With individuals and small companies able to buy and sell globally and developing countries allowed to compete on a level playing field, ecommerce is proving to be an unstoppable changing force in how the world conducts business. fram^’s dedicated development teams have helped many businesses worldwide successfully affirm their names in their industries successfully with ecommerce website development.
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The hottest trends for ecommerce website development in 2019
In the shorter term, there are a few ecommerce trends which are expected to grow in significance and should be factored into a company’s ecommerce website development strategy.
1. Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) shopping
The world has been waiting for VR to truly arrive with wide-scale adoption by the masses for decades now, but with continued investment in AR from some big players, 2020 could be a breakthrough year for the technology.
As AR technology becomes more integrated with smartphones, virtually trying on clothes before buying or checking how a potential new sofa looks in your living room will become the norm. Both VR and AR could have a massive effect across a range of industries, enhancing the shopping experience for the customer and bringing, ‘Try before you buy’, into the 21st Century.
Typical industries: healthcare education, manufacturing, fashion, travel, retail, F&B, information media and construction.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning
With Alexa and Siri creeping into more and more homes, voice-enabled devices are a new battleground in the ecommerce world. A forward-thinking ecommerce website development plan will take this into account and optimize for these devices.
Chatbots are another emerging tool that can help guide a consumer seamlessly through to the check-out. Effective AI software should learn from the consumer and then offer a more personalized user experience, but its usefulness does not end there. AI can also increase efficiency in the supply chain and pre-empt any potential problems that the human eye might miss.
Typical industries: Healthcare, education, manufacturing, fashion, travel, retail, F&B, finance and energy.
3. Social shopping
As consumers hop between devices, social media platforms and various shopping channels, ecommerce businesses need to integrate their operations as widely as possible. A consistent omnichannel consumer experience is becoming more and more crucial, as their customer’s expectations and range of options grow.
Call to action buttons, robust customer support and brand consistency can set a business apart from its competitors and create brand loyalty in its customer base. Social commerce is growing across many industries but is most apparent in the fashion and retail industries.
Typical industries: Fashion, retail.
4. Ethical ecommerce
A 2019 report found that overwhelmingly, consumers want sustainable products and up to a third of buyers are willing to pay 25% more for them. The second biggest determiner of brand loyalty after the product’s quality was ethical business practices. Expect to see it loud and proud across leading ecommerce sites this year, as conscious consumers demand ethical ecommerce practices.
Typical industries: Fashion, retail, F&B, energy and manufacturing
The KEY features of successful ecommerce websites
1. Simple layout & user-friendly interface
The site should be easy to navigate, clearly labelled with necessities such as a homepage, about us page, contact us and shop now pages easily accessible from every web page on the site. Text should be kept to a minimum and options organized into drop-down navigation menus that help prevent the site from becoming cluttered with too many options.
2. Well-categorised product system
Allowing the user to browse products efficiently, creates a smooth shopping experience where the customer can quickly and easily compare the various options available. Suggested similar products can help cross-sell by taking into account the user’s previous activity and searches.
An experienced ecommerce web development company will be well versed in the art of categorization and can help tailor the categories based on your target audience.
3. Highly visible check-out & guest check-out option
The view basket and check-out options should always be available to the user, and when they do head for the check-out, it should be as efficient a process as possible. Only information absolutely essential to completing the purchase should be required from the user. Asking for too much information can damage the trust between the parties.
A guest check-out option where an account is not required can increase your pool of potential customers. Users who are in a rush would rather abandon their cart than open and verify a profile on the site to complete a sale.
4. High-speed performance
It is all too easy to get caught up with the style, content and navigation of the site during development, meaning you neglect the crucial aspect of speed. A highly responsive website not only helps your conversion rate but can also boost inbound leads by climbing the Google rankings due to its speed.
5. Cross-platform responsiveness & bug-free
Mobile phone usage continues to grow and is expected to account for 54% of ecommerce sales by 2021. Having an online store that is accessible and ready for mobile users to shop on can help an online business stay ahead of its competitors. This can be achieved by a responsive design that expands and contracts effectively across different devices.
67% of consumers say they casually browse items online, with 77% of those respondents saying they make impulse buys while doing so. If a site is clunky on mobile or has a buggy check-out, you can be sure that the customer will move to another less frustrating site.
6. Effective search bar & filter
A search bar is an absolute necessity for a successful ecommerce site and provides the most effective way of finding a specific product. The ability to filter for colour, brand, price, etc. optimizes the search process for the user even further.
7. High security for payment
An ecommerce site must be PCI compliant by adhering to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This makes SSL certificates mandatory and ultimately builds trust between the user and the online retailer. These certificates encrypt sensitive data sent over the internet, as does HTTPS. Firewalls can provide protection against DDoS attacks, adding another layer of security to the site.
8. Live chat integration & instant support
A chat app will allow a customer service agent to deliver instant customer service to multiple shoppers at the same time. This is a personalized approach that can significantly increase conversion rates, as a frustrated user who is not given the help they need, will simply move to another site. It is possible to track the success of your chat app in converting sales and make changes accordingly.
9. Flexible coupon card
There are many different approaches to using coupon cards on an ecommerce site, they can be time-limited, giveaways or incentive-based, to name but a few. A well-designed ecommerce site will offer flexibility with the types of incentives that are available, as they need to be adaptable according to the needs of the business’ marketing strategy. Coupons are an extremely effective way of collecting targeted data.
10. Regularly updated news & blogs
Blogs can prove crucial for marketing your products, and they also allow you to maintain a presence in your product’s niche area. Creating original, engaging content will enable you to build your brand in a consistent manner and can drive your site up the Google rankings.
11. Lazy loading
Lazy loading is an emerging design trend that adds more products to the existing page rather than continually requiring new pages to be loaded. The beauty is this technique not only helps speed and performance; it increases ‘perceived performance’ making the user think the page is loading faster than it is in reality. A custom website development company will implement this as standard.
What should an ecommerce development team cover technically?
1. Choose the most suitable platform for development
There are many ‘turn-key’ ecommerce options on the market, with the likes of Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento offering ready-made platforms with no need for any coding. However, even for smaller players, it can still be worth seeking out ecommerce web development services for small businesses, to ensure the store is fully optimized.
Magento, in particular can be a great option, offering flexibility in the store’s look and feel. It comes with valuable default features and added open source plug-ins.
Top reasons to choose Magento as your ecommerce platform development
- Mobile-friendly configuration
- Customized solution
- Advanced SEO management
- Cutting-edge 3rd-party integration
- Multiple store capability
- Feature-rich program
- Seamless CMS
- Functionality expansions
Build a comprehensive backend system database
There are two categories of ecommerce databases, with different systems required for site content and transactional data. The site content database organizes the product info, contact information and FAQ, etc. while the transaction data organizes the customers’ transactional history, tracks inventory and processes orders.
Small to medium-sized data can be treated directly by the backend of the site, however to handle a larger volume of data, alternative solutions may have to come in to play. Big data analytics can be employed to ensure that vital underlying insights are still uncovered even when processing vast quantities of data.
Design user-friendly web store & effective UX
User experience (UX) is defined by a site’s branding, usability and functionality. What is the user’s experience of navigating the site and buying a product? If it is an enjoyable experience from beginning to end, there will be increased trust and therefore a higher conversion rate. Effective UX design comes from putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and finding out what makes them tick.
Speed, ease of use and a simple layout are prominent components of a well-designed web store. People do not like to wait for websites to load, nor do they want to struggle to find the information they are seeking. It is a UX designer’s job to consider why the potential customer is there, what features the website needs to offer as a result and which design considerations can be implemented to best guide them there.
2. Migrate and integrate essential tools & softwares
By integrating ERP or CRM, a business can glean precious information about their customers from the data collected by the site. This helps build a profile of the customer and increases the site’s understanding of what they want. This can lead to auto-generated leads, upselling and cross-selling.
The system must be capable of handling all the data, image management and SEO that will be pivotal to the website’s performance. More and more content will be added over time, and a well-built website should be designed with this in mind. Some big giants even ask for custom CRM development that is fully-tailored to their business strategy.
3. Continuously accelerate performance
Neglecting the speed and performance of your ecommerce site is a sure-fire way to drive away customers. Instead, it is advisable to optimize page-load times across all browsers, devices and networks, for instance by separating content and only sending the required minimum amount for each type of device.
To be competitive a site needs to stay up-to-date with current performance acceleration techniques, every fraction of a second will have an effect on customer retention. It is crucial to consider how each component of the site can affect the overall speed and to predict how the ongoing maintenance of the site may have an effect in the future.
As a full-service ecommerce provider, we offer a complete range of services needed to accelerate and maintain a high-performance site. Check out how fram^’s dedicated software development team can help you with ecommerce!
Frequently asked questions in ecommerce website development
1. How much does it cost to develop an ecommerce website?
Prices can range from a few thousands to millions of dollars, and it is not only the cost of ecommerce site development to consider, but also future maintenance and upgrade costs as well. The best way to get an accurate estimate for how much an ecommerce site will cost to build is by consulting an ecommerce development company and providing them with as much information about the site as you can.
The cost of software development is difficult to estimate at its outset due to the unpredictable nature of the development process. This is why many ecommerce developers use Agile methodology, which breaks the project down into short-term deliverables that help to estimate costs accurately. This means that each small job has a fixed-price and critical features can be prioritized over those that do not justify their cost.
2. Should I have an in-house development team or outsource to a custom software development company?
The perceived benefit of having an in-house team over outsourcing is the higher degree of control over the team and the project, while outsourcing is usually seen as a low-cost alternative.
However, why not get the best of both worlds with a dedicated team? Outsourcing development companies can purpose-build a team for your project, based on your requirements and with as much or as little involvement from you as you see fit. This dedicated team is an extension of your own workforce, complete with robust communication channels and its own management structure, with you at its head.
3. If I don’t know much about technology, how can I choose the right partner?
Even with little technical knowledge, it is possible to find out quite a lot about potential partner companies online. Check their portfolios and any reviews from previous clients or even contact companies that they have worked with in the past to find out about their experience. Compare several possible vendors and trust your gut, after doing your research.
Look for a partner that offers full-service solutions, this means that they can provide a wide range of software development services that can take your project from its inception all the way through its entire lifecycle. They will design, create, launch and maintain your product, utilizing communication tools to stay in daily contact with you. You will be adding an arsenal of technical experts to your team.
4. Should I choose an ecommerce platform or build my custom one?
It is quite rare for developers, even for custom ecommerce development services to create custom ecommerce platforms from scratch as there a wide range of efficient platforms already available for use. It depends very much on the complexity of the ecommerce site, if it is very straight-forward with only one or two products, an out-of-the-box platform might be fine for your purposes.
However, if you want a highly customized store, a developer can still use an existing ecommerce website builder such as Woocommerce, Shopify and Magento. They allow the site to be coded and plug-ins added, delivering a tried-and-tested finished product in a much shorter period of time, than a custom-built platform. Magento has been used to build sites of many leading brands and is a fantastic base platform for custom ecommerce website development services.
If you have any concerns or new insights about ecommerce design and website development, don’t hesitate to contact fram^! We are more than happy to listen from you.