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Winnie Pua

15 top features on my favourite eCommerce sites

How much online shopping do I do? Let’s just say everyone in my family, down to my 2-year-old daughter, knows how to sign off a delivery on my behalf. As a busy working mother, my most frequent online purchases are for fashion, technology and household items.

What makes us return to the same site over and over again? Surely the holy trinity of great product, good user experience and better service make a happy customer? Yes, but with so many sites providing similar products and equally great service, user experience becomes a real game changer. Here are the features I have come to love, from interacting with the product to checkout.

1. eDM (email) links directly to product page

I subscribed to Tradesy to sell my wedding dress. I do covet the limited-edition items on the site that you can’t find anywhere. However, whenever I receive their emailer and click through via photo of that vintage Gucci bamboo bag, I am disappointed to arrive at a generic page and have to spend at least the next half hour trawling to find that bag.

Compare this to Polyvore, a great affiliate marketing site that gives me trendy ideas with fashion mood boards. If I want to “steal that look”, I click through to find exactly the options of what I have seen on the moodboard. Having direct links is a basic must-have in my book.

2. Show us the product clearly

On ASOS, I get to see clothes and shoes up close, at multiple angles, with zoom-in feature to see even seams and even a catwalk video. Close-up allows me to check out fabric, material, and prints.

I was trying to buy a gardening stool and toolkit on Amazon and I had a hard time determining the material of the stool, the toolkit and even handles of the gardening shovel. Let me zoom in!

3. Details, details, details

Having item descriptions and specifications are important. I need to know material of sports wear, if this dress requires hand washing, and the quantity of the pork I am buying over Redmart etc.

4. How-to videos

I love videos. It revolutionises how I shop for food. Now, I can get cooking tips while I shop for groceries!

I recall shopping for infant car seats online; from Mothercare and BabyRUs. In the end, the Graco website had how-to videos teaching us on installation, tips and tricks and, of course, we were sold.

5. Peer reviews

They help me feel emotionally connected to other buyers and reassure me of my decision. Mostly, they can range from positive, blah to even slightly negative. Knowing the experience of others is more important than agreeing with them, as I feel our requirements may differ.

6. Keyword search and predictive entry field

It lets me know you have what I am looking for.

7. Remembers my past orders

Ordering groceries gets easier when Redmart remembers my orders. I can edit from list and just re-order all our favourite brands of household items. On the Cat & the Fiddle website, they remember the last cakes I ordered so I know which flavours of cheesecake I have not tried. It also generates positive emotions knowing I am remembered.

8. Mobile experience or mobile app

Shopping on-the-go saves me so much time. Remembering a birthday, I typically buy flowers from The Florist Atelier or Poppy Flora. Easy to order mobile apps are important for that quick order.

A research shows that from search to checkout, we will visit on average 18 pgs. So when I am done browsing, and am ready to derive some positive retail therapy, these are the features I value.

9. Real-time shipping and tracking

“Out of stock” are the worst 3 words to hear at this point. All that time spent on 18 pgs.

10. Ships to where I am

I once spent 2 hrs completing my entire Christmas shopping on a website, only to find that they do not ship to Singapore, though they ship “worldwide”. Those are 2 hrs I can never get back.

11. Remembers multiple addresses

Half of my shopping is for gifting so it is great user experience to remember multiple shipping addresses.

12. Payment portals

Sites must accept all major credit cards and payment portals like Paypal, for user convenience.

13. Sales and discounts

I love good value. So I do appreciate a promotion or, better, a discount just for me! Appreciating my repeat patronage creates positive shopping emotions. But don’t expect me to remember that promotion code, membership no. or other details. I am just 2 clicks away from completing my purchase. Besides, don’t you know everything about me already? Come on, just give me the discount already.

14. Uncluttered editable cart

After 18 pgs, I typically end up with 4 to 6 items. Sometimes the total sum exceeds my budget, which is about $400 to avoid GST. I like it when sites allow me to edit the items in card during checkout. Changing sizes, quantity or moving items to my wish list (and wait for a sale) are great features!

15. Wrapping options

A few Christmas ago, I completed my shopping on Amazon and my friends all received their gifts in brown paper boxes. A year later, gift-wrapping options are included and I believe my recipients were much happier since.

Here you go, my current favourite eCommerce features. As eCommerce innovates, they create better features and consumers will certainly have increased expectations. Shopping online can be so multi-sensory and I look forward to being spoilt for choice!