We don’t expect you to implement all of these things. Use the list as inspiration, and pick out those you consider most important and relevant for your business. Don’t try to adapt everything. That’s not doable. Not even Amazon has it all. The largest online retailer doesn’t provide their customers with a fun, glamorous and luxurious “unboxing experience”, does it? But it does tick a lot of these other boxes, that’s for sure.
These points are in no particular order, by the way, and we’ll expand here and there to ignite additional inspiration.
The ultimate online store…
1. Offers the greatest price value within its category
2. Has the products and services its target market wants – in stock, always
3. Has great deals that keep customers thrilled
4. Offers free delivery with all purchases – not only domestic but also international (like Asos)
5. Is mobile-friendly
6. Has meaningful review features
Reviews don’t just do wonders for conversion, they contribute to a great shopping experience that makes customers come back for more. We all know that Amazon has mastered this. Their recently added tag functionality lets shoppers filter to find reviews that contain words important to them.
The ultimate webstore don’t stop there. It also displays what experience reviewers have in the field, as well as a rating in different categories. Here’s an example from mx24.se, a Swedish webstore selling motocross gear:
Each reviewer is first asked to pick their “riding style” (Åkstil), “riding frequency” (Åkfrekvens), “age” (Ålder) and “experience” (Erfarenhet). That way, a visitor can pay more attention to those reviewers who they personally relate to. Ratings are based on the categories “use” (Användning), “met expectations” (Enligt förväntan), “recommended” (Rekommenderas) and “worth its price” (Prisvärd).
7. Personalises everything – from delivery time and recommended products to payment preferences and special deals
8. Is lightning fast to browse (test your website’s speed over at Pingdom)
9. Has a search function that actually works, including search suggestions
10. Has extensive descriptions and FAQs for products, including video and authentic pictures when it’s relevant
11. Has a smoooth payment process
When someone comes to the clothing store Arket.com for the first time and finds a t-shirt they fancy, this how easy the payment process is:
Do you notice anything? First of all, there are no exhausting fields to fill out. In fact, there are no fields at all. The cart predicts where you want to send the item, thanks to an API connection to Klarna. Since this guy has purchased from other Klarna-connected stores before, the data is smooothly integrated to allow for a quick and easy checkout. If he hadn’t, just a couple of fields would need to be filled out.
And did you see how the shopper is given the choice to pay now or in 14 days; whichever he desires? That’s smoooth too.
12. Is eco-friendly and actively works to reduce its environmental footprint
13. Makes the world a better place (however the target market defines “better”)
14. Has an app that enhances the shopping experience
15. Has a clear navigation bar that makes total sense
16. Provides a sweet “unboxing experience”
Packaging is often just functional, protecting the products being shipped. But you can make it so much more, enhancing the fun, exciting or luxurious aspects of the shopping experience.
One e-commerce business that has been taking the packaging of products to the next level is Glossy Box. For them, the box itself is a reason to buy. Each month they send out a secret selection of five hand-picked beauty products from well-known brands to their community, and they do it in these kinds of boxes:
Glossy Box teams up with famous illustrators to make each one of the limited edition boxes worth keeping, not only for the contents but also because they look so nice.
17. Allows people to save their favourite items to a wishlist
18. Offers a sample, or a free trial, to shoppers who are a bit hesitant about buying
19. Is transparent and specific about the availability of each product: “5 left in stock”
20. Follows up in a friendly manner when items were left in the shopping cart
21. Has fast and convenient delivery
Or within an hour.
The acceptable window for delivery is tightening up.
The ultimate online store can deliver fast, but also exactly where and when customers want. One delivery company that makes this possible is Swedish startup Budbee. Their clients, which include H&M and Apotea, can give shoppers the option to choose between different one-hour timeslots for their delivery. Budbee then lets them know exactly when the order will be delivered, to the minute. Customers get updates like: “Your order will arrive in 1 hour and 11 min”. That way they don’t need to guess when packages will arrive.
To read more about more about Budbee and their AI delivery, read our article here.
22. Explains the bigger ‘whys’ with storytelling; why the store exists in the first place, and why the founder/owner/company is passionate about the field
23. Helps visitors to easily find “latest arrivals”, “most popular products” etc.
24. Arranges virtual or offline live events
25. Creates a community
26. Publishes inspirational content
The ultimate online store is valuable not only as a go-to place for great products, but also for the knowledge, inspiration and community encapsulated within it.
Mr Porter, the high-end menswear retailer, has got this right. Check out the journals they provide to educate their crowd, for example “The man’s guide to wearing colour”
Or go check out lifestyle brand Beardbrand, which regularly publishes videos to engage the community it has built alongside the quality grooming products it sells:
The ultimate online store also has user-generated content that gets its target market interested in buying. The website made.com is one of many examples. They let their customers post their own snaps, and tag the displayed products, in exchange for a chance to win a £100 voucher.
27. Makes it so that people can find the products they are looking for within seconds
28. E-mails receipts after purchase with complete information, including a picture of the purchased item
29. Doesn’t make the person create an account until after placing an order
30. Gives VIP deals to loyal customers
31. Has helpful customer service 24/7
The ultimate online store should definitely use Zappos as a role model. This online shoe retailer does pretty much everything to help and delight customers. Just a few examples:
- New customer service members are trained for four weeks on how to keep customers happy about the brand, before they even take on their first customer. They are encouraged to take time with customers, listen to them and show they care. Interactions often include personal topics, such as weddings, pregnancies, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries.
- All Zappos customer service representatives have the authority to accept special-case returns, offer partial or full refunds in cases of loss of service, pay for damages, and “wow” customers to provide solutions in any other manner they deem appropriate.
- Issues and questions are usually answered within a minute, but they take as long as they need to take. Zappos’ current record for the longest customer service call is 10 hours, 51 minutes.
33. Is SEO-optimised
34. Displays related products and recommendations
35. Follows up the purchase after one to two weeks to see how the product is
36. Has a generous return policy
The ultimate online store wants you to be totally happy with your purchases and won’t hassle you in any way if you want to return an item.
Amazon’s Audible lets its members exchange any purchased audiobook they don’t love, at any time – and also allows them to continue listening after a return if they so fancy.
Modcloth gives US customers a free return shipping label and a bonus $5 credit to anyone who wants to return an item, on top of the value of the original purchase.
Shoe giant Zappos has a 365-day return policy for online purchases, and so does outdoor lifestyle store L.L. Bean.
37. Makes it possible to sign up for notifications when a product becomes available
38. Recommends other products with precision
39. Has an easily-accessible, searchable Q&A that answers all common questions about shopping on the site.