E-Commerce became very popular during the last decade, and worldwide business to customer sales in 2013 amounted to more than $1,2 trillion. This amazing growth was ignited by fast technology advance and many benefits this business model brings. These benefits include: overcoming geographic limitations, much lower costs for both businesses and customers, creating targeted B2C communication and providing much more information about the product that’s being sold.
Very competitive e-commerce industry set its own standards, and in this article we tried to list some of the most important features every online store needs to have.
Good Deals, Presents, Discounts and Free Shipping
We already mentioned how competitive e-commerce business is and buyers now decide within minutes whether they like certain website or not. If they don’t like it, there’s always another place where they can find the same product at very affordable prices. Features we mentioned in the subtitle are all necessary for making online store competitive. Deals and Discounts are usually offered during special days like: Christmas, Thanksgiving and Black Friday, including some new “holidays” that spark consumer madness like Single’s Day or Cyber Monday.
Free Shipping is highly appreciated among consumers, and many people don’t buy goods from online stores that don’t offer this option. It is important for every e-commerce entrepreneur to spread customer’s network and make good deals with shipping companies.
Social Media Icons, Pages and Accounts
Experts say that more than 20% of customers reach online stores through social media links, and that’s why it is very important for online store administrators to enable their visitors to share good deals with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If website is targeting worldwide audience administrators can also add icons for social media popular in different parts of the world like: vKontakte for Ex-USSR countries and QZone and Sina Weibo for China.
E-Commerce companies should also do a lot promotion on social media themselves, with opening business pages on Facebook and Google+ and accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest through which they are going to promote their new offers, sales and discounts.
Easy Navigation and Shopping Cart Software
Visitors should always have navigation map in front of them, and this process needs to be completely transparent, because easy navigation is one of the most important criteria for e-commerce customers. Most online stores decide to add shopping cart software on their websites, which enables visitors to purchase several items and pay them “on their way out”. This software can double website sales, since visitors will often spot other items they like while browsing website offers, and buy them as well.
Detailed Photos and Lots of Product Information
One of the main benefits of e-commerce that we mentioned in the first paragraph of this text was the amount of product information online stores provide. Entrepreneurs should use this and win over customers that are fed up with brick & mortar store seller’s inability to remember all necessary details about products on the offer.
Other than long information texts, product pages should also contain detailed images of every product part, and some website administrators chose to add 360 degree photos, which are great, because on them visitors can view products from every angle and they require much less storage space in MySQL base than several high resolution images. In addition to all this, product pages on e-commerce websites should also come with links to manufacturer’s webpage, where visitors can read more product information and ask questions about production process.
High Security and Many Payment Options
High security of e-commerce websites is the number one parameter that boosts customer loyalty. This is especially important for check-out pages that need to be encrypted and protected with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) that breaks customer’s sensitive information into pieces during sending and receiving process, so it doesn’t get intercepted by cyber criminals.
Since online credit card transfers are the most risky way of paying for purchased goods, many customers don’t buy goods on websites that doesn’t offer alternative payment systems. E-Commerce website administrators also need to make sure that the alternative payment apps are easy to spot, which can be done by adding their trademarks in form of icons or buttons next to each payment system link.
Experts predict that e-commerce industry will grow even further. Predictions say that annual growth will be at least 12% per year until 2018, with China, India and Indonesia being the markets with the highest growth trends. This will encourage even more retail entrepreneurs to start selling their goods online, which will result in even more competitive market, where only the best players will be able to make substantial profit.
Author’s bio: John J. Stone is a business consultant and a regular contributor at Bizzmarkblog. Through years of experience he became a devout believer in the notion that form should always follow function and that developing the ability to think outside of the box is a prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur.