Top 8 Essential Features of eCommerce Stores to Succeed (Part 1)

Posted by CiCi Nguyen on

Top 8 Essential Features of eCommerce Stores to Succeed (Part 1)

There are a number of features that offer flexibility, make your business easier, enhance the customer experience, promote branding and better commercialize your products. Sometimes, the most evident ones are missed as you develop an eCommerce website. Many eCommerce businesses are using different platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce for their sites. However, no matter which one you choose, certainly unique and intuitive features should be included in your store to boost conversion rates.

Airtight Security

eCommerce security is fundamental to any businesses that want to thrive in this industry.  eCommerce stores are the main target of cyber-criminals - they experienced 32.4% of all successful cyber attacks - and 60% of small shops cannot survive more than 6 months. Sometimes, the real cause lies in the eCommerce platform that merchants are using or the integrated third-party apps. Hence, store owners should seriously deploy security protocols to protect customers and ensure businesses are free from attacks.

ecommerce features cyber security

Whilst running an online store, you might experience plenty of security risks. Here are some common issues that you need to know. 

  1. Lack of trust in privacy like theft of customers’ data, damage to networks of computers, or malicious changes to websites
  2. Malware, virus and online frauds, for example, erasing data, hijacking the system, blocking data access, or sending consumers spiteful links 
  3. Uncertainty and complexity in online transactions can make buyers fall into the hands of fraudsters easily

To cover your business 24/7, there are simple but effective cybersecurity measures that you can apply. 

  1. Use multi-layer security. Two-factor authentication is a good idea as it will require a verification code sent to a personal email or SMS, rather than just a username and passcode to access the customers’ accounts.  
  2. Get Secure Server Layer (SSL) certificates. The function of SSL certificates is to encrypt sensitive data across the Internet so the information only reaches the intended individual. Besides, showing security certificates and badges is popular as using them at the checkout step is useful in increasing the conversion rate.  
  3. Use rock-solid firewalls to bar suspicious networks and control the flow of your website traffic. 
  4. Install anti-malware software that helps you detect and block malevolent ones. Effective software can render all hidden software in your store.
  5. Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirements, especially if your online shop deals with credit card transactions. 

Mobile Compatibility

ecommerce features mobile compatibility

Optimization for mobile devices is a ubiquitous part of the digital experience. More than half of Internet activities are done on mobiles these days. According to Hubspot, 61% of respondents agree that a good mobile experience improves the opinion of the brand. So what will happen if you do not have a mobile-friendly site?  

  1. All stores that are not well optimized for mobile will suffer a drop in overall traffic, search ranking, lead generation, and conversion rate as well. 
  2. Stores will also experience a high bounce rate, which means customers just visit a page of your site and leave.
  3. Poor UX design like slow loading, unnecessary complexity, or lack of engagement certainly ruins the chance to increase sales.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here is some practical advice for you to set up a nice, clean and beautifully responsive store. 

  1. Implement a responsive web design. A responsive one helps you ensure that your web pages are displayed with proper dimensions, across various devices including tablets, laptops, smartphones and PCs.
  2. Build an adaptive website structure. It works to detect the screen size and load the appropriate layout. Plus, the adaptive structure allows you to take control of the design and develop for multiple viewpoints. Larger businesses and enterprises should not ignore this practical advice.   
  3. Structure content blocks. Due to a small space, don’t try to showcase everything on the website in that little area. Be particular about what you want to show potential customers.
  4. Consider where to place Call-to-Actions (CTAs). Apart from invoking a sense of urgency, think about the best positions to place CTA buttons that are visible to shoppers. Are they easy to reach and tap with a thumb? Keep testing to have proper functioning CTAs.

Analytics and Reports

In the eCommerce industry, consumers are armed with the ability to compare prices, reliable reviews from peers, and the right to vote with their wallets. To grow your business, you need to make data-driven decisions to give them the best shopping experience - and that’s when analytics comes in.

eCommerce analytics refers to the process of gathering data from areas yielding an impact on your e-store. Hence, it will give merchants a better understanding of product performance and customer behaviors, which are useful for analyzing the growth of a business. Research conducted by Deloitte revealed that 49% of respondents say analytics helps them make better decisions, 16% confirms that it better enables key strategic initiatives, and 10% say that they could improve relationships with both customers and their business partners. 

By now, your website should be pre-integrated with some eCommerce analytics tools to better market the brand and read reports on how your site performs. However, a common mistake is to decide by a gut feeling instead of insights, as store owners get overwhelmed by the information they have to gather. Here are some pieces of advice on how you can use your precious analytics and reports to level up the customer journey - from head to toe.

Buyer Personas

ecommerce features google analytics

Demographics (age and gender) data are collected along with Interests data which relates to interests that your users express through their online behaviours and purchases. (Source: Boost Commerce)

You can think about how your online store looks like, but first and foremost, creating buyer personas is a top priority. Using Google Analytics to have demographic data of visitors, for example, gender, age, location, interests, education and behaviours. 

Also, online merchants should pay attention to vital engagement metrics, including reach (the number of people who have seen your content), impressions (the number of times your post is displayed), shares, and most important - organic search. When it comes to organic search, carefully analyzing search volume and keyword rankings will give you quality insights into which products or services you should focus on. 

ecommerce features boost search analytics

Boost app is packed with advanced metrics and innovative design for Shopify merchants gather realtime data. (Source: Boost Commerce)

Apart from tools like Shopify or Google Analytics, filters and search analytics are the secret of an eCommerce store’s success. To improve a business’s performance, a store owner must look at the data, such as top filter option values, top search terms, or top search terms with no result. These statistics will give you a defined picture of how your customers use search to look for products and narrow down the results.

Acquisition

Once you have specified your audience profile, the next step is to measure the number of visitors to your store and the cost to acquire them. Here are two metrics that every merchant should keep in mind when evaluating the performance of the store.

click through rate formula ecommerce features
(Source: Nexoya)

Click-Through-Rate is a common metric that marketers use to calculate the rate of people who clicked on a link, to the number of individuals who saw it. CTR tells you how your descriptions, ads, meta titles, video, or images are working with potential consumers. A high rate means your content is relevant to the targeted groups, whereas a low CTR  indicates that your information does not ring true to their problems.

cost per acquisition ecommerce features
(Source: Supermetrics)

Cost Per Acquisition is a vital measurement of any marketing campaign, showing you the average cost to acquire one paying customer. There is no benchmark for what is a good or bad CPA as each e-store has different operating expenses, prices and margins.

Conversion

You may have managed to drive traffic to your site very well, but how to get people to buy your product is another story. Not everyone visiting your shop will end up clicking the ‘Pay’ button. You can use the 3 following formulas to keep track and optimize the shopping experience.

sales conversion formula ecommerce features
(Source: Supermetrics)

Sales conversion rate helps you measure the effectiveness of your effort at converting visitors into paying ones. Ultimately, you should compare the result with the past performance and industry benchmark to set your goal.

average order revenue ecommerce features
(Source: Supermetrics)
The Average Order Value (AOV) is an eCommerce metric that shows you the average total of each order placed over a while. It does not describe profit margins or gross profit, but provides insight into how they came to be. To illustrate, you sell three dresses priced at $17, $23, and $30, and the AOV is $20. This reveals 2 trends in customer behaviors on the storefront. Firstly, they are not picking multiple items, and secondly, the low-end item comprises a large portion of sales.
cart abandonment rate ecommerce features
(Source: Supermetrics)
Cart abandonment rate refers to the percentage of shoppers who add products to the cart, but leave your site before making a purchase. Studies have shown that the average rate in the eCommerce industry is 68.81%. The root causes could be a variety of reasons such as shipping costs, limited payment methods, or a complicated checkout process.

Retention

Loyal customers are very important to all businesses because acquiring new consumers is much more expensive than retaining existing ones. According to Fred Reichheld, if retention rates rise by 5%, your profits will significantly grow by 25% to 95%.
customer lifetime value ecommerce features
(Source: ProductPlan)

Measuring customer lifetime value (CLV) does help online merchants in several ways, mainly in business decision making to boost profitability. By working out the CLV, you can answer some fundamental questions about your business, such as: 

  1. How much you can afford to have a new customer but still maintain a profitable relationship
  2. Which products bring you the highest profitability
  3. What items consumers with high CLV love 
  4. Who the most profitable customers are

customer retention rate ecommerce feature

(Source: Supermetrics)

customer churn rate ecommerce features

(Source: Supermetrics)

While customer retention rate demonstrates the percentage of retained customers over a period of time, churn rate shows you the percentage of consumers that your company has lost in that given time. Although they serve different purposes, by tracking both of them you can craft better strategies to retain shoppers and decrease the number of those leaving you at the same time.

Fast and Dynamic Search

If you wish to bring shoppers an enjoyable shopping experience, which in result generates a continuing revenue stream, a simple keyword-based search engine is simply inadequate. Beyond a search box, eCommerce search gives merchants infinite product discovery solutions, such as smart autocomplete suggestions, product filters and facets, advanced analytics, product ranking, and so on. 

Still wondering if it is worth investing your effort and money in search? Let’s take a look at these statistics.

According to Blooomreach:

  1. 80% of customers would leave their cart and go straight to your competitors if your online store generates irrelevant search results and poor web navigation.
  2. Nearly 30% of e-shoppers use the site search functionality.
  3. Search users, who are coming with clear intent, have a conversion rate that is up to 6 times higher.
powerful onsite search ecommerce features makeup geek
Search is a powerful tool to grow profitability (Source: Makeup Geek)

In short, consumers have higher expectations when it comes to site search. Whether you use a native search or a third-party search solution, don’t forget to optimize them. 

A “no search results” page is something that all online stores have, and it is not always an issue. However, instead of displaying an empty page, you should: 

  1. Lead visitors to other relevant items
  2. Set the site search to detect synonyms and show autosuggestions quickly once shoppers type in the query - but remember to consider the relevancy.

Enabling consumers to sort out their results is another tactic. Thanks to contextual filtering, you can give customers full control over their shopping experience. Let them adjust filter options, for example, brand, size, color, price range, and so on, that helps them narrow down the results quickly.

For more useful tips on-site search, please visit this article

Want to know more about other winning features of eCommerce websites? Stay tuned for Part 2.