7 cornerstones of a winning online store

Kirsti Earl Written by Kirsti Earl - Dec 20, 2023

The key to a successful online store is simple: the easier it is to do business, the better the online store's conversion rate. What are the basic pillars of a user-friendly and profitable online store?


1. Easy user experience of mobile devices

Shopping on mobile devices is constantly growing, especially in e-commerce. Among younger consumers it is already commonplace.

The ease of the mobile shopping experience is affected by the following:

  • Is the mobile site visually clear?
  • Are the page functions easy to use on a small touch screen?
  • Is the navigation designed to be responsive?
  • Are the product videos and images designed for a mobile device?
  • Is the shopping cart easy to use on a mobile device?
  • Are mobile payment methods also available as payment methods?


2. Easy page navigation and good search features

The ultimate goal of an online store is to lead the visitor to click the product into the shopping cart and then checkout. Functional search features become more important the larger the product selection. The user experience can be improved by considering the following:

  • Is the navigation clear and does the visitor easily get an overall picture of what is offered?
    • Navigation functionalities also have a significant impact on the accessibility of the online store.
  • Is using the product search easy and intuitive, or does the consumer have to make extra effort to find the products they want on the website?
  • Does product search follow the best practices of e-commerce and the industry?
  • Does the search functionality return reasonable results regardless of the search method?
    • For example, auto completion makes it easier to search for products and thus saves the consumer's time.


3. Current and comprehensive product information

The online business´ best trump card is the accuracy of the product information, because the online buyer cannot evaluate the product themselves before making a purchase decision. The better you can support the purchase decision, the less misjudgments there will be as well as expensive and frustrating returns. You can try to eliminate the pain points of buying with the following:

  • Are the product descriptions thorough and user oriented? As a rule of thumb, the online store’s product information should reach the same level as the top seller of the brick-and-mortar store.
  • Do product images and videos (or e.g. various augmented reality solutions) provide additional information about the features of the product or service that are difficult to describe in text?


4. Effortless and secure transactions

The most critical moment is always the purchase itself: even a small, unexpected distraction or unpleasant surprise can lead to the abandonment of the shopping cart. Consider at least the following:

  • Does the website load fast enough?
  • Are the payment methods comprehensive and secure? Have they been described in a way that inspires trust?
  • Are there additional costs during the payment phase that have not been provided earlier (e.g. shipping costs)?
  • Is it possible to place an order without creating an account?
  • Does the consumer have the option to add and remove products easily while still in the shopping cart view?


5. Versatile shipping options

E-commerce logistics must also be more consumer oriented. As online shopping becomes commonplace, consumers' demands for logistics are increasing, and the absence of a preferred delivery option may lead to the abandonment of the shopping cart. Consider at least the following:

  • Do you offer multiple delivery options?
  • Is the selection of pick-up points for delivery comprehensive?
  • Can the consumer easily choose home delivery?
  • Are delivery costs clearly stated, if applicable?
  • Do you offer the consumer an accurate delivery time estimate?
  • Can the consumer follow the progress of their order easily?


6. Effortless and free returns

Although the law no longer requires free returns, the lack thereof can be an issue for many consumers. Providing free returns is a good opportunity for the online business to differentiate itself positively from its competitors. In the short term, offering free returns brings costs, but in the long term, it increases customer loyalty. Consider at least these points:

  • Is the return process simple?
  • Is the return free of charge?
  • Are the delivery and return terms understandable and unambiguous? Are they easy to find on the website?


7. Ecological product packaging

The primary function of the packaging is to protect the product during transport, but the packaging material should also be environmentally friendly. Consumers' environmental awareness has grown, and ethical and ecological aspects will increasingly weigh on consumption choices. Consumers pay attention to the production conditions of the products, the length of the logistics chain and whether the product is packaged in an eco-friendly way. Consider at least the following:

  • Can additional packaging in plastic be avoided?
  • Can less packaging material be used?
  • Can an easily recyclable material, such as corrugated cardboard, be used as packaging material?7
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