The presentation and experience customers and visitors get when they visit a brick-and-mortar location is the most important element to optimize. If customers enter a store and have a terrible experience, they’re not going to come back, they’re not going to spend more money and they’re not going to refer any friends or family.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with an e-commerce business. Your biggest concern, for instance, is your website or online portal, not a physical location.

However, thinking this way is wrong. Your website or online shopping portal is your store or physical location. If your customers visit your portal and have a bad experience, they’re not coming back — and they probably won’t spend any money.

Did you know more than 20 percent of online shoppers say bad site design and poor navigation is the main reason they abandon a cart or don’t spend money with a particular retailer?

Online storefronts are no longer simply a digital shopping cart or checkout terminal. Instead, they must also deliver unique and engaging online shopping experiences, rivaling competitors and top industry brands.

Amazon is one of the best and most well-known e-commerce sites in modern times. On top of everything it offers customers, the overall experience is positive. That is mainly why Amazon has seen so much success.

If you want to attract new customers and keep loyal customers coming back, you’d do well to follow these important, basic e-commerce design features.

1. High-Resolution Photos and Video, and Engaging Content

Many customers may choose to shop online only. This means they buy products without ever seeing them in person. The same goes for ordering services. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t expect to see a good visual representation of what is being offered.

You need to deliver a complete example of a product or service, which means offering multiple angled shots, different environments and usage demos, and much more. Not only that, the photos and videos must be of a higher resolution, allowing customers to zoom, pan and scrutinize items. Gone are the days where you can get away with low-quality images and content. Even mobile devices now display HD visuals.

On top of the visual elements, content is also a necessary component to running an e-commerce site. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to provide a huge blog, resource portal, or guide. Those are definitely beneficial for customers, but it’s not the kind of content we’re talking about. What we’re referring to are user manuals, product descriptions, service FAQs and similar items. This is the content that provides customers with the information they need about a particular product or service. It details what it can do, what features and specifications it has to offer, and more.

Want an excellent example of high-resolution products photos and demos? Visit Native Union and take a look at some of its product pages.

2. Special Offers and Discounted or Free Shipping

If you want to compete with the greats, you’ll need to offer your customers a healthy variety of discounts and promotions on your products and services. This is attributed to something called the Amazon Effect, which pressures retailers to adopt similarly competitive policies and promotions.

Customers will often expect either free or discounted shipping options for items they purchase online, especially when making larger orders. In fact, nine out of 10 polled customers have made it clear that free shipping is the top incentive they have to shop online more.

Need more proof? According to a BigCommerce poll, 72 percent of females and 59 percent of males have decided against a purchase because of shipping costs.

BrewDog has a standard flat-rate shipping cost, but it shows customers how to maximize this by explaining how many items can be shipped at the current rate. At checkout, it will tell you exactly how many more items you can add to your cart to optimize shipping costs.

3. Sharing or Social Media Links

Someone may visit your site and find a product or service that doesn’t meet their needs, yet they still may be inclined to share it with family, friends or colleagues. Guess what the most convenient way for them to do this is, whether browsing via mobile or desktop? If you guessed social media, then you guessed correctly.

That is exactly why it’s crucial to provide your audience with sharing and social media links on all your product pages. Nearly 23 percent of online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations or reviews. The more people you have sharing your site and its content, the more likely you will bring in new shoppers or repeat customers.

4. Online Chat or Responsive Support

Your customers are going to run into problems — it’s the nature of the business. Either your systems and payment platforms are going to cause issues, your customers will encounter problems during shipping and fulfillment, or a product won’t work properly. Whatever the case, you’ll need to provide your customers with ample support to reach out and get in touch. One of the best and most responsive ways to do this is to deploy an online chat or communication tool.

It could be a chatbot, which then directs customers to an actual representative if the former technology cannot solve their problem. More importantly, the chat and support systems are operational 24/7, allowing anyone to reach out and get assistance when they need it.

According to Forrester, 44 percent of online consumers say having their questions and concerns answered by a live agent in the middle of a purchase is one of the most important things a website or e-commerce brand can offer.

You’ll find an excellent example of this on Shopee, a crowdsourced commerce site. At any time, customers can reach out and chat directly with the seller to ask for more info, or even make an offer. It’s all in real-time.

5. A Clear Logo or Brand Name

Every brand or business in existence has a name and logo which differentiates it from the competition. This allows customers to identify and resonate with a brand. For online shopping, having a clear logo or brand name is just as important as a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

Posts by consumer brands are 127 percent more viral than retail brands, especially concerning e-commerce. They are more personable with their customers by posting more, engaging more, sharing more and by having a more recognizable brand name or logo.

There are many ways you can achieve this, not just by displaying a logo in the header of your site. You can also theme the design or create unique “buy” buttons and navigation elements that denote your brand. Don’t be afraid to get creative or think outside the box. Just make sure your customers have something to latch onto, that gives a surefire sign that your brand is your brand.

By creating a more responsive logo for the Whitney Museum of Art, Experimental Jetset helped improve its exposure and business.

6. A News or Featured Product Feed

You need a way to showcase new or popular products and services. The best way to do this is to deliver them in a news or featured-style product feed. You can also use a front page or landing page carousel to advertise or promote various products.

Whatever the case, you need a way to get some of your products in front of your audience, even on your own site. This can help direct them to appropriate items or services you have to offer, even if they are not familiar with your brand or products.

Check out the landing page for Neiman Marcus, and you’ll see a variety of in-style fashions and content on the site. It’s a great example of how to set up a featured carousel or feed.


Taking the time to design your e-commerce site correctly can ensure your company’s success. You’ll appear professional, be helpful to your customers and will most likely have your information shared with others. It’s well worth the effort.

Cover image by Brian Cox. Check out his amazing portfolio.