A successful online store: the essentials

December 21, 2020

It is safe to say that online shopping has become more popular than ever and businesses all over the world are adapting to the new ways by opening their online stores. Did you know that online shop users in Europe in 2019 were 53% of the population? Therefore, since more and more people are shopping over the internet, the software for online shopping has also improved in the past few years. There are countless features and platforms, which can help you set up your online shop.

That being said, there are still some mistakes retailers make when it comes to creating the perfect website for their business. Some online shops have unnecessary features, which often are neither helpful for the consumers, nor enhancing the web design. Furthermore, business owners often insist on applying pretty, but unuseful themes to their online shops, which hinders the UX (user experience) and could significantly influence the number of purchases.

Therefore, we decided it’s best if we shared some of the essential features of successful online shops, so that you can ensure your business’s online store is on the right track. So, whether you’re just starting to plan the design of your website, or you already have a developed online store, stay tuned, because we think those tips will be useful for you.


The Must-Haves

We agree that with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to select the right elements for your website. Furthermore, if you make a mistake when deciding what functionalities to include in your online shop, it can definitely have an impact on its whole performance and on the number of potential leads, which you might have otherwise attracted.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are some features and characteristics that your online shop simply cannot do without. Keep reading and feel free to jot some of those down, so you can easily implement them to your business’s online shop.

  • Various Payment Methods

We’re jumping straight to the payment methods, since that can be a major decision influencer when it comes to online shopping. A great number of people have considerations when it comes to putting their card details on the internet. There are diverse concerns connected to paying online. Probably the biggest of them is the fact that if a website lacks mechanisms, which can protect its consumers from hackers, then the users can become fraud victims. And since there are dozens of similar stories on the internet and on the news, it falls on the business owners to ease their customers’ concerns. One of the easiest ways, in which you could do that is by providing your clients with multiple payment options. Furthermore, even if your customers aren’t cautious of theft or hacking, they still might have a favorite (or a more convenient to them) payment method. It goes without saying that if you fail to elevate their unease or if they can’t find their preferred way of paying, your clients will most probably bounce off of your website and straight into your competitor’s. Therefore, it’s important to walk the extra mile and include more than one payment option to your online shop.

Some of the popular payment methods on the internet are: Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal Express, Bitcoin, Dwolla and net eChecks.

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System

Even if you are operating a small business, you can’t possibly manage to get everything done, no matter how many hours you spend at the office. Therefore, businesses often prioritize major projects and important business goals (which in many cases have tight deadlines). And we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with that, you should strive to grow your business successfully, after all. However, you definitely shouldn’t neglect the relationship between your brand and your customers. Not only because it’s rude and you may lose some of them, but also because you can gain returning customers and brand advocates by supporting a healthy trust-based connection with your clients. Therefore, it may be wise to research what CRM systems are available and appropriate for your business. Although different customer relationship managers have multiple features, the three main tasks that you must be able to accomplish when using one are:

  1. To receive automatically logged transactions and messages from your customers, which reached out to you via your website’s contact form.
  2. To target different groups of customers and offer them content according to their interests and demographics, diverse price range and even audience-specific email newsletters.
  3. To be able to communicate with your customers and have a history of all of your conversations.
  • Analytics Platform

Even if you put all of your effort into driving traffic to your webpage or promoting products so you can boost the sales, there’s always the unfortunate chance of not accomplishing your goal. When this happens, the best thing you could do is to go through your reports and track the performance of each tool that you have used in your campaign. This will allow you to make the necessary changes so that everything goes smoothly in the future. You can only do so, however, if you’ve been analyzing your website’s (preferably all of your online communication platforms) performance and recording the findings. Although there are multiple options for integrated analytics software, one of the most popular platforms out there is Google Analytics. No matter which platform or software you settle on, you must access it regularly and keep track of the findings. By doing so you will be able to easily track the sources of your traffic and thus you’ll know where to concentrate your efforts in order to acquire even more. Furthermore, you will not only be able to assess which of your communication platforms performs best (email, social media, your blog, etc.), but you’ll also learn some of the key characteristics of your clients – such as demographics, interests, behavior on your online shop and more.


  • Easily Accessible Shopping Cart

By having a cart summarization on every page of your online shop, you’re ensuring that your customers can easily manage their shopping list. What we often see in good online shops is a brief summary (it’s usually displayed in the top right corner of the page, however it’s up to you where you decide to visualize it) of the cart continents. It kind of looks like a receipt and some business owners use this space to include a preview of:

  1. Тhe total number of products, which have already been added to the cart
  2. Тhe total price of the products
  3. А button, which is linked to the checkout page
  4. А quick access to the users dashboard

This could be very helpful when it comes to gently reminding your customers they still have to pay for the items in their card. Furthermore, other features, which you could include when it comes to the shopping cart preview, are the option to compare products with one another (if it’s applicable for your business) as well as a “wish list” option. You could encourage your clients to add products they desire to their wish lists and then run remarketing campaigns offering discounts on those same items. Furthermore, you could also display the wish list on each page of your online shop (or on a specific page only, for example on the checkout page) and thus teasing your customers into buying the products they so much want.

  • Strong Hosting

Fingers crossed, that it all goes well and as planned and you get a lot of traffic coming into your online shop. After all, there is no such thing as too much traffic, unless of course your hosting provider isn’t strong enough. In that case, you are sure to get slow loading pages, freezes and crashes along with the traffic. And you should definitely not let that happen, because according to wetopi.com, 47% of website users expect any webpage to load in under two seconds and if that fails to occur, then your customers will bounce straight off of your online shop. Therefore, when deciding on the hosting provider for your business, opt for the one, which has an uptime guarantee (no crashes or slow loading). Furthermore, ideally your hosting provider will keep backups of your data and will ensure the cyber security of your website and your customers.

Important Points To Take Into Consideration

So, now that you know what are the absolute essentials for any online shop and (hopefully) you’ve implemented them (or you’re at least panning to), you can go on adding extras and making your business’s website even more attractive. Keep in mind that although your online store can handle itself without all of those features and elements, implementing them will make it truly amazing. Furthermore, by going through those points and optimizing your website according to them, you are ensuring to stay on top of your competitors.

Moreover, if you provide high quality experience for your clients, you will undoubtedly see more sales and traffic to your webpage. This becomes obvious when we take a look at intechnic.com’s article, which talks about how a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to a 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. If you want to improve your UX optimization and achieve such results, keep reading.

  • Be Specific and Ordered

When creating your category pages, you need to do so in an ordered manner. Keep in mind what kind of people you’re creating the content for. You need to figure out what are the characteristics of your niche and what are the best ways to target your audience. You should carefully select the products that need to be displayed on your website and categorize them accordingly. You need to organize and group your goods in a way which will provoke engagement and interest in your customers. Furthermore, pay attention to your wording and make sure that your categories encompass the full spectrum of your business and clients alike.

  • Have A Clean UX

The pages of your online shop have to be easily navigable by your customers. As we’ve already mentioned, UX is of main importance when it comes to conversion rates and overall client’s decision making (whether or not to buy a given product). Therefore, you should definitely keep your interface clean and ditch the pretty but complicated design that you so much liked. You need to create your online shop, so that it is extremely easy to use throughout every step of the online shopping. Furthermore, you need to design your pages so that they help you guide your customers from the landing page, through the product pages and (the goal) to the checkout section of your website.


  • Cross-Sell

Having your own online shop gives you the privilege to offer cross-selling deals to your customers. This is a great way to boost your sales and showcase the full spectrum of your offered products. You could offer related goods to those your clients have already added to the cart, or you could implement special discounts on similar items. One of the best cross-selling examples can be found at Amazon. So when you’re feeling lost on ideas, feel free to have a browse through it and gain some inspiration for your online shop.

  • Have Strong Copies

If you want to improve your search engine ranking (and you should, unless your page appears first) you need to have good content on your online shop. Don’t just copy the manufacturer’s description of the items you offer. Think of an original, fresh way in which you could illustrate the benefits of your products, instead. Your writing style should be in accordance with your audience’s interests and demographics, so that it adds value and persuades them to add this product to the cart. Moreover, by including relevant metadata on the appropriate places in your website and having content which speaks to your customers, you’re taking big steps towards making your business’s online shop SEO-friendly.

  • Include High Quality Visuals

Everyone loves a good visual and so do your customers. By adding attractive visuals to your online shop, you are ensuring that your conversion rates get higher, according to cloudcart.com. Therefore, you need to choose the images that present your products in the best light. You could even include videos of your products in action, just don’t forget to display those visuals, so that they don’t hinder the UX you have established. Furthermore, you need to think how all of those images look together. Do they compliment each other, or are they completely different in style and therefore make your online store look scrambled and fragmented?

  • Have Internal Linking

It is a very good idea to link product and category pages to one another inside of your online shop, especially when it comes to SEO. If you establish those links, this boosts your page authority, thus making it rank higher in the search engine results pages. Furthermore, through linking core products and other relevant categories to one another you are multiplying the chance of selling those items to the ones interested in them. That is so, because no one will click on the link if they weren’t intrigued by its continents.


Craft Your Brand Personality

If you implement all of the above mentioned features and elements, you are sure to have an online shop which is quite well optimized in terms of UX. However, simply having a well designed and optimized online shop isn’t enough. If you want to attract new customers, boost sales, drive more traffic to your website, or in other words, grow your business in the digital world, you need to create and implement a marketing strategy.

Furthermore, you need to build the image of your brand and execute the strategy according to your company’s values and beliefs. As cloudcard.com suggests, you need to think of your brand as a real, living person, who has specific characteristics, a specific attitude towards the surrounding world and who behaves according to a specific culture. Once you figure out what your business’s culture is, you can establish true, personal connections with your customers.

Furthermore, your brand personality plays a huge role when it comes to consumers’ decision making process. For example, on the one hand, if you show that you are truly passionate about a given product the consumers will probably buy it from you. On the other hand, if your competitors didn’t put any effort into showing their excitement over the same product, the consumer will once again prefer to get that item from another retailer.

So make sure to research your audience and understand what their pain points are, as well as what they are passionate about. Once you have that knowledge craft your brand story, so that it corresponds to the values your desired customers may have. Furthermore, through it, you need to be able to influence your customers on an emotional level. Establishing a good brand-customer relationship ensures that your clients will be loyal to your brand.

Another point that you should consider is your brand’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In order to be able to execute great UVP and USP you need to conduct an in-depth competitor analysis. Know what your strengths are in comparison to your rivals and communicate them to your customers.

At the end of the day, you should definitely plan your long-term branding strategy, in order to stay on top of your competitors. Have meaningful interactions with your clients and follow your company’s culture. Don’t skip on optimizing your online shop and continue striving to grow your business in the digital world.

If any or all of those points make you feel overwhelmed or lost on ideas, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you with every step throughout your digital journey. Interval’s team will work alongside you so we can create your success story together.

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