Top 8 Essential Features of eCommerce Stores to Succeed (Part 2)

Posted by CiCi Nguyen on

Top 8 Essential Features of eCommerce Stores to Succeed (Part 2)

Building an eCommerce website is never an easy task. Your e-store is where your customers interact with your brand and generates profits. Following up from Part 1 about the cornerstone features of eCommerce stores, we have gathered four other significant ones with plenty of practical advice.

In-depth and Accurate Information About Products or Services

Customers always want your store to look transparent with specific information at hand. This includes, product descriptions, shipping information, discounts, and other related details. Hence, your text should be complete, reliable and accurate, along with high-resolution images or videos. You need to ensure that the description concentrates on the items’ features and benefits which could drive shoppers’ emotions. Thus, you must do it with the consumer in mind to produce a proper tone and, importantly, solve their pain points - the secret to converting visitors into buyers.

fentonandfenton product description ecommerce features
(Source: fentonandfenton)

However, a common pitfall many merchants have is not making information like shipping rate clear enough. Consequently, shoppers can become surprised by the amount of money they did not take into consideration. A survey demonstrated that more than 90% of online buyers are more encouraged to purchase if free shipping is available, and the average value increases around 30%.  

So the question is ‘How to curate sensational content that sells?’ Let’s see what you can do!

  1. Focus on your buyer persona - Before writing the product description, take a deep look into the target audience to gain better insight into what they are looking for and what would make them loyal to your brand. Using comprehensive reports and analytics are highly recommended here. 
  2. Facts tell, but story sells - An interesting short story will bring customers closer to you and they can feel an urgency to place an order.
  3. An image is worth a thousand words - An intriguing story with spectacular photos can evoke emotion, catching consumers’ attention. Besides, sharp and clear visual elements should be used to showcase products from different angles, with close-ups of features that make yours unique.
  4. Create unique and reliable content - The marketplace is full of products with the same features, benefits, images on different websites. To stand out, don’t forget to use trustworthy sources as well as making your online presence different from others.
  5. Speak in an appropriate tone to customers - Do make customers feel important and close to you. Be an expert by providing detailed information on the features of an item, while still being a friend who genuinely suggests an interesting product.

Customer Services

Customer service seems to be the last bastion where SMBs could beat big names. Research shows that 77% of US customers choose the helpfulness of customer support to be the second-worst experience among top eCommerce retailers. eCommerce customer service, in general, is a framework for supporting shoppers via digital platforms and throughout their life cycle. It should be reachable and ready at any time because if your customers cannot address their problems, this will put your brand’s credibility at stake. Be aware of some challenges with serving online consumers such as: 

  1. A high volume of requests
  2. Several common questions related to products, fulfilment and return
  3. Handling multiple channels with quick responses

Keeping these pain points in mind, let’s see what we can do with 4 tangible actions to level up the customer experience. 

  1. Choose a live chat app that integrates with your platform. It should allow agents to respond quickly as well as track interactions that a customer has with your brand in one place. Make sure that you can collaborate with the team to know the request status and stay organized. 
  2. Make a knowledge base frontline. This self-service is such a great tool to inform customers about useful answers to common questions. Also, it could help your team reduce the support ticket volume, reduce response time, and thus improve consumer satisfaction. 
  3. Automation without losing personalization is a secret to engage with a higher number of customers on a more personal level. The easiest way is setting up a personalized auto-reply or chatbox to target specific customers. 
  4. Meet consumers via channels they prefer. Online shoppers expect to connect with your brand over email, text message, social media and phone calls. However, keeping up with these will hurt the response time. Thus, why don’t you funnel all communications through an integration, like Shopify Ping? When your team proactively listens to consumers’ conversations, they can serve needs better.

Authentic Reviews

Reviews are a must-have feature for any eCommerce business today. Over 90% of shoppers hesitate to purchase an item if there is no customer feedback. Therefore, powerful social proof can be used to enhance customer experience, build brand trust and grow loyalty.

sephora reviews ratings ecommerce features
(Source: Sephora)

However, published reviews and ratings must be authentic as savvy consumers can realize fake ones right away. If all you see are 5-star ratings, will you buy it? Authenticity in reviews does not mean that you have to display all unreal and abusive ones. Instead, find and make use of honest voices from real shoppers as the right reviews should be informative, specific to the features that they like or do not like, and helpful for others. Here are some ways you could try to collect feedback from certified consumers.

  1. Ask them to write reviews. This is not something new but many brands forget it. After the product has been successfully delivered, reach out to your customers via text or email, and suggest them to leave feedback
  2. Have a mobile-friendly review interface. Yes, try to make it easy for customers to make reviews no matter what device they are using. With the development of m-commerce, ensure that your store brings them a mobile-friendly experience. Plus, keep it simple, don’t force reviewers to navigate through pages and scroll too much. 
  3. Ask at the right time. There is no specific formula for this, for example, housewives have different time availability from office workers. That’s why you need to know who your target customers are and keep testing to figure out the most effective timing. 
  4. Be specific with review questions. As mentioned above, detailed and helpful reviews are a priority. Don’t ask them broad requests, instead, prepare several specific questions, like suggested topics or multiple choices, for them to gain high-quality answers. 
  5. Encourage reviews with images or videos. Text is necessary but if reviews feature some visuals generated by customers, feedback will be more trustworthy and engaging. One tip for you is to offer consumers extra incentives, loyalty points, or special discounts for the next order, for instance.   

Visual Merchandising

Visual merchandising engages customers, from the moment they enter your store to the minute they leave. Although it has been a long-term strategy for brick-and-mortar stores, the science is now adopted online. eCommerce merchants carefully visualize strategic decisions, from the layout of the sales and how products are displayed, to what color schemes are used. All are considered to walk customers through a pleasant shopping experience, maximizing the impact on sales growth. Specifically, it helps you improve key online metrics such as engagement metrics (impressions, likes, shares, CTR), time on site, conversion rate, and AOV as well. 

With that in mind, let’s see some tried and tested approaches with examples for in-store visual merchandising.  

gap website homepage ecommerce feature
(Source: Gap)

A website homepage is the first thing a potential customer sees when entering your store. This is a front window to showcase sale items, best-selling products, and new arrivals. Make use of your homepage to inspire onlookers with dynamic banners and promote a line of products. Go beyond a static window display that brings the same experience to all visitors - have a dynamic banner featuring top categories instead.

Part of visual merchandising is to determine the best layout to increase potential conversion. Traditional retailers use some techniques to find which areas are most visited so that they can reorganize the layout and design by cleverly putting new items, bestsellers or promos in positions of high activity. 

Optimizing web navigation is also vital because it helps you maintain the customers’ attention, as well as encourage them to take action before turning away. The two features store owners should take care of are: search functionality and menu navigation. As the former is discussed above, we will only talk about the latter here.

casely mega menu ecommerce feature
A mega menu is often the best all-round solution for top navigation on desktop sites, and is especially helpful for retailers with large product ranges. (Source: Casely)

With a large inventory, a tiered menu can walk shoppers through a natural flow, from the top to subcategories available. Meanwhile, a mega one gives them an unlimited amount of options to navigate. Whatever you choose, keep testing everything - order, number, types of listed items - to guarantee an exhilarating experience with the fewest number of clicks.

boost commerce product recommendations ecommerce features
(Source: Boost Commerce)

Next, you can leverage what you know about a consumer’s purchase history and online behaviors to present something relevant to them - that is personalizing the product recommendations experience. If this tactic is deployed correctly, your store will enormously benefit from bigger cart sizes, and of course, AOV. For instance, persuade them to add more items into their cart by showing a model wearing a dress along with complementary items like boots, or a matching belt. This cross-selling technique would suggest shoppers a complete outfit, which saves a lot of their time. 

To Sum Up

It is equally important for your eCommerce website to offer online buyers a smooth and secure journey through simple but effective design. To succeed, we would recommend you to retain these great features of eCommerce stores - analytics reports, product information, smart search, visual merchandising, mobile optimization, authentic reviews, customer support, and cybersecurity. Otherwise, you will risk losing customers to thousands of competitors in the marketplace. Last but not least, don’t forget to try data-driven analytics tools like Boost Analytics for a better strategy to boost sales.