100+ Essential eCommerce Resources to Help Your Business
Before trying to set up your own webshop, it’s worth finding out what’s worked for others in terms of layout, conversion, ‘call to action’ icons, and so on. Luckily, rather than you having to randomly go through hundreds of websites, some very nice people out there have done the hard work for you, so all you have to do is click on these links and you’ll be taken straight to some galleries showcasing a selection of the best designed internet stores around.
But bear in mind that when we say ‘best designed’, we don’t just mean that they look nice. Good design also makes it easy for your customers to navigate their way round the site and find what they want as quickly as possible. It means that all the information they need to make an informed purchase is clearly visible – unexpected surprises at checkout is one of the big reasons for abandoned shopping carts.
These guys are web designers at the top of their game, so they know what to look for in a good online store. This gallery of 50 of their favourites should leave you with ideas, inspiration and all-round enthusiasm coming out of your ears. Don’t worry about the fact that the first comments date from 2008, by the way – this is a regularly updated gallery so everything here will be bang up to date.
Inspirational Shops has been showcasing the very best online store designs for a couple of years now. Aimed at those passionate about eCommerce, the site is looking for examples that take the customer as close as they can to the experience of a local bricks-and-mortar store. And if you come across an example you think worthy of their consideration – or if you’re ever so proud of your own site and think it deserves to be showcased alongside the best the web has to offer – you can submit it and if they like it as much you do, they’ll add it to the list.
This site selects stores for its gallery based on four main criteria – respect to standards compliance, pure CSS tableless programming, coolness, and overall attractiveness – but they’re happy to admit that coolness and attractiveness carry the most weight when it comes to final selection. So you can be assured that the sites in this gallery look nothing less than fab.
Add to Cart buttons
It’s not just the overall design you need to worry about, you also want your ‘call-to-action’ buttons to look good, stand out and scream “CLICK ME!” to your customers. We’ve already enthused about how useful Get Elastic’s site is in a previous blog, but we really like this collection of 107 – yes, 107 – Add to Cart buttons. Scroll through, discover the look you like, and feel inspired.
More ecommerce icons!
Of course, you need a whole range of icons and buttons around your site, from payment options and shopping carts or baskets to Sale and discount symbols. This page has 45 sets you can download and use for free.
The UK’s favourite online packaging supplies company!
Now we know that this site works because we’ve been increasing sales on it year by year. A lot of work has gone into making this totally clear and user-friendly and our customers regularly tell us how easy it is to use.
Once you’ve got your site looking good and easy to navigate, you need to sort out the technical side. In other words, turn it into a shop where your customers can order and pay for your products. And if you want them to see the process through to its conclusion, you want it to be a smooth and speedy operation.
We mentioned earlier how lack of clarity can result in an abandoned cart, but there are lots of other reasons for it to happen. A lack of trust in the security of the site, slow-loading pages and complicated registration are all regularly cited by shoppers for giving up on an attempted purchase. These sites provide tried and tested solutions you can count on.
With customers including Nike Australia, Paul Smith, Harper’s Bazaar and Rebecca Minkoff, your first thought might be that anything Magento can offer is surely going to be out of your league. And while it’s unlikely that any of the above chose the $15 a month option, you can, and you’ll have the security of knowing that you’re using one of the best researched, best tested and most comprehensive eCommerce tools available.
If you’re just setting up and don’t have – or want to risk – the money to create a tailor-made site, there are some excellent open source (ie free) options available. Open Cart is one of the best and is really easy to use – just download and install the software, choose a template, add some products and you’re ready to roll. If you do need help, there’s plenty of support on hand, including free user guides and video tutorials, contacts for commercial support and a lively forum.
Another great open source option that gives you everything you need – and more – to get your own online store up and running. They reckon it can be installed and set up by anyone with only the most basic of web building and computer skills and when you want to make it do more, the tutorials and FAQ section of the site will help you create coupons, speed up your site and protect it from malicious attacks. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of plug-ins covering marketing and pricing tools, payment and shipping modules and buttons and graphics are ready for free and immediate download to make your site work smarter, perform better and sell more.
Kissmetrics provide the means for you to do detailed analysis of how people behave when they visit your site. It’s one of the most valuable tools available to eCommerce entrepreneurs, because it means that you can discover who visited, their actions, and how you can use that information to improve sales and customer experience by tracking the lifelong value of the customer.
If you want people to find your site, you need to know what terms and words they use when searching for whatever it is you sell. Just about the best way to do that is with Adwords – input a word or phrase and see how many times people have been searching for it in your local market. It will also suggest alternatives in a lateral thinking way that you may not have thought of, but which your customers may well have.
Optimum optimisation tool
We’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of using Moz’s search engine optimisation expertise several times before and if you want to get all the visitors you can to your site, you need to make use of their tools which analyse and then give advice on how you can set each page up better. Just choose your keyword (with the help of Google Adwords, as above), decide which page you want it to direct your traffic to and then see how successful it’s likely to be.
Top 10 eCommerce site builders
10 of the best to turn to for help building your eCommerce store. There aren’t any of the open source options listed here, but none of those that are will break the bank, especially the one going for just $2.
We’re not going to go into much depth about these, because we’ve covered this ground before, but if you want a list of highlights from our list of highlights of the eCommerce blogs out there (well, the ones we’re not mentioning elsewhere in this blog, anyway!), then this it.
Probably the most practical eCommerce advice you’re likely to find outside of the Davpack blog.
Social Media Examiner
If you’re going to dedicate some of your Marketing efforts towards establishing some kind of social media presence – and you are, aren’t you? – then this is the place you need to drop by so you know how to do it properly.
A blog of blogs
A handy little list ranking eCommerce blogs according to 20 factors. We’re not 100% convinced – how can Econsultancy not be there, for example? – but there are few there we don’t know but are about to investigate.
We’re not all technical wizards, so it may be that you need a little extra help with getting your eCommerce site started, fine tuned, optimised or even fixed. Luckily, people more savvy than us have taken the time and trouble to share their knowledge with us in the shape of online tutorials which take you step-by-step through all the processes involved in making your site work at its best.
Ecommerce is just one of the many subjects covered in impressive depth on this video tutorial site and sits alongside many other software lessons including design, CAD, databases and audio. Our area of interest covers guides on using Magento, WordPress, Drupal Commerce, and even Dreamweaver with PHP to make an online store. Access to the site will cost you from £25 a month, but you’ll find 14 courses on eCommerce which run from just over an hour to over four hours in length.
John Ludena, the author of this new online guide, reckons that if you dedicate a weekend to reading and following his tutorial, you could end have your very own working online store when you wake up on Monday morning. Now we have to confess we haven’t trialled it, but it all looks good and the twelve free chapters take you every step of the way with lots of handy graphics to illustrate what you should be doing.
John also answers any questions you care to post in the comments section, and is currently working on a tutorial video covering more advanced matters, including how to create a completely customised looking store, have integrated payments, and add more functionality to your WordPress store.
Twitter your way to success
Of course, it’s not just about setting up a cool website. If you want to get customers dropping by you need to do some marketing. Social media is the new place to promote yourself and if you’re unsure how best to do that when you’re limited to just 140 characters, this handy guide from eCommerce gurus Shopify will put you right.
Best practice tips
Once you’ve got your site up and running it’s time to do some fine tuning so that you’re giving yourself the best chance of attracting customers and offering the finest shopping experience you can so people can’t help but keep on coming back and spending more and more money. These are some really handy ideas on how to turn your site from a good one into a great one.
Avoiding duplicate content
Google doesn’t like coming across the exact same text in different places, and effectively treats it as spam and will mark your site down accordingly. This Econsultancy guide will show you how to track down and destroy that duplicate content and hopefully help you climb your way to the top of those all-important search engine results.
I’m putting this list of eCommerce resources together towards the end of October, so this Econsultancy guide to increasing your conversion rate during the holiday season is great timing. Here you’ll find 35 practical ideas for making even more sales during the busiest time of the trading year, the period, in fact, that many retailers make the profits that keep them going the rest of the year. So if that sounds like your business, you can’t afford not to give this blog your fullest attention.
Decreasing shopping cart abandonment
There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a sale at the final hurdle. Your customer evidently wants to buy your product, has got as far as putting it in his or her basket. They may even have got as far as your checkout page – and then they’re gone. This blog has nine sensible ideas which are designed to deal with known reasons for abandoning carts. Put it all together and you may find more people only leave your site when they’ve given you their money.
An even better checkout experience
A more detailed look at one of the key causes of cart abandonment. Many online shops won’t let people buy things until they’ve handed over all kinds of seemingly unnecessary information, and shoppers don’t like it. Of course you need to know where to make delivery, but do you really need their phone number and the name of their first pet in case they decide to return at some distant point in the future?
Over 70 resources that represent the very best of Econsultancy
Econsultancy is all about providing the evidence and info that will help you turn your eCommerce site into a winner. So if they pull together what they think is the best range of resources they have on offer, you really need to sit up and listen. There are about 75 links here taking you to different reports, blogs, site reviews and infographics, each of which leads to somewhere you’re likely to learn something useful.
This site is trying to flog its own eCommerce platform, but there’s also a whole bunch of handy tips to help your own site become even better, with articles on everything from choosing a domain name and improving the customer experience to online branding and efficient order management.
Another 18 ideas…
Another good round-up of essential best practice tips.
Useful info & stats
Understanding why your eCommerce site is or isn’t working well does require a certain aptitude for analysing data. So here are a few sites crunching some useful numbers for you.
Scroll down past the text, pausing briefly to take in a few statistics related to social media and eCommerce, and you’ll find a lovely infographic with lots of information about people doing their shopping on the move or from their settee rather than in front of a desktop pc.
We’ve already talked about ways to cut down on this, but if you’re still not convinced, here are the numbers to confirm just how big a problem it can be. It’s updated on a regular basis – on the day I’m writing this, the headline figure is telling me that the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 67.44%. That’s too high, I’m sure you’ll agree.
In case you didn’t know it, Pinterest is a big driver of traffic. If you did know it, or had heard it but didn’t really believe it, here are the numbers from Spotify to back it up.
8 Important Stats Gathered from Analyzing Over 18,000 Small to Medium Ecommerce Sites – courtesy of those nice people at Kissmetrics.
This just a small selection of the resources available for eCommerce businesses, but we’re sure we’ve missed a few useful ideas. We’d love to build this into an even more comprehensive guide, so please share your own favourite sites and guides in the Comments section below.