The Top Qualities of a Successful E-commerce Store

Posted on July 30, 2021 | Updated on October 28, 2022

Every day, new online retailers open their virtual doors and invite customers to shop there. With so many options for their purchasing needs, figuring out how to drive customers to your site and convert them into buyers isn’t easy. The most successful e-commerce stores share a few qualities that make them successful. 

According to eMarketer, global e-commerce stores will bring in about $5 trillion this year. The pandemic drove many companies online sooner than they’d anticipated in response to people staying home more and ordering online. In some countries, e-commerce grew by 79%, but overall experts predict a global growth of around 14.3% for 2021. 

Although the extra traffic helps with your profit margins, you want to set your company up for success in five years, ten years and even twenty years. How can you improve your e-commerce store today?

1. Simplify Navigation

When people first land on your page, they’ll look at your site’s navigation to acclimate themselves to your website. If your navigational hierarchy is too complex, you risk losing people as they bounce away to a competitor’s site.

Stick to a handful of main categories for your navigation. You can always use subcategories to further refine the path to specific products.

Kylie Cosmetics adds a shop tab to the navigation bar. Rather than listing all the different categories of cosmetics on the menu, the focus is on the different main areas of the site. The site also separates cosmetics and skincare, splitting the site in half and reaching each buyer persona on a more specific level. 

2. Clear Branding

Successful e-commerce stores know what their unique value proposition (UVP) is and share it with their site visitors. Make sure you develop a personality for your brand through the logo, tagline and color palette.

3. Show Inventory Status

Mega online retailers such as Amazon have set the standard for how long people are willing to wait on an item. Make sure your inventory tracking is spot on, so people aren’t left waiting for an out of stock item to come in.

You should probably disable the ability to add an item to the shopping cart if it’s out. However, you can also add a feature where the user can ask to be notified when the item restocks. 

IDC Spring uses a system to show if an item is in stock, low or out. They use a stop light color system to indicate levels. Using a system with low stock alerts can also help your e-commerce store restock when needed so you never run out of inventory. 

4. Share Latest News

Popular e-commerce retailers often include a  blog, customer suggestions for products and other enticing content to drive traffic and engage users. Some ideas for things you can include on your site that consumers might find interesting include company achievements, celebrity customers and causes you’ve invested in. 

Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would they care about? How can you show the personality of your brand without tooting your own horn in an unappealing way?

5. Showcase New Arrivals

Top e-commerce stores highlight their new arrivals as they come in. Using cookies allows you to notify someone if you have an item similar to others they’ve browsed. You can also send out emails to your mailing list and let them know when something exciting hits the shop. 

J. McLaughlin has a new arrivals page on their site. When you land there, you see some of the best sellers in their latest inventory. You can also filter the items by category such as tops, pants and skirts. 

6. List Clear Contact Information

Imagine a user visiting your site for the first time. They’ve never heard of you before and they don’t know if they can trust you to fulfill the order or stand behind your product. One way to put new buyers at ease is by listing clear contact information. If they see they can get in touch should they have an issue, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase. 

7. Offer Discounts

People shopping online often look for the best deal. They either want free shipping or a discount on their purchase. Offer perks if they sign up for your mailing list, so you can continue marketing to them via email. 

Keep in mind sites such as Amazon and give free, fast shipping. If you aren’t able to afford no cost shipping, you may need to offer unique perks to entice them. What can’t they get elsewhere? Make sure you offer a UVP no one else does. 

Underwater Audio uses a pop-up box that invites the user to save 10% if they share their email. The form is simple, with one field to input and then a clickable call to action (CTA) button. Note the vivid blue of the box and the orange CTA. Both grab attention and match the overreaching conversion goals of the e-commerce store.

8. Confirm Actions

When a person clicks on something on your site, offer confirmation. For example, if they submit a contact form, there should be a message you received. When they click on a link or a tab, they should transport to another page.

Click through each touchpoint on your site and make sure it all functions correctly. Test both mobile and desktop to ensure everything functions as expected. 

Test Everything

There are many different elements to building a successful e-commerce store. Run split tests to see which colors, working and placement work best with your audience. If you feel your product descriptions aren’t detailed enough, survey your customers and ask what they need to make a decision to buy. Look at each little detail and fix things over time until you hit the sales numbers you want. 

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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