Meanwhile, most successful e-commerce websites have a handful of common elements that make them more attractive and easier for users to navigate.
In this article, we’ll look at the six most important components of a successful e-commerce store. By the end, you’ll understand:
- What are the key elements every e-commerce store needs?
- What concrete steps can you take to improve your website?
Important Components of an E-Commerce Website
- Easy navigation
- Mobile optimization
- Customer support
- Shipping and return information
- Calls to action
E-commerce design is endlessly customizable, and you don’t need to follow any specific philosophy to create an incredible online store.
1. Easy Navigation
There’s nothing wrong with having a unique e-commerce design, but too much change can backfire by making your site less approachable. The ease of the customer experience should be one of your top priorities throughout the design process.
Amazon is the most powerful e-commerce platform in the world, and it’s an ideal example of an approachable e-commerce design. At the top of the screen is a basic search bar, plus other information and settings such as the visitor’s location, cart, and account.
Below the top menu bar is a list of categories that make it simple for users to find different areas of the site. There’s also a larger “All” menu on the left-hand side that expands the category list to cover every type of product. Finally, the rest of the screen highlights popular products and collections that visitors might be interested in.
This general framework of a menu at the top, categories underneath or on the side, and highlighted products in the middle is shared by the majority of e-commerce websites. While you can make a variety of changes within that structure, you should stick with the basic idea unless you have very good reasons to try something different.
2. Mobile Optimization
Only five or 10 years ago, mobile e-commerce sales were a distant second to orders placed on a desktop or laptop. Today, more and more purchases are being made through smartphones and tablets, making mobile engagement one of the top e-commerce trends for 2023.
If your e-commerce design doesn’t work as well on smaller screens, you’re likely losing a substantial number of potential sales. For example, text in images may be perfectly legible on a computer, but too small for users to read if they’re visiting on their phone.
Fortunately, many of the best website builders now come with the tools creators need to test and improve their mobile site designs. Make sure to visit your site on a few different mobile devices after making changes to confirm that there aren’t any negative effects on particular device types or operating systems.
If a user makes it to your checkout sequence, you’ve done almost all of the work involved in making the sale. The last thing you want is for inefficiencies or technical issues to push them away at the last moment.
A few simple issues with checkout can have a consistent impact on sales. One simple way to ensure a higher conversion rate is to make sure that users keep a persistent cart across multiple visits. If a visitor adds something to their cart, it should still be there the next time they come back to your site. Without a persistent cart, they’ll have to find the product a second time and put it back in their cart to initiate checkout.
Payment methods are another potential barrier for e-commerce shoppers. While some payment methods may be difficult for stores to accept, such as cryptocurrencies, vendors should still make an effort to take as many common payment methods as they can. Mobile customers should be able to pay through a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay to minimize friction.
Finally, vendors should always make sure that visitors can complete their purchase easily even if they don’t create an account. There’s nothing wrong with asking users to sign up or even offering a discount in exchange for contact information, but buyers who aren’t interested should still be able to buy the product they’re seeking.
4. Customer Support
Your website design should minimize uncertainty and confusion, but users may still have questions or concerns that they can’t find an answer for. In these situations, it’s important to give them easy access to help from your customer support team.
Customer support is one of the most commonly underestimated aspects of e-commerce sales, particularly for growing stores. Answering customer questions quickly helps them overcome their concerns and gain more confidence in your brand and products.
With contemporary live chat software, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with customers. AI-powered chatbots can answer simple queries and often point users in the right direction. For example, they might be able to suggest relevant support articles or connect visitors with a customer service agent who can give them more help.
5. Shipping and Return Information
On top of the products themselves, customers may also have questions about your shipping policies or rules about returns and exchanges. If you withhold this information until they get into checkout, it comes as a surprise and potentially leads to a lost sale.
E-commerce vendors should describe basic shipping policies, such as delivery times and minimum orders for free shipping. If they’re experiencing backorders or other processing delays, that information should be posted on the homepage and product pages so that visitors know what to expect.
6. Calls to Action
Getting someone to visit your e-commerce website is a great first step, but you still need to keep them interested and motivate them to make an order. Calls to action (CTAs) are critical when it comes to directing user actions and optimizing the customer experience.
One of the simplest ways to engage with website visitors is to get their contact information. Even if they don’t make a purchase during their first visit, you’ll be able to contact them later on and potentially bring them back to your site.
E-commerce brands often provide small incentives to increase their subscription rate. For example, you might display a call to action that offers visitors a 10% discount on their first order when they provide and verify their email address.
You should also make an effort to connect with your site visitors through social media. Many e-commerce website builders include templates that come with built-in social media buttons, enabling users to click through to your social media profiles from your website. Etsy, for example, has links to their Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube pages.
The more time a user spends on your site, and the more actions they take before leaving, the more likely it’s that they end up buying something. Strong CTAs are crucial for taking full advantage of each visit and making sure that users take the desired actions.
What to Do Next
Your e-commerce website is your main connection to digital audiences, so the design choices you make have a substantial effect on engagement and sales. While you should customize the site to your unique needs, it’s important to follow some basic best practices to realize your full potential. These six elements are vital for any e-commerce brand that wants to succeed in 2023.
At this point, you’re ready to build an ecommerce site that fully optimizes the customer experience. Check out these articles for more ideas:
- The Best Live Chat Software of 2023
- Best Online Payment Processing Services of 2023
- The Best Ecommerce Website Builders of 2023