If you’re the owner of an online store, you need to be up-to-date on these seven key features that online shoppers demand from their internet-based shopping experience.

The internet has taken over the world. These days, almost everything can be found online. You know it’s true – the internet has simplified all aspects of life and online shopping is one area where convenience shines. In a world where many seem to value saving time and money, shoppers are starting to do most of their buying online. This means if you’re a merchant that’s trying to attract online shoppers, you’ll want to make sure your web-based storefront is equipped with these important features:

1. A mobile website option

Online shoppers need to be offered convenience and instant ease-of-access to your online store, no matter what device they’re using. Your online store should be built on a responsive design template and its features need to be available to all users, at any time, and from anywhere. Older design templates were not structured to be flexible enough for the various screen sizes that are available nowadays so responsive design has taken over and is becoming standard with mobile websites of any merit. This is important – your website and its content need to be supported on all devices that access the internet. All features and functions should work flawlessly, giving your browsers a fluid mobile experience that compliments their overall opinion of your brand. Online shoppers are demanding and instant access to all of your features should be found on their mobile device, just as easily as on their PC.

2. Free or competitive shipping options

Last year, UPS did a major customer experience study called the Pulse of the Online Shopper. According to this extensive study, 81% of online shoppers agree that FREE SHIPPING is the most important aspect of checking out online. Other shipping options also scored very high, including providing an estimated shipping total early in the shopping experience. Many shopping carts are abandoned because of an unexpected high total after adding shipping. You may be surprised at how flexible online shoppers can be, however. The same study reports that 58% are willing to add more things to their cart to qualify for free shipping.

So what does this information mean to you, as an online business owner? Free or competitive shipping options, when done well, can drive your success. The right formula will have your clients increasing their cart total in order to get free shipping! And of course, there are other shipping options that appeal to online shoppers… you just have to understand your niche market well enough to make the most of them.

3. Advanced navigation and search functions

Is your online store user-friendly? Are you sure? Ask a few of your friends (honest friends) to take a spin around your website and give you feedback on it. This simple, effective technique is often overlooked, but is vitally important. Your online store should be set-up in such a way that makes it easier to shop than going to a brick’and’mortar shop would be. The eCommerce software you chose to build your online storefront with should be able to help and guide you a lot with this ‘ease-of-navigation’ process. If your platform isn’t giving you the tools you need, it’s time to consider an upgrade. Your eCommerce solution should offer a clear cut, intuitive flow for online shoppers to follow. They need to find the things that they want, browse things they may be interested in, and check out.

Navigation and search options are important in online retail. Something as simple as the ‘search bar’ placement should be well thought out and based on the design of your site. The ‘search function’ also has to cater for your customers that do not know the actual names of the products they want to get. Search functionality needs to give online shoppers suggestions on the possible things they are looking for.

4. Superior photos and image options

There’s a reason people are always quoting “a picture is worth a thousand words”… because it is. In the case of internet retail however, it may be worth more. Your product images will influence online shoppers in ways that have them running away or drive them to purchase. In an internet store, product photos and options are crucial because online shoppers cannot physically see, touch or try the product they’re interested in. The product images should be crystal clear and taken with cameras that have a high resolution. The photos should also be taken from different points of view to give you a clearer idea of the product. Image options should include viewing angles, zoom, multiple images, and more. This, however, does not mean that the pictures should be overly enhanced or exaggerated. Doing so may mislead online shoppers into buying something that does not serve them well.

5. A detailed product description

Online retail is often about selling a story, an idea that fits the needs or current whim of your audience. Obviously, online stores do not have a live store attendant (though some may offer live chat), so the sale items need to have a product description that takes the place of your best sales person. They should be described with vivid and appealing content that stimulates your browsers need to buy. While creative and clever descriptions are often a strong selling point, don’t forget to include the important details, as well. Facts such as the expiration date, size dimensions, weight, manufacturers date, and practical uses must be included in a good product description. The availability of a warranty, where applicable, also has to be referred to in the description. If you’re selling food products, consider listing the ingredients, as they make purchasing easier for those with special dietary needs or restrictions.

6. Customer reviews of the product

Last year, BrightLocal conducted its 4th annual study on consumer usage and attitudes on customer reviews. It concluded that 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, a statistic that was up 9% from the previous year. As an SMB in the competitive world of online retail, it is crucial to provide your online shoppers with customer reviews of your products. Your audience wants to read about the experiences of other people who have used the product. Customer reviews now take the place of your friendly, neighborly recommendation and are an effective selling tactic for online businesses. Such reviews are vital when it comes to virtual shopping. If possible, include video reviews in the customer reviews, with detailed personal experiences and how-to-use tutorials. These ideas will add more of a personal touch to their overall shopping experience.

7. A fast guest check-out option

One of the final but most important considerations in online shopping comes during the actual check-out process. In an actual brick-and-mortar store, shoppers normally have to wait in line at the cashiers. During peak hours, the queue is long, and they end up spending a longer amount of time there. This is one of the main reasons that online shoppers are avoiding real shops and going online to fulfill their needs. They don’t want to come to your website and have the equivalent of a long check-out line so, please, DO NOT require registration before purchase. An online store should offer an efficient, fast check-out time. There are other ways to gather contact information so avoid any check-out tactics that delay the actual purchase.

Online shoppers are demanding and make almost instantaneous decisions on whether to shop or drop your online store. Help them sail through your eCommerce experience and find no fault in your check-out or shopping flow. These seven tips will help you keep shoppers happy and increase your overall success!

Do you have more ideas on how to keep today’s online shoppers happy? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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