Do you have an eCommerce site or are planning one? Here are five site features you must have.


There are some things every eCommerce site has to have: shopping cart, payment gateway and product pages are pretty obvious. Then there are the must-haves, the features that will help deliver sales and make the experience better for customers.

Here are five important features your ecommerce site should include that many don’t.

1. Smartphone and tablet ready

It shouldn’t be on your future wishlist. It shouldn’t come second to desktop browser initiatives. The time is now for smartphone and tablet support; all the way through, from product catalogue to checkout, from offers to news.

We all know the stats about smartphones and tablet uptake in Australia – 92% of Australians have used a mobile phone in 2012, 9.2 million Australians have gone online via their mobile phone in the six months to May 2012, and 4.4 million have accessed the internet using a tablet, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Your site needs to support the wide array of display sizes, be touchscreen friendly and work well on 3G and 4G wireless connections. We prefer responsive design, based on frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap – integrating that with an eCommerce platform like Magento works a treat. But if you don’t want to do a full front-end recode, make sure you’ve got a fully functional mobile site.

2. Product images and content

If you’re a physical store then location plays a big role in delivering customers into your store, and your in-store display helps them make that purchase decision. The concept is the same for eCommerce – except search engines are your location, and your navigation and product pages are your display. Get your product pages right with loads of product pictures (large and with zoom) and descriptive text. We prefer the eight-image approach to products – front and back, left and right sides, top and bottom, and two perspective shots. If possible and relevant, include a lifestyle shot or two.

Finally, if you have a product that has lots of detail, consider some close ups and even images with labels. Not only will all that information better inform customers, it will increase your opportunity for a good placement on search engines.

3. Free shipping, or at least clear shipping information

Free shipping can be a big winner with customers. Many international online stores are using this to break down the barrier between their sites and the local physical stores. There are variations on the free shipping offer. Sometimes it can be completely free, other times it can be free after a minimum spend (for example, free shipping when you spend more than $99).

If you do offer free shipping, make sure the offer is clear to avoid confusing or misleading customers. If you cannot provide free shipping, then at least make sure that your shipping information, including charges, is clear and simple for all the territories to which you ship.

4. Clear navigation

A visitor to an eCommerce site might come to look at one item, but they’ll often want to have a good look around before they make their purchase. Make their experience better through clear and logical navigation (on all devices – mobile and desktop). Categorise products logically and provide users with the ability to do filtered searches and product listings. And as they navigate their way through, provide multiple easy options to add items to the cart or to wish lists as they go.

5. Discounts and special offers

Discounts and offers can help drive customers to act. Consider offers with limited times to act, in order to create a sense of shopping urgency in order to benefit. Align them with key purchase periods to meet sales goals. This is a simple strategy to take and in most cases doesn’t require development other than creating a few promotional images and uploading them.

If your eCommerce site can lay claim to these must-haves – well done. But there are always more to check!

How about these five more important features:

  1. Clear pricing and purchase buttons
  2. Multifunctional wish lists
  3. Clear returns policies
  4. Properly set up analytics with conversion measurement
  5. Search engine optimisation