So you want a shop: Top 4 things to consider with an eCommerce site

If you sell a product, you may well have thought about getting yourself an online shop (otherwise known as an “eCommerce site”). Earlier this year, we wrote about the pros and cons of two of the most popular platforms for eCommerce: Shopify vs WooCommerce. In this post, we’re going to be covering the top 4 things to consider with an eCommerce site.  

Setting up your first shop can seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take the Sox off (see what we did there??) the top four things you should make sure you’re doing. 

1. User experience (UX) 

User experience is a massive topic in and of itself, so we have to admit that we’re not going to entirely do it justice here. 

User experience, in the world of nerds, is commonly referred to as just “UX”. (We nerds don’t half like abbreviating things, don’t we?) Let us explain what this actually means in Plain English.

User experience is what it says on the tin: the experience your website user has on your eCommerce store. 

Your eCommerce store is your digital shopfront

So you need to be taking as much care of it as you would your physical shopfront. 

If someone walked into your store physically, you wouldn’t start smacking them in the face with discounts, vouchers, or “SIGN UP TO MY NEWSLETTER”. And you wouldn’t have your custom socks on the same shelf as your branded chocolate bars. Instead, your socks would be with your other clothing, and your chocolate bars would be with your other foodie items, right? 

So try and take the same approach online. Make it easy for your visitors to find what they want by keeping things neat, organised, and, most importantly, user-friendly. Categories are a great way to group similar items together – like “clothing” or “food”. 

A search bar is a must, too – and make sure the damn thing works. There’s little more frustrating than using a search bar to find a specific item you know an eCommerce store has, and it just draws up blanks.

Last – but not least – one of the top things to consider with an eCommerce site is your buying process. Make sure it’s straightforward. Don’t add extra hoops to jump through, and make sure to choose payment gateways that make transactions a breeze. (A payment gateway is basically how your customers pay. It’s the bridge between your website and the financial institutions that handle the funds.) A super popular one is Stripe – though they do charge a small fee. The smoother the payment process, the more likely the customer will hit that “Complete Purchase” button.

2. Security: Fort Knox for your customers’ data

Get an SSL certificate

Nothing sends potential customers running faster than a sketchy online environment. Especially when money is involved. Make sure you’ve got an SSL certificate on your site to encrypt transactions. Not sure what an SSL certificate is? We’ve got a blog on that. Don’t forget: you don’t have to pay for an SSL certificate.

Keep your site up-to-date

We’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that websites often need a bit of ongoing TLC to keep them up-to-date.

If you’ve chosen WordPress with WooCommerce, then you’ll need to make sure you stay on top of updates. We recommend popping onto your site at least once a month to perform maintenance updates. (If you don’t want to do this, we do have a maintenance package we can offer, just saying…)

Shopify is a bit easier on the maintenance front, as they’ll take care of everything for you. But, if you have a Shopify store from before 29th June 2021, you should take a look at upgrading your theme to a 2.0 one. 

We mentioned payment gateways…

…In the last section; they’re relevant here too. Choosing tried, tested, and well-known payment gateways will help give people the confidence to part with their hard-earned money and give it to you. We (Sox) are often a bit wary when we’re shopping online and a site we’ve never bought from before only takes card payments directly through something like Sagepay. 

Whilst PayPal can sometimes be a pain as a merchant (PayPal historically tends to side with the customer in disputes), it can be a really useful tool for helping your customers feel safe and protected when buying online. 

3. Don’t forget the mobile users

We often bang on about mobile users and websites, but one of the other really important things to consider with an eCommerce site is making sure that it’s nice to use on a mobile or tablet device. 44% of all online sales are done on a mobile device, so don’t miss out on all of those sales by having a website that turns into a potato as soon as it’s viewed on a phone. 

Please don’t forget that your own website is likely cached on all of your own devices. So if you’re looking at your site on your own mobile phone and saying “Hur dur, it’s loading fine” – but everyone else is complaining it’s a slug, then it’s probably because it’s cached. Try checking Page Speed Insights to see how it’s loading for everyone else.  

You need to make sure it scales well when viewed on a mobile device, and also make sure it loads quickly without gobbling up loads of mobile data. Is the text so tiny you can’t read it on a mobile screen? Are the buttons still easy to press, and the checkout process still straightforward?

4. Be there with your customer support

No matter how streamlined your operation is, questions will pop up. An FAQ section is a really helpful aid to allow people to help themselves. Consider questions like:

  • I ordered the wrong thing, how can I fix it?
  • I need a refund, what’s the process?
  • How long until my refund is processed?
  • How long until my item ships?
  • How can I find tracking information for my order?
  • My order didn’t arrive
  • My order was damaged
  • The item I want is out of stock, how long until you have it again?
  • Do you do gift receipts?

Make sure to display clear contact information as well – and a live chat feature is worth considering. You can even get chatbots these days who can help answer some of those FAQs before a real human needs to get involved.

If your eCommerce site is really taking off, then you may find it useful to set up a support portal or ticketing system to track issues. We’ve previously helped some of our cloud software customers (back in the ol’ days, when we used to do cloud software development) get set up with FreshDesk. It’s easy to use – and the free version is often enough to get you started. 

And there you have it!

Those are our top 4 things to consider with an eCommerce site. If you’re looking to start your first one, or improve what you’ve already got, hopefully this will give you a push in the right direction. Obviously there’s a lot more to running a successful eCommerce store than just these 4 things, but you’ve got to start somewhere! 

If you’re struggling with your online shop and are feeling a bit lost, you can contact us and get some help under our free advice offer. Just drop us a line on our contact form, or email us on