Online Shopping Experience

Ecommerce Website: Getting Back to Basics

While most websites are unique in their own way and we have seen a whole host of cosmetic enhancements including 360-degree possible product previews through to dynamic search functions, and other flashy plugins like the slider that all seem to look good on the screen but don’t turn enough conversions. In fact, flash enhancements could be detrimental to a powerful and effective ecommerce site.

Let’s get back to the basics because it is the basics that make an ecommerce site turnover sales. I’m all for getting back to basics even if everyone thinks there’s nothing to it. If your ecommerce site isn’t doing as well as you think it should be, take a look at the following points.

Ease of Use

Now, we’ve all heard this one thousand times but what does it really mean? Ease of Use means your visitor can find what they are looking for immediately. If it isn’t KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), then it probably isn’t easy to use.

So What Makes a Good Basic Design?

A good basic design is more complicated than it may appear at first because there are two sides to keep in mind during the design process. There is the “appearance” and then there is the “structure”. A good basic design is visually appealing while being built around a structure that is easy to navigate. Magento, for example, makes a robust ecommerce website design more achievable for an SME to approach going online.

Returns Policy

This is one of the first things any visitor will look for, sometimes even before they start looking for what they want to buy. Returns policies need to be very clear and concise. Furthermore, they need to be fair and generous. The results of research on consumer behaviour in relation to returns policies aren’t earth-shattering. We’re all consumers too.

If the returns policy isn’t hassle-free and costs me to send it back, then consumers are far less likely to shop on that store. How about you? We are all the same.

In short, a returns policy has to be straightforward letting customers know they have an avenue to return their purchase. It’s not like someone can touch, feel, test-out or try something when buying online, so while they may be confident about what they want, they will always have some amount of doubt – that’s simply normal. A fair and honest returns policy is not just about returns it is about giving customers the confidence to buy.

Shipping Information

This is another one of those main pages that just has to be readily accessible everywhere, in the footer is a great place, along with the returns policy. Consumers want to know what type of shipping is used and how long it is going to take, and they also want to know how much it is going to cost.

So not only should general shipping information be readily available at any point of the user experience, additional shipping costs should be displayed sooner rather than later as the consumer moves through the checkout process. Unexpected shipping costs are biggest reasons behind cart abandonment. Nothing beats “shipping included” or “free shipping” even if the consumer knows the cost of shipping is built into the price of the product because the price first seen does not increase at the cart. There’s just nothing worse than going through a checkout where the price of a purchase continues to rise with sales tax, shipping fees, packaging costs and any other sales manager has dreamt up to make up for sale prices they cannot afford.


Great FAQs are your customers’ introduction to everything they need to know about you, your products and them shopping with you online. This is where your ecommerce site speaks to them in easy to understand terminology. Unlike wordy and often jargon-laced policies, good FAQs explain who you are, what you do, what you offer, where your customer stands. Good FAQs cover all the issues that are in your returns policy, shipping and all other policies, just in a much simpler question and answer format.

Full-Frontal Display of Your Offers

For example, if you offer shipping included on orders over $150, hassle-free returns within 30 days, a satisfaction guarantee or anything else, every single page of your ecommerce site should be saying this loud and clear. The essence of your value-added offerings must be clear to the potential consumer the instant they arrive on your ecommerce site.


It’s just a reality, more people are using mobile. The future trends for Australia often are based on data from the US but in this instance, the future is already here. To give you a concrete example, one of our ecommerce clients had approximately 50% desktop users only 12 months ago. Today, on average 50% are mobile, 10% are tablets and 40% are desktop consumers. The fact is that in the case of most websites, purchases being made on mobile are on the increase, across the board.

Google has already changed search results for mobile first. More than the threat by Google that your site’s search results will plummet if your site is not mobile-friendly, if it isn’t, it’s very hard for all those mobile users to use it right now. Mobile-first design is the way to go with ecommerce.

Verified Customer Reviews & Feedback

The biggest impact on ecommerce from social media is the believability or verifiability of customer reviews linked either to social media accounts or through third-party aggregators, such as Yotpo. Old fashioned testimonials just don’t float the boat anymore. Verified customer reviews are essential to your sales, even if the odd complaint is included. In those cases, you can demonstrate how well you handled the situation and turn a negative into a huge positive for your brand and your customers. Social proof is everything today.

SSL, HTTPS Security Plus More

https is the absolute minimum. More and more Internet users won’t even visit a site unless it is https. If it’s an ecommerce site, that’s than absolute must. Beyond that, a very credible and well-recognised security certification with a website identity assurance warranty is an absolute minimum. You need to provide more than just a promise of security and privacy, you need to back it up with a warranty worth a lot of cash.

Your privacy policy is merely a statement, and let’s face it, no one really reads it along with your disclaimer or terms and conditions. They care about the technology your ecommerce site is using to protect them, not words.

Great Product Introductions of Great Products

From high-resolution videos and photos to detailed product introductions that highlight everything about a product that a prospective consumer wants to know are all absolute minimum requirements.

If someone tells you images sell, they are completely wrong. Images captivate and demand attention, it is the written detail of the product introduction that sells. Does it have YKK zips, what are the exact dimensions, what does it weigh, will it fit inside a glove box? all details need to be explained. Everything one wants to know about a product needs to be there for them, already answered. It is that simple.

Multi-Point Customer Service Contact

At any point during the purchase process or at any point when navigating your site, your customers should be able to get in touch with you. Pop-up chat boxes asking “How Can I Help You” can get annoying but there is nothing like 24/7 chat when you need it. It’s fast, it doesn’t cost and you expect to get an answer to the question you have so you can move on immediately – just like a sales representative in the store who doesn’t bug you but is around to answer your questions if you need. While live chat is labour intensive, other alternatives, such as a contact form or phone number should always be available.

A Dedicated Team Backing It All Up

An ecommerce site is nothing without the people behind it to make sure it all happens. There’s only so much your store can do by yourself. Having harmony throughout your organisation, especially between those who manage the online side and those who manage the physical side, is of indescribable importance. Tools that enable and lighten the physical workload combined with training for change that’s easily accepted are just two more lubricants to help smoother operations.

Now, considering the intention here was to get back to basics, it’s quite amazing how many ecommerce sites fail to meet these essential requirements.

You can talk about all the sophisticated strategies and intricacies of advanced digital marketing until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t have these basics sorted, no amount of specialist skills will get you anywhere.

Ironically, there are some who will help you with all this. It’s a lot of hard work to do that and it’s not the glossy type of work that many agencies want to get involved in.


Need some help? Get in touch with us at RD now.

Posted in Conversion Rate Optimisation, Ecommerce, User Focused and tagged , , .