Last updated: Essential e-commerce website features for online success

Essential e-commerce website features for online success


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Over the past decade, online sales for everything from electronics and fashion to food have skyrocketed. While this trend was well under way before March 2020, the global crisis underscored the need for businesses to ramp up their e-commerce website features to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

The online shopping experience should be as quick, convenient, engaging, and individually personalized as that of brick-and-mortar retail, if not more so.

There are the three main e-commerce capabilities online sellers need in order to provide an experience that meets consumers’ actual needs:

  1. Mobile first
  2. Great customer experience
  3. AI-optimized journeys

E-commerce website features for changing shopping habits

According to worldwide e-commerce analysis reports, e-commerce sales were estimated to reach $839.02 billion by the end of 2020, growing an astounding an 40.3% from 2019.

Beyond strong overall growth of e-commerce sales, two main online purchasing trends have emerged:

  • Increased e-commerce order volume: Consumers are buying more of their merchandise and service offerings online, leading to an overall increase in order volume across many sectors.
  • Decreased e-commerce order value: While people are buying more online, they are also taking advantage of special offers and buying less expensive products or commodity goods then they have historically.

Age also plays a key role in online buying behavior. For example, younger millennial and Gen-Z buyers are making smaller purchases, more often, and for more specialty consumer products, groceries, and personal care items. For these digital natives, online shopping is part of their everyday life, so the transition to digital channels is natural. Also, they’re increasingly shopping and buying even these staple products from their mobile devices.

Be mobile-first to meet customers where they’re at

Online shopping had already become a regular part of our daily routines before the pandemic struck, and our increasing adoption of mobile devices is one reason why.

We as consumers now expect easy access to websites and apps to check out new products, create wish lists, and understand our buying options whenever and wherever we want. This has led to the rapid rise of mobile commerce, or M-commerce.

This is why online sellers should consider mobile their primary channel. That means focusing e-commerce feature design on a more visual experience, with less text, quick access to shopping carts, simple and fast buying procedures, and one-click payment solutions.

Sell experiences, not just products

Consumers with virtually limitless options will buy from your online storefront only if it is simple, fast, and appealing experience.

That’s why you must provide an experience that customers enjoy, remember, and will likely repeat in the future, as well as recommend to their friends, families, and social networks.

But what actually goes into delivering this experience? You must offer captivating and relevant imagery, intuitive and fast navigation, and instant access to comprehensive product information, including dynamic and attractive product visualizations.

The way you present your products and your company, how you position your brands and competitive advantages, all add up to determining customers’ opinion of your business and whether it’s right for them. Moreover, the type of customer experience you provide will determine their likelihood to be not just buyers, but true advocates for your brand.

Use AI to show customers what they want to see, not just what you want to sell

Finally, online sellers must be constantly committed to innovation. It’s no longer the brand, but the customer who defines value in the marketplace. A static and repetitive online storefront might attract customers based on their immediate needs, but a crowded marketplace will ultimately draw them away again in search of the “next big thing.

In the past, to keep your brand fresh in customers’ eyes, you needed to engage an army of developers and marketeers to continuously evaluate and decide the next step in each customer’s journey. Recently, however, artificial intelligence technology is making it easier to innovate.

This isn’t just about personalized cross-sell, upsell, and promotional offers. The real magic of AI in the context of online selling is the ability to personalize the entire customer journey for each shopper, in real time, and based on a foundation of customer insights gleaned from trusted data and deep business intelligence.

AI can be algorithmically applied according to rules set for company needs, market trends, margin and inventory optimization, and more. This can not only drive more sales and higher profits, but also help continuously optimize operations by closely aligning the supply chain to demand. It also demonstrates that your brand is truly innovative and relevant in a fast-changing marketplace.

E-commerce website features: Designs for the future

Beyond the rising popularity of shopping from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, a variety of new sales channel options are emerging in the form of wearable technologies, social network marketplaces, in-store kiosks and point-of-sale integrations, and intelligent voice assistants.

Make sure your customers aren’t struggling with poor mobile design, technical glitches, long and complex forms, or anything else that gets in the way of a simple, fast, and delightful shopping and buying experience.

Tap into AI to ensure your storefront is always updated, highly relevant to shoppers, and optimized for every device and channel. Wherever possible, try to genuinely surprise customers with new experiences and personalized special offers that can make your brand stand out in our always-on digital marketplace.

Above all, be an advocate for a brighter, more sustainable digital lifestyle and a trusted partner to customers.

Create shopping experiences that keep customers happy and coming back for more.
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