5 Website Features Every E-Commerce Site Needs to Succeed

shopping cart abandonment

A website is essential for business growth as it gives you an online platform to generate business success, even if you primarily sell through a physical store. But, if you run an e-commerce store, you need more than a simple website. You need these website features if you hope to succeed in your venture.

website features
Image courtesy of Entrepreneur Handbook

Nevertheless, some websites are better than others. Thanks to modern technology, you can implement a range of features on your site that will help you grow your business. Here’s a selection of website features you need as they generate the greatest impact on your growth:

Website features you need for your e-commerce site

As you do some research to look at websites developed by your competition, you find they run the gambit from one-page websites on a product like Wix or Squarespace to a mega website from the likes of Amazon. In building or revamping your website, it’s confusing to know what you need and what is just fluff. As you make a cost-benefit analysis of which website features pay for themselves. you need to look at a website from the ground up, so let’s start there. BTW, if you don’t have a website but want to build a website from scratch, I wrote a great ebook to guide you through the process — and, it’s free.

To get started, you need a domain name (like an address so search engines know where to direct prospective buyers), hosting (self-hosting is better than website builders so choose the best hosting you can afford to get the most benefit), a template and plugins, and, finally, content. If you run an e-commerce site there are some website features you just can’t do without.

1. WooCommerce

The WooCommerce plugin offers everything you need to build a simple e-commerce platform. It helps you create product pages and a checkout process that helps drive visitors toward becoming customers. WooCommerce is free, although there’s also a paid version. They also provide training and advice to optimize your performance.

WooCommerce isn’t the only e-commerce plugin out there but it powers a lot of small e-commerce websites, so consider this plugin as you build out your e-commerce platform.

2. Fast, efficient checkout

One of the worst things about buying something online is needing to create a profile and provide personal information to the website owners before you can make a purchase. If the prospective buyer hasn’t shopped with you before and doesn’t anticipate buying from you again, requiring personal information represents a security threat to the buyer and slows down the order process. They might shop elsewhere with a company that doesn’t make them go through this annoying step.

So, allowing guest purchases that require a minimum of information makes a great website feature Here, users can use profiles from other sites to instantly breeze through the checkout process or purchase as a guest using PayPal or another 3rd party to provide all necessary information. Another option is allowing buyers to use their Apple Pay profile to pay for things. At the click of a button, they’re taken from their basket to the payment section, and the order is completed.

In fact, any means you use to streamline the checkout process increases sales, as shopping cart abandonment is a serious problem (up to 70%) that costs businesses millions of dollars. As you can see below, forcing potential buyers to create an account is the second highest reason why visitors abandon their shopping carts.

shopping cart abandonment
Image courtesy of Sales Cycle

This feature lets you streamline the buying process, making it easier for customers. As a result, you will see a drop in abandonment rates. The tradeoff is you don’t have information about the consumer that might help you build a long-term relationship with them to impact future purchases. However, by limiting tracking information to only those who purchased while logged in (which is really the easiest way to link purchases with users), you offer an incentive to create a profile.

3. Inventory updates

Inventory updates show users if stock is running low or sold out. This is really helpful for eliciting business growth, and we’ll explain why.

If people see that an item is selling out quickly, they are more inclined to buy it through a psychological principle called Fear of Missing Out or FOMO. They won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get their hands on it before it sells out completely. As well as encouraging growth through more sales, this website feature can also improve the customer experience. It stops situations when a customer orders something that’s out of stock, meaning you have to tell them that you can’t fulfill their order right now. Thus, it prevents bad experiences and can increase customer satisfaction – which often leads to better customer retention.

If you buy NetSuite or another inventory management tool, you get live stock updates at all times. From there, it’s a case of adding a feature to your site that keeps your customers updated on current stock levels. You should also add a website feature that lets them sign up for updates when the item is back in stock so you get the sale.

4. Promotional pop-ups

Pop-ups are a controversial topic in the world of web design. Too many pop-ups are bad for your site as they annoy visitors and drive traffic away. However, when used judiciously, such as an exit-intent pop-up, these are very effective in reaching marketing goals. That’s especially true for a calculated promotional pop-up, which is a specific type of pop-up that offers hesitant visitors a discount for making a purchase.

The key is to present users with a pop-up when they are stalled in the purchasing process. It should be easy for them to see, and it should also offer a promotion. One great idea is a percentage discount on all purchases if they sign-up for your mailing list. All they have to do is type in their email and they get the discount code sent straight away.

Consequently, you are now in an excellent position. You have a user that’s very likely to make a purchase because they receive a discount, and you also have someone on your mailing list. Thereafter, you can send promotional material to them in the future, encouraging them to come back. Again, you have the perfect combo of encouraging new sales while also encouraging customers to return. This is the secret to sustainable business growth!

5. Recommendations

These days, websites use cookies to learn about every user that visits their pages. As a business, you need to learn how to use these cookies to your advantage. One great feature that does this is using a recommendation engine. A great example of a recommendation engine is the one you see when you use Netflix or large e-commerce sites. These sites use information about your viewing habits to enhance their ability to recommend something you’re likely to enjoy. On a large e-commerce site, these recommendations make your search easier and more fruitful.

When someone is browsing your site, they see recommendations at different points. You might find these recommendations on the home page, on product pages, or when they go to check out. The idea is to use cookies to predict what products this person is likely to find interesting. Thus, they are presented with things they are more likely to buy. From here, you might make more sales because people spot things that they genuinely like and want to purchase.

Adding recommendations at the checkout stage is also really clever. Here, you recommend products based on what’s already in the person’s basket. Did someone just buy a shiny new pair of smart shoes? Recommend some smart socks to go with them. You boost the amount of money someone spends per order, meaning your business can grow. And, with the death of 3rd party cookies, using these 1st party cookies is your only option in the near future.

Conclusion

These five features will help your business grow by increasing sales and boosting customer loyalty. Of course, there are plenty of other website features you should consider, but these are the best!

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