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The top 3 characteristics of a successful ecommerce site

By now, small-business owners should know the power of an ecommerce website. It not only provides merchants the opportunity to sell their products and services online, it also opens up an entirely new stream of revenue for a local company. Offering customers the chance to buy something online is no longer a differentiator, it's a necessity. Business owners who aren't taking advantage of ecommerce's massive growth are potentially missing out on a substantial revenue stream.

How much money, you ask? According to a recent Ever Merchant infographic, the ecommerce market generates more than $1.2 million every 30 seconds. (1). That's a lot of cash.

Clearly, ecommerce can be a cash cow for businesses that implement an online retail platform in their operation. Merchant owners need to focus on a few key aspects for their ecommerce sites, though. Here are three elements of a successful online retail platform:

  1. A search bar: Website navigation is one of the first and foremost important characteristics of an ecommerce site because it guides customers to where they want to go. The search bar is a tool users seek out because it's a simple and streamlined way to navigate a website without putting in too much effort. The search bar should be well-positioned on a website so the customer can easily find it and start browsing right away.
  2. Large and compelling product images and descriptions: The beauty of ecommerce lies in the fact that it's generally easy to use and convenient for digitally savvy shoppers. Customers don't have to leave the comfort of their own homes, if they don't want to. One drawback is the fact that products aren't tangible, meaning customers cannot pick them up or touch them. A way around this is to provide large and colorful images of the product at hand, accompanied by detailed and helpful descriptions. Giving a client all they need to know about a certain item before purchasing is helpful in the consumer being able to make a buying decision.
  3. Seamless checkout: Shopping cart abandonment is the Achilles heel of ecommerce. According to a 2014 IBM study, industry-wide abandonment rates were more than 68 percent. (2). Merchants can help mitigate this issue by providing a simple checkout process, or one that doesn't require multiple steps just to complete the transaction. Online customers like an easy checkout process, and it's the merchant's job to provide that for them.

1. Ever Merchant, http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/files/2014/07/real-time-ecommerce.png (Jul. 11, 2014)

2. IBM, http://www-01.ibm.com/software/marketing-solutions/benchmark-reports/cyber-monday-2014.html (2014)


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