Mastering Ecommerce: 12 New Website Must-Haves

Posted On: 27th February 2024
Read Time: 6 Minutes

In 2023, internet retail sales in Great Britain reached a value of over £3.1 billion. If you aren’t selling your products online, you could be missing out on a revenue-boosting opportunity.

If you’re looking to build an ecommerce website, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a guide specifically for commerce business owners looking to move online. We don’t just want to showcase the benefits of having a website (and blow the trumpet of our industry); we want to provide insights that will help you reach the goals that matter to you.

So, what do you really need for a shiny new website? There are hundreds of points, but these are a sample. Read on to find out…

1. Market research and analysis

You may already know your niche – it may even be why you started your business—to fill a gap in the market. Having a clear niche will help you stay true to your business brand. You can leverage this in all your digital marketing strategies. With a bit of luck, it could help you stand out from the crowd and win over your audience. Not sure how to get started? Competitor analysis and target audience profiling are a must!

2. Clear objectives

Defining your website’s goals from the offset will be an important step. What do you want it to achieve? For most businesses looking to launch an ecommerce website, the end goal is to boost sales and revenue. However, there will be short-term goals to consider as well that will help you reach that stage. You may want to boost brand awareness, audience reach and engagement first.

Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you clarify what to monitor, so you know if you’re reaching your goal or not. For instance, you might want to rank in the top 10 positions for key terms that are relevant for your sector and product offerings.

Setting a budget and timeline for the actual creation of your website is also important. Take it from us that website building can take longer than planned. Where there are multiple stakeholders involved, there can be a number of quality checks and sign-offs to jump through. Having a goal and timeframe in mind helps steer all stakeholders towards a clear deadline and vision.

It’s important to be discerning and know that your website is fit for purpose, a good reflection of your brand and products and, crucially, created with your customers in mind.

The important thing to remember is that the website’s primary function should be to enable customers to browse and buy your products.

3. Choose a user-friendly platform

Choose the right platform that’s easy to use and has the features you need.

The platform that easily blows all the competition out of the water right now is WordPress. Powering 43.1% of all websites on the internet, it’s certainly the most popular. Does that make it right for your ecommerce business, though? WordPress alone doesn’t offer ecommerce capabilities, as it’s more of a content publisher – that’s where WooCommerce comes in. Combined with the forces of WooCommerce, WordPress can work some magic for your business.

WordPress is user-friendly, but to get the most out of it, you will need a developer or two to do the coding and ensure that things like plugin updates are handled responsibly.

There are other options. Shopify is a consideration. Magento is another platform you may have heard of. However, there is a reason why WordPress is dominating the internet – it’s user-friendly, built with SEO in mind, and easy to customise.

4. Customer-centric design

You wouldn’t build a new product without testing it first, and the same principle should be applied to websites. Even the most competent web developer can encounter glitches or snags. By getting the performance of the website tested before it goes out into the wide world, you can be confident that it’s going to be user-friendly and offer a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

A website worth its money will ensure that your customers can make a purchase in as few clicks as possible. That’s because convenience trumps all in today’s fast-paced consumer world. This applies to all entry points. If the end goal is to buy, don’t send your customers on a wild goose chase around your website!

Make it as easy as possible for them to find what they’re looking for and complete a purchase. It’s worth adding filters, categories and search bars on the homepage and product pages. Adding well-placed internal links, as well as thinking carefully about your main navigation menu and the overall sitemap structure, are crucial.

You should be rewarded with happy consumers who will hopefully become repeat customers.

Expert tip: As a rule of thumb, all your pages should be accessible within three clicks.

5. Helpful content

Your content strategy will play a crucial role in the success of your website. Make sure that your messaging is clear and that your site contains all the information that your customers need to make an informed decision.

This could include, but is not limited to, delivery and returns policies, product information and buying guides. However, a quick word of caution – give your audience too much information or use complex terms that they’re not familiar with, and they will feel alienated – a faux pas for content. That’s where understanding your buyer is crucial. Show your audience and customers that you’re on their side by providing all the helpful information they need and nothing they don’t.

It’s worth taking the time to create optimised product descriptions. By this, we mean using language that resonates with your audience. Does it provide a solution to a problem or bring value to the customer? Give your products the best chance of ranking in search engines with keyword research.

Don’t neglect your images! Humans are visual and will be attracted to your images first, then the text. If you win over customers with sharp, relevant and attractive images, you might just encourage them to find out more (and maybe make a sale).

6. A choice of payment options

Your payment gateway is crucial. Without it, customers won’t have a secure payment portal to make purchases. If you don’t offer a way to pay that suits them, you could also be missing out on sales. You’ll also want to think about how to enable international transactions with various currencies if you ship to multiple locations around the world. Making payment options visible earlier in the customer journey – and not just at the end of the checkout process – can also help entice purchases.

Payment options you may want to consider include:

Credit/debit cards: These are the most common payment methods in ecommerce. Ensure your website is equipped to accept major credit and debit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, and Maestro.

PayPal: PayPal is a widely used online payment system that provides a convenient way for customers to make payments. It’s known for its security features and buyer protection.

Bank transfers: Some customers prefer to make direct bank transfers. Provide your bank account details and ensure you have systems in place to verify and confirm these payments.

Digital wallets: Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are becoming increasingly popular. Ensure your ecommerce platform supports these for a seamless mobile shopping experience.

E-wallets: E-wallet services are often used for international transactions. Integrating these can help you reach a global audience.

Buy now, pay later: Services like Klarna and Afterpay allow customers to make purchases and pay in installments. These options can increase conversion rates.

Bottom line: The more streamlined and accessible your checkout process is the better.

7. Responsive web design

The importance of responsive mobile ecommerce

Responsive web design basically refers to whether the pages are just as seamless to use on mobile devices and tablets as they are on desktop. Ignore mobile at your peril! Not only is it a Google ranking factor, but it will also impact the user experience overall and reduce the number of users fulfilling a purchase. If most of your users come from mobile searches, this is a crucial consideration. Get a web developer on the scene to ensure your design is intuitive on mobile.

Mobile is a huge consideration. If your audience is using this device, you need to make sure your site looks good on smaller screens. Your design will need to be responsive to ensure that elements on the page automatically adjust when a user is checking out your website on a mobile device.

A layout and design that look good on a desktop screen won’t necessarily look good on mobile! Common issues that we see include the user having to scroll too much, clickable elements not being clear, or some design elements being cut off entirely.

The benefits of having a responsive site include increased user engagement. User experience is also a Google ranking factor, so it could contribute to a boost in search engine positions, too!

In summary, mobile-friendly design and performance are a must for ecommerce websites.

8. Scalable website development

Protect your investment with a good quality hosting provider and high performance cloud server.

You may have seen that you can buy website templates, which look super easy and fun. However, by doing it this way, you won’t have access to expert support when you need it and will have limited design and scalability options.

If you choose to build with WordPress, we have a handy guide to ensure that your website is future-proof. In other words, it is ready to handle your ambitious goals, including increased traffic and sales, expanding product lines and entering new markets.

Expert tip: Make sure your domain host enables you to increase your bandwidth. Otherwise, you’re limiting the amount of traffic your site can receive at any one time.

9. Data protection compliance

With a fantastic new ecommerce website comes responsibility. We’re talking about legal regulations, including data protection compliance. When customers use your site, their personal information should be protected and used responsibly. The good news is that you don’t need to study law to find your way around, you just need a good lawyer in your contacts. However, it doesn’t hurt to understand your obligations as a website owner, so we’re outlining the basic must-haves that go hand-in-hand with data compliance.

SSL certificates and data encryption

You should use a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to encrypt data transmitted between your website and customers. This ensures sensitive information is secure. The SSL certificate is considered essential for the security of websites as it enables your site to be encrypted. To get an SSL certificate for your website, you can send a certificate signing request to a certificate authority.

In general, you should ensure that sensitive data is stored securely, and encrypt it when it’s transmitted between servers and customers.

GDPR and privacy policies

GDPR is a huge consideration for ecommerce business owners. A privacy and cookie policy is an essential way to communicate to your website users exactly what types of personal data you handle and give details of how you track, store, share and use their personal information. Refer to our in-depth article on creating privacy policies for everything you need to know.

Customer data protection tips

Two-factor authentication (2FA): Implement 2FA for your admin and customer accounts. This adds an extra layer of security, reducing the risk of unauthorised access.

Regular security audits: Conduct regular security audits and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.

Fraud detection systems: Use fraud detection systems to spot suspicious activities and transactions, preventing fraudulent purchases.

Mobile security: Ensure your mobile app, if you have one, is as secure as your website. Regularly update it to fix security vulnerabilities.

Secure hosting: Choose a reputable hosting provider that’s based in your own country and that offers strong security features to protect your website from cyberattacks.

10. Customer support and engagement

You may have heard the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ and that same mentality applies to ecommerce purchases. Customer satisfaction isn’t just important for securing loyalty to your brand. It can also be a way to generate new custom. Impartial reviews from genuine customers is one of the greatest trust signals, both for your customers and Google.

Not sure which platform to choose? Check out our third-party review site comparison guide.

You can also consider adding a customer support desk that creates tickets every time an enquiry is made.

Providing order tracking capabilities can encourage customers to set up an account, improve the customer experience and reduce the number of inquiries for your team to respond to.

Supplying FAQs that answer common questions will also help customers make more informed decisions and help build trust.

What about live chat and chatbots?

A live chatbot can provide instant responses to customer queries, improving customer support and satisfaction. It can handle basic inquiries, such as order status or product information, 24/7.

It’s important to note that while chatbots are valuable, they should not replace human customer support entirely. For complex or highly specific issues, human assistance may still be necessary. The best approach may be a combination of live chatbots for routine tasks and human customer support for more complex matters, creating a seamless and efficient customer service experience.

11. Analytics and reporting

Your shiny new website is built, and you’re starting to get your first customers! Amazing. However, the work doesn’t stop with the launch of your website. Far from it. Adding analytics trackers can come in handy. This will give you visibility into how your website is performing.

You’ll see which pages are generating the most traffic, get demographic information on the users that are visiting your site, and see which products are bringing in the most revenue. It’s also worth monitoring the various stages of the customer funnel to see where customers drop-off and track where profitability is coming from. You can achieve this by tracking conversion rate, average order value and the total number of sales.

These data suggestions are just scratching the surface, but they are good examples of how you can leverage analytics tools to track performance.

By tracking KPIs and performance metrics, this will help you make data-driven decisions that can help improve your ecommerce website and business offering.

12. Marketing and promotion

The building of your website is only the beginning! The real work begins after your website launch. You’ve got your shiny new website, but without the right promoting materials, it won’t achieve much. That’s where digital marketing comes in.

You’ll need a robust digital marketing strategy to get users onto your site – and not just any people! You’ll want to attract customers that are likely to convert.

Marketing options are constantly expanding, but some options you might want to consider include email marketing campaigns, social media posting, and paid advertising. There is also SEO that is a good place to start to get free traffic to your website!

A blog is a good way to showcase your expertise and connect with your audience. You can boost engagement through SEO optimisation and posting the blogs on social media. This will help raise awareness of your brand and products and hopefully increase traffic to your site.

Ready to build your ecommerce website? Need some help?

Fill out our contact form or give us a call and our team will be in touch to discuss your website plans.

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Andrew Leung
Andrew Leung
Senior Website Developer
Specialised in turning design mockups into living, breathing sites with visual flare. Uses a template approach to coding so common design elements are reusable and consistent, which in turn makes it simple to make a change that reflects across the entire site.

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