What Makes A Great E-Commerce Website?

Want to take your side hustle online? Want to sell your products to customers all over the world? Well you can! The internet has changed the retail landscape; no longer do you need a bricks and mortar store, a raft of staff or a black book of contacts to make your business successful. Now all you need is a great e-commerce website and at Salcombe Design Company we build fully-integrated, beautiful e-commerce websites. We have years of expertise creating websites for brands, especially in the premium lifestyle sector, and will utilise our skills, knowledge and creativity to give your products the website they deserve.

In this blog post I’m going to give you a rundown of the 8 Things Which Make E-Commerce Websites Great. These tips are applicable whether you’re selling handbags, make-up, knitting supplies or toilet brushes! Let’s begin!

1.       A GREAT DOMAIN NAME

This is the first step to building any website, regardless of whether you wish to sell products online or not. So, what is a domain name?

Simply put, a domain name is the name of your website. It comes after ‘www’ and is proceeded by ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’. A domain name is included in the cost of all websites we design and you can click HERE to learn more about our website building options.

I always recommend to clients that domain names are kept short and just feature your company name with either ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ afterwards. For example, let’s say you’ve started a candle company called Amazing Candles, your ideal domain name would be www.amazingcandles.co.uk.

It’s counterproductive to include anything else in your domain name; additional locations, random numbers and old company names will only confuse your customers and search engines. You can’t repurpose a previous domain name either, especially if the business is called something different! I know it sounds silly but, trust me, I’ve seen it done! When you’re choosing your domain name, remember to run a quick search to see if it’s taken, make sure you spell it correctly and avoid any silly puns.

2.       AN SSL CERTIFICATE

This is crucial for all websites nowadays and is non-negotiable for anyone wanting to sell through their website.

What is an SSL certificate?

In essence, it is a second security layer which will encrypt all information on your website including passwords, personal data and payment details. Many browsers will display a pop-up warning to customers surfing a website without an SSL certificate, discouraging them from purchasing and exchanging any personal details with the site. All of the websites we build come with an SSL certificate so you and your customers can rest assured knowing all information is protected.

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3.       SECURE AND FAST PAYMENT PROCESSING

Ok, this is where it can get confusing for some people. I know I’ve said the above two points are integral to e-commerce websites but the ability to take payments is the crux of any online business! Customers want seamless and fast check-out experiences where they can pay with their favourite credit or debit card.

We’ve all been there; wanting to buy something online but when it comes to putting our card details in the screen buffers. The check-out is slow and complicated, and you suddenly fear you’ve fallen for a scam. Well rest assured, there’s plenty of great companies out there with modern payment processing solutions such as PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay, Sage Pay and more. They’re tried and trusted and, depending on the plan you select, have small transaction fees whilst accepting all major credit and debit cards. When you purchase one of our e-commerce websites, we scour to find the right payment partner for you and take care of the fiddly integration. Click HERE to learn more.

4.       COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

No brand sells products in a vacuum so the chance is you’ve got at least one or two competitors in your sector and dear Amazing Candles can’t afford to turn a blind eye. One of the first things I suggest our clients do is take a look at the websites of their three biggest competitors and make a note of what they like and what they don’t.

So, for example, you may like a website’s navigation bar but hate their font. Or you may love their product photography but their product descriptions are lacklustre. Seeing what your competitors do and how they promote their products helps to build a great e-commerce website. Of course, you can never copy a website but you can take inspiration from it.

TRY THIS AT HOME:

If you’re thinking about a website, run a Google search and click on the first four websites which appear. Take a screenshot of the website home, contact, about and store pages. Print the pages out and grab a pen. Annotate everything you like and would want on your own website. For example, any third-party plug-ins. Then, make a note of everything you don’t like and explain why. This will help to crystalise your website vision which in turn makes our build process quicker and simpler.

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5.       GREAT CONTENT

I feel that I say this every day but I’ll say it again! You could have the most amazing, most integrated, all-singing, all-dancing website design but if your content (photographic, video or written) is rubbish then the whole website will be rubbish, no matter how much you’ve paid a developer.

Examples of content can include:

·         A blog

·         Product descriptions

·         Product / lifestyle photography

·         Product / lifestyle videos

·         A social media feed

One of the issues I see most often is low-quality product photography. If your products are great then you must show your customers their greatness! That means clear, sharp and consistent photography across every page of your website.  It wouldn’t be acceptable to have a five-word sentence describing Amazing Candles’ products; it won’t help their website’s ranking in search engines and it won’t inspire their customers. Of course, all content has to be relevant to your products! You may be fascinated by the dietary requirements of your cat but unless you’re selling pet food or similar pet products, writing a blog post about it is a waste of your time. I’m not saying you have to write product descriptions worthy of Charles Dickins – Heaven’s no!

If you’d like to know more about product photography then read our blog post THE FUNDAMENTALS OF E-COMMERCE PHOTOGRAPHY.

6.       A CLEAR, CONCISE AND COHESIVE LAYOUT

With 85% of people searching the web on their smartphones nowadays, your website can’t afford to have a cluttered layout. Customers need to be able to find your products quickly and easily. If they’re on the train, the Tube or sat on the beach, they don’t want to be scrolling endlessly to find out what your company’s about. Navigation bars should be clearly ordered and the same across all pages of your website - ditto for the footer. Brand colours and language need to be cohesive across your website too. These may seem like little things but they make a difference to tech savvy millennials so if your brand wants to target customers under thirty-five then you need to bear this in mind.

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7.       INTEGRATED SOCIAL MEDIA

Whether you love it or loathe it or don’t know anything about it, social media is here to stay. The most powerful people on the internet are influencers who create content from their bedrooms. You’ve probably never heard of them but they represent a colossal change in marketing. Goodbye magazine editors, the new dictators of style are twenty something year olds posting short clips online. As a brand, you want to get as many people viewing your website and following you on social media which means you need to connect your website to the relevant platforms. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest or Tick Tock or all of the above, a modern e-commerce website is not complete without social integration.

Remember to only connect to business accounts! Please do not integrate your personal Instagram account to your company’s e-commerce site. For example, if I’ve found a new make-up brand, I don’t want to click on their Instagram icon only to be taken to their founder’s Instagram profile full of personal photos, romantic dinners their boyfriend, bikini shots and videos from their nights out. It’s wholly unprofessional!

8.       PROMOTION

Ok so you’ve got a wonderfully designed, mobile-friendly website with great product photography but what now? People need to know about it! The internet and social media have revolutionised marketing forever; no longer are magazine or newspaper spreads effective. Promotion involves payment but like I’ve said earlier, there’s no point throwing money at expensive PPC (pay per click) campaigns if your website is poor quality. It’s just like building a house – you need great foundations. There’s a variety of options available to online retailers including influencer collaborations, SEO and cookie targeting to name but a few. Marketing strategies will vary depending on the nature of your products, your budget and who you want to target. To learn how Salcombe Design Company can help improve your website traffic and thus boost sales, please click HERE or send us an email HERE.

That’s nearly it for this blog post but I’ll leave you with one final bit of wisdom.

A TOP TIP:

For those starting a new business I always recommend that you need to think of your future e-commerce website in terms of what content (photographic, video or written) you already have and what you would like in the future. Remember, when it comes to creating content, always play to your strengths!

I hope you found this post insightful. If you did please share on social media and follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@salcombedesigncompany). If you’re interested in a new, modern, mobile-friendly e-commerce website then get in touch using the contact form HERE. To read more of our blog posts click HERE.