Ecommerce should form part of every retail based business’s sales strategy. It opens up your business to a huge number of potential customers. However, if you don’t do it well, you are going to struggle with conversions and wonder why sales are disappointing.
There are many platforms that simplify ecommerce on the market, but which one do you use? Over the last 15 years of running ecommerce ventures, I have tried a lot of different platforms. Some were bad, really bad; a lot were good, but missing certain features and so I would always be looking for a better option. Since 2010 I’ve been using WooCommerce, which runs as a WordPress plugin and haven’t felt the need to find anything else; yet!
WooCommerce now powers over 35% of all ecommerce stores globally, which is a crazy market share. The best part is it is open source, so if there is a feature that you want that isn’t part of its standard capabilities, it has likely been developed by a third party. If not, it isn’t too difficult to have a custom extension developed to suit your requirements.
So, over the last 15 years, what have I found to be the most important or valuable features for an ecommerce store?
1. Social share options
The capability of leveraging social media where possible is probably the most important feature of any ecommerce store. While it’s less important in a B2B environment, in a B2C environment, it is essential. It gives your happy customers an option to share your products to their friends; it’s basically free advertising and what business owner doesn’t want free advertising, right? Not only that but it helps to add trust as well. Consumers see those shares as personal recommendations and if choosing between a site with visible social shares and a site without, they will usually choose the site that has them.
2. Enquiry forms on every product page
This is a feature that I didn’t even know that I wanted until after I moved to WooCommerce and started using it. After setting it up, my conversion rates went up quite quickly and the number of customers that used the product enquiry forms was quite astonishing. It allowed them to ask questions about a product without leaving the product page.
When you force people to change pages to contact you with a question, you will always lose a percentage of them. This fixed that and then some.
3. Upsells and Cross-sells
This is one that should be a standard feature of every single ecommerce platform available and I shouldn’t have to include it here, but, sadly it isn’t. There are still platforms and sites that don’t take advantage of this functionality.
It’s the “would you like fries with that” method of increasing your average customer spend. You would be crazy not to be utilising it.
To get maximum value from the feature, a reasonable amount of thought needs to be put into setting it up correctly to start with so it gets the maximum amount of engagement and uptake.
4. Multiple payment options
While technically there is nothing wrong with having just the one payment option – if you do, make it a simple, trusted one – I have found that having two options reduces the cart abandonment rate. The two I generally use are PayPal, as it’s familiar and trusted, and Stripe, which is a simple credit card processor.
5. Product reviews
Product reviews help to add trust in a digital landscape. Don’t be scared of people leaving bad reviews, either. Bad reviews on some of your products show that you are allowing genuine reviews and aren’t hiding anything. As such, the positive reviews on your other products are viewed with greater weight. Reviews also give you invaluable intel on your business and products that you can use to improve to provide a better overall experience for your customers.
If you’re running an ecommerce website and want to add one thing that could potentially cause a massive boost your conversion rate, then make it a review system.
I personally use this feature a lot on all my favourite sites. When I see something, either while generally browsing or via an email newsletter, but I’m not yet ready to buy, I’ll add it to a wishlist for future purchase.
In situations like this when the consumer isn’t quite ready to make a purchase and there is no option of adding the product to a wishlist, then they will usually leave the site and forget about the product. With the option of a wishlist, you give the consumer a chance to purchase those products the next time they visit your store as well as gaining a registered user to whom you can market to over the long-term (and by market to, I don’t mean bombard with sales emails!).
7. Image galleries
The more information you can provide to your website viewers at the point of product consideration, the better. Given they can’t view or feel the physical product, you need to provide as much as possible to help them overcome any doubts they have. An easy way to do this is with multiple, high-quality images from various angles that show as much product detail as possible.
If your site is missing any of these features and want to know how you can add them, feel free to contact us and we can have a chat!