With ‘instant buy’ buttons and virtual shopping carts now a familiar sight, buying and selling online has never been easier. As eCommerce web design continues to evolve and purchasing channels increase in popularity, it’s ever more apparent that as a consumer, you can purchase anything online. Some restaurants even have online ordering in place with loyalty programs (and those who don’t could go now and see what software they might need to get set up for online ordering) Seriously, though, try and think of a product that you can’t find online – we couldn’t think of one…
We’ve said it before, but your website acts as your virtual shop window. A concept that’s even more fitting when you add eCommerce into the mix. When business owners choose to build an eCommerce website, they choose to operate an online store. Only this store has less overheads and is available to consumers around the clock.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with eCommerce, the term refers to any form of transaction conducted online. Typically, eCommerce platforms are grouped by transaction type. From sites built for B2B transactions (think print management services or specialist industries) to your habitual Amazon and ASOS orders which add to the millions of daily online B2C transactions. And then you have C2C purchases, revolutionised by the simplicity of Ebay – they’re all online stores, and they all represent how eCommerce has changed business.
How does eCommerce benefit consumers?
There’s a reason why eCommerce has changed how we conduct business. Simply put, it benefits consumers.
Today, experience is everything and loyalty can waver quickly. Online shopping helps to accommodate the buying habits of customers, with convenient experiences built to retain that loyalty and keep consumers shopping. For example, most eCommerce websites are available 24/7. And without a physical location or closing times, online customers can make a purchase anywhere and at any time.
Users benefit from instant access too. For the most user-friendly eCommerce sites, a purchase can be made in a matter of seconds – a few clicks and you’re done. Brands are continuing to build on that too. Some eCommerce websites make use of online customer service features (whether chat bots or live chat), helping to provide information on everything from newly launched products to when products are back in stock. It’s all direct and it’s all online – just as long as they know how to find your site on search engines.
But when you get it right, it’s convenient, simple and it just works. It’s why shopping habits have drastically changed and for better or worse, has forced businesses and eCommerce web design to adapt.
"It’s predicted that by 2021 mobile eCommerce sales will account for over half of total eCommerce sales."
Why do some eCommerce sites fail?
Design and Operation Issues
eCommerce website design isn’t as simple as throwing a few products together and adding shopping cart functionality to your site. It takes real planning, from the design stage all the way through to the business operations of the site itself.
Your design has to consider the user journey. Factor in where your potential customer will land on your site and how easy it is to navigate through to a purchase. With a user-friendly site, this process will happen flawlessly time and time again.
Think mobile optimisation too. It’s now an unspoken rule that all websites should be optimised for mobile devices and that’s even more true for eCommerce. From product pages to the checkout system, each of your web pages and features has to work on mobile. And if it doesn’t, the likelihood is that you’re turning potential customers away because of a poor shopping experience.
Outside of design, you must also consider website operations.
Firstly, does your site require registration and if so, is it automatic or does it require internal input? When it comes to products, have your staff been trained to confidently upload new product lines? Remember, your eCommerce site won’t run itself. Online customer support is important too, whether live or enhanced by AI. It all adds to the convenience that online shoppers seek and is something you can’t afford to neglect.
Image and Video Quality
It’s not only the design of your platform that you need to consider. If you’re selling online then product presentation, and therefore image and video quality, is key. Potential customers are likely to shop elsewhere (bouncing from your page) if your images aren’t displaying correctly, are poor in quality or you don’t have any.
Use high quality imagery to represent the high quality products that you’re offering. Ensure all images are sized correctly and accompanied with relevant and useful product descriptions to help guide the user journey to purchase.
Don’t forget about continuity either. From image and video crops to backgrounds, it helps to have your products represented in a familiar brand style.
The Wider Marketing Plan is Failing
You may have an immaculately designed eCommerce site, professionally presented product images and a simple user journey but your site is still failing. Why? Well it could be down to your wider marketing and business operations.
Take it from us, your website needs support. Similar to a physical store, your virtual shop needs marketing – how else do you expect consumers to find and use it?
In anticipation of the site launch, it could be that you plan a communications campaign with a press release or supporting social media material. Digital marketing plays a huge role too. If you want a certain product page to rank at the very top of a search engine you need to put time into SEO and other supporting digital marketing activities. Without it, your site may flop before it’s even launched.
How to integrate eCommerce into your website
Between image selection and your design and operations planning, you must also find and select the right eCommerce platform to integrate with your site.
With more and more consumers choosing to shop online, we’ve seen a rise in ways that you can integrate eCommerce into your website. So, whether you’re looking to start an eCommerce site or integrate the feature into an existing website, you have options.
Generally we, like millions around the world, choose the eCommerce plug-in best known as Woocommerce – best suited to WordPress sites. Here’s what our Technical Director, and head of web design, Luke had to say…
We’ve found that WooCommerce strikes the right balance between features and ease of use. It also allows us to integrate the eCommerce functionality directly into WordPress to reduce the management overhead and cost of two separate systems.
In short, eCommerce is a booming digital industry and has drastically changed business by offering consumers repeat purchase convenience. However, designing a successful online shopping experience does come with its challenges.
If you’re looking for more information on eCommerce web design (or maybe you’re planning to launch your own), don’t be afraid to get in touch. You can drop us a message on social media or contact us directly here.