Creating Successful E-commerce Websites

Posted on July 20th, 2013 by Sheena Tejeda, COO, Direct Selling Women's Alliance

Well over $100 billion is spent on online shopping at e-commerce sites per year.

credit-cardsIn the beginning, the focus was based on web design, but over time and testing, the “usability” of a website is what is most important for customers and repeat customers.

If you do a lot of online shopping (like me), you’ve seen the changes that have evolved over the past few years and here are some of the most important features for successful e-commerce sites.

Navigation: Whenever a user is navigating inside a store with more than one sub-level of navigation, it's critical to show them where in the site structure they are. When a user starts to "narrow" their navigation inside a particular category, allow them to remove the other navigation selections rather than forcing the use of repetitive "back button" clicks.

Sorting: Some suggestions for sorting are “best selling,” “featured,” “user rating (editor rating if you don’t use “user ratings”), or “new” or “latest.” One of the most important should be “featured” if you’re pushing sales of a certain item. Showing an accurate summary of the categories on the home page is also very important. If you can provide the user with a useful refinement option, you've made their experience better.

What does it cost and what am I saving? Some product category pages show items without the detail users are craving. It's particularly important to show pricing, but nearly every website can benefit from providing an extra bit of detail before the click to the product page. Tell them ingredients, give a tiny description or list the options, such as quantities to choose from.

Searching: When a search has been performed, don't just show the search and the results, replicate the search engines and make the search bar front and center, while maintaining the user's query in the box for potential modification. If an advanced searching system is available, allow users to select prices, options, quantities, etc, do it. Your bottom line will thank you - users often rate "search" as the most frustrating part of many e-commerce sites.

Delivery Options: Many user wants to see the delivery options before they start shopping. Older generations often fit this stereotype, but baby boomers still have a lot of online spending years to go, so don't ignore them. It's best to make the link obvious in the permanent navigation (it's most customarily at the bottom of each page).

Reassuring with Email. Consumers want to know when their product will arrive. Order confirmation by email reassures the customer. Don’t leave the customers in the dark (or, worse, crowding up your customer service dept. with e-mails that could have been answered in an automated fashion). When you send out order confirmations, make sure to include all of the product details to re-assure the buyer that they've selected properly. If I accidentally ordered a 90 quantity bottle instead of a 30 quantity bottle, I want to be able to fix it before the package arrives.

Testing: Testing gives you the most important data you need. There are many ways to get it done but one of the most accurate forms of testing is splitting your promotion view between your customers – 50% see version A and 50% see version B. You need to make sure your goals are in place before conducting the test.

Trust: Cart abandonment is estimated at 60%. Adding as many “trust” seals as possible is important. Creating a shopping experience where the customer can learn to trust you is equally important. Highlight your satisfaction guarantee wherever possible.

About the Author

Sheena Tejeda is the Chief Operating Officer of the DSWA. Her foundation in business combined with direct selling experience overseeing the domestic and international operations, gives her a unique perspective and ability to work with direct selling companies during their start-up phase, growing their business to the next level and/or expanding to international markets.