. So, make sure you have some kind of deal to boost sales.
Remember, if you want to email previous customers about new deals, it's essential they've opted in to be recontacted for such marketing.
Additionally, while 50% of shoppers use their device to browse products, only 20% end up pressing the “buy” button. With a wishlist, users can still browse on their smartphones, while saving the products they want to buy on desktop. Otherwise, those desired products are lost in the wind.
Advanced Payment and Shipping Options
The world of mobile purchases has changed dramatically in the past few years. For one, mobile Visa sales have grown 53% faster than sales made on desktops or laptops. That's in part due to secure mobile payment options such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
If you haven't enabled these modern means of payment on your store, you could be missing out on the fastest growing sector of ecommerce sales.
When two-day shipping is available on nearly every Amazon product, advanced shipping options are important, too. Whether it's clear tracking updates or guaranteed next-day features, you need to make this a priority when it comes to building your online store.
Next Steps for Creating an Online Store
You may be looking at the list of must-have features above and feeling daunted by the prospect of getting started making your online store (or overhauling the one you already have). Don't lose heart – it really has never been easier to create an online store for yourself.
There are various ways you can go about this, and the one we'd recommend most is by using a website builder. These are sophisticated tools that are remarkably simple to use, thanks to their professional-looking templates and brilliant feature sets that can give you everything from a store inventory system for your back-end, to product-filters that let customers find what they're after, fast. You can genuinely create a functioning website in under an hour with these templates.
You're then free to customize the page templates to your liking, adding your own logos, company images and unique flair. The best ecommerce website builder we've tested is Shopify, which has outstanding templates and an amazing feature set that's perfect for large online stores. If you're a smaller, more boutique business starting out, then we'd recommend choosing Wix for Ecommerce. It's a brilliant (and affordable) website builder that can help you scale up your business as it grows.
Unsure about taking on the work of creating an online store yourself? Don't rule out getting a website designer to do the job for you. Although the costs can be higher than doing it yourself, it can take the hassle out and let you focus on your core business concerns, instead. See our guide to the Best Web Design Services to help you get started.
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