Ecommerce development has become a staple of commerce for modern buyers. Experts state that by 2040, 95% of all purchases will happen online, and in 2021, eCommerce has a 19.5% share of global retail sales. With these numbers in mind, it’s easy to predict that starting an eCommerce business would be a good investment in the long run.
To succeed in the eCommerce industry, your store has to look and function seamlessly. To help you, we assembled a list of the main things to consider when working on an eCommerce store. By understanding them, you will provide an ultimate user experience and manage the store quickly with no unexpected issues.
The Future of the eCommerce Industry
As stated above, the eCommerce industry displays steady growth regularly. Here are some more numbers worth your attention:
- eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $735 billion by 2023;
- There will be approximately 2.14 billion digital buyers in 2021;
- The largest eCommerce markets in 2020 were China, the USA, and the UK;
- The number of online shoppers increased by 52% due to the pandemic.
It’s clear that eCommerce is becoming more and more popular, and there are several valid reasons. Free delivery (most of the time), excellent user experience, an option to choose the best vendor without the need to visit a physical store - all that plays a significant role in increasing the popularity of eCommerce stores.
Hence, if you decide to build an online store, you can rest assured it will bring you a great ROI in the long run - but only on the condition that you invest a significant amount of time and resources into the store set-up and development. And by that, we mean paying attention to those things that dictate users’ behavior and directly affect their buying decisions.
Select the Right Platform
The first step in eCommerce web development would be selecting the right platform. An eCommerce platform is a carcass of your future store that you will fill with content.
The platform choice will depend on several factors:
- The size of your shop;
- Needed scalability;
- Customization needs;
Even though most eCommerce web solutions have the majority of their functionality the same as in other stores, some things might differ significantly, and they will impact your store’s performance and future success. Let’s have a look at the most common options.
A Platform for Small Stores
If you are just starting or simply have a small store, you can choose Shopify or Wix. These platforms are very user-friendly, offer instant store launch, and have all the functions you might need in one place.
If we take Shopify as an example, it has a drag-and-drop which is very easy and convenient to use, and it offers rich customization options. It also doesn’t require its users to have any coding skills, which makes Shopify very beginner-friendly.
Wix has a similar drag-and-drop interface, a brilliant editor that allows you to see the changes applied immediately, and offers multichannel selling (same as Shopify does). In this way, both Shopify and Wix are very convenient and offer affordable pricing options.
A Platform for Medium-Sized and Big Stores
Now, if you have a well-established and big store, you’ll need a more comprehensive platform to operate it. In this case, pay attention to Magento, BigCommerce, or WooCommerce.
Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, with Shopify being its primary rival (though it’s not very correct to compare them). The most notable thing about Magento is its nearly endless customization options, which is a significant advantage if you rely on branding heavily. Magento also provides all the needed features, supports multiple languages and currencies, and can be easily integrated with third-party systems. And one more thing about Magento - it’s very scalable, meaning, if you intend to grow your business, you won’t need to migrate from Magento to another platform.
This said, choose a platform based on the current state of your store and your business goals. If you are just starting and plan to stay small for a while, it’s best to start with Shopify. However, if you have a big store (or even multiple stores) and you plan to increase, Magento is your choice.
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Map out the Navigation
The navigation of your store is crucial because it is a path that will eventually lead users towards purchasing your products and/or services. So before adding content to the store, it is obligatory to think about navigation in advance and map out the primary interaction points between the store and the users.
Create Customer Journeys
A customer journey describes all the steps a user will take to reach their goal on your website (which is a successful purchase). Remember - a customer journey does not start from a landing page of your website but from the awareness and intention to buy your product. Thus, the first step in a customer journey would be to come up with an idea of purchase and start from here.
The main idea behind a customer journey map is to detect the main points of interaction and lead the users towards completing their purchases. In other words, you’ll have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand what drives them towards buying, what may engage them, and what may serve as a sticking point.
Here are some tips on creating a customer journey map:
- Define clear objectives;
- Create buying personas (describe your perfect buyers, including their demographics, hobbies, online behavior);
- List all the touchpoints that you can think of;
- Visualize the journey and map out the touchpoints.
Double-Check the Product Catalog
When you start filling in your store with the products, you may be tempted to create many categories to “facilitate” product navigation. However, it may turn out that complex categorization confuses your users instead of promoting the purchase. Thus, you might want to double-check your catalog and see whether all the categories are needed and are relevant for shoppers.
Implement User-Friendly Product Search
A search option is one of the essential features of any eCommerce store, so it’s your task to make it user-friendly:
- Make it visible: a user should instantly see this option, not search for it;
- Add a default text to a search bar;
- Try replacing a search icon with a search bar as per recommendation by Google’s Playbook for eCommerce;
- Always return search results: either redirect to the homepage or the bestselling products (but never leave an empty page).
Pay Attention to Content
Content is the core of any website, and for an eCommerce store, it is also an ultimate selling tool. Since buyers cannot “feel and try” the products in your online store, their decision will depend solely on how well you present your products via imagery and text.
Create Engaging Copy
The main goal of any eCommerce store owner is to sell their products, and many entrepreneurs mistakenly think that they need a forceful marketing copy for that. However, that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about writing a copy for an eCommerce store. The secret lies in making it not pushy or over-selling but engaging and relevant for users.
Always state what value a product can bring to users - this is the most crucial thing about describing products/services. Users do not come to your store to read about the product’s USPs. Instead, they come with a specific problem or challenge in mind and look for ways to resolve it, so it’s your task to describe how a product can help.
As well, you will need to provide an informative description for every product. You can describe its most valuable features and USPs (yes, you still need to list them). When describing the feature, try to highlight the product's value: that means do not just list down the features but explain how this exact feature makes the product value for a user.
Provide High-Quality Visuals
As said above, buyers decide whether to buy a product or not based on its description and photos. Hence, you need to provide high-quality product photos to use on your website. And it’s not enough to provide product photos only - some tricks can boost your conversions:
- Add photos of small unique details of a product (lacing, embroidery, and others);
- Add an option to zoom the product in and out;
- Make photos from various angles, not back-front-side only;
- Fill 85% of the image frame with a product;
- Try not to add other images to the product photo to avoid distraction;
- Deploy variant images for showing how a product looks in a different color (if available);
- Provide a realistic sense of scale.
Work on SEO
Most eCommerce platforms such as Magento or Shopify provide great options for SEO optimization. And there is no need to repeat ourselves in saying that SEO is crucial.
Search engine optimization directly impacts your store’s visibility, helps users find it among hundreds of similar websites, and brings organic traffic in. So what can you do to make it all happen?
Use Relevant Keywords
Keywords are essential if you want your target audience to find your website. By adding the right keywords to your website, you make sure that it will be seen by people who are most probably interested in your product and are likely to buy it.
While it’s common knowledge that you can add keywords to the body text, many site owners often underlook the following areas where keywords are needed:
- Image descriptions;
- Headings (H2, H3, H4);
- Body text (obviously).
Note, though, that if you do too many keywords, it will hurt your ranking. Hence, all used keywords should look natural and be 100% relevant. If you use irrelevant keywords, this will lead to a bounce rate increase, and Google will “understand” that your presented information does not correspond to the keywords used. Hence, Google will drop your website in ranking and will lower its visibility.
Create a Meta Description
An essential part of your SEO optimization is writing an SEO-friendly meta description. And if you are not quite sure what that is, let us walk you through it.
A meta description is a short snippet of text that appears under the title and the URL of the page in the search results. And while some website owners overlook it, a meta description is quite significant for your SEO. First, it contains keywords, so obviously, it impacts the website’s visibility. Second, they immediately explain to the users what your store is about and what it offers.
Optimize the Checkout
Checkout is probably the most crucial area of an eCommerce store since this is where a user completes their purchase. Unfortunately, many online stores have a poorly optimized checkout process, leading to cart abandonment and users leaving.
One thing you can do to improve the checkout experience is to add a guest checkout option. Numerous studies show that users are unwilling to complete a lengthy registration process and prefer to complete checkout without creating a user profile. Hence, you need to allow this option on your website.
One of the most common reasons for users to leave the checkout was the lack of a suitable payment method, making sure you offer several.
Among other valuable practices for checkout, optimization minimizes the number of steps that users need to take and the implementation of a progress bar. By reducing the number of steps, you create a better user experience (users dislike lengthy checkouts), and a progress bar displays the steps left and promotes better engagement.
Work on the Design
The design of your eCommerce store usually represents your brand, so it’s vital that you invest time and resources into making it a unique one. As mentioned above, the most popular eCommerce platforms offer vast customization options so you can make the design in total correspondence with your brand identity and vision. And here are some tips on making the most out of it.
Your design should be responsive and perform equally well on all devices since 80% of users prefer to shop from their mobile devices. And don’t forget about mobile-first indexing, introduced by Google in 2018, implying that the mobile version of websites will be ranked first and the web version will be ranked second.
Call-to-action buttons are visual elements that heavily impact users’ behavior and guide shoppers towards the needed action to complete.
To receive the maximal benefit from using CTAs, it’s recommended to follow these practices:
- Customize the CTA message to correspond to your offer: instead of “See the catalog,” try “Find your perfect shoes now”;
- Play with the size and colors: bigger CTAs are easier to spot on the site. Also, for your CTAs, use those colors that would stand out from the overall store palette;
- Place CTAs near the product price and/or photos;
- Try to place CTAs on top of the website (the higher the position, the better);
- Add value to the CTA message.
Add User Reviews
One of the best things you can do to your eCommerce store to boost conversions and trust is adding genuine user reviews to your store. Numerous studies show that users tend to trust the opinion of their friends and peers when deciding on a product purchase. Hence, add reviews to a store by either integrating the store with social networks (or other services) or adding a “Leave a review” box.
Shipping and Delivery
Customers love free shipping, and 75% of shoppers expect free delivery from online stores. So for a great customer experience, use a reliable shipping solution (i.e., Shippo, ShipStation) that would keep all your orders in place and organized, enable order tracking, and help you make sure none of the charges is missed.
Summing up, the creation and set-up of an eCommerce store is a very complex process that involves many steps (the ones listed above are just a tip of an iceberg). Considering the growing popularity of eCommerce, it’s easy to predict that the development of an online store will be beneficial in the long run - but it’s easy to get confused in the middle of the process. For that not to happen, we recommend consulting with experienced developers who can guide you through all the steps and make sure your business goals will be met.
Geomotiv has been working with the Magento platform for many years, and we have created dozens of beautiful and custom online stores for clients across the globe. Our team will be happy to answer any of your questions and navigate you through the process of eCommerce web development - contact us to learn more.
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