Business owners today have access to some incredibly powerful website design and ecommerce tools. With the help of an experienced developer, any small business can conceivably create a fully functional online storefront that rivals the largest companies in a few weeks! Just a few years ago, the same website would have taken months and cost thousands of dollars more than it would cost today.
With so many advanced tools out there, it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd, especially when ecommerce is involved. As online stores such as Amazon and Walmart have become more and more popular, online shoppers have become sophisticated in their expectations of what a good online store should look like, and the minimum features it should have.
I classify “advanced features” as anything beyond a basic shopping cart and checkout system. Here are some advanced ecommerce features that every ecommerce site should be using to increase sales.
Advanced Product Filtering
The core of every ecommerce website is the storefront. We’ve all used them. Click on “Shop” and you’ll see a grid of products. For large storefronts with many products, you could be presenting your customers with hundreds or thousands of products, forcing them to page through dozens of pages to find what they are looking for.
Advanced product filtering is one way to improve the customer experience by allowing them to filter the product grid utilizing different criteria. The specific filter options are endless depending on how many categories or product attributes your products have. For example, I’m using a bakery example in the screenshot above. The customer can filter by product category; cakes, cookies, donuts. But they can also filter by flavor. In this case, I’ve used a unique color selector for each flavor. The customer can also filter by price.
Every business should try to predict what their potential customers are searching for and build in filters that will help those customers rapidly drill down to the specific product they are looking for.
People love to shop around. Online, sometimes that means jumping between multiple websites looking at different prices and options. You can’t stop a shopper from leaving your site, but you can try to make them want to come back. Adding a wish list to your site will help.
A wish list is like a shopping cart in that it holds a list of products. But clicking “Add To Cart” is a big commitment for most people. Add to “Wishlist” is less threating, almost fun. The information will be stored for the user when they return to your site in the future.
For storefronts whose products have tons of features and attributes, think electronics, a compare product feature could go a long way to building trust in your brand and increasing sales.
Product compare allows customers to quickly add multiple product to a table that lists every possible product attribute, allowing them to compare side by side.
Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Offering coupons is a great way to entice customers to buy. Generate a text coupon code within your site and use it as an advertisement on your front page, or in your social media or email marketing to get people to come to your site.
I think every site should make use of coupons. If you don’t think you can afford to discount your product, then increase the price a little. It’s just a great marketing tool to make customers feel good about the deal they are getting.
Social Media Sharing
This is probably the most important advanced feature on this list. Social media is a critical part of any small business marketing plan. A business that does not advertise, and does not properly use social media, is missing out on a whole world of inexpensive and even free advertising.
Now, we’ve all seen the little Facebook and Twitter buttons on websites that say, “Follow Us”. Those are important. But the social media sharing I am talking about takes this one step further. Share buttons allow your site visitors to share your content on their social media feeds. In other words, they are sharing your site with their friends, proudly saying “hey guys, look at this product.” It’s free advertising!
It works by placing share button next to each product. See the screenshot above. When someone clicks on Twitter, for example, a pop-up window emerges, and the software writes their post for them. All the customer needs to do is Submit, and they have now shared your website information with their friends.