Whether you already have an ecommerce site or are looking for a specalist web designer / developer to build one for you, the focus should always be on design, ease of functionality and user-savvy features.

The problem is, with so many possible ‘must-have’ features available in abundance, which ones should you opt for if your site is going to be successful in bringing in the bunce? Even if you focus on the current trends, that does not guarantee success. Trends come and go and unless you pick the ‘stayers’, your conversion rates and user experience score may be more disappointing than dynamic.

Your site needs to be competitive and stay relevant. Here is our take on some must-have features that you and your web designer should be looking at.

Ease of use
Keep it simple and all will be well. With 76% of consumers opting for sites that are easy to use, yours had better fall into this category. Their shopping experience needs to be easy and enjoyable and they want it completed in as few minutes as possible. Provide categories, filters and comparison capabilities. Adding customer reviews is a big plus point as is FAQ information.

High res images
This can apply to photos and videos. Buyers like lots of images and a zoom in facility. Get your images wrong i.e. taking too long to load and see your buyers drop off at a rate of 39%. Always remember that images sell far more than text does. Make them high resolution and fully optimised to load instantly.

Mobile friendly

If you don’t have a mobile version of your site by now, how are you going to deal with the fact that 1 in 3 purchases are made on a mobile? Your site should be fully responsive and able to load on any kind of device – desktop or mobile. This way, your content will instantly adapt to suit all viewing options.

User reviews
92% of shoppers love reviews and if you show star ratings, even better. Look at what Amazon do and you will understand why so many people buy from them. Even negative reviews are valuable as they prove that you have not penned the comments yourself.

Offers and deals
Use headers to promote money-off vouchers, limited time offers and special deals. This way, shoppers will see them immediately and be motivated to check out the site in more detail. Listing the offers will also help to improve SEO.

Wish list
Everyone loves a wish list! It is great to be able to put items to one side and come back to them later on. If your ecommerce site doesn’t have one then you are missing out big time on potential revenue. Customers like to bookmark items, save up for them to buy at a later date or even direct family and friends in the direction of their wish list for present buying purposes. When they share in this way, they are also directing free traffic to your site. Truly a goldmine scenario.

Related Items
As soon as things pop up with a tag saying ‘this might be for you’ or ‘you might like this’, interest is stirred. Not only may buyers go on to buy whatever is in their basket but they might also add something else or even pop into their wish list for a future buy. As far as marketing your products goes, this is a go-getter. You should also consider including the product comparison shopping option i.e. people who purchased this also looked at this.

Inspire your customers with confidence by providing them with detailed information about your products. They should feel as happy about buying as if they were face-to-face and talking with you. Research common problems and add them as well as information relating to returns and lost passwords etc.

Link your social profiles
Social media does a fantastic job of creating relationships with your clients as well as forming emotional bonds. By including links to your social profiles you are not only further promoting your brand but building rapport. By connecting socially, customers are drawn to you in a far more personal way as they connect with you on a deeper level.

Shipping and delivery information
There is nothing worse than a customer getting to check out and realising that unexpected shipping costs are going to be added on. This is the main cause of would-be buyers dumping their shopping carts. For this very reason, it is imperative that shipping information is shown at the beginning of the checkout process, showing how much the postage will be. It is also a good idea to show delivery times and countries that you can ship to. It is worth noting that when shipping is free, buyers spend 30% more on each order. If a coupon is required for free shipping, make it easy to find, preferably on the header.

Contact us
Have you ever found yourself on a website, trying to find contact details and struggling? Then you know how customers feel. Make your ‘Contact Us’ information a feature so that it is very easy for clients to phone, email or send a request via an online form. Include a Google Map if you have a physical store.

Returns info
The key words here are clear, visible and well-written. This builds trust as buyers know that if they need to swop their item for a different size, you will be there to help them. If you have an online store, expect to have 30% of products returned but bear in mind that 92% of shoppers will buy again if you make the process easy. With 67% of buyers checking the returns page before they buy, omit it at your peril.

The take-away
If you are building a new site or revamping an existing one, these are absolute must-have features that you should take into account. Make a list and discuss with your web developer and take his advice. No matter what type of ecommerce store you have, by using these tried and tested attributes you will be enhancing the shopping experience for the most important people related to your business – your customers.