5 Must Haves for an eCommerce Website That Sells

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5 Must Haves for an eCommerce Website That Sells

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Website design for an online ecommerce website that sells can be a tricky little thing. No one knows our products better than we do….but that can also mean that we’re so up close and personal with them that we totally lose perspective on how we appear to the outside world.

It’s like that person that loses 35 lbs, but who’s still wearing the same pants and they just keep falling down. They haven’t bought new ones because….they don’t really see that the situation for them has changed. They still see themselves as the same overweight person in need of the same pants.  

The fact of the matter is, ya need new pants for your new body. The vision you have for yourself on the inside, doesn’t match what everyone else sees on the outside. 

This can also be true for your ecommerce shop. 

An ecommerce website that sells and focus on product sales needs a different structure than a coaching biz or service based biz, and there are certain no-nos that can kill your conversions and sales.

Even though right now, you can’t really see them. 

We’re going to peep your website with fresh eyes through the eyes of your customer, so you can make sure your website isn’t caught with its pants around its ankles. 

If you grab one of our Shopify themes, we’ve already set the site up for you with the must haves we’re about to go over. 

Even so, I’ve logged on to a few customer sites and…..lets just say she’s been altered, and not for the best. 

Before this happens to you, (or even if it already has, it isn’t too late!), let’s evaluate your ecommerce website against these 5 must haves to make sure you’re not leaving dollar bills on the table.

eCommerce Website Must Have #1 – Bold Header Image or Slider

Here’s a tragedy I came across last week….a Shopify site that featured a wall of text in the above the fold hero section. No photos, no graphics, just plain old text. Nothing screams “ I want to leave this site because it looks like a high school book report” more than that. 

Ooof. Don’t make that blunder. 

Your online shop should instantly visually stimulate the viewer and display your products in their best light. 

The PRODUCTS themselves should do the talking, not your text. One bold headline, a subheading, and a call to action button are all you should have here.

Here’s where professional product photos come in.  If you don’t have the best ones, creating an attractive website hero section is still possible by using our Canva website banner templatesShopify Banner Kits, or of course, grabbing a full Shopify theme.

These banner graphics combine your product photos with clean, bold layouts that will provide an eye catching display. 

Pro Tip: Try to avoid dark overlays that make your website look depressing (unless dark and moody is your vibe). Alternatively, try to avoid photo only backgrounds with NO overlay that render your text totally unreadable as it gets lost in the photo.

Simply grab or create a banner layout so you can get the best of both worlds, a stylish layout and getting your point across so people actually know what you’re selling at first glance. After all, isn’t selling the whole point of this?

eCommerce Website Must Have #2 – An Email List Builder, Usually a Coupon for eCommerce Shops

It’s a must-have and almost expected, that you’ll have some kind of welcome coupon offer in exchange for an email. In fact, some people go looking for it, if it’s their first order on a site. 🙋🏻‍♀️

You know list building is important, so if you skip this part, you’re watching potential customers slip through your hands that a) would have purchased had their been a standard welcome discount and b) maybe won’t purchase now, but will in the future if you keep emailing them offers and deals and relevant content.

Shopify makes this easy to set up, its built right into our themes

What about traditional PDF lead magnets? If you’re strictly ecommerce focused, and don’t offer any services in addition to your products, content based lead magnets aren’t as effective or relevant. 

Most shoppers are looking for a discount, more than your advice if you’re selling products ( hey just being honest here!)

Honesty hour. This was a tough one for ME to see. Thirty One Palms Studio is, all things considered, an ecommerce brand. I don’t offer one on one services, or work one on one with clients. I don’t hire anyone to do that, either. 

But for a brief period, I joined a coaching program that was trying to get me to sell like well….a coach. It didn’t work. Because this isn’t a coaching program….it’s a product shop. 

It was so unaligned trying to offer a lead magnet that offered some kind of advice that wasn’t really tangible. Ickkkkk. Now, we offer a plain ole coupon, and our brand taste test sample so you can try templates before you buy. This was and still is our winning email list builder! (are you on our list?)

Make sure your lead magnet offer leads to what you want your final result to be. 

For ecommerce, thats sales!

eCommerce Website Must Have #3-  Featured Product and Collection Sections With Your Bestsellers

If you’re just starting out, you might not yet KNOW your best sellers, so you can just pick what you HOPE will be your most popular products to start, and change them as you go.

If you already know your best sellers, you can use those to create a best selling or featured product section. 

You can also include a fave collections section, organizing your products by collection and linking to them. This encourages buyers to explore more on their own what interests them most. 

If they don’t know it exists they can’t shop it, so think carefully about who your ideal purchaser is for each collection when organizing your products into them and naming them. 

Since your focus is on products here, make sure you’re using the valuable real estate of your home page to continue to position your products in front of your viewers and entice them to click through with amazing photos. 

Again, avoid walls of text, your entire biography, or any extras like policies or terms that should really go on their own pages. 

People hitting your homepage for the first time don’t care about the details, they first want to determine if what you’re selling is for them. 

Stunning Photos and graphics and summarized info will do this! 

eCommerce Website Must Have #4 – Upsells & Cross Sells

In ecommerce, even as a beginner, we’re always looking to increase our average order value. Not including the triggers on your website to encourage this is like taking the dollar bills you could have made, and using them as kindling to start a lovely little campfire. 

While I love a good toasted marshmallow (burned on the outside please) I love extra cash in my bank account more. 

On each product page, you should include related products that would go well with the product the viewer is currently looking at. 

You could include an upsell, which is a product that goes perfectly as an add-on to what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling a roof rack for kayaks, you could upsell straps to hold the kayak on with, or a lock for the rack.

You could also include a cross sell, in our kayak rack analogy, you could suggest a bike rack that fits with the same roof hardware, in case that person is interested in using the rack for all of their sports.

The goal  is to spark ideas, and position other products in front of the customer that they might not even have any idea existed before. 

For us, its other products in our template collections, that you might not have found on your own, but that we wouldn’t want you to miss!

You can offer a discount on 2 or more items as well to make the whole thing even more effective and enticing. 

You can offer these content blocks on all product pages, and your checkout page. Remember customers can’t buy what they can’t even see! 

eCommerce Website Must Have #5 – Trust Building Social Proof & Policies

The hardest part creating an ecommerce website that sells? It doesn’t come with the trust that marketplaces do out of the box. Everyone has heard of Etsy, and Amazon and Ebay and Walmart. 

Not too many people have yet heard of Jans Fancy Cat Socks. Because of this, most independent sites don’t immediately come with built in trust that you’ll provide what you said you would, that other real people have used and liked it, that other people are even BUYING anything, or that if they have an issue with their order, someone will help them. 

You can help to rectify this with trust builders. But how?

You can implement features like a chat feature (that you actually answer), social proof popups that display real customer data and show what others are purchasing, testimonials imported from bigger marketplaces you sell on, and testimonials people have sent to you personally. 

You can also create video content with yes, you or your team members talking, so people can understand who they’ll be supporting, and dealing with. 

You and your team members are real people, and it can build trust with your audience to show that!

You also need to ensure you have the proper policies, not only for legal compliance reasons, but for trust building. 

You should have a Privacy Policy, Return or Refund Policy and Terms and Conditions. 

Your refund policy in particular helps customers understand what happens if something goes wrong with their order, and they have an issue with it. If you don’t accept refunds, tell them that, and tell them what you WILL do for them. 

People don’t want to feel like they’re sending their money into a black hole never to be seen again, especially in the world of Amazon and Etsy which make it super easy to get your money back if you don’t like something. 

A fun tidbit? Our refund policy here is no refunds, because we sell digital products, and we can’t be sure buyers haven’t downloaded and used them. However, we stress that we’re available with our contact email listed to resolve any issues on a case by case basis.

No one has ever asked for a refund for product dissatisfaction, only things like duplicate orders. I don’t say that to brag, I say that because most people just want to know you’ll do something if they need help, and that there’s a way to contact you.

In Conclusion

Whether or not you’ve had an ecommerce site up and running for a while, or you’re just starting out, evaluate your website for these 5 must haves for an ecommerce website that sells to make sure you’ve got the best chance of converting browsers into purchasers ( of multiple items nonetheless!)

Our top tip is to pretend you’ve never seen your website before.

Take a look at it with fresh eyes, pretend you have no idea what you sell, or how to find what you want on the website as you go through the checklist. 

How easy would it be to search for, add to cart and purchase the products? How trustworthy does the site seem? 

Just like our weight loss warrior from the beginning of this article, it’s time to finally look in the mirror at what your site is really saying to others and how it really looks from the outside. 

It just might change everything! 

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Tamara Morrison

Tamara is a Graphic Design & Brand Building expert that helps entrepreneurs craft the perfect brand. She gets inside your head to bring your dream brand out and to life! She’s been creative since, well, birth, and she spends her time traveling with her race car driver fiancée and she’s obsessed with her cat. 

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