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5 Essential E-commerce Elements [2016 UPDATED]

In 2012 Sarah here at Navigator Multimedia published 5 Essential E-commerce Elements, and it’s consistently been one of our most read articles. Given it’s nearly 4 years old now, we figured the topic deserved revisiting. Canadians will spend more than 30 billion dollars online this year, and that number will reach nearly 45 billion dollars per year by 2018 according to estimates (eMarketer). Explore what’s stayed constant and what’s changed since our previous article.

1. Mobile Usability for E-Commerce

Usability is still the most important e-commerce element in 2016. The biggest change since 2012 has been the explosion of mobile phone usage, and that means your e-commerce site needs close sales on mobile.

Mobile users have short attention spans. Allowing users to find products, gather information, and make purchases with the fewest clicks and page loads as possible should be your top priority.

Use font sizes that are large enough to read on small screens.

Use image compression on your website. Images often slow your mobile site the most, and using tools that automatically compress your website images can help immensely.

Test your site on your own mobile device, and find any spots that might confuse or frustrate users. Then, devise a plan to fix these trouble areas.

Mis-clicks on touchscreens are super annoying, so ensure you provide adequate space between links on your site.

Aim to have your site be as fast as possible because users tend to give up quickly waiting for slow loading websites.

Sources for testing your website load times:

E-commerce websites need content that can be easily digested on a small screen. Don’t attempt to revolutionize with your design, use familiar layouts so that your website feels natural to browse on.

2. Great Mobile Content

Great mobile content for e-commerce websites means answering important questions right away. Write product descriptions that only contain as much info as necessary. People use your site to solve a problem or answer a question, so don’t make them work to get it.

Use an e-commerce system that provides the important information right away: Price, Availability, and Options (ex. Color, Size, Quantity) are examples of things that must be easy to decipher on your products pages.

The majority of your users don’t care about details like dimensions, technical specifications and shipping fine print. Return and Warranty fine print isn’t relevant unless the customer is actually attempting to make a return or warranty claim. Consider using tabs or expanding page sections for boring details. Keeping those out of sight will keep your product pages looking clean.

3. Accommodation

Our previous post advised accommodating many different buyer types, and it’s still important because most of your traffic isn’t going to make a purchase immediately.

Make your site easy to browse on any device type. Many searches occur on-the-go, using a phone, as soon as a thought pops into a persons head. For a variety of reasons they won’t make a purchase right then and there, they’ll return later on. They might return on their phone or they might use a different device like a tablet or desktop.

Make browsing your website and completing transactions equally simple across all devices to capture those sales.

4. Ecommerce Security

Users are still hesitant to enter payment details on websites they’re new to. Make it obvious that your website is legitimate and secure, with clear links to your data policies.

Consider switching your site to HTTPS. HTTPS is that green lock icon you’ll see across e-commerce websites, and it indicates a secure connection. Using HTTPS means user data won’t cross the web in a way that’s easy for malicious parties to intercept and collect.

Offer multiple ways to login to your site. Logins are a huge barrier to e-commerce sales, and providing choices such as social logins can remove that barrier.

Offer multiple payment choices for their purchases. People tend to have a preferred payment method online, and only offering one choice is likely costing you sales.

Using this advice will make your site easier to use and more trustworthy for the people browsing it. If users trust your site, they’ll be more likely to make purchases.

5. Follow Up With Your Customers

After a user completes an e-commerce purchase, list their full purchase details to confirm what they’ve spent and what they’re receiving.

Send an email copy of their purchase information. Having clear purchase confirmations on your site, in their inbox, and on their banking statements provides transparency and reinforces their purchase.

Consider using automated shipping notifications to send an email when their order is shipped for physical goods.

Finally, set an automated follow-up email to the customer, to ask for feedback on their shopping experience. Ask for a product review if your website supports reviews, and encourage them to sign up for your mailing list & engage on social channels.

Delve into each of these 5 essential e-commerce elements when building your e-commerce website and you’ll quickly see the benefits, especially from mobile device users. Make it easy for users to get what they want. Provide excellent customer service and engage with shoppers to create repeat buyers on your e-commerce website.

Contact us with any questions you may have about e-commerce!

Recommended e-commerce reading:

Google Collection: Mobile Retail Apps and Sites: Designing a Better Experience for Shoppers

40 E-Commerce Websites to Check Out – Explore these sites, especially on your phone and note what works well and what doesn’t

See Also:

5 Signs Your Business Is Ready For E-Commerce


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