18 Things E-Commerce Websites Must Get Right

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For e-commerce businesses, getting the website right is even more important than for other businesses because the website is more than a marketing tool — it’s part of the offering. Here are 18 things not all e-commerce websites get right.

1. Give me a reason to register even if I don’t want to buy right now.

Discount coupon for first purchase? First delivery free if I register by x date? Give me some reason to fill up that registration form when I come to you the first time. Else there is a high chance that if I don’t like anything in the first visit, I will never come back. If I don’t register, you wouldn’t even know I came by!Myntra - Signup and get coupons worth Rs. 1000

2. Let me create a wishlist.

I saw your Facebook ad and came to your site, but I might not want to make a purchase right now. You might make me register, but how do you know what kind of products I might be interested in buying in future? Well, that’s easy — just let me create a wishlist and I will tell you what I’m interested in.

FabIndia - Create and share wishlists

3. Notify me when items from my wishlist are on a discount.

Encourage me to come back to your store and buy. Make me feel it was a good idea to create a wishlist.

4. Don’t show me items that are out of stock.

Please! Give me an option to include out of stock items in my search results if you want, but don’t include them by default.

5. Save my cart.

No I did not say, “Let me save my cart”: why don’t you just automatically save my cart as I start adding items? What if my browser crashes before I save, or I am in office and close the window as my boss walks by? So politely encourage me to register as soon as I start adding items and then save the cart if I am logged in.

6. Send me a reminder if I have pending items in the cart.

There are so many online stores these days, it’s difficult to remember where I had seen that nice pair of jeans a few days back. Might be nice if you if you notice that I added something to the cart but didn’t complete the order. But send it once or twice, not every day!

7. When you don’t have something I search for, show me other items in that category.

Recently I went to a new online grocery store and searched for a particular brand of soups: no items found. They did have other soups though, but they didn’t offer me any of those just at that moment. I wouldn’t have had that problem if I had gone to a local grocery store or even to a supermarket. There would be a section for soups and if I didn’t find the brand I wanted, I could have picked up another. Why don’t you also do that — show me other brands when the specific one I am looking for is not available? It would be nice if you also acknowledge that you don’t have what I am looking for.

8. Make it easy for me to see what’s in my cart.

Don’t make me click multiple times to see my cart or change something. Especially if you are selling something like groceries where I am likely to have a large number of items in each order, it would be nice if I can see and edit the cart easily.

ZopNow has a nice looking shopping cart right at the bottom of the screen.

ZopNow - Empty Shopping Cart

And when you can see all items you add to the cart and can edit quantity or remove an items without moving to a separate page.

ZopNow Shopping Cart

9. Don’t force me to buy a lot the first time I am trying out your site.

This is my first visit and I don’t know if I can trust your site. I might be open to try it out with a smaller order. If you have a higher limit on the minimum order for free home delivery then I might put off the purchase for now and go to another store I am already used to.

10. If you can’t deliver what I order then refund my money, don’t give me credit points.

It’s not my fault if things were out of stock and you didn’t tell me or for any other reason you can’t delivery after accepting the order. I am never going to come back to you if instead of giving a full refund you offer me credit points.

11. Make it easy for me to share my wishlist or cart.

I usually talk to my friends or spouse before making a purchase if I am buying clothes or electronics. If you help me share my cart of wishlist then I will be able to make the decision faster. And my friends might even like something for themselves and place an order. If it’s groceries you are selling then I would really like to be able to share the list with my family.

12. Use good product descriptions and add specific alt text for all product images.

Product names don’t always tell me everything I need to know before buying something and product photos can be misleading. If you tell me more about the product then it will be easier for me to make the decision.

Bigbasket - Product Description

This kind of product information will be of no help to anyone. Best, special, fine – Does it tell me anything? And then instead of a description the product you give me a recipe.

Myntra - Product Description

Instead if you give me all the details then I might be able to make up my mind sooner.

I don’t care for the alt text but some of us have slower internet connections and images don’t load fast so having descriptive alt text helps (plus it helps with SEO).

13. Make it easy for me to provide feedback for every order and store visit.

A small feedback link hidden somewhere at the bottom of the page isn’t good enough, and I don’t want to have to fill up a long form rating you on every aspect of your store. Let me just share a few words from any page on your site, easy and quick.

14. Let me search within the search results.

I search for a product and you show me 50 or 100 results, now I have to scroll through the pages to see what I want. Instead, let me filter these search results a bit more — may be  by price range or brand or some other product attribute.

Look at this example — there are 33 items, running in to multiple pages but no way to further filter or sort.

ZopNow - Product Search Resuls

15. Let me suggest a product if I still can’t find what I am looking for.

Maybe you don’t have what I am looking for. Wouldn’t you like to know what it is? Let me suggest or request a product and then you can inform me when you have it available.

ZopNow - Product Request

16. If you deliver only in selected cities/areas, tell me soon.

It’s very frustrating if I go through all the pain to find items I like, fill up the registration form only to find out you won’t sell to me. If you are delivering in limited areas, make it very clear to me early in the process so I don’t waste my time and have a negative impression of your business.

You could still encourage me to register and tell me that you will inform me when you start serving my country, city or area.

17. Suggest products based on my previous purchases.

It’s nice when you show me things similar to what I like or have bought previously. It feels like you know me and it also reminds me that I have purchased from you before (assuming that the earlier experience was a good one).

18. Let me specify a preferred day and time of delivery.

Buying online is mostly about convenience but untimely deliveries take most of that way. I buy online because I don’t have time to go to stores, so it’s not fair of you to assume that I will be sitting at home waiting for the product to be delivered any day and any time. If you are delivering through a third party than you may not have control over this, but it’s a big value-add if you can offer your customers the flexibility.

As an e-commerce site you want to make sure that it’s easy for customers to complete the purchase and these 18 things should help you achieve that.

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About Nilesh

Nilesh has worked in the IT industry for nine years, and is both a PMP and an MBA in marketing. He has worked in and with small businesses, managing projects, leading teams, and improving business processes.At Markitty, Nilesh translates requirements into tasks and timelines. He jumps into whatever is needed, whether it’s marketing, design, or technical architecture. He also keeps the others sane with his intermittent wisecracking.

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