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. mobile ready online shoppers

    All online stores should be mobile-ready!

    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.
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  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.