The development of internet technology in the last decade has brought along tremendous changes in the online shopping habit. The internet retailing landscape has become more competitive than ever. Hence, it is crucial for e-commerce retailers to build a powerful and engaging platform that leaves a convincing impression right at the beginning. This article will elaborate the 9 must-have elements that an e-retail store should have in order to be well-prepared for the online competition in 2017.

According to Statista, 55% of online retail visits worldwide in the second quarter of 2017 was performed through smartphones. Nowadays, building a mobile-friendly website with quick loading time that can offer a flawless shopping experience is not just an option but a must, as this will directly affect your website ranking on SERP.

Make sure that your website has well-structured product categories and offers customers an intuitive navigation experience so that they could easily find what they are looking for. The most important pages should be included in the main navigation bar, and the number of clicks that leads to purchase should be kept minimum to ensure a high conversion rate.

Display your products with detailed information and high-quality images that enable zoom function. You can also add 360-degree product photography, which allows visitors to visualize the product in its full dimension and therefore adding interactivity to their shopping experience.

It is of great importance to have a clear return policy positioned in an easy-to-find spot on your online store. This should be written in a simple and clear language, explaining all the return costs and refund methods. Even though having customers sending back your products might be the last thing you want, displaying a clear return policy will make customers feel more confident when making their decision to purchase your products, and hence will drive your conversions.

Having a great customer service will bring your business not only customers’ trust but also higher ROI as they will keep coming back to you and recommend you to their friends and family. Make sure to have your service hours (24/7 hotline is a big plus), phone numbers and all contact data displayed in a place where customers can always see.

Having a Live Chat window is a must for your online store in 2017, as this is not only a cost- and time-saving method but also adds more value to UX. Studies have shown that customers actually prefer chatbots to emails or other regular forms of customer service. As a result, it is highly recommended to have a Live Chat function t or a chatbot that can analyze customers’ background and direct them to the appropriate channel or a human agent.

People usually decide very fast on whether they like a website or not, therefore it is worth the effort to make your virtual store highly attractive to them by incorporating CTAs to it. These could range from a simple pop up with a promo code to banners that display the latest deals or free shipping promotion.

A trustmark is a small logo or an image from an external party, normally a professional organization displayed on an e-commerce website and indicates that this site has passed security tests. The most popular trustmarks are McAfee, Verisign, BBB, PayPal and Trustee. Having recognizable trustmarks on your website gives customers a sense of security and hence, more incentive to make a purchase.

A poorly designed checkout process might harm your business more than you could imagine. Make sure to establish a fast and easy checkout process by offering a wide variety of payment methods with different transaction currencies (if your business is international). You also need to keep the page loading speed minimum and make it easy for customers to edit their cart content. Last but not least, display security logos, delivery date as well as all shipping/returning policies clearly and try to avoid charging unexpected costs.

Does your online business have all of the above elements? If not, make sure it does now if you want to boost your ROI and become a significant player in the current e-commerce environment.

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