It’s now easier than ever to set up an online shop! With services like Tictail and Shopify almost anybody can start selling online.

add to cart

Nevertheless, the challenge here isn’t so much in how to get your online shop up and running – instead it’s about attracting visitors and converting them to paying customers. For some folks an online business is a great way to make a little money on the side, while for others it’s their main livelihood.

Sadly if you build it people aren’t going to be flocking to your shop. That’s one of the major drawbacks with the ease of setting up an online shop – there ends up being tons of them.

Fortunately, the things that make the big online shops successful can be applied to your business too. Below you’ll find nine things you can do to make your online shop really standout.

9 Things That Make Online Shops Successful

1. Product reviews

Sometimes the best advocate for your online shop and product are your customers. Your product descriptions – something we’ll cover late – can only do so much to convince folks to part with their money.

Allowing your customers to review products they’ve bought lets them express how they felt about the overall experience and the product itself. Plus it’s the perfect way to get your products validated by a third party.

You’ll also want to check out the following statistics below that build the case for reviews:

  • Reviews produce an average 18% increase in sales, and having 50 or more reviews on a product can increase its conversion by 4.6% (Reevoo)
  • 58% of consumers prefer sites that offer reviews (MarketingSherpa)
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews (iPerceptions)
  • Consumer reviews are nearly 12 times more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers (EXPO Communications)
  • Visitors who read reviews have a 6% higher average order value than those who don’t (Bazaarvoice)

An easy way to install a review system for your online shop is by using Orankl, a young and upcoming startup who also help you connect with your customers.

2. Quality images

Honestly, who buys anything online without viewing a picture of it first? Fortunately with today’s smartphones packing some very capable cameras, almost anybody can shoot quality product photos. And there’s really no excuse for not displaying your products.

As you’ll notice from the screenshot below, STM Bags not only display photos of their products, but show it in use to help visitors visualise how the product can be used everyday.

stm bags

For more information about taking quality shots, CNET suggests the following:

  • Clean your lens
  • Shot with lots of light available
  • Try different angles
  • Increase your resolution
  • Check out specialty shooting modes
  • Get help from apps (my personal favourite is Camera+ on iOS)

However if you’re looking for concrete examples of how to use your smartphone, you might be interested in checking out the following posts:

3. Easy payment process

Your checkout page is the final stop on people’s shopping journey. And one of the best ways to increase conversions and sales is to make it hilariously easy for folks to pay you.

After all, it’s the place where visitor finally become your customers. To help make your payment process as easy and simple as possible, follow these nine tips:

  • Have several payment methods available
  • Don’t force people to sign up
  • Make sure your checkout page matches the rest of your store
  • Don’t redirect people
  • Make errors easy to fix
  • Don’t ask for unnecessary information
  • Reassure folks with security certificates
  • Keep distractions to an absolute minimum
  • Have clear calls to action

For more detailed information about making payments easy, check out my post over at KISSmetrics: 9 Ways to Make the Payment Process Easy for Online Customers

4. Fast loading times

We don’t really think about loading times these days and that’s because a reliable high-speed internet connection is taken for granted. Although one thing is for sure: People aren’t going to stick around for long waiting for a page to load!

An infographic published on Mashable from shows that 1 in 4 people abandon a website that doesn’t load in 4 seconds. And in another piece of research from KISSmetrics shows that a one ­second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions.

This is all about making the shopping smooth. And you’d want to optimise your online shop for speed so there’s no money left on the table.

A useful tool to help measure the speed of your website is the Pingdom Website Speed Test

5. Quality design

An infographic published by KISSmetrics showed 42% of online shoppers base their opinion of a website on overall design alone. Whereas 52% did not return because of overall aesthetics.

What this means for your online shop is that a professionally designed online shop can go a long way to making it successful. It also adds credibility and is a way to show your brand personality.

Below you’ll see how Incase emphasizes the products above everything else on their website, and keeping the design really simple.


6. Related products

This is upselling at its finest. On your product pages show visitors other items people have bought together or items that are complimentary to each other. For instance, customers may need a pair of batteries for a device or would be better off with extra memory for their camera.

This is your opportunity to increase revenue because it shows items visitors may not have otherwise been looking for.


However bear in mind to not include this feature on your checkout page simply because you want to keep distractions to an absolute minimum.

7. Easy store navigation

For anyone shopping online, one of the simplest ways to make the experience pleasant to make sure they find what they’re looking for.

What this means is making your online shop easy to navigate through with an effective categories, filter and search system. Since people shop online for the convenience, this just makes the whole shopping experience faster and easier for everyone

Apple categories

From the screenshot above you’ll notice how Apple uses product categories on the left to help visitors find what they’re looking for. They also go a step further with their search bar by suggesting terms and showing current products available.

Apple search

8. Excellent copy for product descriptions

You can’t be in more than one place at once which why your product descriptions act as your sales force. It’s the words and the art of copywriting that convert people into paying customers.

Luckily copywriting isn’t something that needs a marketing degree – just a focus on what your customers value the most. Here’s a short list of tips to help your product descriptions increase conversions:

  • Focus on the benefits i.e. what does the product do for customers
  • Use simple words and avoid jargon
  • Write short sentences to improve readability
  • Identify people’s motivation to buy your product
  • Write as you would normal talk in a conversation
  • Have a clear unique selling proposition to differentiate products from the competition

9. Fantastic customer support

Lets be honest, something is bound to go wrong – products break, you might be having server problems or there’s problems with delivery. Regardless of the issues, you need to be prepared to deal with disgruntled customers.

This can be key to retaining and attracting new customers since it’s so easy to switch brands today. And with the widespread use of social media, news of bad customer experiences can spread quickly.

The people over at Zendesk wrote a great article about how to deliver effective customer service. Among some of their recommendations, they suggest to make an instant connection with the customer, be personal with and having a detailed FAQs section.

But in case you’re looking for inspiration to do something creative, check out Gregory Ciotti’s blog post over at the Buffer Blog: 10 Customer Service Stories That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

However before you commit to changes you’ll want to do some A/B testing first instead of relying on assumptions. Test your changes first and see how they perform. That’s the beauty with A/B testing, you’re able to make educated decisions and optimise your online shop for maximum results. A great tool to get you started with optimising your online shop is Optimizely.

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Kostas Papageorgiou

Kostas specialises in content marketing and community management, who's focused on helping tech companies increase brand awareness and engagement to boost conversions.