Online shopping is flourishing. What some thought would never catch on not so long ago has become an international shopping frenzy. The antagonists of eCommerce argued that no one in their right mind would give their credit card details online and purchase items they haven’t seen or held. How wrong these arguments were. PayPal has revolutionized online payments, enabling anyone without bank clearance security sites to trade online through its own payment gateway. WordPress, among others, has enabled almost anyone to create their own online shop without the massive price tag of a developer. The tools are out there, but before you start building, here are our top five key factors to give your website eCommerce the best possible start.
The most important feature of website eCommerce is security. Who would be willing to give their personal details, let alone bank or credit card details, to a website which does not use encrypted information transfer? A regular, non-secured website means that any information that is sent via any form is not encrypted, which in turn means that any hacker can steal that information. This is represented in the address bar by “http”.
A secure eCommerce website, on the other hand, encrypts any information sent, which makes it safe and unreadable by any third parties. A secure site is indicated by “https” in the address bar. Usually the way to set it up is to install a security certificate SSL to your website, which adds the encryption of data transfer. There are many different SSL providers on the market and they require different types of security checks on your website.
The reason we have placed functionality above design in this instance is because no one has the patience for a website eCommerce experience which is full of technical problems. The last thing a shopper wants is to find the desired item, decide to purchase it, and then have problems checking out. Getting this right, and adding little enhancing features along the way, ensure a buyer’s confidence. For example, if you are browsing an online shop and you like something but are not sure whether you wish to purchase it right now, having the option of marking it as a “favorite” or placing it on your wishlist are great tools. Also, if you do place an item in your cart, it is nice to see the tiny cart icon show some sort of sign that it contains an item. This is often shown as a number next to the cart image showing how many items are in the basket, or the appearance of a tiny pop-up window next to the cart stating “item added successfully”. This way you know your items are there and you don’t need to check by going to the cart.
As with all good things, in order to lure customers into your amazing website eCommerce experience, it has to look great to be good. A buyer’s level of trust varies greatly with the overall impression your online shop generates. It needs to look professional, beautiful and organised. The navigation around your eCommerce website should be straightforward, and all of the images need to be of high quality and resolution. The color scheme and design elements must reflect your brand and be easy on the eye. Our tip is to either hire a designer or start off with a professionally designed template.
People nowadays do not have much patience when browsing online, and this also applies to Google, so the loading time of your website is crucial. You can lose many potential customers through slow page loads and buffering. Your website’s search engine rankings will also suffer as Google now rank sites according to site speed!
Last but definitely not least is search engine optimization. We placed this as number 5 as in reality it is the core of any and all online ventures, so really it is a whole topic in itself. Without an optimized website eCommerce will be very difficult, as your online shop will not be found. The success of trading depends on having traffic to your site and making sure it’s the right traffic. The structure and the content of your eCommerce website must be optimized, focused around appropriate keywords, and load quickly.