9 Essential Features Every Ecommerce Store Needs

Gurpreet Singh Dhoat's Photo
Gurpreet Singh Dhoat|9/6/2024

Covid-19 has profoundly transformed the ecommerce landscape. Ecommerce sales have surged due to the pandemic, and according to eMarketer, retail ecommerce sales will continue to experience double-digit growth worldwide.

Moving forward, the choice won’t be between online sales and brick-and-mortar stores; instead, “offering a compelling omnichannel experience…is a requirement for survival,” say McKinsey analysts. Hence, businesses need both.

My clients indicate that 20% of users browse my clients’ ecommerce sites to compare product ranges and prices, only to ultimately make their purchases in physical stores. This trend highlights the crucial need for seamlessly integrated online and offline channels to capture and convert customer interest across all platforms.

Essential Features for Your Ecommerce Store

1. Carousel

Carousels are an excellent choice for showcasing products on the homepage. They allow users to slide through several product options, providing a quick glimpse of what your business offers. Carousels can operate automatically or allow manual navigation by swiping. Their sleek visuals and efficient use of space can lead to a 72% higher click-through rate, according to some studies.

Product Carousel

2. Bottom Navigation

For mobile users, a bottom navigation bar enhances usability by providing easy access to the main features of an app. This design pattern is essential for e-commerce websites, allowing quick navigation to commonly used pages or functionality like Filters, Cart, Shop, and Account.

Bottom Navigation

3. Mini Cart

The mini cart feature is crucial for enhancing user experience on ecommerce sites. Typically displayed as an icon—either a cart or a bag—it provides a summary of orders when hovered over, or it may appear as a sidebar once the first product is added to the cart.

This interactive mini cart allows customers to view and adjust the latest products added—such as changing quantities or removing items—without interrupting their shopping journey. By enabling customers to manage their selections on-the-fly and proceed to checkout at their convenience, the mini cart streamlines the shopping process and significantly improves user satisfaction.

Mini Cart

4. Product FAQ Section

The Product FAQ section is a valuable addition to any ecommerce store, offering multiple benefits:

  • Boost Sales: By addressing common pre-sales questions, this section can directly increase conversions by clarifying product details for potential buyers.
  • Efficiency in Customer Service: FAQs reduce the workload on your customer service team by answering frequent questions, allowing them to focus on more complex queries.

Creating comprehensive FAQs for every product can be time-intensive. A practical approach is to prioritise FAQs for your best-selling items first.

This targeted approach not only enhances the effectiveness of your FAQs but also improves your overall conversion rates. By providing detailed answers on your product pages, you can convert more visitors into buyers, especially those arriving through paid advertising on platforms like Google or social media. As a result, well-crafted FAQs can lead to higher conversions at a lower cost, optimizing your advertising spend and increasing your return on investment (ROI).

Product FAQ Section

5. Order Tracking

When customers place an order, their immediate question usually is: ‘When will my order arrive?’ To address this, it’s essential to streamline the process of checking order statuses on your website. I recommend implementing a simple interface requiring just the tracking number and customer name. This interface should display a clear timeline UI that details each step of the delivery process.

To enhance customer service further, consider implementing automated emails that update customers at every key stage of their order’s journey. This proactive communication not only boosts customer satisfaction but also increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Order Tracking

6. Chat Bot

An ecommerce website operates non-stop—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. This constant availability means you need to provide consistent customer support to match. Implementing a chatbot can be a highly effective solution. Chatbots ensure that customer inquiries are handled promptly, no matter the time of day.

The appeal of chatbots is growing rapidly. According to a survey by LivePerson involving 5,000 consumers, the positive sentiment toward the use of chatbots nearly doubled from 31% in 2020 to 61% in 2021. This increase highlights their effectiveness and acceptance in providing customer service that’s both immediate and helpful.

Chat Bot

7. Product Filters

Robust filtering capabilities on ecommerce websites significantly enhance user experience by making it easier to navigate and locate products. Utilising product categories, tags, and attributes, you can create detailed filters that cater to specific customer needs.

For instance, a clothing website can offer filters for Category, Brand, Price Range, Colour, Size, Style, Fit, Occasion, and Special Offers. These filters streamline the shopping process, helping customers quickly find exactly what they’re looking for.

Ecommerce Shop page with Filters in the sidebar

8. Loyalty Program

Enhancing customer retention is crucial for sustained ecommerce success. Implementing a loyalty program is an effective strategy to encourage repeat business.

Such programs, which can be either free or paid, offer participants exclusive or early access to special deals. Additionally, many loyalty programs reward customers with points for each purchase. These points can then be redeemed for various perks, such as discounts on future purchases or complimentary products, incentivising customers to continue shopping at your store.

Farmers loyalty program

9. Email Automation

Email automation is a powerful tool to nurture leads, recover lost sales from abandoned carts and to re-engage existing customers. Implementing email automation at different stages of the buyer’s journey can significantly enhance your marketing strategy. Here are 5 stages of buyer’s journey:

Stage 1 – Awareness

Use email automation to nurture initial contacts. For instance, after a customer signs up for your newsletter, automatically send an introductory email. Track who opens and clicks through this email. Based on these interactions, you can segment your audience and tailor follow-up emails accordingly. This targeted approach ensures that potential customers receive relevant content that resonates with their interests.

Stage 2 – Consideration

At this stage, showcase your products or services and differentiate them from the competition. Highlight the value you provide over just competing on price. Detailed emails can illustrate how your services solve problems effectively, enhancing perceived value.

Clothing Store Example: Our clothing store prides itself on using only premium fabrics with high thread counts, ensuring both comfort and durability. More importantly, we are committed to ethical practices throughout our production process. This means no child labor is involved, and all our workers are paid fair wages. Additionally, we understand the importance of a perfect fit, so we offer local tailoring services to customize our garments to your precise measurements, ensuring each piece fits you flawlessly.

Stage 3 – Decision

Encourage conversions by sending targeted offers like BOGO deals or additional services to reduce purchase friction. For abandoned carts, send a reminder email with a unique incentive. Example: “Looks like you left something behind! Complete your purchase in the next 24 hours to receive an exclusive gift with your order.”

Stage 4 – Retention

Once a customer has made a purchase, your focus should shift to retaining them. This is your opportunity to transform customers into loyal advocates for your brand. Implementing a robust post-sale service system is crucial as retaining existing customers is often easier and more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

For physical products, streamline communication with automated emails that keep customers informed about their order status. Provide a dedicated page on your website where customers can easily enter their tracking number to monitor their order’s progress.

Should there be any delays, proactively communicate with your customers by explaining the cause of the delay and the expected new delivery timeline. It’s also beneficial to have a comprehensive service page on your website where customers can contact your support team via phone, email, or live chat.

After the order has been delivered, automatically send an email inviting customers to leave a review on Google or complete a survey. This not only helps in gathering feedback but also encourages customer engagement, enhancing their connection to your brand.

Stage 5 – Loyalty

To foster and maintain loyalty among your customer base, it’s important to keep them informed and engaged with every development in your business. This includes sending updates about new services, products, or even the opening of new store locations.

Regularly communicate these updates through emails, ensuring that your most loyal customers are always in the loop. Additionally, offer these customers exclusive perks such as early access to new products or the opportunity to participate in beta testing of upcoming offerings. This not only makes them feel valued but also helps you gather valuable feedback before a wider release.

Email automation diagram

Conclusion

By strategically employing these ecommerce essentials, you set your platform up not just for transactions, but for sustained growth and customer satisfaction. Stay attentive to your customers’ needs and continue adapting your features to meet these demands, ensuring your ecommerce site remains at the forefront of excellence.

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