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Running an eCommerce Business

5 Key Building Blocks found in every Successful eCommerce Merchants Arsenal

5 Key Building Blocks found in every Successful eCommerce Merchants Arsenal

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

10 years ago

5 Key Building Blocks found in every Successful eCommerce Merchants Arsenal

 With the advent of modern eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Volusion or BigCommerce setting up an online store has never been easier. Just a couple of clicks and off you go! You can now call yourself an eCommerce entrepreneur and be off to print your new business cards.

It's a good first step, but making your store successful is another cup of tea. Attracting visitors and making them convert is the real challenge. There are about a million ways of doing that - you can read about some of them on our blog – but we all need to begin somewhere. So why not to start with the basic building blocks - solid fundamentals which, when set up right, will pave the way to a prosperous online business. Below you can find 5 vital elements of every successful eCommerce store.

Easy navigation

Intuitive, easy to use navigation, is essential for any website and even more so for an online shop. Your customers need to be able to easily and quickly find what they are looking for. Whether you opt for vertical or horizontal navigation make sure your menu is clearly visible and your customers know where they are in the process at all times. If they get lost, you'll lose the sale. 

Here is an example: Tessamae's All Natural is a great online store for homemade dressings & spreads. The architecture of this site is simple and classic – structure doesn't come better than this: url/category-name/products/product-name. The page has not only a menu at the top, but also a breadcrumb path, allowing customers to see where they are in the hierarchy of the website and making it easy to navigate between product and category levels.

Good product pages

The product page is your chance to convince the customer that they want to buy this item from your store at this very moment. 

Make sure that your products have clear, good quality pictures that match your store's design style. 

Product descriptions are essential. Use simple language and short sentences. Tell a story, characterise the benefits and suggest how a product could help to solve a customer's problem. Don't write an essay though - a couple of bullet points will do the job nicely.

Customers love to see how products look in real life. Providing product videos could greatly improve your sales by increasing a customer's confidence before purchasing the product. As with photos, good quality is a must. Bad quality videos are proven to drive clients away.

Also, don't forget a visible call to action button.

Simple checkout

Like navigation, the rule here is the simpler, the better. If a checkout process involves too many steps and clicks, the risk is that the customer just gets frustrated and gives up before completing the purchase. Make your checkout pages clear, easy to read and eliminate any potential distractions. Request only absolutely necessary information, too many fields to fill out causes drop off. Offer as many payment options as possible and don't forget about transparency. Clearly state shipping, tax and any other fees the buyer may have to pay. Nobody likes hidden fees.

Having a cart with its contents visible at all times is a good idea too. One click to whisk a customer straight to the checkout process, from any place in the store is the way to go. We all know how Amazon does it. Why not to learn from the best?

Trust-building elements

Whether you are a freshly sprouted online shop or an established eCommerce business with traditions it is important to make your customers confident about shopping in your store. Ultimately they have to trust you enough to confide their personal data, including credit card details. How do we build trust? Take a look at our list of essential trust building elements of any online store:

  • Company information and contact details. 
This might seem like a very obvious thing to put on your website but sadly there are still many online business that lack this element. Address, telephone, email – that's all you need. It is unlikely that customers decide to make a purchase in a store that doesn't have this information clearly visible. 

  • Shipping fees, delivery time and return policy. 
Some businesses seem to think that by not displaying this information on the website they would be able to “trick” customers to buying from their store. This tactic does not work most of the time and when it (rarely) works it has the potential to backfire with cancelled orders and negative feedback. By clearly stating your policies you make sure you customers make conscious decisions and that your customer service line won't become overloaded. Always err on the side of transparency.

  • Privacy policy
In many countries this policy is required by law. In any event informing your customers how you intend to manage their data won't hurt, on the contrary – it contributes to increased confidence.

  • Trusted payments.
It is important to provide information about security of payment getaways in your store. Make sure info on payments and any security badges are clearly visible before the customer starts the check out process – good practice is to have it displayed permanently in the footer, just like River Island does it below. Also during the checkout you could ease any concerns by letting shoppers know that all their data is encrypted and communicated over a secure connection.

  • Customer support
Make sure your clients know that your customer service is easily accessible and responsive. This practice is essential in establishing credibility and also prevents you from loosing potential sales. You could consider implementing tools like Olark – a live chat console. Even if you are offline it will email you whenever someone leaves a message in the chat box.

Going social

We are living in the social media age and for online business social engagement is a must. There is nothing you can do about it but you can use it to your advantage. Help word about your products spread by using social share buttons. Most eCommerce platforms make it very easy to implement sharing mechanisms in your store. Set up company profiles on social media that are most relevant to your business, whether it is Google+, Pinterest or Twitter.

Don't forget about feedback, reviews and testimonials. If your customers are happy don't be afraid to boast about it! We mentioned in one of our previous posts how reviews influence purchase decisions. It is worth remembering that feedback is also vitally important in the trust building process. 

These are the elements we consider backbone of any online store. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.


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