Humans always take the easy way out and this is the cardinal reason for shopping online to become increasingly popular throughout the country. Several e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart have made revolutionary changes in the field.
Ecommerce is a two-way process and has a dual purpose. On one hand, there are websites where customer interacts with the user interface in the website (Example- Flipkart, Jabong, etc.) to fill their cart and place an order for goods. On the other hand, there are websites (Example- Olx, Quickr, etc.) which acts as a marketplace for customers to buy and sell goods.
Both the above mentioned applications alleviate the stress on humans to buy or sell goods. But there are burgeoning e-commerce websites functioning today and people have a wider palette to choose from. This necessitates certain functionalities that will help an e-commerce website standout among its adversaries.
A good E-Commerce Website should entail the following features:
1. Catalogue Management:
- Product categories and sub-categories: Maintaining hierarchy of product categories (Example – Main Category – Dress, Sub-Category – Men, Women and under Men – Shirts, Trousers, Jeans, etc.) helps customer to the search the product more easily and efficiently
- Manage product images: Multiple high clarity images from different angles are preferred, as it give clear view of product to customers
- Description for each product: Adding a small description (features, warranty, delivery, seller description, etc.) to product gives the customer overview of the product which helps customer to select the right product
- Product ratings reviews: Customers like to purchase the product that have ratings and reviews given by other customers who have purchased that product
- Display the price before and after discount: This gives the customer clear view of price and they do not waste time by calculating the discount amount
2. Search Feature:
Customers expect e-commerce website to allow them to search for a product quickly so that they can view/purchase them directly instead of wasting time on others product in which they are not interested.Therefore search/browse functionality should be provided on below categories:
- Product Categories
- Free Shipping: If your website is new and needs to gain recognition among customers, it is better to go for free shipping for the first few months. It is also good to offer free shipping at a level above your average order value to gain more sales. Example – Free shipping on orders above Rs 499
- Transparent shipping cost: It is good to post your shipping cost beside the product price instead of hiding it and revealing at the time of checkout. If you charge variable shipping costs depending upon region, allow users to insert a zip code to check shipping cost
- Promotional Tool: Shipping cost can also be used as a promotional tool to encourage more sales. Example: Free shipping on all orders during Christmas week
- Shipping speed: Shipping cost can also be determined based on the speed of shipping goods. Example:
|Shipping Speed||Shipping Cost|
|Free shipping (delivery: 8-10 business days)||–|
|Standard shipping (delivery: 5-8 business days)||Rs 100|
|One day shipping||Rs 199|
- Guest Checkout: If a customer wants to place an order for the first time, do not make him register and provide all the details before he can place an order. Instead, allow him to place the first order and provide the sign up page after he places his first order. Example – ebay, Apple
- Relevant information input: Ask the customer to enter only the relevant information for checking out, such as the address and payment details. Use a one-page checkout to avoid confusing the customers. Example – Bellroy
- Progress indicators: If you do not want to have one-page checkout facility, you should have progress indicators across the top of each checkout page. This will show the customer where they are in the process and what else needs to be done to complete the purchase. Example – Wiggle
- Persistent cart summary: Remind the customers of the contents of their carts and the total cost of the order so they don’t have to leave the checkout for this information
- Create a sense of urgency: Have a countdown timer that tells customer how many minutes are left for the session to complete, before which he needs to place an order
- Payment options: It is better to have different payment options such as Debit Card, Credit Card, Net banking, PayPal, Google Wallet, etc. on your website, as it gives customer flexibility to use their means of payment to purchase goods
- Payment acknowledgement: After the customer makes payment, display the message for successful payment on website and also email invoice to customer. This give the customers satisfaction that they have made the payment successfully
6. Customer Accounts:
- My account Features: Once the customers registers on website, they should have facilities to
- a. Change password
- b. Update personal information such as address, phone number, email id, etc.
- c. Manage address book
- d. View order history
- e. View and place orders for items in wish list
- f. Review products
- g. Track individual orders
- h. Cancel orders
- Suggest wish list items: Depending on the previous account activity of the customer, suggest items he can add to his wish list
- Newsletter, emails to registered customers: You certainly want the regular customers to perpetually use your website. Send emails informing them about your website’s progress, statistical improvements, discounts and promotions
- Promote your website on Social Network sites: Enable logging into your website through social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. to certify the credentials of website. You can also have feature which will allow customer to like and share your products on social media
7. Return and Refund:
- Transparent return and refund policy: It is good to have a return and refund policy (Example- Apple) which clearly states the following:
- a. The numbers of days a customer can notify you to return a product after they received it
- b. What kind of refund you will give to the customer after the product is returned – full cost of product, cost of product – return charges, another similar product, a store credit, etc.
- Quick refund: You should not take long time to refund your customers, because they get worried about the money. The ideal refund time is 3-5 business days after you receive the product returned by customer. In case the order is cancelled before shipment, you should initiate the refund immediately and credit your customer account
- Ensure PCI DSS Compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of standards that the credit and debit card industry has set for merchants who process card payments. And to earn the trust of the customers Ecommerce site should follow PCI standards.
- SSL Certification: Secure Socket layer (SSL) authentication is a must to ensure secure communication between your customers and your server. And when E-Commerce websites displays SSL Certificate seals, customers feel confident that their personal information will be protected and are more likely to complete a purchase
- Do not violate the privacy of the customers: To process returns and cancelling of order, collect only the minimum details about the customer’s card. Do not store CVV2 or PIN which will violate the privacy of the customers
- Website should have multiple- layered security: First, ensure firewall protection of your website which stops attackers gaining access to your network. Then add layers of security on contact forms, secure passwords for logins, and search queries to protect website from application-level attacks such as cross-site scripting and SQL injections
9. Marketing Promotion Tools:
- Feedback Forms: You can have feedback form on your website (Example – Wiggle) or you can even mail to customers who purchased product from your website. The feedback from customer is really invaluable as it help to you to address the needs of customers
- Social media accounts: Create accounts on various social media such as Facebook, twitter, etc. and keep it updated to attract more number of customers
- Coupons and Lucky Draws: Post about discount coupons and lucky draws on your website, social media and even send mails to customers. This helps the customers to participate in small online contests to avail discounts and coupons for their purchase
- Awards: If your website has received recognized reputations from any prestigious authority, include that in your website. This will increase the trustworthiness of your website among the customers.
These are some of the important features of e-commerce website. In case, you feel any other feature can be a part of this article, please feel free to comment or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.