eCommerce Site Best Practices: The Anatomy of The 'Perfect' eCommerce Site [2021 Edition]

If you are in the business of selling tangible products, you’ve probably already joined the eCommerce bandwagon. 

According to eMarketer, eCommerce sales will reach nearly $2.5 trillion by 2018. Bricks and mortar store owners are increasingly joining the digital race to boost their earnings. 

And why shouldn’t they?

The internet is a shopper’s paradise. From the comfort of the home and with one click, a consumer can purchase almost anything they desire, without the hassle of fighting traffic, finding parking, braving the crowds and coping with adverse weather. 

So where does that place you?

In an increasingly overcrowded eCommerce world against your fellow online vendors. 

To beat the curve and join the ranks of the high-flying eCommerce stores, you need to provide consumers with a well-organized and efficient online shopping experience.

The notion of a perfect eCommerce site is a myth, but you can create your own version of perfect by constantly running A/B tests and always thinking about your customers and their needs. 

Great eCommerce sites have several elements in common. We break these down by looking in depth at your:

  1.  Home Page
  2.  Category Page
  3.  Product Page
  4.  Checkout Page

In a hurry? Here are the best practices for creating an eCommerce site in 2021:

Ecommerce business guide

Download our checklist: eCommerce website design best practices

A 36-point checklist to create the best eCommerce site.

 

eCommerce Homepage Best Practices

eCommerce homepage best practices

The following elements are integral to a high converting homepage:

Homepage best practice tip #1: An ever-present search bar

eCommerce homepage best practice 2

A search bar is an incredibly important part of any eCommerce website. Make sure that when the consumer scrolls down to look at the bottom of the page, the search bar squeezes into the navigation bar and scrolls down with them. Visitors shouldn’t need to scroll back up the page just to search for something new.

 

Homepage best practice tip #2: Value proposition front and center

eCommerce home page best practice 1

Your homepage needs to have a strong hook in place to excite consumers and encourage them to shop. Add oomph to your value proposition by stating the benefits of your products in a concise way. State your USP and reflect your brand personality via this. Make sure your value proposition is clear and visible.

Homepage best practice tip #3: Sales products tab/promotions tab

eCommerce homepage best practice 3

Keep existing customers and those new to your website updated with your latest promotions. You can display a tab at the top of the page with details about your latest discounts and offers. It’s also a great place to display incentives for first-time shoppers.

Homepage best practice tip #4: A footer where customers can find info about your company

eCommerce homepage best practice 4

Add all your business details in the footer of your eCommerce website. Add a brief description of your company, email address or a toll-free number they can reach you on, your location, different product categories, a blog (if you have one), your social media accounts and so on.

 

eCommerce Category Page Best Practices

eCommerce category page best practices


Category pages need to have the following elements to reap lucrative rewards:

Category page best practice tip #5: Clearly displayed products in rows

eCommerce category page best practice 1

According to Barbara E. Kahn, professor of marketing and director of the Jay. H. Baker Retailing Center,

 

“The notion is you will take one product when goods are stacked vertically and more than one when they are stacked horizontally. Retailers have figured this out.”

 

This shows that products stacked horizontally in rows will sell better compared to products displayed in columns. 

Category page best practice tip #6: Easy-to-find navigation

eCommerce category page best practice 2

Having a clear navigation plan assists in usability and allows users to hop on to their desired category with ease. 

Category page best practice tip #7: Feature banner to highlight promotions

eCommerce category page best practice 3

Feature banner is a vital part of a category page. It improves user experience in a number of ways – showing them that they’re on the right page, nudging them towards the next step they need to take to complete their online shopping process, and tempting them with constant promotions.

Category page best practice tip #8: Dedicate a section to “Best Sellers” and/or “New Arrivals”

eCommerce category page best practice 4

New Arrivals help brand supporters to make new purchases as they keep coming back for more. Best Sellers is equally effective as it encourages new customers to make their first purchase based on your popular products.

 

eCommerce Product Page Best Practices

eCommerce product page best practices

High converting product pages won’t do their job without the following elements:

Product page best practice tip #9: Display customer ratings and reviews

eCommerce product page best practice 1

According to Moz, 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. Displaying all kinds of reviews, good and bad (yes, the negative ones, too) encourage consumers to trust your brand and purchase from you. Honest reviews are always a strong basis for trust.

Product page best practice tip #10: Compelling product copy

Product copy is an essential part of the eCommerce world. Why? Because it needs to sell the product. It needs to speak to the consumer. Be descriptive, paint pictures, and instead of stating features, explain the benefits of the product.

Product page best practice tip #11: Huge, vibrant product images

Visuals trump text. A grainy, pixilated image with dull colors will paint a negative picture of your brand and not appeal to your consumer. On the other hand, a large, vibrant picture where every single detail is clearly visible will appeal more to your customers.  Moreover, try to display as many angles and viewpoints of the product as possible.

According to Matt of American Muscle,

 

“American Muscle not only has a great collection of photos for almost every product from every angle, on and off the car, but also allows customers to upload their own pictures. These customer shots are often better than the corporate shots and include angles that customers really want to see.”

 

Product page best practice tip #12: Big, bold, contrast-in-color add-to-cart buttons

eCommerce product page best practice 3

Place CTAs in close proximity to the product. Label the CTA button Add to Cart, Buy Now, etc. Make sure they’re large and easily visible.

Product page best practice tip #13: Up-sells, cross-sells, related products

You can boost your conversions and increase your average cart value by up-selling and cross-selling related products. Show consumers products that would complement their purchase or ones that are similar to what they’ve bought. According to a Forrester research, up-sells and cross-sells are responsible for an average of 10-30% of eCommerce revenues.

 

eCommerce Checkout Page Best Practices

eCommerce best practices - checkout page

The following elements give consumers that final push to complete a sale on the checkout page: 

Checkout page best practice tip #14: Visual progress indicator

eCommerce checkout page best practice 2

Online checkout forms can often dissuade customers from completing the shopping process. So close, yet so far. But why? Because filling out all of the painstaking details can be the most boring and manual task known to the digital world! So how do you make this painful task a little easier for your customer? Showing them their form-filling progress through a visual progress indicator lets them see the light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t do the job for them but at least psychologically its helping get them through it.

Checkout page best practice tip #15: Offer different payment options

 eCommerce checkout page best practice 2

Offer customers the luxury of choosing their payment options such as PayPal, Stripe, Mastercard, etc.

Checkout page best practice tip #16: Include order summary

Show your customers their order summary on the checkout page, so that they know what they’re purchasing. It keeps them from constantly wondering if they clicked on the right product, what the price was, did they choose the right color, etc. You can include the product picture, product attributes and its price.

 

Checkout page best practice tip #17: Easy-to-navigate customer service

No return policy is a sure-fire way to scare your customers. To avoid this, add support elements to your checkout page. This can include a chat feature, clear shipping and return policies, a toll-free number for them to call, etc. 

Checkout page best practice tip #18: Secure checkout badges

Use a header that says ‘100% secure shopping’, or add security badges at the footer to put your customers’ lingering security questions at rest. With eCommerce business booming at such a rapid pace, it’s important to provide customers with a secure online shopping environment. Adding this graphic on the checkout page will eliminate the chances of customers backing out at the last minute due to security concerns.

Ecommerce business guide

Download our checklist: eCommerce website design best practices

A 36-point checklist to create the best eCommerce site.

 

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The anatomy of the perfect ecommerce site

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Best eCommerce sites examples: 2021 edition

We researched the top eCommerce sites across various industries, in both B2C and B2B, to give you a comprehensive look at what it takes to go from an average site to an industry leader.

1. Stanley-PMI: First-impression matters

Category: B2C

Market: Outdoor mugs and thermoses

When someone lands on your site, they’ll leave in a heartbeat if you don’t engage them quickly or show them something that intrigues them.

So, it’s vital for your site visitor to understand the benefit of your products and Stanley-PMI does a great job of this. The quicker they can understand what your product does for them, the higher your conversions will be.

Best ecommere site example: Stanley PMI

What we like about it

Clear and concise product copy: the quick bite of benefits, colorways on each product, rating on top, and a clear “ADD TO CART” button all make it easy to decide.

Best ecommere site example: Stanley PMI

What could be improved

Instead of saying “Sign up to our newsletter”, they should state an immediate benefit to signing up. They could use a lead magnet and write something like, “To receive your free guide…”

Even adding “Sign up for exclusive deals” without a lead magnet would make it a bit more convincing for readers to enter their email.

 

2. Tivoli Audio: Optimizing for “The ready-to-buy guy” & “The show me the details dude”

Category: B2C

Market: Audio

There are two types of consumers:

  1. Those who are ready to buy, make quick decisions, and want to get right to the goods.
  2. Then there are those who want to know more. They want to read the FAQ, the About Page, and read just about everything before they buy.

A good eCommerce site knows how to optimize for both types of people and Tivoli Audio does this well.

Best ecommere site example: Tivoli Audio

What we like about it

Double-header navigation on the home page. Large, clear navigation to the shop and other main pages, and for those who want more, you have the deeper details above.

Best ecommere site example: Tivoli Audio

What could be improved

One category that should be added (as it’s usually the top category selected on eCommerce sites) is a “New Arrivals” category.

 

3. Herman Miller: Showcasing their products through videos

Category: B2B

Market: Furniture

Large, clear, vivid photos are expected these days. Video is becoming the new standard.

Best B2B ecommere site example: Herman Miller

What we like about it

Products displayed by video - customers can experience products in motion, thus making them more likely to buy.

Best B2B ecommere site example: Herman Miller

What could be improved

What’s missing on Herman Miller is the customers’ testimonials. There are no reviews on the site. There are several designers on product pages, but they’re missing the social proof.

 

4. Sticker Mule: Proving their value proposition, in seconds

Category: B2B

Market: Gift

Sticker mule does a great job of making it clear why they’re so good. Their value proposition is the first thing you see, and their prospect’s free sticker proof is made up in seconds, building trust and increasing conversions.

Best B2B ecommere site example: Sticker Mule

What we like about it

A very clear value proposition that’s proven in seconds, and social credibility.

Best B2B ecommere site example: Sticker Mule

What could be improved

There could be an easier way for customers to get in touch with customer service - there is only one “contact” button on the site at the bottom of the page.

Adding a live chat option in the bottom right would be great. Even adding a second “contact” button up top would help.

5. Lululemon Athletica: Getting their visitors to engage

Category: B2C

Market: Apparel

People want more interaction. They want to be more involved in the online shopping experience.

Best B2C ecommere site example: Lululemon Athletica

What we like about it

The engagement on the site is great, plus the navigation makes it easy to find exactly what you're looking for.

What could be improved

The live chat feature requires too much work - rather than having to fill out a form to wait for live chat, allow the customers to skip the work and start chatting right away with a customer service agent, or a chatbot.

 

6. MVMT: A one-click upsell to increase AOV

Category: B2C

Market: Fashion

Your eCommerce store should be designed to do one thing: give your customers something they want.

An upsell is a perfect opportunity to add a bit more value to your current offer. If you can make it as easy as clicking a button to add a second strap to a watch, you’ll be able to up your average order value big time.

Best B2C ecommerce site example: MVMT

What we like about it

MVMT’s upsell on their watches doesn’t come across as pushy. It doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. It creates an opportunity for their visitor to have more options. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes. “Hmm… second strap… I never thought of that. Having black leather would be nice. Yeah, I like that one better than grey.” *Click*

Best B2C ecommerce site example: MVMT

What could be improved

MVMT has a pretty site. It’s clean, it’s designed well. It’s easy to use. However, one thing that could be improved is the home page above the fold. A clear value proposition that immediately tells you why your store is different will lower bounce rates and increase conversions.

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Dennis
Dennis

Dennis, whose legal name happens to be just Dennis (it's quite common from where he came from), is a content and digital marketing addict.

When he's not too busy coming up with content ideas and promoting content, you can find him at 5.30am at the gym. Yeap, he's that guy.

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