Is your online store as customer-friendly as it could be? You want a visitor’s experience to be easy and enjoyable for them to make a purchase or book an appointment, and share their positive experience with friends. If your website isn’t up to par, you could be losing customers. Here’s a quick checklist of things that your site should have to meet customers’ expectations.

1. Social media icons

Make it simple for customers to follow you, share their wish lists and purchases, and inspire them to pass your social posts on to friends. Turning customers into brand advocates without adding to payroll is a big win.

2. An About Us page

Few things build trust like putting a face to a name. People want to know they’re doing business with a real person. An About Us page is the perfect way to tell a bit about your company, staff or even just yourself. Include a picture that shows customers who you are.

3. Your return policies

Customers like to know that if something arrives broken, doesn’t fit or just isn’t what they thought it would be, they can return it. Clearly post your return policies, including things like how many days they have, whether or not there’s a restocking fee, and if they can return the item to your store. If you offer FREE returns, where customers don’t have to pay return shipping, you may want to make it a headliner on your homepage. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, saw a 357 percent increase in sales after instituting a free return policy for a year.

4. Shipping rates and important deadlines

Nobody likes the sticker shock associated with shipping rates at the very end of the order. In fact, according to a June 2014 study released by UPS and comScore, unexpected shipping costs was the top reason for shopping cart abandonment. Include flat-rate shipping costs and an estimator that uses the customer’s zip code to provide shipping costs before checkout. Shipping time estimates are also vital, especially around Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to include options for speedier delivery during these peak purchase periods.

Shopify can help you add shipping tools to your site.

5. FAQs

Besides decreasing the number of phone calls and emails that need a response, a Frequently Asked Questions page can satisfy customer needs with immediate answers to their most common questions. It’s safe to assume that customer frustration is synonymous with lost sales. In fact, according to a report by Forrester, 55 percent of adult customers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. You can also provide links to other pages in your answers, which will save your customers multiple steps.

6. A search function

A search box provides a service to not only your customers but also your analytics. What better way to find out what your customers are looking for and how they word it? A good search function will take into consideration spelling mistakes, singular vs. plural words and even synonyms (e.g., pop, soda, cola).

Check out Swiftype. This tool can help you create and add a search bar to your site.

7. A social login option

Who doesn’t dread those lengthy registration processes when preparing to buy something from an online store? Offering a social login option allows your customers to use existing login information from one of their social networks, like Facebook or Twitter. That means there’s no additional username and password to remember (and decreased customer support for password retrieval), and no false email addresses.

If you’re using a WordPress site, you can install this option in a few easy steps.

8. Guest checkout

Another login option for the registration-weary customer is to provide a guest checkout. Nothing kills momentum like having to create an account from scratch just to make a purchase. In fact, according to a 2014 e-commerce survey by Visual Website Optimizer, 23 percent of users will abandon their shopping cart if they have to create a new user account.

9. Clear security protocol

That same Visual Website Optimizer survey found that 13 percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart due to payment security concerns. It’s important that you take measures to secure customer information and explain those measures on our site. SSL Certificates encrypt all the data that is exchanged between the customer and your site.

With these nine website must-haves, your customers will have the quality of experience they expect.

Author: Wendy Burt-Thomas