If you’re an ecommerce vendor, you’ll already know how important the functionality of your site is. But if you have spent ages trying to drive traffic to it through online marketing, have you also taken the time to step back and see if you have fully equipped your domain with all the tools it needs to sell? In Part 1 of this article we looked at issues such as product image zoom and rotation, no sign in to check out and the importance of a clear product returns policy. Part 2 completes the list of essential features with points on things like search boxes, wish lists and shipping…
6. A Search Box
A search box is an essential component of any large site, but even is more useful on ecommerce sites with wide product ranges. Place the search bar in a prominent position and keep search results easily accessible. You may even want to take a search engine design view and keep the bar and search phrase visible so results can easily be refined.
Depending on the product you offer, you may also want to provide filters either at product or search level allowing the client to see only shoes of a certain size or shirts of a certain color. By filtering out other products that don’t meet the client criteria, you are making it quicker and easier for them to locate their item and add to cart.
7. A Wish List
Very few ecommerce sites will be unsuitable for a wish list feature. Most modern shopping cart software packages include the function so they are easy to add to the site at any point. A wish list is simple in its concept in that it allows users to build a list of products they would like – almost like a child’s Christmas list. You can increase the usefulness of the list by allowing for categorization for events such as birthdays and Christmas.
In addition to allowing users to store products they may want to purchase at a later date, a wish list function can actually help with the marketing of your site. Allow users to email their list and it’s likely that some will email and share with friends and family – this could result in new visits. Many will come back often to view and update the list, making the site stickier. If you make it possible to link from another site to the wish list, you can also get a viral campaign of sorts going with users sharing their lists on social networking sites, again helping to raise brand profile and traffic.
8. Provide Shipping Options
Giving a choice of shipping options shows you’re attuned to the different needs of buyers. Some will need their product the next day and so will be happy to pay for overnight shipping, while others won’t be in any hurry and will want the cheapest and most basic of method to avoid adding unnecessary expense to their bill. Giving the customer the choice of how quickly they need their purchase and how much they are prepared to pay for its delivery puts them in charge of their own shopping and financials.
Consider offering alternatives on your shipping page too. If for example you won’t post overseas, set up an affiliate service with a site that does and direct the buyer there. You won’t lose the sale but will gain a commission that would otherwise not have existed.
9. “Email Me” Feature
There’s nothing more annoying than searching through a site to find a product in the right size and color only to find that it’s out of stock. Most will abandon their shopping basket at this stage and look for another stockist. However, you can cut this rate down and make the site more useful to the visitor by offering an ‘email me’ feature when the item is back in stock. Stores such as Amazon do this successfully.
Review the 9 tips covered in this two-part article and see how many of them your ecommerce site currently supports. If some are missing, and they make sense for your product/service line, consider incorporating them for improved ROI.