Five Features Your Ecommerce Store Needs Now!

Published May 15th, 2012 by Farin Innovations

If you’re taking the time to chat with a good web design or development company, you’re going to get the straight message on what elements need to go into an ecommerce site. The problem? If you start chatting with other business owners who think they know what they’re talking about, you’re not always going to get a straightforward answer as to what you need on your site.

If you’re in that last camp, don’t worry. It makes great one-way conversation in this blog. There’s nothing we love more than chatting about how to improve web presence, and while we’ll be happy to do it one-on-one any day of the week by phone or during a conference, we’re also willing to give you a bit of background knowledge right here. If you chat with a web company, at least you’ll know whether they’re offering fantastic web services or snake oil for your site.

Better Store Management

You may hear this referred to as back-end management, but you’re essentially talking about the same basic concept. Whether you’re selling just a few small products or you have a very large ecommerce outlet, the ability to manage your site on your own is essential. Paying someone else to update your store or even manage it online only impacts your bottom line, and it can all be avoiding with a comprehensive back-end solution. If your site gets popular and you start doing a lot of business, expect to be spending a lot of time in this area.

Good store management solutions should, at the very least, incorporate the following:

  • The ability to manage customer orders and customer contacts effectively.
  • A solid way to research your receipts, invoices, and payment history.
  • An easy-to-access product inventory feature where you can add and delete products as well as change the product categories and the like.
  • Simple promotional features (so you can run specials or discounts).
  • Pricing controls.

Visual Appeal

Just because a site works well for you doesn’t mean it looks great to customers. You have to consider how your site looks or you’re going to be dead in the water. Take five minutes to review some of the best online stores out there, like Zappos, and you’ll quickly find they have a few things in common.

Just a few months ago, we dedicated an entire post to learning more about site design in a web 2.0 world, so take a moment to read more about it if you want to appeal to customers on that level:

Understanding Successful Web 2.0 Design:

Get Social

These days, it’s all about the social networks. In fact, it’s possible you even found this posting thanks to a Tweet, someone’s Facebook wall, or a LinkedIn post. You have to reach customers no matter where they are, and often today, that means hitting the social media channels hard. Your products have to be present in the world of social media. Sure, your brand needs to be out there too, but your site should have those elements that ensure you’re spreading the love around a bit. Adding in a Facebook Like/Send button as well as a Twitter Follow Button or any of the other buttons from Google +, Pinterest, or LinkedIn is a good way to share the news about new lines or hot sellers.

There are already whole books and blogs dedicated to incorporating social media into your site, and we could probably add a few chapters there. Take a minute to review what we’ve already written about social media on our blog and review how to build the social media strategy that your brand demands before you start incorporating it into your site.

Security and Safety – It’s Not Just a Software Thing

Sure, ecommerce stats show more people are shopping online and via their mobile phones every single day, but that doesn’t mean that many aren’t still a bit wary of this digital environment when it comes to handing over the credit card number.

In some cases, though, it’s not the customer’s fault. Businesses often leave out the little elements that help shoppers feel more comfortable before making a purchase. Here are just a few you should make certain you include:

  • A Guarantee: You want your customers to be happy, ad a 100% money-back guarantee can help them know that. It puts your commitment to customer service right up front.
  • Security Seal: You have to have an SSL certificate to get a merchant account, so why not display that proudly to your customers so they know things will go smoothly during the checkout process?
  • Social Media Popularity: We touched on this briefly before, but social media is very important, and if you’re making some progress, show that off. If someone sees you have 5,000 Facebook fans, they’ll know you’re not a newbie who has little experience in the industry.

These kinds of things are going to be at the top of the list for any good site design firm, so if they don’t even mention it, it’s best to find another company.

To learn more about maximizing sales and keeping those customers coming through the door, take a look at our most recent post on keeping sales with your site.

Keeping Your Customers Happy

Customer service should be at the forefront of everything you do. You probably already know that, but it’s important to reiterate it as you think about your site. If your customers can’t reach you, they may not be sure they actually want to make a purchase from you. Adding elements like live chat or simply putting your contact information on the front page can help a customer feel at ease. You could also use social media to help drive that point home with your customers.

Good web design and development companies will be happy to walk you through all of these steps and more. We’d be happy to help too. Farin Innovations is a Miami based web site design and programming company that has been creating solid ecommerce platforms for companies just like yours since 1999. Take a moment to browse our web 2.0 portfolio to learn more now.