Characteristics of Retailing Websites

Learning Objectives

  • List the characteristics of an appealing retailer website

When a shopper enters a brick-and-mortar store, she reacts to the environment, the layout of the store and the product display to make her buying decision. If she’s online and lands on a website, she’s looking for a list of functions and qualities that are not unlike those we’ve already talked about . . . they’re built into the ecommerce platform to help the shoppers understand the type of product they’re going to get at this site, find what she’s looking for (and a whole lot more), and see examples of how she can use the products you offer.

An appealing retail website isn’t about looks, it’s about shoppability. Here are some of the qualities that make an ecommerce site shoppable.

  • Ease of Use. This is the number one thing shoppers are looking for in an ecommerce site: they want it to be easy to use.
  • Hi-res photos. Shoppers are looking for multiple views of an item in hi-res, so they can see every detail. And we should mention that those hi-res pictures should not take a long time to load. Adobe reports that 39% of consumers will drop off if the photos take too long to load.[1]
  • Mobile-formatted site. An ecommerce site is more successful if it’s friendly to the mobile device user. In fact, Google lowered the boom on sites that aren’t mobile friendly in 2017, and they don’t get the same SEO (search engine optimization) considerations that mobile friendly sites do. That means that your site won’t come up near the top in a Google search.
  • Free shipping. Is it worth it? Customers love free shipping so much that they’ll spend 30% more on average if free shipping is offered.
  • User reviews. When shoppers buy a product they haven’t been able to touch and engage with, they want to hear how other users like it. Encouraging users to give reviews and featuring them prominently is important.
  • Secure payment options. Not only should there be secure payment options, there should be cutting edge payment options. PayPal is passé . . . perhaps ACH, WePay and Skrill are options you want to offer. Customers are always looking for ways to keep their money and identity safe.

Yes, it should be eye-catching and visually attractive, too. For example, consider these two websites.

side by side comparison of two websites. One is very sparse with a simple color palette while the one is very cluttered with small, hard to read text and lots of different colors and photos.

Which one is more inviting and easier to navigate?

These features listed above are what make the website “shoppable” and you can think of the webpage as the “store layout” of the ecommerce platform. Without good websites, your customer may not stay and shop.

Practice Questions