Building an effective ecommerce website: key components
With hundreds of new successful ecommerce sites popping up every day, for merchants and brands, it's getting harder to stand out from the crowd. People in the industry keep puzzling over the question of what exactly makes an online store prosperous.
Is good design and a fancy theme enough to get shoppers to engage more? Perhaps a migration to this new ecommerce platform will trigger an increase in sales?
Apparently, when developing a selling ecommerce website, there are no magic pills. Each case demands a thorough research, or better yet, a consultancy with a reliable ecommerce agency.
Website success of ecommerce is about making the right choices along the way to the new frontiers – and we would like to focus on the most critical turning points.
Ecommerce site building: customer centricity
How to create a store for your customers
At the center of our heliocentric ecommerce universe, there is a sun, that is your precious shoppers, aren’t they? Everything turns around them. But customers are diverse, you know this very well.
Every time I think of the odds of customer relations, I recall a little scene.
Several years ago, when I was sitting in a local pizzeria, apathetically chewing a rubber piece of something resembling pepperoni pizza, I saw a lady in her late fifties. She was very upset - it seemed she was about to burst into tears.
When a waiter approached her, he asked indifferently: Is something wrong, ma'am? The lady sighed and replied sadly: I don't feel like this is my slice of pizza. Pardon me? The waiter didn't get that. And she sighed again and repeated: I don't feel like this is my slice of pizza.
After a brief bustle, half a dozen pizzeria staff surrounded an upset lady, tripping over each other, asking whether she wants it on a thick or thin crust, does she like it Chicago- or Neapolitan-styled, what amount of cheese, and listing their best-selling toppings. Eventually, they managed to cheer up the sad lady, they even made her smile.
To put it in an ecommerce context: The lesson is simple: get to know your customers, their appetites, their tastes. Even the most popular food like pizza – in order to satisfy the demanding tastes – has to be properly backed, has to be made with a good dough, should contain an exceptional sauce, and the toppings with the freshest ingredients. E-shopping websites consist of a modern platform environment, flawless UX, handy plugins, etc.
Starting an ecommerce site: worries turned into efficacy
What is needed to create a website? Prior to the development phase, people are filled with doubts. There are many questions, but most commonly merchants just want some reassurance that everything will be fine and they won't harm their enterprise due to possible missteps they can make.
Four major questions people ask about ecommerce website development:
- How hard is it to develop an ecommerce website?
- How long does it take to build an online commerce website?
- What is the cost of ecommerce website development?
- How to make a selling website?
The answers may vary depending on what stair of the ecommerce ladder you are standing on. On the very basic level, the answers may be: it’s easy as pie, dude, you can build it in 15 minutes with your eyes half-closed, and it’s free! Yeah, why not.
But things are somewhat different for those who have a trusted enterprise with thousands of multifaceted products with plenty of options. Want it or not, you may need a helping hand from ecommerce web developers.
Ecommerce agency as a teammate
Finding a good companion is never an easy task. Merchants may think of ecommerce developers as technical middlemen they would prefer not to include in their intimate relations with their precious online store. Oh, those geeks – they know way too much!
Keep cool, would you feel better if – instead of a car mechanic – a plumber took care of your car? There are technical issues – and there are people with expertise who can solve them.
Although digital transformation may seem intuitive these days, risks are growing in proportion to the size of your enterprise.
Some factors to consider prior to collaborating with agencies: try juxtaposing your business goals, your growth strategy – with the required skills and expertise of the agency you want to hire. What are they really good at? Some are good at making high-brow aesthetic storefronts, some have decent expertise in customization, while some are back-end brainiacs coding ecommerce websites like gods.
How to make an ecommerce site user-friendly: mapping customer journey
UX is crucial: if your users can’t accept it, everything else (even your unique products) may simply go unnoticed. Users are capricious and may slam the door at the first difficulty or suspicion.
Therefore, you need to find a balance between functionality – on the one hand, and crisp and juicy design – on the other. The dynamic interactive design elements are great, but it will probably work if you have a dozen products and can customize each page a lot (i.e apple.com).
It’s another thing if you have thousands of products and they have multiple options – you can’t overload so many pages with heavy web design shticks. And this will also require a lot of man-hours from developers.
Design your customer journey mapping to highlight the pain points of the purchasing flaw. Gather your developing team to find the way to convert these points into leveraging points.
Your ecommerce platform – your kind
Looking for a platform to stand out
Platform choice is one of those turning points, a real twist. May we compare it to choosing a country to reside or maybe planning a marriage of convenience – in other words, quite a lot is at stake. Yet contemporary platforms are so capable and scalable – with skilled ecommerce developers, you probably can achieve a lot within any given top ecommerce platform available.
As we already talked about the art of pizza making: dough is essential. This is about how you bake a crust base. You have to consider whether it will be suitable enough for your chosen sauce and toppings.
The platform choice is not an easy one, as it determines how comfortable you will be in developing your store in the future. The set of ecommerce components of a good website may primarily depend on the choice of platform as well. Therefore, at this stage, you may also need a consultancy with ecommerce development agencies that can evaluate your product line, assortment, discuss your strategy with you, etc.
The most principal dilemma you have to choose between, whether it is Saas or open-source model. Both have their pros and cons. Open-source platforms are known for their limitless possibilities of customization: many merchants want to avoid what they call a “vendor lock-in”. On the contrary, SaaS is good for those who don’t want to maintain, to administrate hardware and servers, etc. SaaS model looks somewhat more modern: you get microservices by the subscription. If you don’t need a service, you can cancel a subscription, easy.
At Grinteq, we have our list of favorite platforms, and will be glad to help you with:
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud
- Webflow for ecommerce websites
- Shopify and Shopify Plus
Ecommerce Integrations, innovations, scalability
The ability to integrate is an important feature, not only for human-beings. The more the platform you have settled on is able to integrate with third-party services, the greater its capability. Furthermore, the greater your ability to satisfy the demand of your customers, the more potential you have for growth, the more your store ecosystem can grow.
Whether you like it or not, payment processing is critical for an ecommerce business. Losing sales (that were already in your pocket) due to the lags and integration errors – wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. Payment gateway is this finish line of the buyer's journey: if it suddenly kicks a buyer off instead of being easily torn apart, a poor creature may be traumatized so badly he won’t return to your e-store any time soon.
AI-powered personalization in ecommerce
Google gives us personalized search results, Facebook creates a feed based on previous user behavior. Personalization has long been a part of our lives, and it would be fantastic if ecommerce did not adopt such powerful tools. While it often means giving the green light to corporations handling our personal data, the pros are users get more accurate results.
Often platforms sell these features under the umbrella of AI terms (which, in the eyes of users, add a lot of points). While the technical part remains unclear (AI magic), most often it means more processing power to process large amounts of data in real time.
Now that your e-business website is a perfect slice of pizza, everybody's dying to bite – there may be a little obstacle. People can’t find it!
It's a pretty cool thing if you want all your shiny products to remain in your only possession. But normally merchants want to sell things. For this reason, things should be out in the open, in the limelight: things should be reachable, and accessible. So that shoppers can search them with the keywords, aka google them.
Make sure your SEO is fine-tuned. And shoppers who are looking for the ‘most empathic and understanding customer relations in my life’, will eventually land on your web store.
Best toppings for ecommerce — apps, extensions, plugins
Extensions and plugins are also about new horizons of your potential. As well as about replacing huge chunks of work with automation. Often there is no need to reinvent the wheel, since there are thousands of ready-made solutions. Most likely, someone has already gone through the path you are heading and came up with a special solution for a particular issue – be it a plugin, extension, application, etc.
Ecommerce website navigation
Shoppers are like kids: they like to play with filters, they adore sorting things out. Providing consistent navigation enables consumers with a deeper feeling of control – they can arrange your stock this way or that way. Hi-end navigation simulates a real presence similar to the one you get in brick-and-mortar shops: a sense of physical control of space. If you manage to do this properly – you will have your shoppers browsing for hours with a wide open mouth like they do in malls.
Managing an ecommerce site: catalogs
Although there are some pablo picasso among us, most people prefer order to chaos. The more features to arrange your products are at yours and shoppers’ disposal, the better.
Page Speed optimization
Speed is still critical. And until we witness some kind of Slow Uprising that will plunge everyone into meditation and hibernation, we have to hurry! Managing to implement Page Speed Optimization into your store will give you lots of points from those who like to do everything at speed. Some extra seconds of waiting can literally blow their mind.
Ecommerce website search
That feeling when you know it has to be there – you reach a search window, and you type, and see.. no items found. Arrgh.
Consumers become so lazy, they want everything at their fingertips. With just several letters I typed, I got some trendy useless gadget. I don’t know why on earth I would need it, but I feel just fine that I have it in several clicks. Almost like neuralink: adding things to a cart with the power of my thoughts.
Modern search engines like Elasticsearch, that provide multi-tenant full-text search, allow this magic to happen. Any advanced search features can significantly improve your e-store’s conversion rate.
Checkout can be really annoying. The procedure gets on everyone's nerves. If you manage to organize everything in such a way that your customers' eyes won't twitch when they land on the checkout page, you're the king of UX. Your reward awaits you in the form of an improved conversion rate. Lots of plugins and apps offer one-page checkout functionality that allows hassle-free experience without teeth grinding.
Loyalty programs, sales and promotions
Sales-hunters constitute a large passionate group of customers. You really need advanced functionality of the ecommerce website to keep this group on their toes. They need their daily injections of dopamine to stay alive.
Additionally, you'll probably want to find ways to reward your most loyal customers so that they become more connected to your store.
Yes, among shoppers there are those who are deadly hungry – they will swallow up anything they will be offered as ‘pizza’ with their eyes closed. Creating a website for selling products is simple. But most of the shoppers really need your attention – they have tastes, and habits. That’s not only about the essential components of an ecommerce system or a structure of ecommerce website. You have to know your customers better. You need a vision of what their slice of pizza is, and what it should contain to satisfy them. Taking all these parts of ecommerce together will help you build a well-working online shopping website for your audience.