The estimated total for e-commerce sales in quarter 3 2013 is $67.0 billion! Your business can tap into online retail by adding e-commerce features to your website, but building an e-commerce website is more than just putting up pictures of your products and a link to purchase. You need to build an awesome, intuitive and safe experience or you risk losing your customers forever.

Unsure how to proceed? Here are five must haves when building an e-commerce website:

Security

One of the biggest fears when shopping online is the potential for financial or identity theft. It’s extremely important that you make your customers feel comfortable about sharing their financial information. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts your customers information as soon as it’s entered to make a purchase. You’ve probably seen SSL at work, when you see the address of a website begin with “https;” the “s” stands for “secure.” Applying SSL to your checkout process is the first step in making shoppers feel secure.

You can also alleviate your customers’ fears by applying for security certificates and posting the badges in visible areas. Some popular security providers include GeoTrust, Veri-Sign and the Better Business Bureau.

Remember, it isn’t enough to just add security features to website, it’s equally important for you to communicate those features to visitors so that they feel that they are in a safe and secure environment.

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Quick Load Times

A recent study showed that you risk to lose 40% of your shoppers it your site takes more than 3 seconds to load. A slow site can also hurt you in Google search engine rankings! Be sure to work with a web developer that knows how to design and optimize your website to reduce load times. Here’s a tip: a common problem can be image size and type.

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Easy Checkout

Just as people expect a fast loading site, they also expect an intuitive and fast checkout process. On average, 75% of visitors abandon the checkout process before they complete a purchase! To avoid losing that sale, make sure you simplify the checkout process so that people don’t lose interest or worse get frustrated and quit. Make sure checkout is a fluid forward moving experience, meaning – every step leads to the next and shoppers never have to backtrack. For example, if you require shoppers to have an account, require that step first. Nothing is more frustrating than getting halfway through checkout and then being directed to set-up an account. If buyers feel like they’re running in circles, they’ll give up.

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Contact Information

Make it easy for customers to contact you for whatever reason. A simple contact form won’t suffice. At the very least, also include your phone number and email address. Don’t make a shopper have to hire a private detective to find you for help.

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Blog

Customers like to feel that there are people behind the businesses they patronize. Make visitors feel a connection with you and build trust. Blog about the virtues of your products, how shoppers can use it to fulfill a need or even provide product comparisons. Give visitors information that will benefit and bring value to them. The more you give, the more you’ll get back.

If you would like to learn more about the e-commerce best practices or are interested in building an e-commerce website get in touch with Fingerprint Marketing’s award winning team – we’ll be glad to help you leave your mark!