What is a good online shop?

E-commerce attracts money now and in the future. It’s simply no longer enough to survive on a bricks-and-mortar basis, and running an online shop has become a necessity for almost every business. At the same time, competition for online revenues is intensifying.

If your intention is to set up an online shop or increase sales in an existing shop, it may not be the easiest thing to do at the moment. At least not when you don’t know what you’re doing. These days, you really need to invest in your online business if you want to run a successful online business. As an entrepreneur and online retailer, you therefore need to know or at least understand what makes a good online store and what all the things are that make an online store successful.

In this article, we have listed the eight most important things that all good online shops have in common. By handling each of these in your online store, you can guarantee that your competitors’ customers will switch to your online store.

Without further ado, let’s move on to the checklist of good online shopping!

1. Your online store is made with the customer in mind
Even if your product range is top quality, very wide or you offer a particular product as almost the only one in Finland, the customer may still not want to buy from you. If this is the case at the moment, it’s probably because your online shop is not designed with the customer in mind.

In this case, you are passing on the potential cash flow that was in your jumps to your competitor.

When your ecommerce is bad, it gives your potential customer nothing but reasons not to buy. If, for example, the customer can’t easily find the information they need, or if the online store is the least bit difficult or annoying to use, they are likely to decide it’s not worth the effort.

Conversely, a good online shop only gives reasons to buy. A good online store takes into account the customer’s needs on a broader level, removing barriers to purchase and making the buying process smooth.

In other words, buying is made as easy and quick as possible.

For example, when the purchase process requires a minimum number of clicks and the online store is easy for the customer to navigate, the implementation is already partly successful. It is also worth using a search tool to make it even easier for customers to find products.

Another important issue is the loading time of the online shop.

If a page or individual piece of content takes more than two seconds to load, this is likely to drive most people away from your online shop, so it’s worth fixing this immediately.

Sometimes all it takes to speed up the loading time is to change your hosting service to a faster one. It is also worth checking with your hosting service that there is no traffic cap in place.

Often, however, in order to achieve optimal speed, you have to cut out unnecessary stuff from your online shop, for example by cleaning up code, optimising content and removing unnecessary add-ons.

2. Product images and product descriptions are of high quality

It is understandable that you may want to save money on product images and texts by doing it yourself. There is nothing wrong with this if the online merchant is a skilled photographer and copywriter. If not, you can outsource to a professional.

Poor quality images act as a barrier to purchase and create an unprofessional image of your business. This does not send the desired message to the customer. The customer may well think that if no effort has been put into the images, the product cannot be of high quality.

Product images and texts play a particularly important role in e-commerce, because the customer cannot test the product in advance, feel it and its materials, or check the quality of the product as he can in a bricks-and-mortar shop. Sometimes it can also be difficult to judge the colour and size of a product from behind the screen.

That’s why a good online shop provides all the information that the customer needs to make a purchase decision through pictures and text.

However, it is not worth listing all the possible product features or writing a novel that no one will be able to read. Nevertheless, all the main features and benefits must be highlighted in the images and texts.

In addition to using texts that sell online and high-quality images, the former should be optimised for search engines and discoverability. There are plenty of tips online for anyone interested in this. In addition, videos and customer reviews should definitely be used in product listings.

Images, texts and videos can be produced by the online merchant, an advertising agency or a freelancer. Of course, hiring an employee is also an option if you have a large number of products or if the issue is topical.

It doesn’t matter who produces the content, as long as the end result is of high quality.

3. The checkout process is quick and easy

In a good online store, the customer’s journey from shopping cart to checkout is smooth and straightforward. If your online store is experiencing an unusually high number of shopping cart abandonments, it’s often because the checkout process is too difficult.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your checkout process is more likely to be completed:

A simple checkout makes payment quick and easy. A checkout process that is easy and simple is best confined to a single page, kept as simple as possible. It may even be sensible to remove the headings and menu from the checkout to avoid wading through it. It is also important not to exhaust or frighten the customer by asking for extra information that is not normally required to complete the order.

Removing compulsory registration. If an account is required to place an order, this is an extra step for the customer and invariably an obstacle to completing the purchase. It is definitely worth lowering the threshold to buy by removing the obligation to register online. You can always give the option to register to those who want to do so.

Clearly indicate the delivery costs. Any charges, whether postage, taxes or other fees, should always be indicated in the shopping cart before you check out. Surprise charges that appear only after the information has been entered are a sure way to make the customer abandon the shopping basket, even in a situation where the value of the order is higher than the charges in question.

The right payment options. Online banking, debit cards and credit cards are by far the most popular payment methods among Finns, so merchants operating in the domestic market should have these payment methods in place. You may also want to consider invoice and instalment payment, MobilePay, PayPal, Apple Pay, etc.

4. Easily found online in search engines

A good online shop is optimised for search engines at least at a basic level, so that potential customers can easily find it.

In principle, a well-designed online store is already partially search engine optimised because the technology is already working well. If you have also produced quality content, you can have a good level of visibility in search engines even if you have not invested in optimising your online shop.

A poor online store is not optimal for people or search engines. It usually relies on advertising for its visibility, which is not profitable in the long or even short term, because advertising costs money and no one buys from a bad online store.

A search engine optimised online shop, on the other hand, does not need to advertise at all if you don’t want to, because it will appear in the right terms and in the first search results.

Search engine optimisation includes three different areas. Internal optimisation covers the content of your online store (keywords, metadata, URLs and internal links), external optimisation covers backlinks (links leading to your online store from elsewhere) and technical optimisation covers technical aspects such as speed, usability, responsiveness and code. In a well-designed online store, the last one is therefore polished to perfection.

If not, your online retailer has a lot of work to do. If you have the technical skills and the time and interest, you can learn to do it all yourself. There are also online tutorials on how to do this, especially for those who can learn in English.

However, it often makes more sense to outsource optimisation to a specialist company that can deliver results quickly and reliably.

They also follow industry best practice and know how to avoid black-hat techniques that can quickly get an online store blacklisted by Google. If you are still planning to do optimisation or are doing it yourself, it’s worth seeking further information.

Maintaining good visibility also requires action on the part of the online shop, as search engines are constantly changing their algorithms and the terms used by customers change over time. So what works today may not work two years or two months from now.

However, providing the best possible user experience and high quality, useful content are things you can’t go wrong by doing.

5. Investment in user and customer experience

Let’s talk about user experience. A good product alone will not guarantee sales if the customer’s experience of the online store is not good.

As we talked about earlier, the user experience should be seamless, i.e. as easy and quick as possible for the customer. It’s also worth personalising the experience, because the more you show you care about your customer by offering a personalised service, the more positive your customer will naturally feel about it.

When the whole buying journey is tailored to the needs of the target customer, a positive experience is created, which will result in a purchase and people are likely to return and recommend your online shop to others. In the long run, investing in the best possible user and customer experience, both online and offline, is what will build trust in your business and create long-lasting customer relationships.

In a good online store, user and customer experience is likely to have been taken into account at the design stage, making it the easiest thing to implement.

Customer experience can also be improved through automation. Automated communication is an effective way to connect with the customer and remind them of the existence of the online store. It is not worth relying on this alone, but the customer experience needs to be refined from within the online store.

In campaigns, invest in interesting content and offers, as well as a headline that entices the customer to open the message. It is also worth testing different sending times. It can also be nice to be remembered by the customer on a special day with a congratulatory message and, for example, a promotional code.

For some, reminders for abandoned shopping baskets work well, for others less so. In such emails, it’s worth remembering to include a link that takes you straight back to your shopping cart.

In addition, it is definitely worth automating the collection of reviews, as there is no better sales tool than the recommendation of other people.

However, make sure that you don’t contact customers too often or without their permission. On the other hand, the interval between sending messages should not be too long, as the customer will often not be aware of the issue for months or weeks.


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