Top eCommerce Features
When evaluating eCommerce systems, I guarantee you will become overloaded with all the bell's and whistles included with the software package. Some of these features will be used right off the bat, others down the line as your business grows. However, below are a few features you should have at your disposal from the get-go.
An analytics platform (e.g. Google Analytics)
Google Analytics is a very versatile system that not only tracks data but allows you to interact with it in a variety of ways. With the proper configuration, it can be an invaluable tool in the success of your website. Review real-time performance of your website, plan to make changes based upon this data, and you will be rewarded with measurable results.
An easy to use, yet comprehensive checkout process is a must for increasing conversion rates. Focus on:
- Order estimate on cart page. Make it easy for a customer to see the final order price without having to create an account (including shipping and promotion estimates).
- Security. Having a dedicated Secure Socket Layer (SSL) will protect your customers data and increase credibility. This is a must have!
Making the navigation path as quick and easy to access as possible will help to decrease site abandonment and increase conversions.
- Product filtering. Give your visitors the power to drill-down and find products based upon reviews, price, popularity, brand, size, color, etc.
- QuickView. With the Product Quick View feature, your customers can quickly see product details from a category or product page without having to refresh the page. This means fewer clicks to add a product to cart, update options on products already in the cart, and access product details on the category page quickly and efficiently.
- Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs should be incorporated throughout the site to make the navigation more user-friendly. These text based links expand and contract based on what page the customer is on.
As the product page is one of the most important pages on the site, you should have the following features available:
- Product reviews. Encourage customers to leave reviews about products they purchased. This is an excellent way to increase site stickiness and user interaction.
- Large image views. Allows users to seamlessly change the main display image by a simple mouse-over of the associated product images thumbnails, and enlarge images for a detailed view.
- Add to Wishlist. Allow a customer to add a favorite product to their wishlist, and purchase at a later date.
- Email a friend. Receive free advertising by allowing your customers to forward (via email form) product or information pages to their friends.
- Ask Product Question. Enable customers to quickly and easily email in questions they have regarding your products. Questions could include; availability, sizes, warranty, functionality, etc. This will help increase your productivity, and decrease overhead by fielding questions in a more systematic manner.
- Videos. Integrated product videos by using YouTube (or other hosted video networks), and increase site stickiness.
- Suggested products. Associate related products/accessories to help cross-sell other items and increase average order size.
- Tab layout. Utilize a tabular layout on the product page so that content is organized within specified tabs to make viewing more user-friendly within a single page. Examples include Reviews, Product Details, Ingredients, Nutritional Info, etc.
- Content association. Relate informational pages, blog posts, and media (images, videos, etc) from other pages on your website to the product page.
- Like button. The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user's friends' News Feed with a link back to your website.
- Share/Save button. Encourage website visitors to share your pages with their friends through an integrated sharing widget.
- Product variations. This feature presents an alternative to the standard option group functionality by allowing product variations to be displayed as separate but linked products rather than options within a single product.
Take your time to become familiar with these features, and make sure they are included in your eCommerce solution before purchasing!
Louis, thanks for that good overview of most important eCommerce Features.
I think most when not all of them are covered by a couple of free OpenSource Systems like e.g. ZenCart, CRE Loaded, osCMax and similar.
One functional area I think you are missing out is the ability to automize professional aftersales email campaigns - this goes beyond the store-front to attract customers, it actually targets how to communicate effective and efficiently with your customers after they have bought something in order to welcome them again for the next purchase: The right email to the right person at the right point of time.
Even the shop am working for is running on a highly customized osCommerce we were able to install and utilize the free OpenSource addon "MailBeez" for running Automatic Aftersales Trigger Email Campaigns:
"MailBeez" as a module framework for automatic campaigns allows us to ask customers automatically e.g. to rate our Service, write a review of their purchased products, send birthday greetings and even sequential follow-up campaigns. There are a couple of ready-made modules and the installation takes only a couple of minutes. It supports currently ZenCart, CRE Loaded, osCommerce, osCMax, Digistore, xtcommerce, Gambio GX and xtc-modified.
So definitely something to have a look at.
Louis Camassa says:
Yes, I agree: post sales email is paramount. Nowadays, you will even get an email if you create an account but abandon the checkout process.
Having a powerful email marketing system is also a necessity.
Ilya Vassilevsky says:
In your experience, how big is the impact of "one-step checkout" on a store revenue? Is it really such a valuable feature as they say?