What an Ecommerce Website Needs to Be Profitable
To be profitable, an ecommerce site needs
speed, user-friendliness, detailed product pages and a logical structure. And those are just the major requirements!
The best way to create a new ecommerce website (or optimize an existing one) is to consider the customer’s perspective.
We’re sharing the guidelines you need to attract customers, meet their needs and improve brand trust.
What Makes A Good Ecommerce Site?
It starts with quality branding. In many cases, being on your site is the only time your customers are truly interacting with your brand. Think about it: other digital interactions with your brand happen in someone else’s neighborhood. Those experiences are designed by Google, Facebook or other publishers using their branding and their tools to meet their own goals, not yours.
Use your website to fully immerse customers into your values, differentiators and personable qualities. Stand true to what sets your brand apart.
- Clear, consistent branding. This doesn’t mean slapping your logo at every corner of your site. It means plugging your voice into every detail of the customer experience through design, voice, navigation and communication.
- Effective CTAs. An effective call to action on an ecommerce site is where you can truly shine in presenting your value. What solutions/benefits do your products or services provide? What are the exact next steps to take? Speak it loud, clear and convincingly.
- Available contact. Customers will always have questions, no matter how clear the content and process may seem. It’s important to not just cater to those needs, but also to ensure they’re readily and easily accessible. Make sure you have several ways for your customers to reach you: email, phone, social media and links to all of these access points throughout their journey. If you can, utilize a live chat tool and provide a well-thought-out FAQ page to address your customers’ most common concerns.
Though your branding should make your company’s value abundantly clear, it’s equally important to bring your customers into that equation by focusing on what they want and need from your site.
What Do Customers Want in an Ecommerce Site?
While different audiences have varying preferences, there are general aspects of an ecommerce site that everyone expects to see. In short: Create an experience that is easy, trustworthy and fast.
Here are the top things customers want in an ecommerce site:
- Good design. When customers come to your site, they expect the design and interface to smoothly (or even delightfully) take them through the purchasing journey. Make sure you have easy navigation, scannable content, and mobile-friendly pages. You might consider using subtle animations to guide the users’ actions.
- Excellent product pages. From high-quality photos to keyword-optimized titles and product descriptions, there are many factors that go into optimizing your product pages. Learn what’s required for top-notch product page SEO and prioritize it all.
- Site search function. An easy way to make customers happy is by allowing them to search for specific items rather than manually digging through navigation. Include a site search function!
- Fast site speed. Nobody likes a slowpoke. Few customers will wait for a slow site to load. When you optimize your website for speed, it not only makes the user experience pleasant but also improves your chances of ranking for your most valuable keywords. Have you improved your Core Web Vitals and optimized your images?
- Reviews and ratings. Including product reviews on your website achieves several things: (1) It helps re-create the brick-and-mortar experience by giving users details about the product that the description may not contain. (2) It establishes credibility and trust. (3) It can help prevent returns by allowing users to self-qualify for the purchase. Reviews inspire consumers’ confidence in converting!
- Content marketing through blogs. Blogs are a great way to meet prospective customers at different sales funnel stages – especially the upper-funnel Awareness and Consideration stages – through SEO. For example, if a user is Googling “are cockatiels good pets?”, they are probably in the consideration stage of buying a cockatiel. If you sell cockatiels, you can publish a super informative blog, rank #1 for that keyword, and get a positive brand impression from that person. When they finally decide to buy, it’s likely that they will consider your brand.
- Optimized checkout. Your checkout experience should say, “Finally! You’ve been looking for this product your whole life, even if you didn’t realize it!” The experience should also be clear and informative, which you can accomplish with both UI and words. Eliminate all points of friction in a checkout experience, such as requiring registration or account setup (just make it optional!)
- No surprise costs. Include all pertinent information as it is needed. Top reasons for cart abandonment are unexpected fees or shipping charges. If free shipping just isn’t feasible, explore options for flat-rate shipping fees with a chosen carrier, or introduce a shipping calculator so customers know that carriers decide the rate, not the business.
Technical Requirements for an Ecommerce Website
As your ecommerce presence grows, you’ll quickly understand just how important picking the right website hosting service can be. Choose your service based on factors like site security, website traffic capacity, CDN capabilities and PCI compliance.
Some of the more popular hosting companies available are:
Quality CMS & Other Solutions
There are plenty of ecommerce solutions that package a content management system (CMS) with a CRM, live inventory and hosting. These companies offer tools to build a store, showcase products and successfully manage your business. For example: Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce allow for tens of thousands of products and potentially hundreds of thousands of SKUs.
Finding the right CMS for your business will likely depend on how many products you offer now; how many you plan to offer in the future; and how much control you want to have over the design, structure and content of your site.
When looking for the right platform, find out if any technical elements of SEO are automated by the platform. Shopify, for example, automatically generates schema markup for products, though most experts advise double-checking those schema tags and adding additional ones to make sure you’re giving search engines the best chance of understanding your content. Google recommends JSON-LD formatting, which has caused some companies to update older schema markup already on their product pages.
We recommend basing your ecommerce CMS and other tech decisions on the following criteria:
Pricing. Many ecommerce CMSs, plugins, etc., charge monthly or by the number of products available. Some ecommerce solutions may take a cut of your sales – depending on which services you sign up for.
Scalability. The whole point is to grow your business. CMSs tend to cater to specific business sizes, so avoid choosing a solution that won’t grow with you or scale up customer support.
Security. Providing secure transactions and protecting personal data is a big responsibility. The ecommerce technologies you choose can take some of that weight off your shoulders. For example, some ecommerce CMSs have automatic SSL/TLS certification.
SEO tools. Even SEO pros love working on an ecommerce site with basic SEO tools built into the front end. Make sure you’ll be able to customize title tags, meta descriptions, page URLs, pagination and more to improve both SEO and accessibility.
The Most Cost-Effective Ecommerce Sites
Although there are several free ecommerce site platforms to select from, most of these platforms have limitations, commission fees or the need for development expertise. These options will otherwise provide you with the best cost-effective solution for site growth, customizable options and ease of use.
- Wix. Easiest for those looking to get started immediately with a fairly simple store setup. Wix payment plans start at $27/month, but these low-payment options come with more limited features. However, Wix doesn’t take any commission from your sales – making it a much more cost-effective option than other ecommerce platforms. There are several key features such as mobile optimization, 24/7 site security monitoring, online appointment booking, global shipping, 50+ payment methods and more.
- Shopify. Also incredibly easy to use and set up, but much more feasible for those with more complex stores. Although Shopify plans start at $29/month, they do provide a more all-inclusive approach. However, they do receive 2% commission outside of Shopify payments and charge for certain features or additional templates. For many people though, the ability to use the platform themselves without the additional need for an expert developer is in some cases much more cost-effective.
- BigCommerce. As the name implies, BigCommerce is ideal for businesses with larger ecommerce sites. Including multichannel selling, and B2B specific features, this platform helps sites scale quickly. However, you won’t find it as beginner-friendly as Wix or Shopify. But even if you need to hire support, standard plans start at $29/month with additional savings on subscriptions. All in all, these features are likely worth it for BIG commerce.
- Squarespace. If you’re looking for fewer limitations in themes, accounts and product spaces, Squarespace offers an unlimited amount at an affordable starting plan of $23/month. The catch is that their commission fee is 3%, and some additional features are only available with higher-tier plans. For some though, these unlimited features may outweigh these additional costs.
- WooCommerce. If you already have a WordPress-based site, WooCommerce is an entirely free, fairly inclusive platform to help manage your store. Payment can be set up without any charges or monthly fees, and you can hook up your store to Google Analytics for data tracking. While overall features and freedom is limited, it can be a great option for early growth.
Need help choosing? We pitted ecommerce giants WordPress and Shopify against each other in a head-to-head battle for supremacy.
Implementing What Every Ecommerce Site Should Have
Starting from scratch. If you’re creating an ecommerce site from scratch, start small. Identify your best products and support them with all the tools you have available. Then expand your offerings based on customer feedback, performance data and what’s next for your brand.
Expanding existing reach. If you already have an ecommerce business and are trying to ramp up your website’s visibility through SEO, paid media and other marketing, consider all the tips from this article to optimize your conversion rate. Then you’ll be ready for all that extra traffic.
Consistent development. No matter how established your business is, it’s important to analyze website performance through weekly or monthly reports and improve your strategy as you go.
User-based approach. Finally, envision the ecommerce site you would want to use. What does it look like? What information does it feature? Does it let you make an account? Does it show reviews? How would you get to the site in the first place?
Need Help Making Your Ecommerce Site More Profitable?
An ecommerce site is never done growing. It requires maintenance, creativity, expansion and constant attention—most of which is hard to manage without multiple teams of support. If you need some help, trust the content, SEO, design and development experts at Oneupweb to help you with your ecommerce growth strategy. This is what we do best. See what we can do for your ecommerce efforts. Let’s talk. Call (231) 922-9977 or get in touch today