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21 Must-Have Features For Ecommerce Sites

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21 Must-Have Features For Ecommerce Sites

Are you creating a new ecommerce store for your business or looking for ways to improve the functionality of your current store?

Creating an ecommerce experience that is sure to delight your customers can be as simple as taking a little inspiration from the top ecommerce brands.

The following are 21 must-have features for ecommerce sites.

Example brands were selected from The Top 50 Ecommerce Companies in the U.S. list published by Similarweb.

1. User-Friendly Navigation

The key to helping customers find the products they need quickly is to offer a user-friendly navigation system.

Products should be logically categorized, with the most popular categories listed first.

Screenshot from Sephora.com, March 2022Example of User-Friendly Navigation

Sephora knows how customers like to shop.

Some specifically seek out products by brand, while others shop by category. Their navigation bar reflects this organization, along with quick links to inexpensive and sale products.

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2. Site Search

In addition to user-friendly navigation, site search is a feature found on most of the top ecommerce sites.

It allows customers to bypass the navigation and search for exactly what they want.

example of site searchScreenshot from Nordstrom.com, March 2022example of site search

Nordstrom offers a site search with suggestions for popular brands and products that match what you enter.

Most site searches can be tracked using Google Analytics.

3. Footer Navigation

Have you considered the best way to utilize your website’s footer to help customers find your top products?

Try a list of links to the top products, services, and information that customers want to find.

example of footer navigationScreenshot from T-mobile.com, March 2022example of footer navigation

T-Mobile uses its footer to direct customers to their social media profiles, English and Spanish sites, featured phones and plans, support, and company information.

Their footer effectively includes links to everything they want both customers and search crawlers to discover from any page throughout their website.

4. Product Videos

Adding video to your product pages can increase conversions.

According to Think With Google, over 50% of shoppers said that online video helped them make a decision on which brand or product to purchase.

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Most ecommerce platforms allow retailers to add videos and images to their product pages.

example of product videosScreenshot from Apple.com, March 2022example of product videos

Apple uses video to highlight features of its latest iPhone on its sales page. Their use of high-quality product images and video help sell their products online and in-store.

5. Product Reviews

The most popular form of user-generated content found on ecommerce sites is product reviews and ratings.

This section of an ecommerce product page is crucial to providing social proof to shoppers that a product will fit their needs.

eBay allows customers to rate and review products, displaying reviews below the product descriptions and sponsored items.

example of product reviewsScreenshot from eBay.com, March 2022example of product reviews

Other eBay users also have the option to rate reviews as useful or not, moving the best reviews to the top of the list on the product page.

6. Generous Return Policy

Want to increase consumer confidence in the products you sell? Offer a generous return policy and include it on your product page.

example of generous return policyScreenshot from Walmart.com, March 2022example of generous return policy

 

Place it near your add to cart button to increase the chances that it will have a positive effect on the number of purchases.

7. FAQ For Products

Another way to incorporate user-generated content into your ecommerce store is by adding a section of the most frequently asked questions by customers.

This section can help your store in a number of ways.

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  • Increase the number of sales by answering your customer’s top pre-sales questions about your products.
  • Reduce the amount of time your customer service has to spend on answering questions about products, before and after the purchase.
example of FAQScreenshot from Amazon.com, March 2022example of FAQ

Amazon’s question and answer section on product pages gives customers the ability to ask questions, answer questions, and vote up the best questions to ensure the most frequently asked ones appear at the top.

8. FAQ For The Store

In addition to the FAQ for your product pages, consider adding a FAQ page for your main store.

This should cover any of the general questions people may ask about online privacy, security, payments, shipping, returns, and other shopping concerns.

example of faq for the storeScreenshot from Etsy.com, March 2022example of faq for the store

Etsy offers answers to the most frequently asked questions in its help center.

This saves their customer support team from having to answer general questions and gives them more time to solve complex issues.

9. Order Tracking

Once your customer places an order, the top question on their mind is when will my order arrive.

Make it simple for customers to check their current order status on your website.

example of order trackingScreenshot from Autozone.com, March 2022example of order tracking

AutoZone has an order tracking page that doesn’t require customers to log in.

They simply need their email address and the order number they received in their order confirmation email.

10. Email Opt-In

According to Mailchimp benchmarks, emails sent by ecommerce businesses have an average open rate of 15.68% and a click rate of 2.01%.

This is important considering the revenue-generating potential ecommerce emails have.

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If you can’t get visitors to make a purchase on your website, one of the next best conversions for your store would be to attain the visitor as a subscriber on your email list.

This would allow you to reach them with future sales and email promotions.

example of email opt inScreenshot from Samsung.com, March 2022example of email opt in

Samsung prompts visitors to subscribe to their email list to receive their latest offers using a pop-up.

Another way ecommerce retailers can capture email addresses is by adding an opt-in form in the header and footer of their website.

11. Push Notifications

If you want to bypass spam filters and social media algorithms, the next best way to capture your ecommerce store visitors as subscribers is through push notifications.

Push notification services allow visitors to subscribe to your latest updates in their browser.

When you have a promotion you want to notify subscribers of, you can send a message that will be delivered to their notification center via their browser.

sample of push notificationsScreenshot from Shein.comsample of push notifications

Shein is one of many ecommerce brands that allows visitors to subscribe to push notifications.

Once subscribed, visitors will see the latest messages from Shein in their desktop notifications.

example of push notificationScreenshot of a push notification from Shein, March 2022example of push notification

12. Chatbots

One of the benefits of running an ecommerce website is its ability to generate revenue, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the year. That also means providing support to your customers during those hours as well.

According to LivePerson’s survey of 5,000 consumers, positive sentiment about the use of chatbots nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021, from 31% to 61%.

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Many ecommerce stores use chatbots to assist online shoppers with basic questions and navigate them to a specific product or support page.

example of chatbotsScreenshot from Lowes.com, March 2022example of chatbots

Lowes uses an always online expert, which is an automated assistant with specific prompts for visitors to choose when looking for a specific answer, finding a specific product, or solving a basic customer service inquiry.

13. Coupon Codes

We know that consumers often search for coupon codes on Google when presented with a coupon or discount box on a checkout page.

In the United States, 88% of consumers use coupons when shopping, using coupon sites like slickdeals.com, groupon.com, and retailmenot.com.

If you want to keep customers on your website throughout the checkout process, give them great deals via your own coupon codes.

example of site that uses coupon codesScreenshot from Victoriassecret.com, March 2022example of site that uses coupon codes

Victoria’s Secret uses a bar at the top of its website to highlight its latest offer.

When visitors click on View Offers, they will get additional offers and coupon codes to apply at checkout.

14. Product Availability Filters

Do you have multiple options for customers when it comes to pickup or delivery methods?

Give customers the ability to quickly find the products that are available with their preferred pickup or delivery option.

example of product availability filtersScreenshot from Walgreens.com, March 2022example of product availability filters

Walgreens offers customers an item availability filter that will sort products based on their pickup, same-day delivery, shipping, or in-stock availability. This gives you the best chance to convert customers based on fast availability.

15. Mobile App

In addition to having a mobile-friendly store for shoppers to make a purchase from any device, also consider having a mobile app for your store.

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Mobile apps allow you to keep your brand on your customer’s minds, placing your app icon/brand logo on the smart devices customers use most.

You don’t have to wait for customers to open up a browser or another app for social media or email to get your latest sales messages.

You can push those promotional updates through your app to any customers that have notifications turned on.

example of mobile appScreenshot from the Home Depot app, March 2022example of mobile app

Home Depot offers an app that allows customers to shop for products online and have them shipped to their homes or reserved for in-store pickup.

16. Gift Registries

If you do a search for gift registries on Google, you will find dozens of well-known brand retailers.

Target, Amazon, Walmart, Crate & Barrel, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond are just a few that appear on the first page of SERPs.

Why are gift registries important to driving sales? Let’s just look at wedding registries for a moment.

According to The Knot 2020 Wedding Registry Study, 80% of respondents set up a wedding registry.

CNBC reported findings from Baird’s 2022 survey that Amazon leads as the top wedding registry provider with 45% listing penetration.

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example of gift registriesScreenshot from Target.com, March 2022example of gift registries

Target offers gift registries for babies, weddings, and charities. You can also create a custom registry to celebrate any occasion you choose.

17. Multilingual Support

If your ecommerce store caters to customers in a specific region, you have two options to support the top languages spoken in their region:

  • Depend on Google Translate to help customers translate your website into their language.
  • Create multiple versions of your website for specific languages.
example of multilingual supportScreenshot from Xfinity.com, March 2022example of multilingual support

Xfinity uses English on their www subdomain, and Spanish on their es subdomain.

Content can be switched from English to Spanish using the En and Es links in the main navigation bar.

18. Loyalty Program

Do you want to increase customer retention? One way to encourage people to shop from your ecommerce store again is to offer a loyalty program.

These are typically free or paid programs where customers get private or early access to the best deals.

Many allow customers to accrue points per purchase that lead to various rewards, such as a specific dollar amount off your next purchase or a free product.

example of loyalty programScreenshot from Ulta.com, March 2022example of loyalty program

Ulta is one of many brands that offer a free rewards program for their loyal customers.

Customers can join for free and earn points redeemable for products and services online and in-store.

19. Carousels

While marketers may not agree on the value of image and video carousels on the homepage, you will find many ecommerce brands use them.

Major retailers such as Walmart, eBay, Home Depot, Samsung, Wayfair, Lowes, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Kohls have carousels with their latest promotions and sales.

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example of carouselsScreenshot from Chewy.com, March 2022example of carousels

Chewy is another ecommerce brand that features a carousel on the homepage. Theirs promote discounts for auto-ship orders, healthy pet food, flea & tick medications, pet bedding, and more.

20. Local Store Information

If your ecommerce brand also has physical store locations, you can boost offline sales by adding details for the nearest store to your website’s header.

This would allow customers to shop online, reserve for in-store pick up, or browse their local store inventory before going to make an in-store purchase.

sample of local store informationScreenshot from Coscto.com, March 2022sample of local store information

Costco offers a link to the closest store based on your zip code. They also display current store hours.

21. Personal Data Policy

Depending on where your ecommerce store is based and the customers that it serves, your site may need a policy that notifies visitors of the data that is collected about them on your website using cookies from the website and other analytics tools.

sample of personal data policyScreenshot from Michaels.com, March 2022sample of personal data policy

Michael’s ecommerce store displays a popup advising visitors about cookie usage to enhance user experience and analyze website traffic.

Visitors then have the option to accept the policy or adjust their cookie preferences.

Start Creating Fantastic Shopping Experiences

It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel in order to provide a fantastic shopping experience for your users.

It’s simply a matter of listening to your customer’s feedback and monitoring your competitors to see if new trends in ecommerce arise.

While you don’t need to try every new feature your ecommerce platform has to offer, you should look into the ones that your customers have come to expect from the top retailers in your vertical.

Combine your customer’s feedback with A/B testing to see what implementations drive more sales and higher customer satisfaction.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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SEO

8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

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8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

Pillar pages are high-level introductions to a topic. They then link to other pages, which are usually more detailed guides about parts of the main topic.

Altogether, they form a content hub.

Example of a content hub

But not all pillar pages look the same. 

In this guide, we’ll look at eight examples of pillar pages to get your creative juices flowing.

Excerpt of beginner's guide to SEO by Ahrefs

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 1,200
Backlinks: 6,900
Referring domains: 899

Overview of Ahrefs' beginner's guide to SEO in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This is our very own pillar page, covering the broad topic of search engine optimization (SEO)

Why I like it

Besides the fact that I’m biased, I like the custom design we created for this page, which makes it different from the articles on our blog. 

Even though the design is custom, our pillar page is still a pretty classic “hub and spoke” style pillar page. We’ve broken the topic down neatly into six different chapters and internally linked to guides we’ve created about them. There are also custom animations when you hover over each chapter:

Examples of chapters in the SEO guide

We’ve also added a glossary section that comes with a custom illustration of the SERPs. We have explanations of what each element means, with internal links to more detailed content:

Custom illustration of the SERP

Finally, it links to another “pillar page”: our SEO glossary

Takeaway

Consider creating a custom design for your pillar page so that it stands out. 

Excerpt of Doctor Diet's ketogenic diet guide

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 92,200
Backlinks: 21,600
Referring domains: 1,700

Overview of Diet Doctor's ketogenic diet guide in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Diet Doctor is a health company focusing on low-carb diets. Its pillar page is a comprehensive guide on the keto diet. 

Why I like it

On the surface, it doesn’t exactly look like a pillar page; it looks like every other post on the Diet Doctor site. But that’s perfectly fine. It’s simply a different approach—you don’t have to call out the fact that it’s a pillar page. 

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Diet Doctor’s guide is split into 10 different sections with links to its own resources. The links bring you to different types of content (not just blog posts but videos too).

Video course about keto diet for beginners

Unlike the classic pillar page, Diet Doctor’s guide goes into enough detail for anyone who is casually researching the keto diet. But it also links to further resources for anyone who’s interested in doing additional research.

Takeaway

Pillar pages need not always just be text and links. Make it multimedia: You can add videos and images and even link to your own multimedia resources (e.g., a video course).

Excerpt of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 5,600
Backlinks: 2,800
Referring domains: 247

Overview of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Wine Folly is a content site devoted to wine knowledge and appreciation. Its pillar page, as expected, is about wine. 

Why I like it

Wine Folly’s pillar page is a classic example of a “hub and spoke” style pillar page—split into multiple sections, with some supporting text, and then internal links to other resources that support each subsection. 

Supporting text and links to other resources

This page doesn’t just serve as a pillar page for ranking purposes, though. Given that it ranks well and receives quite a significant amount of search traffic, the page also has a call to action (CTA) to Wine Folly’s book:

Short description of book; below that, CTA encouraging site visitor to purchase it

Takeaway

While most websites design pillar pages for ranking, you can also use them for other purposes: capture email addresses, sell a book, pitch your product, etc. 

Excerpt of A-Z directory of yoga poses

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 11,100
Backlinks: 3,400
Referring domains: 457

Overview of Yoga Journal's A-Z directory of yoga poses in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Yoga Journal is an online and offline magazine. Its pillar page is an A-Z directory of yoga poses.

Why I like it

Yoga Journal’s pillar page is straightforward and simple. List down all possible yoga poses (in both their English and Sanskrit names) in a table form and link to them. 

List of yoga poses in table form

Since it’s listed in alphabetical order, it’s useful for anyone who knows the name of a particular pose and is interested in learning more. 

What I also like is that Yoga Journal has added an extra column on the type of pose each yoga pose belongs to. If we click on any of the pose types, we’re directed to a category page where you can find similar kinds of poses: 

Examples of standing yoga poses (in grid format)

Takeaway

The A-Z format can be a good format for your pillar page if the broad topic you’re targeting fits the style (e.g., dance moves, freestyle football tricks, etc.).

Excerpt of Atlassian's guide to agile development

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 115,200
Backlinks: 3,200
Referring domains: 860

Overview of Atlassian's guide to agile development in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Atlassian is a software company. You’ve probably heard of its products: Jira, Confluence, Trello, etc. Its pillar page is on agile development.

Why I like it

Atlassian’s pillar page is split into different topics related to agile development. It then has internal links to each topic—both as a sticky table of contents and card-style widgets after the introduction: 

Sticky table of contents
Card-style widgets

I also like the “Up next” feature at the bottom of the pillar page, which makes it seem like an online book rather than a page. 

Example of "Up next" feature

Takeaway

Consider adding a table of contents to your pillar page. 

Excerpt of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 114,400
Backlinks: 2,900
Referring domains: 592

Overview of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Muscle and Strength’s pillar page is a massive database linking to various categories of workouts. 

Why I like it

Calling it a pillar page seems to be an understatement. Muscle and Strength’s free workouts page appears to be more like a website. 

When you open the page, you’ll see that it’s neatly split into multiple categories, such as “workouts for men,” “workouts for women,” “biceps,” “abs,” etc. 

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Workout categories (in grid format)

Clicking through to any of them leads us to a category page containing all sorts of workouts:

Types of workouts for men (in grid format)

Compared to the other pillar pages on this list, where they’re linking to other subpages, Muscle and Strength’s pillar page links to other category pages, which then link to their subpages, i.e., its massive archive of free workouts.

Takeaway

Content databases, such as the one above, are a huge undertaking for a pillar page but can be worth it if the broad topic you’re targeting fits a format like this. Ideally, the topic should be about something where the content for it is ever-growing (e.g., workout plans, recipes, email templates, etc.).

Excerpt of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 39,100
Backlinks: 1,100
Referring domains: 308

Overview of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Tofugu is a site about learning Japanese. And its pillar page is about, well, learning Japanese.

Why I like it

This is an incredible (and yes, ridiculously good) guide to learning Japanese from scratch. It covers every stage you’ll go through as a complete beginner—from knowing no Japanese to having intermediate proficiency in the language. 

Unlike other pillar pages where information is usually scarce and simply links out to further resources, this page holds nothing back. Under each section, there is great detail about what that section is, why it’s important, how it works, and even an estimated time of how long that stage takes to complete. 

Another interesting aspect is how Tofugu has structured its internal links as active CTAs. Rather than “Learn more” or “Read more,” it’s all about encouraging users to do a task and completing that stage. 

CTA encouraging user to head to the next task of learning to read hiragana

Takeaway

Two takeaways here:

  • Pillar pages can be ridiculously comprehensive. It depends on the topic you’re targeting and how competitive it is.
  • CTAs can be more exciting than merely just “Read more.”
Excerpt of Zapier's guide to working remotely

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 890
Backlinks: 4,100
Referring domains: 1,100

Overview of Zapier's guide to working remotely in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Zapier allows users to connect multiple software products together via “zaps.” It’s a 100% remote company, and its pillar page is about remote work. 

Why I like it

Zapier’s pillar page is basically like Wine Folly’s pillar page. Break a topic into subsections, add a couple of links of text, and then add internal links to further resources. 

In the examples above, we’ve seen all sorts of execution for pillar pages. There are those with custom designs and others that are crazily comprehensive.

But sometimes, all a pillar page needs is a simple design with links. 

Takeaway

If you already have a bunch of existing content on your website, you can create a simple pillar page like this to organize your content for your readers. 

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Keep learning

Inspired by these examples and want to create your own pillar page? Learn how to successfully do so with these two guides:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.  



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