10 tips to a successful e-commerce homepage

10 June 2021

E-commerce has grown exponentially in the last year and will continue to bloom in South Africa and internationally. Make sure that your ‘shopfront’ is working its magic with our top 10 tips:
1. Keep the menu simple and easy to navigate

Let’s start right at the top! Or, left. Wherever the menu is, don’t let customers think too hard when navigating through your site. Make the navigation straightforward by using standard and practical menu names. For example, don’t change the ‘Shop’ section name to ‘Our goodies’ because it sounds edgy. Users can often overlook unfamiliar terms. 

If you have a large shop with multiple product categories, group the items logically in the menu – think of the menu as isles in a physical store. Always test the navigation by asking colleagues, friends, or family to find specific items on the online store and get them to report back on their experience. That is the quickest way to get it right!


2. Create an impactful hero banner 

When the home page loads up in front of a client for the first time, the hero banner will draw attention first. You should ask yourself: will a new customer know what the business is about, what the website sells, and what makes you unique when they see the site for the first time? In a Forbes article, contributor Serenity Gibbons says that “visitors may form an impression of your site in as little as 50 milliseconds”.

The key ingredient to an intelligent and well-crafted hero banner is a clear value proposition and an impactful visual that supports it. If you have multiple selling points, opt for a rotating banner, but keep it to a minimum with a clear and simple message. Always be most critical of the first banner’s message.

You can also use this space to flaunt specials and promotions, but make sure it still captures the essence of the business. Always opt for unique product or lifestyle images that reflect the brand identity and represent the products on offer, making it easy for visitors to see that they have landed on a shoppable, e-commerce store. Here are three examples of successful hero banners:

3. Create a clean and organised structure

The primary objective of any e-commerce store is to convert visitors into loyal customers. A cluttered, unstructured home page can be unappealing and difficult to navigate. If a customer becomes confused and doesn’t know how to navigate the page effectively, you will lose sales. Carefully plan the structure of the home page by prioritising the most valuable information. Focus on a framework that highlights applicable information upfront and will move your business forward by driving sales. Here is an example of an organised home page structure for a small e-commerce store:

4. Brand consistency

Having a powerful brand identity will help set a business apart from the competition, and it will draw appeal to a specific target audience. A consistent brand identity will allow customers to identify a company or brand more efficiently across all communication, whether it’s the company website, social media or campaigns, or printed advertising. Do things right from the start by following a carefully considered colour palette, image style, tone of voice, etc., throughout your website and overall marketing material.

5. Let the pictures do the talking

Make sure that you have good-quality photographs of the products you sell. An article by Oberlo, a dropshipping platform, says: “81 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase online.” When customers browse products online, they don’t have the luxury of experiencing it through touch and can’t pick it up or view it up close. A professional photograph and thorough product descriptions (see next point) are the best way to close that missing experience. 

For a professional look, crop the photographs consistently to follow a neat product grid; see the example below. Another valuable asset in your itinerary is lifestyle images or styled product photographs. There are many e-commerce businesses online, and the ones that stand out are the ones that also offer something visually different.

6. Words matter; craft them purposefully

Is there a story behind your products? Do you add value to communities or have a positive impact on the environment? If the information adds value to your customers and can persuade them to buy from you rather than your competition, it needs to shine through your content and reflect on your home page.

In a first of it’s kind global study by Zeno Group called, The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose, they found that: “global consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion and protect those companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one”. Here is an infographic with further excerpts from the research:

Words also matter in your product descriptions. Always include relevant specifications of all the products you sell. For example: if you sell desks or office furniture, specify the weight and sizes, including the materials it’s made of, where it’s made, etc. This timeous admin task will save you time down the line… answering endless queries from customers who want to know every detail.

7. Make it easy for people to connect or contact you

If your business is new to e-commerce, it might take a while to build a base of loyal customers. For newcomers especially, it’s always a bit daunting to purchase products from a new website. A 2021 article by Oberlo, a dropshipping platform, says: “Consumers are most likely to trust a business that makes it easy to contact people at the company.”

Put your customers’ minds at ease by including emails, telephone numbers, and social media links on your website. We recommend having this information visible on every page of your site via a global footer. 

8. Are you optimised for mobile

Another statistic from Oberlo that you should not overlook is: “Users who have a negative experience on a mobile website are 62 percent less likely to purchase from that business in the future.” Make sure that your website’s user journey is flawless on mobile. Keep an eye on your analytics, know where your traffic is coming from exactly, and invest in optimising it in the right places.

9. Your home page will never be perfect

The great thing about digital is that you can learn about user behaviour. Track user engagement with Google Analytics, know how people are using your website and what they are clicking on most. Apply your learnings by restructuring the homepage with content that interest your audience the most. Make popular pages more accessible from your home page, and highlight best selling product. Always be open to change and evolve your site to keep things new, fresh and better!

10. Do you have your website’s legal docs in order?

POPI or POPIA is short for the Protection of Personal Information Act, and South African businesses will need to comply by 1 July 2021. (After the POPIA commencement date or effective date (which is 1 July 2020), there is a 12-month grace period – so the POPIA deadline is at the end of the grace period.) Read more on this topic from the experts over at Hello Contract or on the government’s website. Hello Contract also offers an affordable Privacy Policy template which you can check out here: Website Privacy Policy | Privacy Policy Template (South African Law and GDPR Compliant).

Apart from being POPI compliant, make sure that you have your Terms of Service and Return Policy in order. These legal documents are also available for download at Hello Contract. Read more about E-Commerce Websites – The Legal Document Essentials here.

Reassure your e-commerce shoppers, show them that you have your legal ducks in a row by having the links easily accessible in your website’s global footer.

We can help!

We can build an e-commerce store that will work its magic for you. If you have an existing store, we can assist by doing an audit, or we can help with styled images, product photography, banner designs, or writing to make your website work even harder. If you feel your store is missing something or need a fresh eye, get in touch!