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A lot was said about the importance of the eCommerce home page. It’s the storefront, your first impression, the gateway, and as such, you can never overestimate its importance.
So yep, the homepage is important, and is quite a challenge in terms of building it. You need to have a lot components in it, but have it look good, real good. Remember, it supposed to entice users to browse through your products and hopefully purchase one or more of them. If your home page will look too noisy, or will be missing a key component, users will drop, like flies, trust me.
Of course, there is the matter of personal preference, but there are some common practices to follow, we will name a few
Clear, easy to use Navigation
Making sure that users can easily find what they are looking for is crucial. Remember users’ attention span study by Microsoft Corp, concluding humans’ attention span is 8 seconds, shorter than that of a goldfish (9 seconds)?
Well, you have to make sure not to test that attention span, because this is a test you will lose. How? Well, starting from the navigation bar, you should place it according to eCommerce navigation bars conventions, where users expect to find it, either horizontally on top or vertically to the left. The bar should also be fixed, so when you scroll down, it accompanies you. As for the navigation categories, you should keep it as intuitive and simple as possible. Make sure there are no categories with no products in them or with a few products in them.
Here, ASOS is a good example of a clear top and side navigation that highlights sales and other important things to notice.
For in depth information regarding optimizing navigation bars visit Smashing Magazine
There is no eCommerce website without a search box, at least there shouldn’t be. The search box is as vital to the website as the navigation bar. And often people address them together.
The search box usually located at the top of the page, in a prominent location, and is accessible at all times (except on checkout).
Also, in addition to visibility, the search functionality is also something to consider. With rich text product description and corrective search, the search should easily find relevant products. But you should also note the problem of having too many ‘relevant’ products returned for a single search. That’s why a search mechanism should also have the opportunity to filter search results by category or feature.
Look at aliexpress.com, you have your predictive search completion, but you can also refine your search by choosing a category
According to Janrain, 74% of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests. Today it’s already quite a convention to include personalization information, right from the home page.
Not convinced, just look at this image by Smart Insights
In order to offer personalization, remember collect information on what users searched for, or were interested in (browsing and purchase history) and provide recommendations accordingly.
You can also present ‘Recently Viewed’ items directly, without recommendations.
Another personalization option is using solutions, such as Nosto, that recognize what similar users were interested in and recommending it as well.
And then there’s the kind of recommendations in the lines of “users that purchased that item were also interested in…” This kind, according to a Marketing Sherpa study generates the greatest revenue.
Learn more about the most effective types of personalized product recommendations
Shopping cart presence
Having the shopping cart visible in every page of the website is nothing to write home about – everybody does it. So yes, of course, placing a basket or bag symbol is a must. What some still ‘fail’ at doing is having it keep track and present the unpurchased items left in it (or number of items next to the symbol), even though a user left the website and didn’t purchase (what you call “persistent shopping cart”). You can also have hovering over the cart to show a summary of what is there and the bill.
With a shopping cart abandonment rate of 67.4% - 84.4%, depending on the industry, you can’t really afford not having your shopping cart as smart and helpful as it can be.
And don’t give me that “they have to be logged in for that” bullshit. You can just use cookie or localstorage.
Present your contact details (Location and Phone Number)
Some of your users go to the website for a little bit of browsing and plan on actually purchasing the items in the stores. Others just want to feel they trust the store before putting in their credit card.
For those reasons it is vital that the physical stores locations, as well as the contact number, are presented in plain sight (it’s a trend to not present phone numbers, avoid it).
Show off your Free Shipping and Same day delivery
Shipping costs are a real pain! In the eCommerce world it’s one of the leading ‘drop off’ points. According to Forrester study, high shipping cost is the number one reason for cart abandonment.
So if you offer free shipping, or same day delivery, these are unique selling proposition (USP), worth presenting in the home page, as they sure help persuading users to purchase / not abandon.
By the way, more information worth mentioning on the home page is value propositions like where the products are manufactures, how they were made (hand-crafted), money-back guarantee, free returns and so on.
Promote special offers, Sale items and campaigns
Speaking of USPs, the natural place to promote all these treats propositions is in the home page, under the scroll bar. Some websites promote poplar categories, others promote specific products (think of Apple at a launch day), and most website promote sale categories / items.
Here’s Next mother’s day home page promotion:
Make it social
Well, social media is everywhere, eCommerce websites are no exceptions. Including social media buttons on the home page, like in any other website, is a given, right? So why some of the major plyers, like Amazon, don’t have social buttons on their home page?
So guys, get real, add social media icons to your homepage.
The right communication channel
Your users are looking for a way to communicate with you to ask vital pre purchase questions. So having an online chat, on top of a call center, is important. But it doesn’t stop there.
A lot of your users will choose not to interact if it’s not convenient. Yes, they are spoiled. They want to talk, but they used to doing it via WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, SMS and more.
We, at Bontact, offer personalized communication, by letting businesses integrate multiple online chatting apps with a single integration. Just imagine, your online visitors can choose which way to start a conversation: Voice, SMS, Facebook messenger, Line, Viber, WeChat or others. We also let your salespeople toggle between the options in real time, even while the conversation is on.
BTW, this is also something worth mentioning in your value propositioning:
“Hey! We’re here, ready to hear, get used to it”
There are many things you can play around with while building your homepage. We haven’t mentioned all of them, just the most important ones, or the ones we feel are important to mention. You are welcome to write back, suggesting more aspects we might have missed.