Nowadays, if you’re selling anything—whether that’s shoes, food, furniture, or something in between—you need to jump on the eCommerce website train.
In 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $4.28 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $5.4 trillion US dollars in 2022.
In 2020, e-retail sales accounted for 18 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 21.8 percent in 2024.
An eCommerce site offers you the chance to build your brand, connect with more customers, and sell more products—but only if you’ve got the right website design. When people shop online, often their only experience with your brand is your website. The modern consumer expects a seamless customer journey — an effortless path that leads them from landing on the website to the completion of their purchase. Anything that hinders the ideal shopping experience has the potential to drive customers to your competitors.
Today’s eCommerce website conversion rates (visitor to a customer) are lower than most people realize. In fact, the industry average is currently just under the 5% mark. Given this reality, you should seize every opportunity to optimize your digital strategy, engage shoppers, and ensure their ability to complete purchases quickly and easily.
Website design and layout is critical in the success of an eCommerce website. For the best eCommerce website design, there are many factors to consider, including the website design and layout, product quality, product images and description, website content, brand recognition, shipping rates, return and exchange policy, security, trustworthiness and customer service.
Your eCommerce website design should attract potential customers, provide great user experience and present your shop in the best light. So, not only does your site have to look amazing, but it also needs to drive your website visitors to take action, that is … buy your products. But how, exactly, do you do that? How do you design the kind of eCommerce website that will have products flying off your virtual shelves?
Here is a complete guide with 21 eCommerce web design tips to help you take your eCommerce store to the next level:
1. Security and Trustworthiness
One of the most important factors for every customer is security and privacy; especially when they are providing their credit card information, along with personal details.
There are many ways to communicate trustworthiness.
Provide the following information:
- Photographs of people behind the business
- Contact information
- Links to social media
- Shipping policy
- Return & Exchange policy
- Product reviews
- Trust seals
Having your physical address (of main office, warehouse, or store) and phone number for contacts mentioned on the website automatically adds to your credibility. Consider adding a WhatsApp number, Facebook Messenger chat or other live chat options for the millennials, who prefer typing over talking.
Another important aspect of security is Secure server: Every website, irrespective of being eCommerce or not, should be hosted on a secure server and all data must be encrypted with SSL (secure sockets layer). eCommerce platforms like Shopify provide SSL by default, but if you are building a custom eCommerce website on Woocommerce or other programming language, then you would have to purchase and install an SSL certificate.
Also, add Trust seals to show your customers how secure the website is. These are badges that can be displayed in the footer, so that they appear on every page.
Also, proof read all content not once or twice, but multiple times. If the website has typos, missing images, broken links or page not found (404 error), then it will not look very professional and customers would think twice, before doing any transaction on it.
2. Customer reviews and testimonials
Another important way to build trust is social proof. Shoppers trust opinion of other shoppers, who have purchased and used the product. When you’re designing your ecommerce site, look for ways to show your potential customers the positive feedback you’ve gotten from your existing customers. Add a ratings section where people can rate your products (and then get as many 5 star reviews as you can). Add a testimonials section where you feature customer photos with a quote or two about what a great experience they had working with you. Ask customers to review your products—and what they like about them—and then add them to your blog.
The more your website visitors see that other people have had a positive experience shopping on your eCommerce website, the more trustworthy your site will appear, and the more likely they will proceed with the purchase.
Have the option for visitors to submit reviews on the product page, so you can publish it for that specific product.
After a customer has received the product, send them a follow-up email asking them about their experience and to review the item. Just make sure you give them enough time to use it before you ask for their feedback.
I understand that this can be scary for some of you. Not everyone will be happy with your products, and the idea of negative comments being publically displayed can be frightening to some brands. But that’s OK. Don’t let a few bad reviews discourage you. Look on the bright side of it. This will show shoppers the reviews and testimonials on your site are legitimate and trustworthy. A couple of negative remarks can make your positive reviews appear that much more powerful. Also, it will be valuable feedback from your customers to improve your product and/or service.
3. Brand Identity
Brand is your unique business identity that people recognize and remember. That’s why your brand should be reflected throughout the website. The color scheme, font, and layout reflects your business identity and tells visitor the type of products and services you offer. Also, brand should be consistent throughout all channels; whether it is website, social media, physical store, or anywhere else.
4. Seamless Navigation
Visitors on your eCommerce website should be easily be able to browse through different pages, find what they are looking for with least no. of clicks, add products to their shopping cart and checkout.
If they have to jump through many hoops to find the right product, then they will get frustrated and leave. Even if they purchase it once, they would be reluctant to come back for another purchase.
5. Product Categories
To organize your products and make it easier for customers to browse through it and find relevant item quickly, divide your products into categories and sub-categories. The category names should be common words that can easily describe what kind of products are in that category.
The easier you make your categories and pages to navigate, the easier it will be for your customers to find what they are looking for and make a purchase.
6. Product Search
Product Search is a powerful tool that helps customers find the relevant product quickly without browsing through different web pages and product categories. It is such a useful and handy tool to find the right product among thousands of products that it should be present on the top of every page. Standard position to implement the product search bar is on the top right or top center of the pages, or on the main menu.
The box should be visible, quickly recognizable, and easy to use. That means it should support all kinds of queries, such as product names, categories, and product attributes, like color or size.
What is gaining in popularity these days is the auto-complete functionality in search box. Auto-complete functionality makes it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for and increases sales potential by suggesting products, while they are typing.
7. Product Filters
Product filter is another very useful tool to narrow down the search to find the right product among hundreds or thousands of products. For e.g., if I am looking for a grey tile of 0.5mm thickness, with Matte finish and in 2×2 size, I can apply filter on color, thickness, finish, and size to find the right one quickly.
8. Product Sorting
Once the products are searched or filtered, you can allow shoppers to sort search results based on various criteria (best sellers, highest or lowest price, product rating, newest item, featured, etc.
9. eCommerce Product Page Design
Design a product page that creates an experience like they are physically present in the store and checking out the product, by including lots of images, detailed descriptions and any other useful and related information about the product. Let me explain further on what that means.
With eCommerce shopping, buyers can’t touch, feel, or try out the product. Instead, everything depends on what they see online. This is why providing good quality product images and videos that clearly exhibit all aspects of the product is critical.
High-resolution images, video reviews, and comprehensive product details make a significant impact on the conversion of a window shopper to an actual buyer.
The downside of online shopping is that customers can’t see or feel the product or, try it on, so the only information they can use to make a decision is product descriptions. Adding individual measurements and fabric care details to clothes, explain different purpose for electrical/electronic instruments, and energy consumption for appliances will all help convince customers to buy your product.
10. Related and Recommended Products
When a visitor is on your website looking at different products and putting them in shopping cart, that is a great opportunity for cross-selling. Display products that are similar to what shopper is currently looking at, or something that will go well with it, like an accessory. This can be displayed on a product detail page or in the shopping cart and will help guide shoppers to the products that meet their needs, potentially encouraging them to continue shopping and adding more products their shopping cart before checkout.
11. Shopping Cart Design
The shopping cart is an essential step of the checkout process, as it allows shoppers to review their selected products, make the final decision, add/subtract the quantity of the selected products, and proceed to checkout. The primary goal of the shopping cart is to lead shoppers to checkout.
12. eCommerce Checkout
A stylish and trendy eCommerce website design does not determine a successful eCommerce website. What really matters is the no. of sales. Not everyone who comes to your website and fills an online shopping cart is going to end up completing their transaction. Shoppers who make it to checkout are nearly at the finish line. Make their last few steps easy and straightforward, and they’ll be much more likely to see it through.
Here are a few ways to build a well-designed checkout page, which will contribute to a successful conversion:
- Offer various payment options. Different shoppers have different preferences when it comes to making payments. Cater to as many payment options as possible to expand the customer base and to make it easy for shoppers to complete their order.
Offering all possible payment options might be too complex when you are just starting an eCommerce business, but offering limited payment options will cost you sales of those shoppers who want to use another payment option. Although unexpected shipping costs (55%) and a lengthy checkout process (26%) are key reasons for buyers abandoning their shopping carts, according to the 2019 Payment Methods Report, 6% of them would abandon the online sales due to not having enough payment options.
Shopify provides integration with more than 50 payment providers. According to Hostgator, the most popular payment methods are PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, American Express, Stripe, Square, Visa, Mastercard, and 2Checkout. New type of currency, known as Cryptocurrency is gaining popularity very quickly. You can also offer manual payment methods like bank transfer or cheque, but that would require additional administration overhead to keep track of these payments and process the order only once the payment has been received, adding unnecessary fulfillment delays.
- Keep it simple. Minimize the number of fields and steps to complete the purchase. Using shipping address as billing address by default is a good way to minimize the number of fields. Ideally, there should be a single page checkout where shoppers can view their cart summary and enter delivery and payment information.
- Make registration optional during checkout. Forcing shoppers to create an account prior to their first purchase will drive the shoppers away. Give them an option to register during the checkout or after the purchase is complete, but have the guest checkout option available at all times. Encourage them to create a profile by highlighting the benefits of registration. Benefits include faster checkout thanks to personal information like saved shipping address or payment information and access to exclusive offers that are only available to registered members.
- Use clear error indications. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out why can’t I proceed with the purchase? Make error notifications come up in real time, instead of showing it once the form has been submitted. Place clear and concise error messages directly above, or next to the item that requires correction, so shoppers will notice and understand them. Also, make sure that error message is in plain, simple language without any technical jargon. This is not the time or place to show off your technical knowledge. Make errors easy to fix, without forcing customers to restart the purchase or payment process.
- Keep people on track. When using a multi-page checkout, include a progress bar that shows how many more steps are left to complete the purchase. This will eliminate any ambiguity, and assure shoppers they are on the right track. When the purchase is complete, display an order confirmation and order status with shipment tracking.
- Offer customer service. Include a live chat or contact number throughout the checkout process, so when shoppers have questions, they can quickly get answers rather than having to leave the site and go elsewhere.
13. Shipping rates
As mentioned earlier, unexpected shipping costs is the no. 1 reason for cart abandonment; 55% of customers abandoning their shopping carts. It could be because they didn’t know the rates or expected a lower sum, or extra charges.
Online shopping is a matter of convenience and if you don’t have free delivery, there should be detailed information about shipment options and rates in the menu with a link on every product page. Some businesses include the shipping cost in the price and offer free shipping on all products with a minimum purchase. You can also run a limited time offer of FREE SHIPPING to increase sales.
14. Mobile functionality
More than 60% of total online traffic is through a mobile device. More than 50% of online transactions are carried out through a mobile device; either through a mobile app or mobile-responsive eCommerce website. Walmart Canada managed to increase their website conversions by 20% after releasing a more responsive website design. They also reported a staggering 98% increase in mobile orders.
If you’re like me, you notice when you’re visiting a speedy website. Everything feels different. Pages take no more than a second or two to load, and information is delivered to you sooner. The site just feels better when you navigate it. Apparently, it does more than just deliver a warm tingly feeling; it also increases sales for businesses. Amazon noticed that just a delay of 100ms cost them 1% in sales. They also did a study, which showed that they would lose $1.6 Billion in sales per year, if their website slowed down by just 1 second.
So if you buy a budget web hosting plan, it’ll cost you in the long run. Even worse than a slow loading time is website crashes, glitches, or error reports. That’s why you’re better off spending the money on a premium web hosting plan now as opposed to dealing with these headaches later. Trust me, it’s worth the investment.
16. Post-launch activities
The hard work doesn’t stop once you have an eCommerce website that you’re happy with. Both before and after launch, your ecommerce web developers should constantly monitor and update the site to keep things running smoothly. Some of the tasks to keep in mind are:
- Perform a regular audit and analysis of your competitors. Review the website, social media, customer experience and user journey, pricing, and market positions regularly to stay up to date with the market.
- Perform a regular audit of your own site. For example, don’t forget the importance of SEO audits and functionality reviews. For example, just a one-second delay in page load time can decrease your conversion rate by up to 7%. Make sure that everything is working smoothly and that any problems with functionality are corrected as soon as possible.
- Perform a regular audit to monitor checkout flow and identify the most common places on the site where users stop shopping, bounce from the site, or abandon their carts. There are a lot of tools and programs that can help you track these vital behaviors. You can use these insights to make website updates in order to improve the conversion rate.
17. Think like your customer
If you want your ecommerce website design to connect with your audience, you need to think like your audience. Ultimately, there are just a few things your potential customers want in an ecommerce experience—a site that’s easy to navigate, well-designed, and makes the process of shopping easy, straightforward, and hassle-free.
And if you want your ecommerce shop to succeed, you have to give them those things.
During the design process, put yourself in your visitor’s shoes. What kind of layout is going to be easiest for them to navigate? How can you organize your products in a way that makes sense for the end user? How can you simplify the checkout process?
When you think like your customer, you can anticipate what they want from your ecommerce store—and then design your site in order to meet those needs.
18. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Not everyone who wants what you’re selling will navigate straight to your website. In fact, research shows that 46% of consumers start the buying process through a search engine, such as Google.
Also, when people are shopping online, they look for options and compare prices before choosing a company to engage with. If you want your eCommerce business to be successful, then your website should attract traffic from different search engines such as Google.
There are different aspects of SEO, such as offline SEO, online SEO, linkbuilding, etc that all work together to improve your search engine ranking. The effects of SEO are long-lasting and this makes it a great investment for your business. It delivers targeted, measurable and cost-effective results on a long-term basis, as long as you keep your focus on SEO. Just like you, your competitors are also optimizing their website to be on top of ranking. If your ecommerce site isn’t one of the top results, they’ll buy from one of your competitors instead. That’s why it’s so important for you to focus your efforts on search engine optimization.
19. Custom promo codes
Promo code is a sales tactic to offer promotional offers for a limited time period, on either all products or selected products. These promotional discounts can be of specific dollar value, percentage OFF, Free Shipping, Buy-One-Get-One-Free. Also, promo codes can be for single-use or for multiple-use. Single-use promo codes are not shareable and expire once used. You can promote a multi-use promo code on the announcement bar on top of the website, mention it in your email campaigns, or any Digital Marketing campaigns including Social Media to target as many customers as possible.
20. Shopping cart abandonment emails
Once a user sets up their profile, you can track their shopping activities on your store, including the items they placed in their shopping cart, but didn’t complete the transaction. That means they were interested in the product, but didn’t go through all the way. Sending an email reminding about the items in cart can be just enough to close the sale. You can also add a promotional discount offer or some other incentive to sweeten the deal. Bottom line is that don’t let go of that customer.
21. Email subscription list
Building an ecommerce email list and sending them discount offers / promos, new product offers, useful tips is one of your best options to keep them engaged and have them come back again and again for repeat purchase. The objective is to stay on top of their mind, so that they don’t forget about you.
A great way to add subscribers is to collect email addresses during the checkout process. If they are just visiting your store and not going through the checkout, you can have a pop-up offering a discount or some sweet offer in exchange for their email address.
There you have it; the most comprehensive guide to build the best eCommerce website. Even if you are able to implement some of the strategies explained here, you will see significant improvement in the overall traffic and sales of your store.
Developing an eCommerce website is not a one-time activity. It is a journey in which you keep improving your store by implementing new ideas and features, testing different ideas and measuring results to see what works and what doesn’t and gradually taking your store to the new heights. Once you look back on your journey, you will feel proud on your achievements.
If you need help on this journey, you can always reach out to our team for a free consultation, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (437)223-1771.
Wish you all the best! Good Luck.