Top 8 Must-Haves For Your Online Store

ajit-2Ajit Singh
Optimist by birth, marketeer by choice. Ajit is a startup enthusiast, essayer, short film maker and writer. He lives at Zepo.

Lately, with the onslaught of ecommerce boom in this country, for SMBs and present online retailers, the concern has shifted from “how to launch an online store” to “how to launch an efficient online store”. Ecommerce solution providers, like us- Zepo, are always digging for innovative approaches with which online selling could be made easy. So, we recently compiled the list of elements which although being crucial to an online store are often neglected.

Please find them below but let explicitly clear that they are in no particular order.

Mobile website

It would be a truly plain statement if I say ’mobile phones have become crucial part of our lifestyle’. Rather mobile devices have changed the way we lead our lives and that includes our shopping behavior too. Given the increasing accessibility to smartphones, consumers are shifting from desktop/PCs to their smartphone for shopping.

Kunal Bahl, co-founder of Snapdeal, had said “close to 60% of our orders are coming over mobile now. It is growing really fast. We get more traffic on the mobile than we get on personal computers. Within the next 12 months over 75% of our orders will be on mobile”. Statistically, mobile phones currently account for almost half of ecommerce traffic. So, if you don’t have a mobile site you are losing business and chances are you must be losing it already. Lately I had created an infographic to explain the impact of mobile devices on the shopping behaviour of consumers globally.


Customer service   

As the choices for online shoppers have increased with the ongoing ecommerce, customer service has turned out to be one of the biggest differentiators in current ecommerce market. An online shopper is just a click away from leaving your site and poor customer service is going to only make him decide easily.

‘A happy customer brings you more customers’ is a plain fact but celebrated American entrepreneur Jim Rohn says-

“One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising”

So make sure you have a first-rate customer support and get your support’s contact details explicitly visible on the header of your store. Also, if you are not entertaining more than 1000 unique visitors to your site everyday, then extend functional chat facility to your customers and ensure that you are there on the other end to address their queries. You can also employ chat window as a tool to extend real time offers and discounts to the visitors on your store, just the way 10kya- a multiple-products online store does. This store offer bargain and discount to their discerning shoppers in real time through their chat window.  

Easy check out

I bet you must not have found a single person in your life who would tell you that he likes to wait. We all hate to wait and so do your customers. Thus, with every second that you are wasting of your customer’s time in the check-out process, you are implicitly increasing your chance to never see him again.

easy checkout

But there are online stores who view checkout process as a mean to collect their customer’s data and then employ it in their marketing activity. You are going to have a hard time appeasing your customers back, once you miff them right at your store.

So, optimize the check-out steps and eliminate the unnecessary feeds. Period. Also, don’t force your customers to compulsorily open an account and allow them to check out as a guest.    

Product images

Description, price, reviews? No. The image of the product is the first thing that a customer checks out while searching for a product on your store and it might as well be the last thing if your image isn’t right. Product images plays a crucial role in your customers’ decision making. It can help you make or break a sale.

product image

Whenever your customer visits an offline store, he has the option to physically inspect the product in his own hands. He can test and try it the way he pleases, but an online store cannot extend this facility to them. There he only has the product image at his disposal. However, store owners tend to miss or choose to ignore the importance of product photography as it could be repetitive if your product range is not fixed.

So, make sure that your product is so demonstrated on your site that your customers don’t feel that they are missing anything. The image of the product must be taken from various angles and zoom in function  is a must.  

Good navigation

Author and web designer Vincent Flander coined a term in 1998- Mystery Meat Navigation, as a euphemism to describe the websites who look visually attractive but lag in everything else. These websites are badly structured and don’t convey the information properly, confusing the user and making it difficult for them to get what they want. They play Minesweeper game with the user, wherein the user has to guess before clicking over anything. You can find the cases of such sites here.  

Check out this video by Vincent Flanders himself in which he has described the meaning and implication of mystery meat navigation

So, create your online store with the intention of not to win design awards but with the clear purpose to make your user’s browsing experience pleasant and not confusing.

Product reviews

Product review feature allows your customers to read other’s experience before making a purchase and then share his own. Reading reviews helps your customer to set right expectations and instills confidence in him before he makes a purchase. But over all of that, it tells your user that your site is alive- people are coming to your store and they are shopping. Reviews by other users, regardless of it being bad or good, creates an impression to the visitors that your site is getting traction and he is not the first one to be using that product.

Store owners have reported increase in average order value after installation of ratings/review facility. Infact, contrary to popular notion, even bad reviews have helped increase sale of product.  Please check the infographic below to better understand its impact of rating and reviews.

infograph 2

Listing on coupon sites

I’ll double my price and then discount it by half—to give you the deal you deserve”. Jarod Kintz, This book is Not for Sale.

Listing on coupons sites is imperative to your marketing strategy. But if you are not having online coupons in the first place then you might want to give a thought to your marketing strategy. Coupons creates a win-win situation for both shoppers and store owners and most importantly it helps you create customer loyalty in this already burgeoning ecommerce market. Another reason why listing on coupon sites is so critical is because coupon sites come second, only after search engines, when it comes what online shoppers refer to while shopping online.

Search feature

Same reason as ‘why you need an easy check out option?’  in point 3. Your customers don’t want to wait and instead of scouring the entire website for what they want, they like to directly find through search option. Especially when your SKU is greater than 100, it is imperative to have a functional search bar that is distinctly visible on the header of the website and not disguised in some corner.

That’s all, in this list of imperatives to your online store. You can keep it as a checklist while you are building your online store or already having it. Do let me know if I missed anything, in the comment box.  

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

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