11 eCommerce Essentials: Is Your Online Store Sticking to Them?

Is your online store getting the basics right? With online shopping predicted to grow a further 16.5% in 2016 , the sheer size of this market means fierce competition. If your eCommerce store isn’t getting the customer experience right, you are losing money to the competition.

We’ve put together an ecommerce maintenance checklist you can use to quickly assess how your store performs on the basics.

1. Message

Is your eCommerce store getting your brand message across? A good eCommerce site has clear branding, an easily recognisable logo and clear, and concise web copy.

Your home page should convey to the visitor why they should shop with you. Do you offer something unique? Is delivery fast or cheap? Do you offer returns, or great customer service?

Wiggle, the eCommerce sports retailer, display their value proposition clearly at the top of every page – price matching, security, free delivery and returns. Their message is clear: it’s easy and safe to shop with them.


2. Make it easy

Confusing navigation, lack of information and non-intuitive search systems will quickly frustrate customers. Does your site make the customer journey easy? How do they find what they want? How do they buy it? The process of adding an item to a shopping basket should be quick and intuitive, with an Add to Basket button highlighted in a contrast colour. Icons and menus should be clear and easy to understand.

The John Lewis website has Add to Basket buttons highlighted in green, the only use of the colour on the page. It’s immediately clear how to shop this product.

ecommerce john lewis


3. Wish lists

Shopping cart abandonment (customers adding items to their cart but not completing checkout) is a major issue for online retailers. The abandonment rate (ratio of abandoned carts to completed purchases) is typically between 60% to 80%. Your site should be designed to minimise abandonment; are delivery charges clear up front? Is the checkout process simple? Are you demanding too much personal information?

You can also put in automatic systems to try to encourage customers to return to abandoned carts, such as follow-up emails or retargeting ads.

4. Search

Your site should have an easily locatable search box on every page that returns relevant results. The first thing most visitors to fashion site ASOS are likely to do is search for the item they want, so the search box is positioned in clear space at the top of the page.


ecommerce asos image

5. Browsing

Making it easy for visitors to find what they want, even if they aren’t sure, will increase sales. Making browsing easy could include intuitive product categories, displaying related products or product recommendations.

Offering a Wish List function is a powerful way of enabling relaxed browsing; the equivalent of an armful of clothes taken to the changing room to try on. Customers can compare items easily or come back later and find them again.

Fashion retailer Finery has a prominent Wish List button and the list itself displays product images attractively for comparison.

ecommerce finery image

6. Product Descriptions

Getting product descriptions right can be difficult; you may have hundreds or even thousands of products, and writing descriptions is time-consuming and requires skill to do well. But the words used to describe products are crucial. Missing descriptions, measurements or key information can put a customer off buying.

Product descriptions should be unique to your website. Never just copy the manufacturer’s description. Your descriptions should be written in your brand style, conveying why you offer that product.

Descriptions should be detailed and benefits-led. You can also offer additional product information in the form of video descriptions.

7. Knowledge

One of your unique selling points is your brand expertise. What you know about your product range and why you selected it is valuable information and giving it away free builds trust. Offering genuine product recommendations, how-to articles or videos, sizing guides and user-generated reviews can help guide the customer towards a sale and supports cross-selling & upselling.

Stationery retailer Fieldnotes uses product descriptions with a strong brand tone of voice; friendly, colloquial and enthusiastic. They also offer a video of this product in action.


ecommerce snowblind image

8. Images

Quality product images are another ecommerce essential. If possible, offer more than one image of each product, showing it from different angles or being worn or used, or in a context.

9. Delivery for your eCommerce store

Delivery is the sticking point for many online customers. Unexpectedly high or confusing delivery prices, long wait times or lack of information are a major contributor to shopping cart abandonment.

Does your site make delivery information readily available? Do you offer a range of options such as delivery speeds, click and collect or free shipping on certain order values?

Appliances retailer have a prominent free delivery message on their home page and in the run up to Christmas show an extra seasonal reassurance of delivery until Christmas Eve.

ecommerce AO image

10. Payment

Does your site show customers they can trust you? Offering recognised payment methods such as PayPal, or showing trustmarks (logos from external companies that show the site is trustworthy) can increase trust.

As well as a clear checkout process and payment system, any other payment information, such as returns and refund policy, should be easy to find.

11. Customer Support

Trading remotely doesn’t mean you can be remote from your customer. Easy-to-access customer support is as important online as it is in-store, and you should ideally provide a phone number, email address or even live online help for customers to get in touch.

DIY retailer Wickes show their customer support link prominently next to the search box on every page. The customer support page itself offers several ways to get in touch, including a phone order service.

ecommerce wickes image






Image Credits

“ASOS Screenshot”: ASOS,

“Wiggle Header”: Wiggle,

“John Lewis Add to Basket”: John Lewis,

“Finery Wish List”: Finery London,

“Snowblind Video”: Fieldnotes,

“AO Delivery”: AO,

“Wickes Customer Service”: Wickes,